Now I’m back from outer space lol

Yes I feel like I have been on a very long journey and like Gloria Gaynor I can say I’m back – thanks to my lovely Hubbs I still have some birds. Nothing like before but we have White Brahmas,Blues to Black and Blue Buffs, Lemon Pyle about 40 in total. I have not hatched any out this year, we sold all our incubators along with all the other bits and bobs. But you know Brahma girls and a few went broody so we have about 10 chicks running around, all very cute.

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We have added to our family, we got a new kitten last year who has grown into a very handsome boy his name is Harvey. Harvey is into everything and likes nothing better than chasing the girl cats Cilla and China. We also have Woody a cheeky little chap, he is a Jack Russell puppy. He was born on the 27th March along with his brothers and one sister to Roo our Jack Russell. She has been a wonderful Mum but has now turned the job over to me. The other puppies who are Jerry, Oaty and Daphne, have gone to live in wonderful loving homes around the county.2014-05-14 19.09.37

I was sad to see them go – but I got to know the people they were going to live with and I knew they were the right people and the right homes. They will be well cared for, loved and spoilt. Yes its a dog’s life and they deserve the best of everything. So off they all went with their little bags packed with blanket, chewy toy and favourite food just to get them started. I feel like we have made new friends and I get lovely emails with pictures of Roo’s family growing up.

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Good news and Changing Seasons

Good news I’m improving, I have had my Bi-op and they confirmed 100% I have Chronic sarcoidosis, no cancer cells were found. We are so happy with this news. I am on some really good meds long-term which will help control my condition, with regular hospital appointments and under the watchful eye of my consultant it can only get better. Each day I get stronger and will be back to my old self in no time.

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The garden looks really funny without our feathered friends, we miss the noise. miss them walking around and jumping out on us as we try to get things done in the garden. We have kept about 25 which is a few more than we wanted but Hubbs will look after them, as we cannot have loads of birds we are concentrating on Blue Colombians and Blue Buff Columbian and Lights and Blacks,quality not quantity. Hubbs has been rebuilding the pens, painting them really bright blue and fox proofing them.

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We have also kept our Guinea Fowl, their eggs had been a gift from my Mum. We had a great time watching them hatch and grow they are old friends – in the end we could not part with them.

We had a great time with our youngest daughter and friends who came to stay and help us get set up for the winter, it was all hands to the paint brush/ axe / hammer/ tools so we could get as much done as possible before the bad weather sets in. They all worked really hard. Xenia, Maddie and Tammie did a great job on our doors and Drew, Naomi and Frank chopped up loads of wood. We chilled out with a Paella and a few beers in the evening, Hubbs and I retired leaving everyone else sat around the fire pit, a great day. Sunday we followed the same plan, sitting down to a traditional Roast Beef Sunday Lunch after the work was done, it was amazing, enjoyed by everyone including our dogs who only just got a look in on the three rib bones.

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Hubs has  also be spraying and powdering, like everyone else we have had red mite but thanks to Ficam – W which is the best product I have found to get rid of these horrid wee beasties we have it under control. Hubbs don’s his overalls, boots gloves and mask (HASCHEM KIT) as it’s not very nice if it comes into contact with you. But like all things common sence and safety are key and a good spray gun. The spray helps get into all the nooks and cranny any where a mite will hide, they cannot run away. We also front line the birds a tiny drop on each leg and Diatom them. Sounds a bit over kill but it works.2013-08-02 08.13.38

Life is Wonderful

I’m here in our office at 4am thinking over all my years as a chicken keeper and breeder; there have been highs and lows, lots of love, laughter and fun, more than a few tears when we have lost our featherd friends. I’ve met lots of wonderful people: Dar and T, Tara, Mandi,Nannette, Kirsty and her family, Pauline from Essex, Melanie from Sussex, Ann from Lincolnshire,    the best chicken vet I know. Vicky from Malta. Also famous and infamous who wanted in on chicken keeping (you know who you are). And that’s just to name a few of the good friends I’ve made. I love you all.

Moving day 007

Last week I sat and watched as all of our beautiful brahmas, pekins and faverolles left home for the final time. I think it has been one of the hardest things I have done. The coops had to go as did the incubators in case I got tempted (I know I would be); you cannot keep an old chickeneer down.

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Why… well it all started with the loss of my wonderful old Mum in June. I had not been feeling very well, but because I was worried about her I put it to the back of my mind where it belonged. Until just over two weeks afer the funeral I woke in the early hours with a pain in my chest and I had problems breathing. Hubbs dialed 999 and anambulance was here with us within 15 minutes. A very nice young man  by the name of Justin helped me to keep calm all the way to Queen Eliabeth hospital Kings Lynn. His co-driver was just as nice but I did not get his name. I was deliverd to A&E where they quickly assessed me and sent me for an X-ray. Then the fun began…

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The X-ray was followed by body scans CT’s, PET’s  and MRI’s –  yes about 7 in all.  I was admitted imediately, they found a bed so quickly it was like ‘whoosh’, instant pop-up doctor and nurses. So to cut some of this out I will get to the end. A team of doctors came to see me, they asked if my husband was around or would he be arriving soon,  then they told me there news. I have tumours in my lungs and I need a bi-op like yesterday. My first reaction was ‘I don’t smoke’, then the floor opened up and I fell in it… Hubs arrived thankfully and took over, they said the news was bad, really bad. That seemed like an understatement, zero to 100 in secounds.

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I met other doctors over the next few days, all very nice and a bi-op was arranged. Unfortunately it was then canceled only after getting me ready to go down. I asked to go home, they said yes and in an instant I was back in my beloved garden.

The following week was a mix of hospitals, telephone calls and my lovely GP who brought sense and peace to a very difficult situation. Another bi-op arranged for Monday 22nd July, hoping to get it out of the way so I can start my treatment……….

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We arrived for my bi-op but it never happened because I was too sick with a lung that would have collapsed –  they took one look at me and said “Give that woman a bed”. I was back in hospital, more doctors, more tests, more drugs. And finally we have our lives back and our future. I have a lovely consultant Dr Elradi who discovered I have a very rare illness – Sarcoidosis. It looks exactly like cancer until you start to investigate further, hit it with really strong meds and things start to happen. The airways start to work and instead of struggling like a fish out of water you get air into your lungs, it was wonderful.

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I’m still rather fragile and in time will learn to live with sarcoids just as diabetics live with theirs. But the sad thing is not the illness but the chickens have to go. I will  remain too ill to look after then and I cannot be around the dust from their feathers and dander. I have spent my whole life loving and caring for chickens and a few ducks along the way. So I’m a little bit down but not out, I may not be able to keep the amount I have had before, but we will keep around 12 of our very best birds and Hubbs will look after them. I can enjoy eating the eggs and watching them scratch aroundand  roll in the dust . I can have my time.  I can help and advise others on chicken problems or point you in the right direction. I love a good natter about my girls and boys as you will know if you have ever spoken to me.  I love it, so just pick up the phone or write. I may take time in getting back to you but I will and I WILL continue to write about them so please stay tuned.

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Life is wonderful, make the most of what you’ve got.

Hey Mr Red

Living in Norfolk we have got used to seeing lots of wild life, deer, badgers, rabbits, shrews, mice, rats, water voles and barn owls; also lots of birds, too many to name. The one thing we don’t see much of are foxes. We see them from a distance in the back fields but never up close. We always know when they have paid us a visit by the horrid smell they leave behind. As chicken keepers we do everything we can to prevent them getting in and stealing our girls and boys.

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Sadly recently they got in to our pen of Legbars and odd/bods and they killed almost everything. We found 24 bodies of my little friends, not a nice sight. I cried so much I thought I would never stop. We collected up what was left, cleaned out the coops and closed the gate on the pen. We were despondent.

Hubbs went out to close up later that day and found one of our little rescue girls, we think she hid. We were happy to see her and we put her in with our Gold Brahmas. The next day we went out to open up and check there had been no further visits. Everyone was there and it was calm. Then the dogs started to go mad around a stack of pallets. They were jumping and barking , whatever was in there was not coming out. ‘It must be a rat’ we said, so we left the dogs to it. But they did not give up and eventually we started to move the pallets out one by one to see what was there. We had just put our hand on pallet number five when Paul said ‘that’s not a rat – it’s a Buff Cochin’. We moved quickly and Hubbs reached into the pile and got her out after her two day ordeal in hiding. How happy we were to see her – he placed her on the grass, she fluffed out her feathers had a good shake and wandered off into the flower bed. I gathered her up and she too has gone to live with the Gold Brahmas.

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Foxes do have a place, they are good at killing rats and other small rodents but  I don’t want them in my garden so I do everything I can to keep them out. They are a country animal and it’s the price you pay for living in their environment.

But they have become a pest in our cities and urban areas as they can carry disease that can be passed onto domestic pets. It’s time we took the problem in hand: they have gotten out of control when they can enter people’s homes in search of food. We need a common sense approach that will keep wildlife in the country and numbers to a manageable level but there are already too many in some inner London boroughs. In France I have been told they use birth control –  this seems a wonderful idea, maybe we could do it here.

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I have said so many times how I enjoy this season with all the hatching and chicks around and this year is no different. We have hatched more chicks than ever. We have some new colours: White, Birchin and Silver Laced and lots of the colours we always hatch out: Lemons, Blues and Gold Partridge, Buff Columbian. Maybe I was a midwife in another life because I enjoy having so many chicks around.

Brave new world

Our garden must seem like a huge place to our little growers who are now between 12 weeks and 16 weeks old, as its been a nice warm Spring day I have let them have a run around outside. They have been so amusing to watch. They discovered the hose and played “Lets be firemen” climbing all over it, they had a drink from the dribble of water that always leaks out the end and moved on to the flower beds. where they scratched and sun bathed  enjoying the warmth of the sun. Then they spied  one of our older cockerels who was also enjoying the sun, Blue is very tolerant and did not mind at all when they all went over too him snuggling and pecking at his beak and walking all over him. What a greeting Old Blue took it all in his stride – letting it go on for a good few minutes then he moved off to find a quite place where he could sit back and enjoy

growers 001 the sunshine and the little folk. Who had moved on and did not seem one bit afraid of this big new world, Our three dogs Ellie, Coco and Roo are very used to chickens they know what a No No is – they stood at the back door itching to get out and join in the fun. I waited letting them calm down ( a little time does wonders)  then when they were on their very best behaviour I let them out, they have met the growers before but always with bars between them. The growers saw them coming and were not scared at all in fact they acted as if they owned the place and who were these hairy things with wagging tails coming into their garden it was so funny, to them the dogs were just a nuisance. growers 005

Of course the fun time will be when I have to get them all together to put them to bed. I will have to count them up and make sure I have them all. Then they can snuggle down and pip about their day.

Sunshine lolly pops and rainbows

May bank holiday was just how you would want every holiday to be, warm and sunny with bees buzzing and birds singing lazy mornings and hazy evenings. We have quite a few of our girls sitting on eggs. I made sure they got out and had a drink and food to set them up for the day. They hate being chucked of the nest and show their disapproval by making a very loud buk-buk buk-buk noise and fluffing up their feathers a bit like Queen Victorias we are not amused face. But it could save their life – birds need water. They need water to stay hydrated. It also helps them to make and lay eggs. So what ever you do make sure your birds have a good supply in hot weather. Also if you give your birds corn – nows the time to cut it out of their diet for the summer. They may overheat trying to digest it.chicks and chickens june 2012 054

I have been busy in the garden, after the horrid whether we had last year and in the winter months, there are lots of shrubs and plants to replace and of course there are my hanging baskets and pot plants. I love it,seeing it all come back together watching green buds turn into flowers and our grape-vine springs back into life. When the day is done and I’m soaking in the bath making plans for another day I know it’s all worth it.May 2011 garden 004 - Copy

The lawn has really suffered, chickens and weather wise. so I am giving it lots of feed to help it grow. We have more nettles than I have ever seen and they are growing every where. I dig them out where I can and strim them back as close to the ground as I can get. The chickens don’t mind eating them when their new shoots but as they grow, I think they may be a bit tough or bitter because they turn their beaks up so no help from them I will just have to keep at it and hope I get the better of them. new chicks 2013 088

Last summer I made a new friend  Tara she is as chicken mad as I am. No scrub that I think she is madder than me. She truly gives her birds the five-star life. Tara’s husband made a beautiful Gypsy Caravan for her birds to live in, they are happy heathy birds. Recently Tara came over and picked up two gold partridge girls and a blue partridge Boy. They have settled in nicely and have the run of Tara’s garden and are spoilt rotten. So nice when good things happen.

Quite please we’re pipping

Easter has been fresh, but we got out in the garden and moved three of our chicken coops. Hubbs has been wonderful working like a “Trojan” moving earth, chopping down dead trees,putting up wire panels and making three new coops. I have been busy making tea and cake and cleaning up after the chickens. I have also done my share of cleaning out and chicks 2013 120

In between all the moving and chucking out, we had some new arrivals. the eggs started to pip and it was not long until the wee ones arrived as you can see from my pictures they all look a little surprised. Each chick is a celebration of new life – new beginings, they look at me as if to say are you sure you’re my chicks 2013 121

After a little cuddle I put them back in my broody box  where its nice and cosy and warm – after all hatching out of an egg is a big thing, like knocking down a wall they peck away with their egg tooth until finally it gives way and they are out in the big world. Oh my it’s such a shock, stretching their tiny bodies this way and that the fluff still wet the discovery of feet and tiny tiny chicks 2013 124

Everything is bigger and in colour, the noise – so many different sounds. They need to sleep for at least a day to get over it, they wake every now and then, have a drink and some chick crumbs then its back to sleep again. I love watching them I could sit here all day and just let the hours pass away. I love this time of year because not only is it a time of new beginings its the time of chocolate which I love and bright yellow daffs that sway in the wind. What more could I ask for….new chicks 2013 132

The Dance of love

Don’t you just feel like smiling when the sunshine’s and the air smells so fresh and clean? That’s just how I feel today, there still a nip in the air but the joy of seeing the sun lifts my heart and makes me feel so good. Spring is surely on its way.March Brahmas 059

The boys are strutting their stuff like young costermongers selling their wares in Petticoat Lane on a Sunday morning. Each crow is like the shout of  “Fresh ripe tomatoes!” They are such cheeky boys dancing around the girls and they try their luck with every girl. Cooing and making the most wonderful sounds in the back of their throats bringing gifts of tasty food or titbits, love is so divine. Brahmas are such big birds but very gentle, the cock bird is no dandy but a true gentleman. Wooing his ladies, treating each one as if she were the love of his life (well for this season anyway) some of our young men have been known to sit with their lady loves while they lay their eggs. Last year one went ever further and took on the role of mother when his Lady had enough of hatching eggs and chicks, He took over and raised the brood until they were ready to go out on their own.

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I do find that Brahmas like to stay in particular groups –  they make friends and family and don’t always do well if moved. Everyone has a role to play – one bird is the look out for any danger that maybe lurking, another tells everyone when food has arrived, one or two may be egg layers or look after young, and one is top boss. It can be a he or a she but that’s the one who keeps everyone in line in the pecking order.  I would even go as far to say they pine for lost friends and family, feel displaced, get depressed, feel lost and alone ( it can take quite some time to settle and start laying again, sometimes a whole season). Don’t despair if you have recently brought in new hens – they can and do get over it but it takes time.132

So the time for laying and hatching is upon us, we had our first lot hatch out on the 22nd of Feb and we have been hatching ever since, it’s so wonderful to see each new life, all welcome here.

R.I.P Archie 25/03/2007 to  11/03/2013  – we lost our much beloved Archie (boy cat) to Lymphoma this week, we have been so sad. A very gentle and loving boy who will be missed by us all. xxxP1000151

Getting on with it

February has got off to a good start, the weather is fresh so I’m out there in the garden working – well doing my bit. Hubs is busy doing the repairs ramps that have fallen off, leaking roofs and digging over the pens ready for there new bark to go down.  Today Tuesday 5th we are expecting a delivery, we are very excited. Our mini silo is coming it will hold up to 2 tons of chicken feed – pellets on tap.

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This will give us the opportunity to buy direct from the mill a lose load and save a bit of cash. The other news is we are off to pick up a few new girls tomorrow and then a trip to Alan Kemp’s to pick up another blue Colombian girl, she won the National and is the new model on the Fancy feeds advert (I wonder how the other girls will feel living with a celeb) she is a very pretty girl and will feel right at home with the boy and girls we bought from him last year who are also show winners. I love to stand and watch them first thing in the morning, they run out of their coops to see what delights I have put out for them today. Yes I am spoiling them, I’m hopeing for some good matings and lots of eggs and chicks. I also have a new colour in my pekins silver partridge – this is their first breeding season I have five girls and a lovely little boy who I have called Ringo, I’m still waiting for them to lay some eggs.   The little buff girl is a bantam orpington who jsut loves being in the picture.Image

Out of the Darkness into a New year

I’m a bit late with my January post it was on my list which just got bigger and bigger, I’m not going to tell you about the snow or the rain or the wind and hail.

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I’m going to tell you about my wonderful birds, they make me happy and who would not smile when you see one of my girls running across the lawn with a smile on her beak looking so happy to see me. They coped really well with all the bad weather, we did lose a few which is always sad, but we did really well. They are looking good and getting ready for the new breeding season. The boys are doing their break dancing and hoping around the girls who are not interested at all. With their beaks in the air they carry on scratching the ground as if nothing or no one is bothering them. That will change in the next few weeks as they all come into lay and want to hear the sound of cheep cheep as one then another becomes a mother. I have eggs in the incubator to test fertility fingers crossed for the end of the month.15 jan 2013 003

I’m having a move around, my black Pekin and my Brown Pekin are going to have the run of the garden and my blues are going into a small ark to encourage them to mate and hopefully give us a few more blues. The Brahmans are also moving around as we have a few more colours Birchin and Blue Columbian. So a few extra pens are needed and a few repairs on the old ones.

chocolate pekin boy 003This is out chocolate boy Thornton he has four cute wives and is a really lovely little chap. He always makes sure his girls get the best tidbits and shows them where to dig for nice fat worms. Last year he went on an adventure, he flew over our back fence across the dyke and into the field. Hubs locked up for the night and did not notice he was gone. The girls came running out the next day looking for him here and there no Thornton. I was very upset he was nowhere to be found. four days later we had a call from the other end of our village, had we lost a boy – yes I said and off I went to collect him. He had a very good time visiting two farms and several of our neighbours eating scraps and bits of bread that had been put out for the wild birds. How he never got eaten by our local fox I shall never know and I’m so happy he is back.