I woke up to the news that all poultry must be kept indoors for a month - according to the report on BBC News there is a virulent strain of birdflu which although it only affects birds (and isn't transmittable to humans), it has swept across Europe and is on it's way to the UK.
So all owners of poultry from large farms to small backyard pets must keep their birds indoors and away from wild birds.
This is easier said than done - our hens are kept locked in their run during the day to prevent fox attacks and even though there is small mesh completely around their enclosure, I've still seen wild birds in there eating the food - they're so small they can fit through the smallest of gaps...
I'll do what I can to keep them away but if a bird is hungry and can fit through a tiny gap, I'm not sure what anyone can do... Let me know your thoughts and suggestions!
Lets hope this outbreak passes the UK by.
Although I've only been with WhichBingo (the tripadvisor of bingo sites!) for a couple of months, I'm settling in really well thanks to the fact that it's actually a nice company to work for and the people are really nice.
We were all invited down to London on Monday for a posh award's ceremony - we were nominated for two awards and we won one -yay!
Here's me and the lovely WhichBingo Anita looking very drunk/proud!
I haven't been around much for the last couple of months, and the site was starting to die a little, which I apologise for.
I was made redundant in September - which was completely out of the blue, and caused us huge amounts of worry and heartache, and I think (without been too melodramatic) I went into a depression (which had the positive of making me lose weight by not eating - unfortunately I've put it all back on now!) - I was a horrible person to Helen and made her life hell without really meaning to, we were genuinely worried about losing the house - in fact neither of us slept very much as I was wondering if we'd be repossessed, what would happen to the hens, hencam would die out etc etc).
I had a whirlwind few weeks of depression, not eating, not sleeping, and in the midst of all that going for interviews and trying to think positively whilst really not feeling it. And thank god I found a new role at a really great place, it's a bit more travelling but the working environment and personal improvement I'll hopefully get will make up for it. I started on the 11th Oct so it's still early days but the people seem nice so fingers crossed I have found my 'forever' workplace! One positive is that even the short time I've been at my new role it's highlighted how bad my previous job was and how badly treat the people there were, so I'm glad to be out!
During all this I haven't felt up to keeping on top of the new signups, hencam news or even making sure cameras etc work - I think I fixed the broken one the other day but I noticed an update to the streaming software had broken stream - it seems to be showing an old stream?! I'll try and get that fixed asap.
But the site is pretty much all working - I had a camera die (actually a power supply I think - but it took the camera with it) - I've replaced it with another and will play about with where to site it this weekend.
We bought the chickens a xylophone - Shobna sent me a facebook link with a hen playing one, so I ordered one immediately with a warm and fuzzy feeling, but our chickens have completely ignored it :( I did get Ariel to peck it as she ate mealworms from my fingers so there is a strong possibility of training the hens to use it, but I'm not sure the original facebook post wasn't just a ploy to get affiliate orders...
This Saturday we will be watching with great excitement, the world championship hen racing in Bonsall, Derbyshire!
We did think about taking a hen and taking part but it's a bit of a long journey and the last time we moved three hens (Claudia, Hedwig and Olga), they had a stress/heat induced cough when we got home...
I'll try and take some pics/videos of the exciting hen-racing action. :)
Who is the rather strange hen laying eggs precariously on top of the nest boxes?!
I suspect one of the small/bantams as the eggs are small, but I need to go through some of the webcam history to try and pinpoint who it is... Whoever it is, they're a bit confused as to where they should be laying eggs!
It's Amazon Prime Day! Time to stock up on stuff you don't really want...
I did manage to find a cheapish solar powered charger - hopefully it will save us some money as our electricity bills are 50% higher than the national average :( I suppose that's what you get for having a PC, 4 cameras and mic's running 24/7.
If you do want to go have a look on amazon, please use our links, it doesn't cost you anything but helps bring us a few pence if you order :)
We've got problems with our internal electricity wiring so the camera will be off and on for the next few days.
Fingers crossed it's all sorted for the weekend...
Can't believe the little englanders swayed the vote and the UK is leaving the EU...
What's worse is we won't stay as the UK for long - Scotland will leave, and probably NI too.
It seems the 'leave' voters will get the small-minded country they obviously want.
Before we'd even got home one of our new hens Olga was 'rattly' - chesty and wheezy - apparently it can be quite common as it's brought on by stress such as moving, introductions to new hens etc.
A couple of weeks later and she's more or less over it - it gives them a sore throat so they don't eat for a few days, but usually get over it quickly. However they can give it to the other hens, so you need to keep an eye on it.
Hedwig came down with it last week, and for a few days sounded like an accordion as she breathed - I was a bit worried but she seems to be getting over it now - Olbas Oil on their neck feathers seemed to help them breathe at night too. I've seen her eating which is a good sign.
However, earlier this week Renee came down with it - badly. She was *very* rattly and her breathing was laboured, she stopped eating and looks completely depressed. I wasn't sure if she was still drinking. Obviously quite serious.
So this morning I took a couple of hours out of work and took her to the vets - she looked dreadful and didn't really want to stand up - she had discharge from her nostrils and was obviously feeling rotten. The vet though was quite positive and gave me antibiotics (Tylan) to give the hens in the water (which is nice and easy - have you ever tried to inject a hen?!), and she should hopefully be feeling better in 2-3 days.
I did force-feed her some medicated drink when we got home just to make sure she had some in her system, so fingers crossed it does the trick.
If you do look at the hencam, please let me know of any unusual behaviour - and also if Renee drinks (from either waterer) - it would be nice to know she's taking on the medicine that should help her.
Recently I had a cylindrical fish tank that leaked, so we were throwing it out and I was wondering what I could do with it.
I had the idea of sawing the bottom end off, then building some kind of frame around it, laying some turf on it and making a hobbit-tunnel for the hens to play on!
It slowly came together on a hot and sweaty evening (last night) - so the turf is kind of raggedy (in fact it was half-dead at the garden center - we complained and got it for 50p a roll from £4 - it will only get battered by the hens anyway).
But the hens love it! They initially tentatively busied themself eating the grass around the edges (little gits!) - then Renee sauntered through the tunnel - she's the bravest chicken I know and appeared on the other side all "yeah, what of it? I do this all the time"...
Here we have the three idiots who are still trying to hatch non-existant chicks...
Well we thought we had enough nest boxes for the girls - we had two broody hens (Maude and Mabel) but as they are only lickle banties it still left lots of room for the others to lay.
That was, until Velma our huge Brahma went broody a couple of days ago! She fluffs herself out and is enormous - you could fit dozens of eggs under her! Unfortunately none of them will hatch though :(
So I've been tipping her off the nest when I can - she's heavy (really heavy!) but is so gentle she just clucks disapprovingly and hasn't pecked me once - even the shy Pekins will peck any hand or hen that comes near when they are sitting on the nest - I watched Maude furiously pecking Renee's neck the other day as she tried to lay!
So desperate measures etc - I bought an 'under bed storage box' which is a wide large box, just slightly smaller than the width of the coop, and filled that with straw and put that in front of the nest boxes to provide an additional laying area.
Renee was the first to investigate this strange new addition - she scratted the straw for a bit, then decided it was either a bit boring or she could wait to lay and went back outside.
Hopefully there will be a couple of eggs in it when I check later today.
Took this picture of Claudia and she looks like a bowling pin :)
(bonus points for the chicken death-stare too)
I was a bit worried yesterday as I noticed Velma, our massive Brahma beast, was sitting on the nest a lot. She even stayed on it when I went and offered mealworms (something which she'd have gladly stopped mid-laying an egg for!)
So when I went in to turf Maude off the nest (she's our broody Lavendar Pekin) - I received a couple of vicious pecks (broody's are hilarious as they warn you off and peck at any would-be attackers) - luckily as she's so small it really doesn't hurt.
I was slightly concerned approaching Velma as she's a *lot* bigger and probably could hurt you if she wanted to. I approached and she made strange clucky noises, not her usual calls. I reached under her and lifted her up, she was so fluffed out she filled a whole nest-box - she's massive when she spreads out!
She continued to make warning coo's, but didn't peck me at all, just watched me with her quizzical sideways peering.
She realised I wasn't going to give up as I lifted her out (not easy as it's a bit of a reach to the back of the house and she's really heavy), she agreed to leave the (empty!) nest and grab something to eat.
She's back on the nest today though. Silly hen. But a lovely, sweet and gentle hen. I've never seen a broody not peck before... Bless her.
(that's the noise a pirate chicken would possibly make).
Yesterday we had SIX eggs in one day! :)
The medium white egg at the back is Renee's, the huuuge very light cream egg at the front is new girl Claudia's!
We will be drowning in eggs very shortly..!
We de-stressed one evening with a gorgeous walk through Middleton (Bluebell) Woods in Ilkley...
The sun was low in the sky and shining through the trees, highlighting the bluebells carpeting the floor.
We watched the sunset, then made our way home, happy.
Well, we had a bit of a mammoth day today, we visited the lovely people at Manor Farm Poultry and were shown round all their wonderful hens and Emu's and ducks and god knows what else!
We originally wanted to look at their Brahmas, but they sold the last one the day before our visit. But there were so many other wonderful and fancy breeds we were spoilt for choice, and instead of coming home with 1 hen, we ended up with three!
So, without further ado, meet:
Olga the Russian Orloff:
Frieda the Thüringian:
Claudia the Vorwerk:
There's been a bit of aggro whilst the pecking-order is sorted, but hopefully the worst should be over now. The little ones (Olga and Frieda) have kept away from the others - Olga seems to be a bit chesty but I think that's due to the stress of moving and will hopefully clear up in a week.
They're beautiful hens, and Claudia is a large bird and really striking and didn't mind me stroking her at all - apparently Thüringians are really quick to tame and will seek your company - Helen already had Frieda eating from her hand and she stepped onto my arm so I could put her to bed - so sweet!
Hopefully you'll get a decent look at them over the coming weeks...
I love summer (well, what summer we get, all 2 days of it!) - I like the early signs that it's on it's way - daffodils, green leaves suddenly appearing, cherry blossom...
One of the signs that really says "it's nearly here!" is Milly's cherry blossom tree, and it's in full flower now and looks gorgeous: