A day of chickens

After waiting in for a special delivery most of the morning (which was damaged in transit and didn’t arrive), I got down to the allotment quite late. When I got down, I was quite worried about Pop being in the greenhouse in the sudden, unexpected heat. Fortunately, Geoff had opened both greenhouse doors and brought her out of the nest box. I felt her crop and found she didn’t have much food in it. On the one hand this is good because it shows her crop is working and emptying properly. On the other hand, it means she hadn’t eaten much in the morning. I walked down to the main coop and grabbed some corn, oats and sunflower seeds and took Pop’s food bowl back to her. She had a half hearted rummage through it then had a doze.

I opened up the shed and had a chat with Phil about the bees. He mentioned that the local farmer was after some young cockerels and did I want Leia’s chicks picking up today with the other cockerels. I said yes and went across to have a look at them. They are all going to be stunning cockerels when they are fully grown! Poor Leia was looking very frazzled with them and as they are nearly 6 weeks old, it’s time she was put back with the other girls and for the cockerels to move on.

Next, I thoroughly watered the bog garden using the hose that goes underneath the soil and for good measure, watered the plants too. It was exciting to see that the water forget-me-nots have started to flower. I think I may get a few more to fill the space around the outside of the pond.

My ex-colleague and her two daughters came to visit the allotment. I helped them with some advice when they took on an allotment in Sandbach last year. The girls were excited to see the chicks and were amazed at how big the Rhode Island Reds chicks were. The last time they saw them was in March, when the chicks were a week old! I showed them around and managed to offload a ton of rhubarb on them. Phil kindly gave them a massive cucumber too.

As my friend got her girls into the car, I closed up the shed and put Pop into the outdoor coop for some fresh air. I asked Cliff to put her back into the greenhouse when he went so that she could enjoy some time in the fresh air. Then I jumped into the car and we set off for the Sandbach Allotment. It is possibly the most beautiful allotment site but not the most practical. There is so much grass, every path between plots and around the site are grass. There apparently is a rota for ensuring the grass is regularly cut so it doesn’t overtake everything. Their plot is lovely and they have clearly done a lot of work to tidy it. They have boxed off some of the beds which is am excellent idea to stop the grass encroaching into the crops. I love visiting other sites as it’s fascinating to see how other sites are run. On her site, they are not allowed sheds, greenhouses, chickens or any of the larger structures which make a plot individual to the person who leases it. What is particularly special about my site is our community. Everyone is always happy to help, share their experience, swap produce and seeds as well as helping each other in a miriad of other ways.

Late afternoon saw me back on site. I had decided to walk back and check on Pop. Cliff had kindly put her back into the greenhouse. Even with the back door slightly ajar, it was very hot for her. As I tried to work out what to do with her to cool her down, she pushed herself upright and produced a bright green poo. A bit grim but at least her digestive system appears to be working. I put her out on the patio whilst I cleaned the nest box and refilled her water bowl with fresh cool water. I made sure that while I sat with her both greenhouse doors were open to allow a through draft to cool it down.

Suddenly, I remembered that Leia would be on her own in the broody coop. I carefully put Pop back into the now much cooler greenhouse and ran down to check on Leia. Poor Leia, she looked rather lonely and a bit at a loss without her chicks. I decided it was time to bite the bullet and put her into the main coop. Prior to going broody, we had tried to integrate her with the rest of the flock. It didn’t go well. Chicken wrestling isn’t a sport but it should be because trying to catch a recalcitrant bird is hard work, requiring speed, agility and strength worthy of any number of different sports. She shouted the place down, disturbing Geoff who was enjoying a quiet pipe with his chickens. To help Leia, I put her on the top of the nest box with some food, so she was initially out of range of the others. They all eyed each other suspiciously. Aggie was rather curious and jumped up to see who this was. Leia freaked out and tried to hide. It was rather pathetic. Aggie was completely bewildered at Leia’s reaction. I left them to it for a few minutes and walked across to Geoff’s coop to say hello.

One of Geoff’s chickens has had a prolapse. This can happen when a chicken gets old or lays a particularly big egg. He was rather worried about her because it had come back out and the other girls had been pecking at it. I managed to find some advice on dealing with prolapses online which said to isolate the bird, have a warm bath and push the prolapse back in and hold it in place for 10 minutes. If it pops back out, try repeating the process. Feed her on anything other than layers pellets and keep her warm. I dashed across to the shed and grabbed the cat carrier and put in a layer of shavings in the bottom. Honestly, I don’t know why I bother calling it a cat carrier when it has had more birds in than any other animal (Jack the Jackdaw, Charles the Racing Pigeon, Napoleon and now Geoff’s chicken). White leghorns are lovely bird but their long legs make them very difficult to catch. It took several attempts but Geoff and I managed to corner her and catch her. Once in the carrier, she wasn’t particularly impressed but at least she was safe from being pecked. I lent Geoff the green plastic tub which is a perfect chicken bath so he can give her a salt bath to clean up her rear end. Fingers crossed it works!

Plan for tomorrow is to pop across to my friend and collect a few more logs for the back part of the stumpery as well as cleaning out the broody coop fully. Although the weather forecast is for torrential rain so it may have to wait for another day….

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