So when I arrived down on site this afternoon, I discovered that Cliff’s black leghorn who have been trying desperately to save from suspected gapeworm/respiratory infection had died. It looks like she went peacefully in her sleep which is a blessing. I immediately rang Cliff to let him know what had happened.
Slightly saddened that all the efforts we went to save her had failed, I tried to cheer myself up by checking in on our girls. Over in the new coop, Gordon and his gang were busy perching but came down enthusiastically when I threw out some treats for them. In the Omlet, the little Weed Destroyers hungrily scoffed their fresh kale leaves and shouted their disapproval that they had had to wait all day for this. Sighing with exasperation, I headed down to the main coop.
Opening up the door of the Nest House, I was greeted by worried clucks. Rolling my eyes, I found Leia cowering in the nest box. Telling her to man up, I grabbed the eggs and put them to one side. As I did so, Tommy appeared. He really does cut quite the imposing figure when in a small space. For reasons best known to himself, he firstly launched himself at me and when that didn’t work, turned on Leia. That poor bird! She struggles to be in a coop with more than two other birds and has never been near a cockerel until the last week. From what I saw, Tommy has taken a particular dislike to Leia. Concerned that we might ha e a repeat of what happened to the Buff Orpington which bonged to Phil and Steve, I closed the door and headed back up to the greenhouse. Carefully, I removed Cliff’s hen and cleared out the nest box and tidied up the floor. I refilled the nest box with new bedding and diatomaceous earth and took advantage of the water still being on to clean out both the food and water bowls.
Trooping down to the main coop with the food bowl, I threw out the treats in the hope Tommy would leave me alone. It seemed to work and I headed back up to the greenhouse, armed with a full bowl of food unscathed. Now to move Leia. She is a massive bird at the best of times and whilst this makes her easier to catch, she is significantly harder to carry. Muttering under my breath about owning a princess chickens without any semblance of avian flock mentality, I hauled her up to the greenhouse. After looking around carefully, no doubt to check there weren’t any other birds, she walked straight to the food bowl and began gobbling the food. Clearly, she hasn’t been getting at the food much. I suspected the combination of having to get past all the other girls and Tommy was quite the disincentive.
As she settled back into her favourite home, I thought about the amount of time she has spent in the greenhouse. I moved Emily and her three chicks shortly after they were born because Leia had caught hypothermia in their broody run. She had struggled to get up the ramp to the broody box and had spent the night outside. She spent several weeks in the greenhouse mere weeks later when she lost the use of her legs. Two vet visits and three weeks later, she was back on her feet and got introduced to Rey. The first attempt to integrate Leia and Rey with the rest of the flock failed. Back in the greenhouse, Leia was joined by Lilja. They overwintered in the greenhouse, moving with Sadie into the new coop earlier this year. Yet here she was again. Part of me wondered whether it might be worth her overwintering in the greenhouse again. Question is, who should keep her company? I don’t really want to move Lilja or Sadie as it would leave one of them alone against all the others.
One part of me wonders whether I could sneak another chicken past my husband… Pondering possibilities, I headed back home to clean out the coops. As I headed back home, the heavens opened and by the time I got home, I was rather damp. Rightly judging that I wouldn’t have enough bedding to do both Omlets, I roped in my husband to help move Maude and Mavis’s run so I could clean it. It didn’t take long to remove all the old bedding and clean the ground. With a second pair of hands, reassembling the run was easy. All that was left was to catch Maude and Mavis. More easily said than done! Between us, we eventually managed to corner them and put them back in the run.
As if my choice of cleaning out the coop was the wrong one, the silkies started to shout angrily at my attention being lavished on the old girls. Despite the rain, and being rather damp, I mollified the silkies by refilling their nest with new bedding. Now thoroughly wet, I headed back inside to change and make the traditional batch of treacle toffee for Bonfire Night!