This blog is mainly a rambling kind of diary of the transition from smallholderwannabe to smallholder.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Yesterday was my chicks' four week birthday so I weighed them.  They have all put on at least SIX times their weight at hatching.  They are almost feathered up now too - just a few wisps of down around the head and neck.  If they have put on that much weight and have grown feathers, then you can imagine what sort of quantities of food they are eating.  They can fly well too and we really need a wire "lid" to their big box (well, two boxes joined together) that they live in.

They are soooo cute.

Monday, July 25, 2011

We had a visit from the fox towards the end of last week.  Fortunately, he didn't get any of my hens. However, one of my hens had gone broody and when they had laid any eggs for the day, I've been closing up the entrance to the henhouse so that she could not go back and just sit in the nest box all day.  My husband went up at dusk to let them back into the henhouse and then shut it up for the night.  But he missed one of the hens who was probably hiding, and that was what the fox was after.  In the morning, I found a traumatised hen holding herself upright by leaning on the feed hopper and all fluffed up and hunched with her tail pointing straight down at the ground.  Her comb had gone a very pale pink.  Poor thing!  I thought I was going to lose her but after wandering around aimlessly for a couple of days and refusing to eat, she decided to stay with us yesterday and eat something.  Today, she is looking a great deal perkier.  The fox had dug a substantial hole right under the edge of the run but had come up against the heavy duty wire that I keep under the run.  It is quite large mesh wire so that the hens can still scratch around easily but the fox can't get in.  This wire has saved my hens on quite a number of occasions now as the fox has also been to visit several times during the daytime when the hens are in the run but we are at work. 

Friday, July 22, 2011


We got there.  There have been times during this half term when I was not confident that I would make it through to the end of term but I have made it.  Yay!  I am not going to do anything useful for the rest of the day apart from feeding us and the animals.  I decree a holiday for the rest of today.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

I was reading the Wartime Housewife's blog this morning and she has posted about Radio Signs also known as the NATO Phonetic Alphabet.  I was interested because although I recognised delta alpha foxtrot etc when I cam across them,  I could not myself have told you more than a very small number of these signs.  Nor did I know what they were called or exactly why somebody invented them beyond that it was something to do with radio.  And I certainly did not know the "protocol" for numbers.  She also gives a link to the BBC website for a fuller explanation of the story behind them.  A google search for The Wartime Housewife will come up with her blogpost.

So I have pinched her list of signs and put them here so that I will remember what they are and where to find them    : )   There have been times during some phone calls when I would have found this knowledge useful.........

A = Alpha      H = Hotel          O = Oscar        V = Victor

B = Bravo       I = India            P = Papa          W = Whisky

C = Charlie     J = Juliet           Q = Quebec      X = X-Ray

D = Delta       K = Kilo             R = Romeo       Y = Yankee

E = Echo        L = Lima            S = Sierra          Z = Zulu

F = Foxtrot    M = Mike          T = Tango

G = Golf         N = November  U = Uniform

There is also a protocol for numbers:

1 = Wun    2 = Two    3 = Tree    4 = Fower    5 = Fife

6 = Six    7 = Sefan    8 = Ait    9 = Niner    0 = Zero

ps These are perfectly lined up when seen in the "type it in" box but when I hit "publish", the call signs take on a life of their own and jump around out of line like naughty schoolchildren.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Recently, I looked at a blog and followed a link on it to another blog where there was a post about raising chicks.  There was also a table about the quantities of food the chicks ate.  Right now, the boys in the Nature Club would be very interested in that post and that table.  However, I can't find it.  I've wasted several several hours looking for it so if you recognise that post as being one from a blog that you follow - please tell me.


Sunday, July 10, 2011

This is not a good week.  Another of my middleaged hens has gone.  This one was my favourite - a black Sussex.  Yesterday I was looking at her and thinking that she was looking very old although she was less than half the age of the remaining bantam.  Today she is gone. That is three hens gone this week. None were showing any signs of being ill so at least they all had a peaceful end.

The chicks are growing apace.  They have all put on between a third and a half of their body weight in the last week.  It is a good thing that their skin is stretchy!  And they have all their pin feathers at the end of their wings already.  In fact, on Friday, I watched two of them fly from one end of their box to the other.  I am absolutely fascinated to watch these little creatures grow and conquer little challenges.  It is all happening so fast.  I am going to be really upset if they all turn out to be male...

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

I've managed to borrow a data cable so that I can get all my photos off my phone and store them on the computer.  This is about five minutes after the chick hatched on Friday evening.  It has been named Spot since there is that little clump of black feathers at the back of its head. I think it is a bantam since it is so much smaller than the others.  The chicks' pin feathers at the edge of their wings have grown already and they are eating for England.  And as they are eating lots, they are doing something else lots too : )

Two of my hens died last night.  Neither of them seemed unwell so it is just one of those things.  One was my white Silkie bantam and she must have been pushing 10 years old so she simply died of old age.  The other was my white hen from my middleaged flock.  Her eggs were pure white so I know that she hadn't laid since about March.  It was probably just that her time was up.  I only had the two white hens and they both died on the same night - now what are the odds of that.  The white hen was not a friendly one.  In the winter when I had to collect the eggs after they had gone up to roost, she would peck your hand off if she happened to be the nearest to the nestbox. 

But I'm still sad to have lost them.  The white Silkie bantam lived with another black Silkie bantam of the same age and I can't see the black one going on long on her own.  Of course, she may prove me wrong but her death would really be the end of an era for me.  Ah well.

Friday, July 01, 2011

Two chicks have hatched overnight and a third looks very likely today.  140 different people looked in on the webcam filming last night and this morning.  And there is serious traffic jam in the science corridor because everybody is going around school via the biology lab : )