Uphilldowndale

Watching nature take its course, from the top of a hill in northern England


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Good Friday

Spud the dog thinks it is a very good Friday as he is home from kennels, he’s been simply dizzy with delight. He is now exhausted and crashed out on the sofa, snoring loudly.

 

We came home from York yesterday evening, too late to collect Spud, but an easy journey home, for the eve of a bank holiday.

 

It has been glorious here today. After a cold and frosty start

lambs frost

But the sun and blue skies melted it all away. The spring flowers like the birds are just singing.

 

IMG_8771

I’m not sure next door’s cockerel is too chuffed at the return of Spud, I think he’d been making a move on our chickens in his absence. Spud pointed him off in the right direction, again

public footpath 

Have another flower or two, there are plenty to go round.

snakes head


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Wind Egg

Or maybe, storm egg would be a better title, wind eggs we’ve covered before.

Who knows,  if it was  the 80mph winds we had here last night; but something upset one of the chickens.

 

storm egg 2

Poor girl.

storm egg

I suppose I’m going to have to get used to thinking, ‘I’ll tell Mum about that’ and then feeling the stark realisation that I can’t, tell her anything anymore.

 

In the distracted, absent minded way of the recently bereaved, today I tried to put chocolate sauce on my fried egg, instead of brown sauce. Sigh.

 

Here, is how a shell is formed, and here, how the egg develops


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Our Not So Feathered Friend

Our Daisy Belle  chicken has been in moult; the lass is clogging on a bit in years, here she is in her youth in 2007

Daisy

She can’t mange such a resplendent plumage these days. But she is working on this seasons feathers right now.

Chickens stop laying when they moult and general act ‘out of sorts’ not quite hanging out with the rest of the flock, first in the hen house at night, last out in a morning, having a bad feather day I suppose. They moult once a year, they don’t loose all the feathers at once (I’m not even sure how often some feathers are replaced, not every year I think).

Here she is with her new feathers emerging.  Bless.

Daisy belle 3-1.

The quill grows first, and then the feather emerges from the tip of the quill,

Daisy belle 4-1

it looks like she’s covered in little paint brushes.

Daisy belle 2-1

Reader Charles is concerned for Spuds  the dogs welfare, as he has been absent of late. I can report he is fine, muddy and wet, but that’s Springers for you… He’ll be along soon.


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Not Spud on Sunday

Spud the dog would like to apologise for his lack of appearance this evening. This was due in part to the pleasure of  my friend Joss ringing up for a nice long natter (we are rarely ladies who lunch, a phone call has to suffice) … suddenly it’s 10pm and not a post written. Ahh well.

I think instead we’ll report the status of the daisy-belle chicken (Spud has an appointment at the dog groomers this week, he promises to ‘make an entrance’  and ‘strike a pose’ next Sunday.)

The daisy-belle you might remember went broody some weeks ago; it is still resolutely sitting in the old washing up bowl in the barn in a sort of broody stupor come semi hibernation sort of mode. The blue-belle actually sits on top of the daisy-belle to lay her egg as it refuses to budge out of the favoured laying place. All we end up with is an egg broken under the weight of two chickens.

The swallows that were nesting in the barn have fledged, this year five chicks, with no Darcy or Dandy to decimate. The swallow chicks are roosting on a roof timber directly above the broody  daisy-bell. They do exactly what the young of most species do… they poo indiscriminately. All over the daisy-belle. She flinches not. She is a strange old bird.

daisy-belle-1


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Chicken Run

It is not just the chickens that have been running around, I barely been home for the last week, well that’s how it feels. A few more days at the same pace then I’m hoping for a little rest and relaxation.

You might remember we had three new chickens. As predicted the three senior chucks were not impressed. The daisy-belle went ‘broody’ within 24 hrs of the arrival of the newbies and has been sat in an old washing up bowl in the barn ever since. Senior Warren has been terrorising the new arrivals and as of today is looking a bit peeky, maybe the stress of it all has got to her.

The new girls spent a few days in the run, getting to understand where ‘home’ is. Then we left the door open for them to   step out and start exploring their new world.

Chicken run-1

It didn’t pan out as we expected. when three, vagrant lambs that have been stalking the lanes of late decided the grass was greenest in the chicken run.

Chicken run 1-1

Poor chickens.

Chicken run 3-1

We had to send teenagers to sort the pantomime out.

Chicken run 4-1


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Coronation Chicken

Meet one of our new girls

New Girl -1

She is one of three Warren Babcock chickens that we picked up yesterday,  they’re not quite at ‘point of lay’ yet.  We chose warrens this time as we’ve found them to be good layers, healthy and  robust and at £8 each much cheaper than some of the fancier breeds we’ve had such as Daisy Belle and Blue Belle (which typically cost about £14:00 a head).

We’re keeping them in the run for a day or two, until they’ve got a handle on where home is, especially at dusk. We’ve had new hens trying to roost in trees and the neighbours shed before now. There’s bound to be fun and games whilst the pecking order is established. One of the Warrens has already shown her leadership qualities.

Tonight we’ll take a wander up the hill and see if we can find a Jubilee beacon or two, but first a roast beef dinner; nom nom nom.


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Getting in a Flap

WordPress tell me I should be writing posts about chickens, this is based on how many search enquiries land on my blog looking for chickens, especially Bluebelle. I’d be happy if I had time to write posts about anything.

Any road up; I’m here now, with a chicken or two.

The topic is Daisybelle  rather than Bluebelle, but then life is full of compromises.

Daisy Belle Chicken -1

This is the boss of the chicken run, she can be a nasty piece of work to her underlings, chasing them around the run in a morning.  The name Daisy belle comes from the ruff of white feathers around the neck. These girls are getting on a bit, more than I had realised as this  next photo was taken in November 2007,

Daisy

these girls are ancient in chicken years!

Getting in a flap-1

Egg production had dwindled to almost nothing through the darkest days of winter, but now, surprisingly, give their age,  things are on the up.

Despite having three nice nest boxes in the hen house they prefer to lay in an old set of drawers in the barn. There can be a bit of a tussle for position (you can guess who wins).

Double yolk -1

After laying and the regulation clucking and squawking (I’ve never understood the Darwinian reasoning behind chickens need to tell the world where they have just laid their eggs)  the preferred exit route from the barn is through the ventilation  slits in the  barn wall, 

Narrow escape -1 

this often takes visitors by surprise.

Narrow escape 1-1


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Counting Chickens

One, two, three, four, five… where is number six? Our  six chickens are quite biddable (for a scoop of corn) but when  I was trying to entice them back into their run the other afternoon, one of their number was missing. Most unusual .

But wait, what is this, could it be…

counting chickens-1 

It’s looking promising, the head is moving!

counting chickens 2-1

I was worried for a moment, I’ve found  unpleasant things here before

counting chickens 3-1

you remember I told you about Spud and his hobby of digging? Much as we dislike the ankle twisting craters he digs (we’ve had enough trauma, thank you)  in the field, the chickens it seems, love them, just the place for a late afternoon dust bath.

counting chickens 4-1

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