Tuesday, 20 October 2009

The First Winter Storm

The moulting ladies are now looking much more respectable, with most feathers at least present now. I for one am very glad, as the weather has taken a decidedly wintry turn here in the midlands. The girls can be seen snuggled together in the border, heads tucked in, trying to keep warm. For the purposes of heat retention, even the silkie's are being tolerated.

We are expecting our first spell of rotten weather later on today, so straight after the school run I prepared the coop. Clearing away last nights droppings, I have added more sawdust to the nest boxes (where Doris sleeps in one, and Margot and Kiki in the other) and a fresh, thick layer of newspaper on the floor (where Mini sleeps next to the door). Mabel. Maude and Maeve sleep high up on the perch, although this might change as the temperature drops.

We are expecting strong winds and driving rain, probably the worst kind of weather for short legged, fluffy hens. I know that the pekins will take themselves off to the shelter of the Convent the second the rain starts to fall, but I can guarantee that I'll be chasing the road runner-esque silkie's around the run in an attempt to keep them warm and dry.

I might even mix up some porridge for my ladies this afternoon.

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Mabel Gets A Make Over

Now that the girls have mostly lost their old plumage, they are busy growing their winter fashions. Maude looks much the same, a lovely caramel colour dotted with black and white. She has begun to preen and strut again, obviously thinking that she looks like the cats pyjamas. Mabel is going through a more radical image change.

The tips of a millefleur pekin's feathers are supposed to be white, so it's no great surprise that the first burst of quills have left Mabel looking like she's been through a bad shock. Her head is almost completely white, as is her chest. All indications are that she will have a lot more white in her markings than she has had previously. The others eye her with suspicion. Who is this new, pale leader? Mabel herself seems to spend a remarkable amount of time preening her new wing feathers, as if she can't quite believe that these odd coloured feathers belong to her.

She has, however, returned to flattening the others periodically, just to remind them who's boss.

Thursday, 1 October 2009

A Few Moulting Pics

Margot, Kiki and Mabel.

My moulting Milles! Maude and Mabel.

My scruffy girls, with an inquisitive Maeve.

Big Girl Voices

The moult continues. Maude now resembles Billy Idol, with a funky short spikey 'do. Mabel is only half the chicken she used to be, and seems to be struggling with her top hen status. Maeve has moved up on to the perch next to the Millefleurs, staking her claim as third in line for the top job. The flock is unsettled.

Our newest members have settled in to the Convent well. Occasionally, Maeve attempts to rip out a beakful of fluff from their ostrich-like necks, but on the whole they are unmolested. There still appears to be some confusion amongst the pekins as to what exactly Kiki and Margot are. For their part, the silkies do their best to stay out of pecking range, and try and blend in with the shrubbery. In this way, no blood has been spilled.

Today was the first day, however, where the babies found their voices. Somewhere between a pekin and a congested duck, is my expert opinion. The pekins stopped foraging and watched the two fluffy pullets trying out their big girl noise. After a bit of bokking/honking, the silkies fell silent and watched the pekins. The ladies had a brief conference, and then rolled around in the flower border.

I assume that means Margot and Kiki were not declaring war on pekin kind.