The Adventures Of Coop & The Gang

Oh Baby Its Cold Outside January 22, 2012

Well it appears winter has arrived, with the signs of a hard frost not cleared by the dusk of the day drawing in and the first frozen drinker of the year.

This morning was a bit of a palaver, everyone keen and eager to rise and then one feel of the bitter chill in the air the girls were less than impressed. On discovery of the frozen water trough I headed up the garden to get the replacement bought earlier in the year in anticipation. At which point the girls duly squawked and followed, with tiny little quick footsteps as if to say I don’t like this but I know you’ve got corn so gimmie. They endured for as long as they could and it was straight back to Coop, they all snuggled up in the far corner which is sealed on both sides, at which point they had fresh food and water so I retired back to bed to warm my hands and toes.

As I suffer with Raynauds which is likened to being allergic to the cold more specifically a change in temperature I am very aware of how miserable it is to be cold. Are the Chickens likely to be cold? There is a little part of me that thinks the answer is yes but in reality you don’t need to worry about your hens being cold, they’ll be fine!

When I looked at preparation for the winter months earlier in the year, I looked at the possibility of a day light bulb to increase egg production but decided against it on the basis of a more natural approach but I also looked at heat pads to underneath the drinkers, the big problem I found is that those available on the market are round and our drinker is a oblong trough. They’re relatively simple and ensure chickens have fresh running water at all times; it may be a vital move if the weather continues to descend.

Coop has been inspected for drafts and the ventilation option changed over to winter at the rear of coop, as the sun came up the girls warmed up and came out to play, dust bathing and playing with their treat dispensing ball filled with meal worms and corn for some essential before bed fat.

We are lucky have chosen hardy and sturdy birds more by luck than judgement and our only immediate cold weather defence is Vaseline. Any bird with a large wattle or comb could benefit with an application to help prevent frostbite on exposed and sensitive areas, a little hat and gloves if you please.

Some chicken breeds will require more attention in the cold some of the more ornate breeds… anything with some exposed flesh or light feather. So glad I didn’t acquire the three frizzles on sale at the last Open Farm Sunday at my friend’s farm they would need a heat pad and a blanket. Although that said, our hen house is quite large and my birds are but three, seems like a rather good excuse to acquire one or two more. Or perhaps just a heat lamp!


Noisy Birds January 15, 2012

The last few days the girls have been giving us grief or maybe my tolerance levels are running a little low but the incessant unrelenting tapping on the back door has seen me shuffling them straight back to coop with a flea in their ear.

I can’t work out if they think the paint spatters on the back step are corn they can eat or that I’ve taught them too many bad habits by always feeding them while I sit on the back door step and fussing them when they started tapping.

We live in an end terrace, built up small estate. We have screaming babies, small yelling children, irritating yappy dogs, catawalling cats and cars wheel spinning in and out of the road to visit three doors down at all hours. In spite of all this in the quiet times, our estate is quiet. Till recently.


Hens for the most part don’t make a lot of noise, they’ll alert each other to danger, squawk to reintegrate themselves into the group and announce they have laid an egg, but there is no unrelenting alarm call that comes with a cockerel.

Mave has always been a talker, well a squeaker and likes to interact with you on a you cluck I’ll cluck basis that proper soothing cluck cluck sound that really does warm your heart. Florence is always a barometer for danger, an odd cluck when she’s really had enough of being under your arm to a full on b’caw ‘b’caw when she spies the neighbours cat or a red kite apart from this you wouldn’t know Florence was around…the amount of times we’ve tripped over her as we didn’t even realise she was there.

Doris, well she was quite. Recently she has somewhat fallen in love with the sound of her own voice, not the soothing cluck cluck…the kind of chicken-a-walling that means at 7am, I can hear her through our closed double glazing. She is the only hen on top form presently, Mave is still covered in pin feathers and Flo has only two remaining tail feathers for her efforts with the moult.

This morning they were out of the hen house at first light with food and water but Doris just wanted to chat. I thought maybe we had an intruder in the garden, but a peak out of the curtain showed nothing other than Doris frog marching herself up and
down the front of Coop belting out her morning tune one b’caw after another, I hoped she’d wear herself out with all the yammering but no the only thing that settles her is seeing someone she knows outside.

Which sadly at the moment is my only option, while I would rather she didn’t realise she could summon me on a Saturday and Sunday to her our neighbours ALWAYS sleep with their window open & they’re good people who deserve a lie in. Really I do just want her to be quiet.

With Doris is doesn’t seem to matter if she’s cooped up or free range, if she wants to wail like banshee she will at the moment. Fortunately it doesn’t appear to be earlier than the permitted noise hour of 7am but still not everyone wants to be up at that hour. While tidying the garden and giving Coop and good deep clean out and while the girls were stuffing their faces on worms and slugs uncovered by the clean up we had Doris up on the table for a good look over, she’s not in pain, her skin and feathers are good, nice clean eyes, strong beak, good colouring, so why the hollering bird?

I do worry about the noise from Coop & The Gang, it’s not a “normal” noise you’d put on your urban environment list of most people so it stands out and we benefit from the laughs & the eggs and even I find it annoying sometimes!

This week we have permanently black out the windows in the hen house with blackboard paint, precision not required and I am considering lining the door once we’ve done this to act as a little insulation noise and otherwise. Any other suggestions?


Egg Hiding & The Signs Of Broodyness January 8, 2012

Filed under: Keeping Chickwans — Coop & The Gang @ 1:00 pm
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We’ll Coop & The Gang don’t half talk about Mave…We are a family of three after all. The only thing Mave isn’t contributing to at the moment is egg production, that’s Doris & Flos domain. Despite my belief that although our girls claim to be pure breeds, I suspect they are a motley crew. I’ve inspected enough chickens up and down the land in the last 8 months so know there are some noticable differences in our girls to the “true” breeds I’ve seen.

They provided 12 perfect eggs between them for Christmas morning scrambled eggs and smoked salmon, there would have been more had I looked a little harder. We have a hider in our midsts.

My money is on Doris, who on the night time inspection is always found resting in the nest box. She kicks all the bedding out the way and snuggles down, she’s more than happy for you to have a stroke and feel under her for the odd egg or two but left over night on them you’ll find them gone the next day.

It wasn’t till we were home late one mild night and decided to leave the girls out for the night, we are relatively predator free & lord knows the girls would give as good as they get wake me up and I am more than capable of throwing things out of the window with relative accuracy that would see most things smaller than a wild boar out of the way.

I left collecting eggs that day till the light was fading, she liked the fuss but there was nothing, she decided to take her space on the perch and with a whip of her wing she dislodged some shavings on her exist, what’s that…that looks egg coloured. Once she’d departed I started to move the shavings out of the way, I rootled in all the corners and one egg, two eggs, three eggs, four. Two a piece for Florence and D Unit.

Florence is a stealth layer, you rarely notice she’s gone to lay an egg, as soon as she’s hears some fun somewhere else she’s off and her laying and egg song isn’t the most dominant in the group. I also don’t think she spends enough time in the next box to be the hider.

I’ve considered if Doris is broody. Out of all the girls I suspect she is the truest to her breed and with that comes a higher change of becoming broody, a modern hybrid is less likely to have this desire…apparently. But despite her egg song being both loud and proud, I’m not convinced. She does tend to sit on a number of eggs at the end of the day and chickens typically won’t start to incubate until a whole clutch is laid. She seems in fine feather between legs and breast and she’s not growling at me when I pet her on the box and once they eggs are gone she will happily leave the nest box and roost on the perch. We have had one broody poo, a lovely flat glob of poo in the nest box that smelt so bad but for every egg removed she’s placing another one but she’s not nest building as such, we’ve had no added leaves, twigs of straw bought up, just most of the bedding kicked to the sides and used to hide eggs.

My next thought was predators and although chickens aren’t credited with being very smart they are always smarter than people give them credit for, we get taps on the back door when they want feeding, fuss or both and they even sit on the windowsills watching what we’re doing. We’ve never had an incident of any of the gang showing an interest in eating eggs, even when we had the two soft shells earlier in the year, I was more worried about getting them out of the way before they did. We’ve seen no signs of broken eggs so I can’t see that she’s hiding them from her fellow coop mate.

Maybe Doris is just being funny, maybe she is thinking about getting broody but doesn’t really know whats going on. We’ll keep an eye out and see how she goes. The mothership kindly picked up Coop & The Gang a rubber egg for Christmas should we need to formulate an intervention!


2011: So Long & Thanks For All The Eggs January 2, 2012

Filed under: Keeping Chickwans — Coop & The Gang @ 1:00 pm
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We’ve been proud owners for 8 months and learnt a fair bit; despite all the scary, new and odd moments we’ve had with Coop & The Gang the lovely bits have more than made up for it.

We made one fundamental rookie mistake with Coop & The Gang, they have names & I love them. If they never laid me an egg again I wouldn’t care, they’re not workers they’re family and we have no drive for self sufficiency at present so we really are just having fun & so are they, heres to you girls, your best bits and your not so best bits.

Mavis - Excuse me.

Mavis: Excuse me, what are you looking at?


Doris - Say What

Doris: Say What?


Flo, Flo, Flo

Flo, A face only a mother could love


In 2012 we hope to move and use everything we’ve learnt with Coop & The Gang to give them better, a new coop in the designing and a better use of space with more fun so we can have as many laughs and more together.


It Never Rains It Pours January 1, 2012

What a December its been for weather, not the normal mizzle and drizzle for this time of year, all together quite pleasant and mild, but when the rains it blows a hoolie out there.

I don’t remember the garden being this wet last year but as I keep reminding myself I had no reason to go out into the garden this time last year & can well believe I just didn’t. Following the flooding of the garage from the rains earlier in the year we had it flushed and surprise the surprise the run off appear right in front of coop, typical.

The Chickens were the first to complain, Mave more so than her usual disapproval of the weather. They’re a funny bunch and a little rain doesn’t normally put them off but this was a storm of epic proportions, If they could save a third on their car insurance they two would have bought chest waders with the savings.

One evening I came home to three puddles in coop and the starts of a full flowing river. Eek. They were all in the hen house, mud up to their knees looking less than impressed. I’d not been doing the morning feeds as he indoors had been working from home, I was informed that three puddles and a river by torch light was much better than it looked this morning in the real day light. Right battle plan.

We head to the trade store…15 slabs, 7 bags of pea shingle and some little miniature fence later and we’ve had some idea of building a patio in the dark by torch light while the girls are asleep. We slid coop up the garden, pegged out the area with the miniature fence, filled with pea shingle and laid three slabs deep by five slabs wide & lifted Coop & The Gang back in situ within two hours, in the dark by torch light.

Considering it was in the dark and wonky as you like we were relatively impressed with our efforts even more so in the day light when it’s settled quite well and turned out not so bad.

The morning after however, no one seemed very impressed with us at all. It took Flo and Doris ten minutes to come downstairs and Mave wasn’t coming out at all. She took one look turned tail and headed straight back into the hen house. Oh no…not even some scattered corn was getting her down, I fed her in the hen house so at least she had eaten and left for work. By the end of the day she had come down and filled her tummy but she was not impressed.

Following a covering of straw and some regular corn smatterings to keep them turning the straw they seem to have come round to the idea, a nice way of keeping their nails and beaks in check, nice to be able to give them the run of the garden for earth snufflings and at least it stops me fretting when the heavens do open.