What came first- the chickens or the blog?

Feeling Broody


Summer is finally here and Mary Queen of Scots has decided she wants to be a mamma hen. Yes, she’s gone broody. My dad says down the country she would be referred to as a “”clocking hen”! Apparently this is a common occurrence with her breed – marans. Sadly, since we don’t have a rooster she is sitting all day all in the nesting box on top of eggs laid by the other ladies, ruffling her feathers and making a funny growling sound if disturbed. Like all mothers she is aggressive if she thinks she is being taken away from her potential babies. For now, she is a slave to her maternal instinct and it takes courage and patience to persuade her to neglect her mothering duties. 

There are plenty of remedies suggested for broody hens – bathing their undercarriages in cold water, keeping them in an anti broody cage for a few days, blocking up the nesting box.  I tried the latter, only to find that poor mamma hen in her desperation had knocked over the board and was sitting  all squashed up underneath it, ignoring all discomfort and carrying on with her task. If I didn’t lift her out several times a day she wouldn’t eat or drink, or poop, just carrying on sitting keeping those (un) fertilised eggs at a just the right temperature, for about three weeks until they would be due to hatch. Sorry Mary, this isn’t going to happen. Only in your dreams. I’m sorry. 

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Chickens Galore Mug

Those of you who know me well, know that I am very particular about what mugs I will drink from. (Hello Mrs R and Miss CC, and the long suffering folks in church)
Mr Gillybirds has learnt through the years that certain mugs are only for use at particular times of the day, or for a specific drink. Up until now this has been a favourite for my post-school run long and quiet cup of tea.

It’s chunky, it’s as big as a bucket, and it tells the truth 🙂
A trip to one of those amazing countryside stores that sell everything from avocado dishes to tractor parts had a wonderful display of fine china mugs aimed for the rural shopper. And me. Anything with such well-observed drawings of the antics of hens belongs clearly to me. And so I bought it. And refrained from asking if I could buy the cute real life dog lying sleeping in a basket under the counter.

There are hens laying, hens fighting over a worm, nurturing their chicks, scratching, pecking, and a fine image of a hen’s fluffy tail end.
The green teapot is from Suki Tea, a local company which sells delicious loose leaf tea, their Belfast Brew and Whole Peppermint are particular favourites. I don’t get commission, but I should!
Suki Tea, the best local tea, available online

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Cute Chicks

I was very excited to hear that in Gillyboy Number 4’s school they have been incubating hen’s eggs and this week the hatching began. The said Gillyboy proudly brought me to see the new arrivals. Chicks are so small and fragile, I cannot believe they grow so quickly into robust fully feathered noisy birds like my own.
The first chick hatched on Tuesday. When the classroom was quiet the boys could hear cheeping coming from with the eggs that were yet to hatch. Quickly the first chick was joined by a few others pecking their way out of their shells.
By the time I saw them on Thursday there were 9 chicks of all colours all chirping noisily in their heated enclosure. There were a few chicks freshly hatched, still looking damp and wobbly, and only a couple of eggs left in the incubator looking still and silent. Not all eggs hatch.
But the school boys are all very excited about their new friends, who will be moving to a farmyard at the end of the school term in two weeks time.
The school did offer to give me as many as I wanted to take. But cute as they are I think we have quite enough mouths and beaks to feed here at Gillybirds Manor.


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Feeling Broody

With Gillyboy number two having left school, and number four now aged in double digits we can no longer be classified as having young children. I have always loved babies. I love their smell, their tiny perfect nails, their ancient wise stare, those chubby little wrists…but our family is so busy and our lives full of activities we can all enjoy I am not longing to return to long sleepless nights and the Terrible Twos. Also four children is one more than my car can carry at a time! Enough is enough!
At this time of the year my hen keeping friends are buying new pullets or nurturing their own hens eggs to get new chicks for their flock. It would be nice to introduce some new hens, particularly since our coop is supposed to hold up to ten birds, but our girls are an established flock and we can just about keep on top of using up three fresh eggs on most days. To introduce new hens would take time and may not be successful. Much as I would fancy a little variety by buying a different breed or two mixed in with the rusty Gillybirds. As we have no rooster we can’t breed and incubate our own. Anyway the cost of egg incubators is shocking! And this way of increasing your flock seems to bring its own disappointments.
We had the excitement and novelty of introducing a new puppy to our family last August, naughty Lucas is now about to celebrate his first birthday, bigger and bolder than ever.
And I look after my two year old nephew every Wednesday who has embraced the Terrible Twos with all the energy and determination that a two year old boy can muster.
And I have my gorgeous new niece, now 7 months old, who I get to see on Facebook or for real every couple of months.
At our church toddler group the mums know about my baby cravings and I get lots of cuddles from tiny newborns while they welcome the chance to drink a cup of tea in peace.
However, we have had some new arrivals here at Gillybirds Manor. Unplanned.
You may recall my blog post about a robin who came indoors one morning way back in January. Well, Mr and Mrs Robin found our premises to their liking and have built a nest high in our garage. Once discovered we kept away to leave them to roost in peace. And now we have two robin babies who fly in and out all day long. I’m not sure when they get their red breast feathers but they are tiny wee things just now.

Home Sweet Home for the Robin family

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