What came first- the chickens or the blog?

Still broody! And it’s catching

So  here we are five weeks on and Queen Mary is still hoping to be a momma. And now Queen Isabella has joined her on the Royal Nest too. So that means two hens not laying, not taking proper care of themselves, and generally being very grumpy girls if I try to move them. The weather has been warm and sunny, I’m not sure if this triggers broodiness or if it’s just a hormone thing!  

Also very popular these days are “double yoked” eggs, which look enormous beside ordinary eggs, and have two deliciously golden yolks perfect for frying and being a dip for fried potatoes!


 Please excuse lack of photo editing- since a WordPress update recently I have had trouble in uploading photos to this site. 


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Scratch and Peck

Summer is here! The blue skies and hot sun have coincided with a very busy week with a wedding, the last GCSEs, gaily boy number two returning home from Uni at the end of first year (yes, already) and a few farewell events as Gillyboy number 4 prepares to leave primary school.
The Gillybirds are keeping cool with watermelon and strawberries and some 5p lettuce from tesco. Yesterday we had three eggs laid for the first time in ages. Just a pity that one of them was soft shelled but that is progress!
I just thought if you were interested in chicken blogs, the very best one is

The blogger writes and illustrates her flock with wit and a great observance not just of hen behaviour but of us humans too. She has a great wee dog called Marky who considers himself part of the flock and regales us with tales of Pigeon, Lucy and the rest of her girls.
You can also find Lauren on Facebook.
The Gillyboys bought me Lauren’s book for Christmas last year. If you are ever looking for a gift for a henkeeper this is the one.
Lauren’s book “Once Upon a Flock” is available on Amazon
Lauren Scheuer, you are a wee genius! Keep up the good work!

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Business as Usual





<a School holidays are over. Our days of living to no one else's timetable but our own have come to an end. And here at Gillybirds Manor birthday season has passed too.
The Girls have been laying very well, enjoying the wonderfully dry weather, their feathers have grown back, they look great. Very much business as usual.
Just as well as I have had so many birthday cakes to bake over the past couple of months. Summer is birthday season. In our house alone there has been a 20th, an 11th and a 19th, together with Auntie K who turned 40. Each cake takes 4 eggs, from my faithful Nigella recipe. Sometimes I make a simple vanilla sponge, other times I add cocoa.
The decor depends on the recipient. And how classy they want it to be, or how chocolatey. Or how Pokemon-esque.
Also this summer Miss A turned up with 36 bananas urgently needing to be used up, so the freezer is stacked with plenty of banana bread to keep us going for a while.
One of these days my mother will be making noises about getting all the dried fruit organised for Christmas cake. Only 4 months to go! Those Girls better keep on laying.

Colonel Saunders is very glad she isn’t a turkey!

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Police Rescue Roasting Chickens

(Photo from BBCNews website)

Just read this story on the BBC News website-
A reminder to us all not to leave ANY pets in the car in hot weather!
Well done PC Tony Kerby!

Chickens found “roasting” in a locked car have been rescued from soaring temperatures by Surrey Police.

The four birds were spotted in a car in Village Way in Cranleigh on Thursday afternoon but the owner could not be found.

PC Tony Kerby said: “The chickens were clearly very unhappy and it was pretty clear they were suffering in the extreme temperatures.”

He rescued the poultry from the car and they were cooled down with fans.

“They were in a bad way and needed immediate assistance, so with help from colleagues, I managed to bring the birds inside the office where they were given water and helped to cool down with some fans,” Mr Kerby said.

The owner of the car later returned to his vehicle and was spoken to by police.

Police and and the RSPCA are considering whether further action is to be taken.

BBC © 2013

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Secret garden Update

A few months ago I blogged about my very dark North facing patch of earth that I planted as a very small flower garden with no great expectations of it growing into much.
Things were slow to start with the long winter and late Spring but with the fabulously hot and sunny weather of the last few weeks the summer bulbs I planted have grown, grown some more and this week bloomed into the most spectacular lilies- cream and orange, with lots of buds promising more flowers to come.
Bulbs and seeds are wonderful things when you think about it. Lying quietly in dark damp earth, packed with all the information they need to grow into the plant or fruit or grain that they will be given the right growing conditions.



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Rock Chicks

Since we returned from our holiday the weather has been wonderful if you can strip down to a wee top and shorts (me) but not if you spend your day in fur or feathers (dogs and hens).
All sorts of cooling measures have been taken. Plenty of cool water to drink, providing shade with table cloths over the coop, and watermelon frozen in the freezer. The girls have been cooling themselves by digging holes and dustbathing.
Most energetic activities like dog walking and free ranging in the garden are done late in the evening. Last night we were still sitting out at 11pm enjoying the long twilight, long after the Gillybirds had hopped up into the coop to bed.
Today our neighbourhood is a-buzzing as 25,000 people are expected to attend Bruce Springsteen, the Boss, at a large open air concert just a stone’s throw from the coop. Already the noise from the sound checks is enough to put anyone off laying their eggs! From biggest Gillyboy’s bedroom you can see the stage itself provided you don’t mind getting a crick in your neck.
We are hoping to sit out in the garden, light a few candles, sip something chilled and be entertained by the Boss for free- all sound, no vision. It will probably ruffle a few feathers.

Dust bathing. The best way to cool off. If you have feathers and lack sweat glands.

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Holidays are bad for you, it’s official!

As sure as one report tells you that coffee drinking is good for your health, within a couple of cups of the brown stuff there will be a damning report warning imminent death from caffeine. So for the sake of balance today’s post is why holidays can be bad for you.
Paradoxically, it’s when we start to relax away from the stresses of everyday life that we might fall prey to infections such as cold and flu. Even on your last day at work, you might notice the tell-tale tingling nose and sore throat starting.In everyday life, our body produces hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol which help keep our body in balance at times of stress and maintain normal immune function.
However, once on holiday, our stress hormone levels generally decline, which might lead to a weakening of the immune system and an increased susceptibility to infection. This would help to explain my father’s annual dose of Christmas ‘flu.
Add to that travel sickness, upset tummies, prickly heat, itchy mosquito bites and sunburn it is no wonder that when I open my case at our destination I feel like a travelling pharmacy with lotions and potions for everything including possibly the Black Death.
On day 8 in our Portuguese paradise here are some of our petty complaints-
Bugs not generally bother me. But maybe it’s the heat here makes them stronger, harder, faster, noisier, more menacing. Mr Gillybirds caught a magnificent black iridescent bee complete with 1cm stinger this morning. On one of my many lengths of the pool a 8cm bright green grasshopper floated tranquilly past me, which fortunately I didn’t swallow. The wood lice are armour plated. And don’t start me on the ants. Of all sizes and speeds. And they all bite. The teeny tiny ones seems particularly nippy. I read that the combined weight of all the humans on the planet is equal to the combined weight of all the ants on the planet. I believe most of them have come here to vacation.
How I wish there was a machine in the airport like a body scanner that doused children in sun cream which lasted for your entire holiday. It is a constant battle to protect the Gillyboys lily white skin from the harsh sun especially when they are in the pool so much. As well as medicine I have pretty much every sun factor cream/spray from factor 10 to factor 50, waterproof, sand proof, for face, for sport, hypo allergenic, non greasy…the best investment is solar shirts which are factor 50 skins which they wear in the water to protect their little white bodies. Despite wearing factor 30 cream littlest Gillyboy is scoring highly on the Freckle-ometer! But they look so cute.
To my shame even though we have been holidaying here almost annually since 1999 my Portuguese vocabulary is extremely limited to hello bom dia, thank you obrigada, milk leite, various food items necessary to survive. My favourites are cogumelos(mushrooms) and Peru which is turkey in English. Amusing that it is the name of a country as well. Add to that saida or exit and that is about it. I do remember many years ago when littlest Gillyboy was a cute chubby baby and Portuegues old ladies would pinch his fat cheeks saying multo gordo which we discovered when buying milk means full fat!
Little Drives
Mr G has always been a great one for taking detours off the main road just to see where he will end up. I don’t share in his exploratory whims. A trip out the other night ended up fifty minutes and 30km in the wrong direction away from our destination, with the chilly atmosphere in the car not entirely due to the air conditioning.
I’m not homesick, but leaving two young men at home just as one is starting his first proper job has, on reflection, not been the best timing. On the plus side they are managing to feed both themselves and the hens, and the oldest Gillyboy has had to learn to iron shorts for work. I can track their movements on social networking sites as well as phone calls. And there have been a few Instagram pics of the Gillybirds too. Thanks Miss L for those.
It has been a lot hotter here than usual. Even the locals are complaining. A least we are on holiday and can cool off by wearing as little as modesty allows and swim to cool off. They have to keep working. Even at night there is no relief. Ironically at home they are having a heat wave too. I can predict it will come to a rainy end as our plane lands back home on Sunday morning.
As with every tourist destination there are shops on every corner selling cheap tat irresistible to boys with pockets full of euros. Yuk.
A good cup of tea
Obviously I am hard to please. As some of you know I am fussy about mugs (must be white inside) and fat content of the milk (as little as possible). So there won’t be a good cup of tea until we get home. Enough said.
So is there any benefit to going on holiday at all?
A Dutch researcher Nawijn says: ‘The maximum benefit of a holiday is two weeks after coming home. After that, people are not any happier than they were beforehand.’ People who have holidays booked but had not yet travelled tend to be happier than people who had not gone on holiday. ‘People who have a great holiday may start to remember why they’re alive, only to be thrown back into the living death known as working life,’ says clinical psychologist, Oliver James.
So looking forward to Monday morning then…..


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