Making progress

Day 3 and the bantams (now called The Moppets!) were lined up against the netting eating any grass they could reach. So I fenced off the established grass (too cold as yet to reseed the failed sowing of new grass) and herded them out, leaving the ex-batts in the run (who didn’t seem to mind).

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They were very happy to be on grass again, and I left them out for some time. I had wondered how we would get them in … whether we’d have to herd them back again since they’re not yet used to the corn bucket … but dusk had begun to fall before we had a moment to go out to them again, and they were already working their way back along the slabs to the Run, so we simply closed the gate behind them. Yet again, I’d failed to put a torch in the Cube:doh: … but they are smart little things, and we watched from the dining room window as they huddled round the ladder, some of them climbing up the branch I’d placed alongside it (in case their little legs didn’t reach from rung to rung). They all hesitated at the top, and it was fun to watch as one from behind simply flew over another, impatient to go to roost and more confident than her sister   :)

We went out after dark to check that all was well … and found three of The Moppets in the nest box beneath the Cube (originally a covered cat litter tray – it has proved very useful in all sorts of ways, and with a little straw inside is the ideal size for a nest box). So I lifted them into the Cube. I thought I’d see who was roosting in the nest box in the Cube … and found one ex-batt completely submerged under a bundle of bantams! There is no aggression once it’s dark, so I left them undisturbed.

However, next morning, I found Milly, Molly and Mandy alone in the run … not one Pekin had emerged from the Cube :doh: So I lifted them down … at least I lifted four of them, then the others followed under their own steam.

On Day 4 we offered some treats (other than corn) for the first time. The ex-batts saw DH emerge from the kitchen with a bowl in his hand … and they knew immediately that something good was coming … they tripped over each other, following him along the path alongside the Run and the proffered spaghetti was quickly recognised and a success with both ex-batts and the Moppets.

So far we’ve had an egg a day from each of the ex-batts – two good eggs and one with a thin shell (often broken). I’ve read that bantams have a tendency to go broody – there is only one bantam laying, and long after she’s laid, she stays in the nest box, planning a clutch of eggs. She is really spiteful when we remove the egg from under her! Fortunately, once the egg is gone, she gives up and leaves the nest, protesting loudly all the while. It’s quite a show.

I am beginning to tell the bantams one from another … there is a very pale hen, and a slightly pale hen (easy to identify when side by side, less so if only one is in view). There is also one Pekin with a dark golden ruff. One of the others is currently sporting a scab on her comb – courtesy of Milly, I suppose. The pale hen is certainly towards the top of the pecking order, but I’m not sure who the top hen is, nor where the others rank – they are such placid birds.

Face to face

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The detail in their feathers is exquisite.

Varied hue

Feather detail #1

The evening of Day 4, once again everyone put themselves to bed … this time an ex-batt joined the three bantams in the lower nest box, and once again I lifted them into the Cube. I expect they’ll get the right idea eventually … I just hope they soon discover how to get down by themselves in the morning!

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