While I have been having a break from blogging we have managed to acquire two new dogs. We got border collie Tess as a puppy last year then a few months later Layla arrived. My eldest son took her from a couple he knew who were going to put her on the secondhand selling site Preloved at a very cheap price as they just wanted her “out of their flat” as she was “bonkers”. Only 12 weeks old she bounced into our life with a string of previous owners and names on her inoculation certificate. Staying for the weekend before my son was going to take her to springer spaniel rescue, we decided we never wanted her “out of our house” and she has settled in perfectly to her new four dog pack. Tess and her have bonded beautifully and are like partners in crime, the happy youngsters who were meant to be together.
However feeding four dogs well is no easy of cheap task. We have always fed our dogs tinned meat with mixer meal supplemented with scrambled eggs and vegetables. Not only was this extortionately expensive for four dogs, I was horrified at the pile of tin cans in the recycling bag outside our house each week. I always worry the quality and source of the meat in these tins and for some reason with poor Layla, who has a sensitive stomach. it just goes straight through her.
We are lucky enough to still have a fantastic local butcher who prepares pet mince. It is a mixture of the off cuts of all the meat they prepare which is all from sources they are sure of the high quality of and reasonably local. It is certainly not the rubbish, it looks delicious when we cook it! We either feed it raw or put it in tray at the bottom of the oven when we are cooking our meal. They love it both ways. It costs £1 per kilo which although not the cheapest option for the quality is very reasonable. We give them rice, pasta, vegetables or scrambled egg with it, what ever we have in the cupboard.
The dogs are looking fantastic, glossy coats, bright eyes and best of all Layla’s wind and diarrhea has disappeared. Since the end of the dogs eating a highly processed meat diet which has been transported miles their carbon paw print must have been greatly reduced. Not only this, the dogs are clearly happier and we are also supporting a brilliant local business so without a doubt this has been one of our best changes to leading a eco friendly sustainable life style.
This was the beautiful sight of the Super Blue Moon over the aviary garden this evening. It looks almost mystical.
Anyone who lives in a big city will be used to the sight of urban foxes. In London alone there are thought to be over 10,000 living around our streets. As a late evening dog walker of 30 years in the area, I have noticed a change in their behaviour. Years ago a fox would run at the sight of me walking along with a dog, but latterly I have noticed that although some are timid, many now just move a short distance away on the grass verge while I walk past. Our border collie tends to ignore them but I’m afraid our little Yorkshire Terrier has to be dragged past barking. It’s almost as if they know she is on the lead though and can’t reach them, as they stare back with contempt!
The most we have seen in our garden at one time is five and I have regularly counted seven or eight sitting along the row of sheds at the back fences. Many of our neighbours, as we do feed the foxes and they all look very healthy indeed. People have said to me, I shouldn’t encourage them because of our hens, but they are there all the time and I’d rather they were in our garden with a full stomach than hungry! We just make sure our birds are secure. If there is an accident any time I will blame myself not the foxes. I think they are beautiful creatures.
A London Vixen Sitting On Our Garden Shed
Recently my family bought me a wildlife trail camera and I have managed to capture some footage of a couple of foxes in our garden. They seem to have cubs every year so I’m hoping I may be able to film some of them later in the year.
There was a definite touch of spring in the air today. There are the beginnings of blossom buds on the plum tree and the hawthorn hedge and the birds have been singing. The weather forecast for the week ahead is sadly not too good but today the birds in the aviary garden have been enjoying the mild weather. We have two aviaries in the garden. Our small aviary holds our young cockatiels, our rosa bourkes and a pair of diamond doves. They all live together is relative peace and harmony.
Cockatiels and Rosa Bourkes In The Small Aviary
Much excitement is always created when a new food treat or toy is put up for them. Here I have added some sprays of millet, always popular with all the birds.
Sadly House Sparrows have declined by 60% in London and many other cities in the United Kingdom since 2004. I remember them in very large numbers on the bird feeders when I was younger but in our London borough I have hardly seen any for years. This year in early spring, a pair started visiting our bird feeder. I would look out for them as they came backwards and forwards. If one arrived on it’s own it would sit on the top of our hedge and call loudly until it’s mate appeared. They were clearly feeding chicks and we waited hopefully for the signs of any youngsters. Gradually over the summer several youngsters arrived and we think they must have raised two clutches as now we have 10 to 15 house sparrows visiting every couple of hours.
They sit in the hedge waiting their turn to go on the feeder and we can hear their chatter all day long. This winter we are going to set up some nesting boxes in the hope they will nest again in the spring. They may cost nearly as much to feed as the aviary birds but we still are very happy to have them in our garden.
I have hand reared many cockatiels with mainly very good results and love doing it. They live together in a separate small aviary and are a pleasure to look after. When I am in there they chat to me and will come and sit on my shoulder. Although they are tame they have lost the real closeness they had when they were very young. We have often thought we would like a very tame cockatiel in the house again and our lovely lone chick from this year seems to fit the bill perfectly.
Although I handled him often as a chick, since fledging and being in the aviary he has become quite wild so it will be quite difficult to make him very tame. The first day he was in he spent most of the time peeping over the edge of the cage to see what was going on.
Pichu The Cockatiel
By the next day he had brightened up and was sitting on his perch shouting loudly along to an Abba song! Today I have been putting my hand into the cage just to rest next to him several times a day. Already he seems a bit more settled with me doing this and doesn’t panic too much. Hopefully after a few days of this he may be ready for me to offer him some millet in my hand. I know these early stages can take several weeks so I will be patient and record how we get along.
Pichu The Cockatiel Sitting On A Perch
The Cockatiel chick is 13 weeks old and has done so well. We have bought him into the house today to keep our house cockatiel Sammy company. He has got a bit wild flying around in the aviary for several weeks but he has had the benefits of parent feeding and weaning which builds his immune system for the future. Hopefully with work and patience he will become tame and enjoy his new life with our family, I will record the progress as we teach him. I have made the first video of his life as a chick to young adulthood. We have called him Pichu.
We have four Pekin Bantams and I love keeping them. They are friendly, very tame and have a really sweet way about them. I would recommend them to anyone who wants to keep hens but are a bit short of space. Their housing is smaller and they don’t eat very much. They have cute feathered legs and enjoy being handled. The only downside I can think of is they often go broody but then that can be a plus point if you want them to hatch some eggs and those cute legs can get quite mucky in bad weather. They can be as noisy as full size hens though and Molly our Pekin Bantam often announces for a full five minutes to the neighbourhood that she has laid an egg and yet we have one little Bantam called Honey that I have never heard utter a single sound! They have completely won me over though and now I cannot imagine a time I wouldn’t keep them.
It has been a warm day today and although this evening had the threat of rain as we walked the dogs it never happened and it was a beautiful end to the day.
An Evening Rainbow
We’re making the most of these summer evenings as they disappear very quickly and all we will have is our memories of these days until next year.
A Summer Evening In Stanley Park Carshalton
I have hanging baskets all around the garden. In the front garden I love a splash of pretty colours all year round. In the back garden I have been experimenting with some longer lasting ones with more bee and butterfly friendly plants. We have lots of natural more wildflower type plants all around the back garden and I thought I would try some of these in a hanging basket which will hopefully flourish next year.
I have added a clump of valerian, one of my favourite plants, that has pretty pink flowers from spring well into the summer with a sweet smell. Valerian has been used as a medicinal herb for hundreds of years and bees and butterflies love it. The second plant I have added is Herb Robert, a native member of the geranium family which flowers from spring to autumn. The leaves if rubbed on the body are said to repel mosquitoes but after trying it myself I think it may repel everybody else also! Finally I have added Oxalis or pink shamrock which flowers from about June to September and has a lovely way of closing its flowers when it gets dark.
It all looks a bit tatty at the moment as I have divided clumps around the garden but hopefully by next spring they will be established and flower all summer attracting more bees and butterflies than the ordinary annuals sold for hanging baskets.
Valerian, Pink Shamrock And Herb Robert Hanging Basket
I have decided that Speckles one of our young cockatiels in the aviary is just too naughty. At every opportunity he has to push in front of the camera and his little character just shines out. He is the bird equivalent of a person who likes to be in the spotlight. Diego the Diamond Dove is enjoying a swing in the aviary until Speckles photobombs the video.
I’m worried about the little cockatiel chick. He is at the age where his parents leave him alone for much of the day. Normally he would snuggle up with his siblings but as he is all on his own and on the floor he wanders about getting himself into trouble. I keep lifting him back into the corner but the adventuring spirit returns and off he goes again . I will be so relieved when he gets to the age when he can fly up with his parents. I think he will get a surprise as to how many cockatiels live in the outside section of the aviary.
The Cockatiel Chick 3 1/2 Weeks Old
I didn’t really manage to get any jobs done in The Aviary Garden today as I had such a lot on but I did get to Poundland and bought two new pretty hanging basket brackets for the new bird feeding station.
Hanging Basket Brackets From Poundland
It’s a shame I had so little spare time today as most of the day was nice and sunny. Our cat Cleo who clearly was no where near as busy as me spent the morning snoozing in one small strip of sun in the kitchen. What a hard life!
Cleo The Cat Enjoying A Sleep In The Sun
The cockatiels enjoyed the sunshine as they always do, they are very cheerful birds. Yesterday I filmed the youngsters playing with their swings. They make me smile as the older ones group together looking disapprovingly at all their antics. I suppose they are a lot like people really.