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Archive for the ‘Chooks’ Category

Chook update

My two new pullets are having a bit of a hard time in the chook pen, being pecked and chased by the four who have been in residence for 8 months or so.  I am sure they will sort out their differences with time, but it is hard to watch and listen to the squawking which is part of the drama.  One feels very protective of the younger ones, and hopes that no serious damage will be done as they squabble and sort out who is boss.  The new chooks have begun to lay eggs, despite what must be a high stress level, and I have had two since the weekend.  This is the difference in egg sizes – the eggs of the pullets will get bigger as they grow up a bit more.

 

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Spring Snow

Like many areas of this state, the weather of last couple of days has been unseasonal and extreme – heavy rains, high winds, low temperatures….. and snow.  Crazy for this time of year, given that it is well into Spring, and a week ago the sun shone and the temperatures were well above 20 degrees!

This morning when I opened my curtains, I was amazed to see about an inch of show covering everything, and I understood why I had been so cold overnight.   It lasted until mid morning, but vanished as soon as it rained again.

A Farmer’s Market happened this morning in town, and I bought a couple of new friends for my girls…..at least I hope they will become one of the crowd and friends together,  but I expect they may have a few settling in problems.

I decided to get a couple more of these egg laying machines as I now have two friends who prefer to buy my chook eggs rather than those from the supermarkets, having found rotten eggs on several occasions.  These girls will have a much better life than their relatives who live in batteries, or even those supposedly kept in barns, and they now earn their own keep!

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These girls have now been in residence for about three months, so are fully grown and producing between two and four lovely brown eggs a day.  They are Isa Browns,  a hybrid breed, curious, friendly and eat almost anything.  Their favourite treat is when I roll over a couple of railway sleepers which are on the outside of their run, and they eat all the slaters, slugs and millipedes that hide underneath.

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New Chooks and a Plasmid

There was a Farmer’s Market in my town this morning, to which I went expecting to buy some vegetables and fruit, and chat with a few friends.  However, the local Chook man was there with his ute packed with cages of chickens, ducks, guinea fowl, bantams and quail…….and I did a deal with him.  For some time I have been thinking that my three chickens were costing me a good deal more than they are giving back in eggs – in fact one had been broody for a month, and is now moulting, so no eggs, and the other two have just stopped laying.  I had them for almost five years, so they are past their prime, but really did not want to dispatch them and use them as dog food, and have been procrastinating for months……..The solution today seemed perfect – the Chook man would take them to use for breeding, or take them to a local poultry auction where hopefully someone would buy them for the same purpose.   They were all pure bred chickens, and two were quite rare Gold Campines, so I hope and believe that they will have another life elsewhere.

These are what I brought home – four young Isa Browns, about four months old who are at point of lay.  I was advised that they are calm non-aggressive chooks, likely to become very tame , do not go broody every year, and likely to lay an egg a day once they start. One has already laid a smallish dark brown egg this afternoon, which was a very pleasant surprise.

The next photo is of a stick insect that flew into my car while it was parked in the drive, I did not notice it until I had almost reached my destination where I closed the windows so I could bring it home and photograph it.  This one is five inches long.   Perhaps my daughter will identify it, and let us know if it is a male or female?

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Home to roost..

A little good news – I’m pleased to report that the missing Gold Campine survived the fox attack yesterday morning, I guess by running and hiding out somewhere until the coast was clear – she turned up at the end of the day when it was time for a feed, and was pacing up and down outside the chook yard, wanting to get inside!

Thank you all so much for your comments about Delores and her fateful fox encounter – they were very much appreciated, and I was amazed to learn from Allie that racoons can take chickens as well.

I have been planning to post some photos of the latest textiles I have completed in the last couple of weeks, but I’m afraid you will have to wait another day or so……..I shall be back….

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Vale Gorgeous Delores..

Country people are supposed to be pragmatic about life and death – friends tell me that if you have livestock, you have dead stock, that is the nature of life on the farm. 

I have had to put much loved elderly dogs to sleep out of kindness at the end of their generous lives.  I have been with a friend who found her favourite horse with a broken leg, then stayed with her until the vet came to euthanize it, and helped by leading other horses from the paddock and away from the sound of the shot.  My first hive of bees did not survive the bitterly cold winter last year.  Since I have had chickens, one died from causes unknown soon after buying her, one old and particularly aggressive hen was dispatched by request, while one sadly succumbed to the excessive heatwave in February as Victoria burned.  One expects some of these losses, but not others, and all are hard.

This morning I let my four chickens out to roam the garden as I have done for the last six months, and then went briefly to the local market.  Nothing prepared me for the pathetic pile of brown feathers I found on the front lawn when I returned – Delores must have been taken by a fox, and one of the other Gold Campines is missing too, although there was no evidence to prove it.  The remaining two chooks are OK, but were hiding in their house when I went looking for them.

I’m feeling very sad – guilty that I let them out and then went away, though I have done that many times before as well.  Delores was a charming character, who laid big brown eggs, friendly and willing to be picked up for a hug.  She would follow me around the garden, often getting in the way as I weeded, or running from a distance when she spotted me, gently clucking in greeting and always interested in what I was doing and usually followed by the others.  I never knew that one could have a pet chook until I had her, she was a gift from my daughter for Christmas 2007, when one of the big white ones was broody, and was raised by her adoptive Mother,  becoming very tame as she also needed hand feeding.  I shall miss her cheerful presence beyond words.

Delores

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Wildlife

This little fellow was found at the weekend, with its wing stuck in the door frame of my house.  With great care, having prised the small gap open with a crow-bar, it was released.  It was tiny – that is the palm of my hand in which it is sitting, and although I am no zoologist, I think it may be a Little Forest Bat which is sometimes referred to as Australia’s smallest mammal.  I placed it in a dark corner of the woodshed, hoping that it would recover sufficiently to fly away when night came.  When I checked on it later in the day, it was not where I had left it, perhaps it had crawled further into the darkness, I certainly hope so.   Earlier this year I had a friend visiting who stayed upstairs, and often left the door to the outside open for ventilation in the warmer weather.  On several occasions one of these little bats flew in, perhaps attracted by moths or insects that had come inside due to the lights…….they flew around a few times, and then generally flew down the stairs and away into the night.

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This is another wild thing I saw when visiting a rather special garden and nursery called Foxglove Spires in Tilba Tilba, NSW, in April this year.  I think it is an Eastern Bearded Dragon.  It was sitting on the roots of a large tree, and when it saw us, became motionless, perhaps trying to disappear into its toning background.  It was a good two feet long, beautifully marked, and had been swimming in a nearby pond as its back had small pieces of pond weed stuck to it.  I took several photos, and it was still sitting still when we walked on.

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This last photo is of some very local, and supposedly domesticated hunting dog.  Obviously wild as it needs to be confined, but itching to get out and harass the chickens on the other side of the fence.

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The quarry…………. Gorgeous Delores …….watching me……… watching her………..

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