After the death of two hens in early March and egg numbers, almost none existent, I felt it was time to increase our flock numbers again.
The two that passed away were hybrid hens – the two red hens in the above image. Known to be great layers (with hilarious personalities) these hens are bred for the sole purpose to lay. Often all through winter too. But sadly with tendency to lay themselves to death. I won’t go into the details but I could see it happening and tried my best to nurse them back to good health but it was inevitable. Both died within two weeks of each other.
I waited a few weeks to make sure no others were sick, before deciding to bring in new layers. What breed of hen to get this time? I knew I wouldn’t be buying hybrid hens again. Oh the decisions…. I decided upon Bantams. Small, quiet and kid friendly. Also I could have more of them!
Now for a little plug to a local business, Ornamental Poultry. Situated at Zimms Corner. Oh what a range they have! At our visit they had a lovely range of Pekin and Silky Bantams. We picked out a black Silky, a black Pekin and a splash Pekin. Tiny bits of fluff who should begin laying within the month. If I had room I would have also picked out a few Light Sussex, a few more ducks and maybe guinea fowl too.
Now 4 days later the ‘new girls’ are looking rather ‘at home.’ Happily scratching in the dirt and enjoying the sunshine. Now for those eggs…
Opponents? Me vs. the Chickens.
The Battleground? The vegetable gardens
Winner of Round Two? ME!
It is hard to see it in these photos (dang cloudy days…) but I have covered the beds in 5cm netting wire. As the wire naturally wants to curl back up, it is easy to cut lengths and loop it over the width of a bed. Since doing this a week ago, it appears the girls can no longer access the gardens for a digging frenzy. Oh yeah!
Now what to do once the tomatoes grow higher than the wire cover? Maybe more of these?
One day in the garden and the girls have left little or in some cases rather large landmines everywhere. Including right outside the back door. Yep of course I stood on it!
There are boy boys in this house too. They go barefoot in our yard and if they step on a fresh poo, they just find the nearest long grass or a stick and wipe it off! (much to their Grandmas Shock!) I love that they have chicken friends, catch lizards and worms. Keep snails and slugs for pets. And play in mud and dig holes just for the hell of it.
the girls have been busy, everyone is laying at the moment!
6 a day…. 42 a week
and us are all feasting on fresh eggs
While the girls were out on their afternoon stroll, I let the duck out of her temporary home and into the wire palace.
Being a duck I assumed she would enjoy a paddle in some water.
Do you think she is enjoying herself?
Tonight she is spending her first night in the wire palace. Much to the terror of the chooks. Apparently they do not like ducks. Which is sad as the duck likes them. In the last of the afternoon sunlight they were all going around and around the pen, chooks in the front and the duck in the rear.
I am hoping at sunrise we won’t be woken up by chooks freaking out at the sight of the duck!
N.B I haven’t managed to find her owner yet….. were still looking
#1 Strawberries pecked off the plant
#2 Strawberry plants dug up
#3 Gardens being forced to look like a prison
Sentenced to yard confinement
Introducing our 2 red hens. The one at the front is Big Red. Oh she is a handful. Forever escaping, digging up the gardens and generally being a pain. She loves to visit the neighbours and has often been seen chasing large birds out of the yard. She is also the best layer with big duck size eggs that are usually double yolks and will happily let the boys cart her around the yard.
The hen at the back is Little Red or little chook. She is timid and dislikes the boys. She is quick, flighty and the bottom of the flock. She is a regular layer. So unlike her sister.
They are both Rhode Island Reds and roughly 6 to 7 months old.
I am starting to become concerned about our clucky chook Goldie, she is still sitting on her ‘nest’. It has been weeks now, longer than the 21days it takes to hatch an egg. She shows no interest in getting off her nest, she will not leave it for longer than 20 minutes at the most, more often no longer than 5 minutes and this is only when I remove her from the nest.
Any advice on what to do with her, as I think she is just about to pass the point of obsessed!
With school holidays coming to a close I can get back to regular blogging. YAY! Keeping my very active 6yr old busy has been a challenge in itself. Thank goodness we live next door to one of the most loveliest neighbours in the world whom children are always up for a play. It has kept our combined brood of 7 busy and out of trouble.
An idea I have had rattling around in my head for the last 2 weeks is to feature your Chook Houses here on littlefarm.
With the arrival of Spring many of us are buying or even hatching chickens. And some of us have been very busy remodeling or building accomodation for these arrivals. So to celebrate all things chicken I am asking you to email me a picture and a bit of a blurb about your chooks home such as where you brought it, who made it or what you made it from. From brilliant mansions to humble Diggs I want to see them all!
Email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
So to start the ball rolling I will show you our evolving chook accommodations over the last 3 years.
This was our very first chook house, tractor style. It consists of parts of my Nanas old fence and an old dog kennel. The door was never finished properly and the wheels never attached it was also heavy and awkward to move it, but it worked a treat and housed our 2 hens for over 18mths. With the dry weather (no grass) and the arrival of another hen it soon became apparent I need better accommodation to house my brood.
The old kennel was eventually removed from the tractor and placed inside of a pen. Eventually the kennel started to fall to pieces and also I need a bigger house to accommodate my 6 hens.
So the pallet palace was built. Yes it is constructed from an old pallet ands some free corrugated iron. After a horrible visit from a fox, a new fully enclosed penwas built. And it is now housing our 4 new chooks happily.
So if you have a Chook house you would like featured on littlefarm, drop me an email.
Maybe it is the ‘growing’ mothering instinct I seem to have or maybe the fact I cannot bring myself to eat eggs brought from a grocery store or maybe the fact my clucky girls seem to think eggs only come out once a week – That I brought two new hens.
More you think didn’t I just giveaway the last 4 I brought? This time I talked to my husband (who is gravely missing his bacon and eggs on a Sunday) and we decided either a hybrid like the first girls we ever owned or a similar breed would suit our small scale flock . So off the boys and I went and found 2 Rhode Island Reds POL. Only $16.50 each.
But wait there is more. Oh yes my boys had pocket money with them and the damn erm lovely man working at the store let my boys cuddle the baby chicks. Oh such sweet sweet little peeps. How on earth could I resist sweet babies and the looks on my boys faces cuddling those babies? I brought two. One is a bit older than the other (guaranteed a hen) and the other is a bit smaller, theres a chance it could be a rooster, but it looks very ‘henish’ to me.
Now with my baby brain (oh yes I am using this excuse to its full extent – oh the big pile of washing up, toast for dinner, new chooks – its all because of the baby!) I cannot remember what either of these two are. The buff one is a bantam and the other has the lace collar like a sussex? Really I am not too worried. Their current home is in the guinea pig house as the piggies are free ranging in the backyard. (They escaped and only come home for good food like apples and carrots)
Meanwhile the GLW is still clucky on her ‘nest.’