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Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Eight is enough

I love my chooks and I can't believe they are as old as they are and still laying! Whatever happened in their off year seems to have passed and they are chooking along happily together. I can't quite believe we had 13 resident hens (OK, there was a rooster or two among them) at one point. Eight is enough to look after, especially now we have the health of an old cat to nurture.

Look what I found Fluffy!

It was under this lot of crazy broodies, jammed into one layer catcher


Jelly Bean came to us nearly a year ago as a 7 1/2 year old cat who had an odd mouth that food seemed to just drop straight out of. In 24 hours of having her, my local vet revealed that she had teeth that needed removing and almost none left up top and only a few below. Her papers revealed she was actually 11 1/2, not 7 1/2. After having her teeth out her appetite returned with a vengence and, showing no control whatsoever, I fed her pretty much whatever she liked whenever she liked. She put on a kilo in six months of being with us which is a lot for a cat who already weighed 6 kilos. She's now on a diet of sorts (measured amounts, given at set times, with lots of cuddles in between when she is feeling anxious).

The Bean - rolling around being cute. Don't be fooled by the setting - she's an indoor cat
who'd rather be on my lap than under a bush. Although I guess she'd could gum a few things to death her interest seems more of the fridge variety

Needless to say her presence in our lives has meant the girls are less in focus in my thoughts than before. Which I feel bad about. Same can be said for this blog. My preoccupation with other pursuits and a rather absorbing job mean I don't visit here as often as I would like. Life, eh. How many times have I written that lately!


Friday, October 25, 2013

Take your chooks and run!

Evacuating during a fire threat with chickens is challenging - as I found out this week. M was all for leaving them but I just couldn't. Now that I've taken them away and brought them home again, I'm thinking rather differently. It's hard work looking after 9 pets in someone else's house, no matter how good friends/family they are. Now that we are back, I've been looking at some suggestions on what to do should you need to take your chooks and run and, as usual, I'm amused and impressed by what I have found.

High-Vis chicken jacket - from Omlet, of course!

NSW Hen Rescue

I found this page Bushfire Evacuation for Hens on the NSW Hen Rescue website this morning. It has some good advice on what to do with your chooks. In summary, have:
  • enough pet carriers for all your animals - two hens fit in one cat cage
  • the carriers all ready to go
  • an emergency kit for the animals
  • a plan to round up your hens and other animals 
  • a plan where you will take your hens and other animals. 

Next time - like the webpage above mentions - I'd have more cages on hand. Our girls are 'big boned' and stuffing three into a cat cage was not comfortable for the poor dears.  And while I'd thought about taking the girls, I hadn't stopped to think where to. I'd assumed they could go to my Mum's but they were having a major plumbing emergency with workmen crawling all over the place and that wasn't an option. Not everyone wants 8 chickens to arrive unexpectedly, especially if you haven't also thought how you will house them!

There's no place like home

So with the girls holed up under some bird netting cast over my friend's lovely teak outdoor furniture (yes, they are good friends ), I got to thinking about if there were a 'next time', what would I do differently?

Posted by Resilient Communities on FB

Repurpose a tent? You could cut the floor out but leave enough of an edge to peg it down. Put netting over like a fly and have all the window flaps open. It would house 8 chooks and would be easy to put up and relatively safe. Not a bad idea, if I don't mind saying so myself! Looking into this idea, I came across these coops (again, from Omlet.co.uk).

Eglu to you too


The Eglu Classic chook pod with run - not big enough for 8 though


Behold! The Eglu Cube !! Fits 10 chickens and could be put on a trailer. Nice one!! 


If only the were for sale here - so easy!

Emergency temporal shift

Evacuate! Evacuate!

Gawd - what a week! Our beautiful Blue Mountains have been beset by bushfires. After the Black Saturday fires in Victoria in 2009, there has been a big awareness campaign about having fire plans and acting on them when the time comes. Well that time arrived this week and it was stressful and exhausting. At 4:05pm on Tuesday afternoon the NSW Rural Fire Service's Commissioner advised Blue Mountains residents planning on leaving to go before 9am on Wednesday morning with conditions forecast "as bad as they can get".

 The ABC's John Donegan snapped the local wildlife getting close with Rural Fire Service
teams near Windsor, New South Wales, on October 22 2013. Source

That was enough for me - and the rest of our street, as it turned out. Our emergency bag was already packed and documents, photos and hard drive boxed up and ready to go. Next to that was a line of pet cages for our 8 chickens and recently adopted 11 year old toothless cat. After getting our elderly neighbour sorted (her sons didn't want to come and get her!!) it was dark, so the girls were easy to handle in their sleepy state and didn't so much as 'bok' during the car trip. Can't say the same for poor puss; she cried the whole way and I had to stop twice for some reassuring cuddles.

Big turn out for our local RFS briefing on Monday 21st October 2013

Our lovely friends put us up in Sydney and helped build a make-shift home for the girls. They handled the evacuation with aplomb and managed to lay 6 eggs while they were away, much to the delight of our god children, who were super excited to have a menagerie of beasts come to stay.





We are home now and while we need to keep an eye on the fire situation, we are relieved to be back and able to see some humour in it all. Which is why I decided to do this next post - after some of the suggestions I received about evacuating chooks. Stay tuned!






Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Cockadoodle-iosis


 


The Aussie chook nut rises...after almost a year of absence. Life eh? Things just happen. 

A fair bit has gone down in the Fibro Majestic over the past year; there was a bad patch of under-employment, a cracker of an elbow injury (tennis AND golf, on both sides, would you believe - not bad for someone who hates ball games) and a general depletion of the happy chemicals that keep you wanting to get out of bed in the morning. All good now - new job (ace job, in fact), iceberg-slow healing elbows (but healing all the same) and an upward turn in the happy chemicals department. All makes for a finer outlook and renewed interest in life -- and pretty much parallels what's been going down in the Summer Palace.

The girls are getting on you know; almost all of them are 7ish, give or take six months. Things were looking a bit dire for them over summer - they were loosing condition and the super hot days nearly knocked a few of them off the perch. Lucky for them they have 24/7 medical care at the door - well, at our back door, in a special emergency sick bird cage. We nursed and nursed and got them through. Turns out they had a bad case of cockadoodle-iosis, hadn't been wormed since who knows when, and were low in vitamins. Oh and stress - heat stress, was the final straw.

Anyway, they are bright and happy again and just to make us proud, have started laying again! We're getting two a day a the moment - one from Pippy the Terror and one from Fluffy Bum. Who'd have thought it would be those two who broke the ice? We're waiting for the 'young ones' to get stuck in now - Blossom should be back at it soon and the odd little Amelia who continues to astound us with her agility and flight (and her bossy nature - poor Gum Nut is as down-trodden as ever).

Here are some pics of the girls taken over the summer. Not much keeps Fluffy down - must be all those feathers :)



Tuesday, September 4, 2012

You're my hens now!

How cool is this? It's by John Wright, who is one of the artisans in the garden at
the Royal Botanic Gardens in Sydney. It's called - yes, you guessed it! - 'Chooks'

Speaking of chooks, Sooty is gone. He's attacks got more frequent and there just wasn't any logic to them, though I think he might have felt particularly provoked when I walked out one morning in my long red dressing gown 'cause he went nuts. Which is fine when you are rugged up for winter and his spurs aren't fully grown. It's even sort of funny but I didn't fancy facing that in shorts, in summer. No matter how much I assured him he was 'da man', he saw me as a threat.

While I kept calm and took a gentle approach with him he was just too unpredictable so he's gone back from whence he came: to our local produce store. The good thing about that is they have farmers and breeders from around the district who take them off their hands so he isn't necessarily going to be dinner. And if he does end up as dinner, he'll be a tasty bird and he's certainly had a better life than most roosters. I found it difficult to do (not helped by M. asking me yesterday "Should we go visit Sooty?"... aaggghh!!!) and I will be much stronger with myself the next time a charming young rooster cocks his cute little head at me while I'm picking up feed for the girls. I am of the school that animals that you bring home are for good but this one clearly wasn't working out.

The upside is I have my hens back!! I am enjoying peaceful times out in the yard with them and their silly antics. Of course Pippy has resumed her crowing, which totally bewildered Sooty, as well as her other odd behaviours (such as 'covering' the other hens?!), but she's almost six and, well, we're all used to it (the girls included).

As those strange fellows from A League of Gentleman say "You're my wife hens now!"

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Milkwood Permaculture Farm

Rather than not posting for AGES I've decided short and sweet is the new way to go. So, I just saw this link on a friend's FB page and wanted to share it here. It's Milkwood Permaculture Farm (http://milkwood.net) and it is not too far from where I lives. Might go for a look-see when I have time to scratch my arse. (Sorry...beer ambulance required after a day of 'online learning'. )

Anyway, anyone that describes a chook as "a chicken born in Australia" gets the thumbs up from me but surely we aren't the only country to use the word? Here's a pic to make the whole short-post thing a bit more exciting.

Image source

You know, I just never get tired of chooks. I mean, look at her! She's a beauty, and look at those lovely eggs. Chooks are THE BEST.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Hello again, part 2

I was saving the best bit for part two, hello again, but I have been super busy with another project and just haven't had a chance to do this the justice it deserves. And as I have a job application due tomorrow, now seems the perfect time to do it [insert rolly-eye emoticon here]. I am the Queen of Procrastination after all.

Speaking of Queens...my lovely friend Loani, Queen of Tea Cosies, sent me a surprise package recently. It came in a box, packaged inside another box that didn't contain raw chicken, according to her handwriting. Hmm....provocative but also reassuring. So what was inside?

She has photographed it so beautifully on her own blog that I'm going to steal a few of her pictures and show it off here. Apparently I 'baggsed' (sp?) it, mid-stitch. I'm feeling a bit bashful about that now, but only a little bit because the rest of me is just so chuffed to have it.

Behold, my new scarf!


 

One's friend is very talented, very generous, and very funny. One opened the box and found all manner of notes attached to the scarf explaining its evolution. 


One laughed and One cried, then laughed again, then buried One's face in the silky soft beautiful wool while admiring the perfectly formed and deliciously fluffy pom poms on the corners. 

Did you notice there are sheep, tea pots, hearts, and chickens?
One's photos aren't nearly as good as the other One's, who is somewhat of a stylist after publishing so many beautiful books. 


 

As a creative person I love making things for other people. My crochet history started with the appearance of lots of little people in our lives. My Mum had always made baby blankets for her friends' children and I decided to do the same. This led to all sorts of projects, including several crocheted ponchos. I've made two this year, after a bit of break: one for my neice and one for my god-daughter (well, I claim her as my god daughter because I'm god mother to her brother and I love them both to bits). It's impossible not to think about them as you complete each stitch. There is so much love in a handmade gift, because there is a lot of time and a lot of thought that goes into it. Not to mention the wool! So, needless to say I was very overwhelmed by this gift. It came out of the blue and at a time when I was feeling stressed and stretched. It was unexpected and beautiful and I love it. 

This gift from Loani also reaffirmed to me the joy of the blogging community, and my little corner of it. None of you know the extent of your presence in my life and the conversations that go in our house because of you (usually along the lines of "You should see what the Gnomes are growing/making..!" and "Duckie mentioned..." or Chris said..." "Loani posted..." or "Celia's chickens..." and the list goes on). Your stories have become my stories and you inspire me in ways you wouldn't know and don't imagine.

So thank you to my lovely friend Loani and thank you to all of you who take the time to read and comment on my blog and share your own stories on your blogs. I loves yous all (and I haven't even had a gin!) xx

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Hello again, part 1

Where has this year gone? I feel like it is on fast-forward and I am scrambling to catch up. It's July for goodness sake! Almost August!! Meanwhile my poor little blog has been languishing in the corner with only the occasional spam comment popping up in my inbox to remind me it's still here. What happened to those halcyon days of 2008 and the mad month that was Blogtoberfest! I really have lost momentum with it so I am surprised but pleased that I still get the occasional (re)visitor (hello to Planet Treasure!!)

So! Where were we? I believe that I was wondering, in your imagined company, whether my little Sooty was a rooster. Well, he is, and he's rather spectacular too:


Gone is the sooky little chick who would fly up onto my lap for a cuddle. He has become quite testy and has had a go at me on several occasions. After doing some reading online I settled on a strategy that seems to be working: stay calm and each time he pecks, pick him up firmly but gently, pat him and play with his comb and wattle, then put him down in a way that allows him to maintain what is left of his dignity in front of his ladies. If he's being particularly bad I hold him upside down and stroke his chest feathers, which he really doesn't like. While this is amusing, I have also had to change the way I interact with the girls and I don't think of him as a pet in the same way that I do the hens. He is never out in the yard when my friend's children are here and I always regard him with care when I'm in his territory. Whether he stays with us is a constant question. I would love to give Gum Nut a go at hatching some chicks and as she is the only one that lays blue eggs it would be easy enough to separate hers from the others. But do we really need anymore chooks? More to the point (going by our track record), do we really need anymore roosters?! I think the answer is probably there if I could admit that this experiment really isn't working.

Our other new arrivals from earlier this year have grown into lovely hens and are giving us an egg each day. I can't get over the size of our Light Sussex - she is easily our biggest chook - and it is funny watching her attempt great feats of daring like her light little Dorking friend Amelia, whose wings have been clipped, such as scaling the garden domes to get to the other side of the chicken-proof fence. Too slow by far!

Busted!