Archive for January, 2011

Four more chickens…

We have four more chickens.  This is clearly becoming something of an addiction.

The first is a Rhode Island Red boy, (creatively named Red), bought from the same place as the three Light Sussexs.

Red

Red is about 12 weeks old and therefore not crowing yet but will be by about 6 months so we are hurriedly improving the coop to add an enclosed and hopefully sound proof box for him to sleep in before then.  Red will be the first of our breeding chickens – he and the Light Sussexs will produce sex linked chicks.  This means day old chicks can be identified as girls or boys by their colour, and we can sell off the girls as chicks and raise the boys to eat.  I have no idea what crossing him with the Wyandottes will look like, but it sure will be fun finding out!

We bought Red last Sunday and put him in with the other six girls, who are much bigger than him (for now…) where he was promptly made aware that he is the bottom of the pecking order while he is smaller.  He was doing okay in with them, but seemed a bit lonely and I’m not sure how much food he was getting since the others would chase him away.

He probably would have been okay by now, but on Wednesday we got three more Wyandottes – two tiny gold laced and one a bit bigger from Raf’s blue laced red project who were much too small to go into the pen with our now rather large 21 week old and 16 week old girls.

So we knocked together a new mini coop and run for them (on a scorching 37°C day no less) until they are big enough to go in with the rest of the flock.

New run

Mini coop

We moved Red in with them, figuring he would at least then have some friends for now, plus by the time we move them all in together he will be big enough to assume his rightful place at the top of the pecking order!  Once these four are in the big coop, the mini coop will be our broody pen.

So the new tiny gold laced Wyandottes are Sage and Thyme, named after herbs since their run now encompasses some of our herb garden.

 

Sage

Thyme

They look a bit scruffy at the moment as they are still little and growing in their feathers.  They are going to be just gorgeous though – much more gold than Paprika.

Bleu (also creatively named) is the Blue Laced Red.  Well, sort of – it’s not yet a recognised breeding colour in Australia, and the colour is still being developed.

Bleu

She is such a stunning bird, so much so that she might go back to Raf’s to be bred from if she turns out very well.  Her red colouring originally comes from a Rhode Island Red rooster (quite a few generations back) and her red is very close to Red’s red.  (Wow that is a lot of reds for one sentence).

Colours

She is apparently a sibling in the same generation as our original three Wyandottes, but she is quite a bit smaller than Paprika and Juniper, and still a little smaller than Pepper – closed to Red in size.

The four of them sorted out their pecking order in about four pecks and Red has taken charge and is showing the others all about being a chicken here at the suburbanite farm (having three more days experience, naturally).  Bleu also seems quite sweet tempered and is taking care of the two littlies.

All four in the mini coop.

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How does your garden grow?

Ours is growing well for the most part (pics further down the post).  Except, frustratingly enough, for the new raised bed I worked so hard putting in.  I think the problem is with the soil.  We bought additional soil with chicken poo and compost in it for the raised part, but right after we put it in we got a LOT of rain and it compacted and became very clayey.  We’ve added some gypsum but I think it might need more.  I also think it is a bit rich and not composted enough – it is still a bit smelly like not-quite-done-yet compost.  Hopefully that means with a bit more gypsum it will be good next year.

This is what it looks like now:

The hydrangea and new turf (off cuts from our very generous neighbours who were doing their lawn – thanks guys!) are clearly thriving, but the veges just aren’t keeping up.  Bottom left is a strawberry, top right is basil, bottom right is parsley, and we also planted carrots, beetroot, dill, and coriander but they haven’t really come up.

For comparison, here are the other strawberries that were from the same punnet:

Now these are in the totally awesome wicking broccoli boxes (I will get around to a post on wicking beds in their own right soon), but they are just doing so much better and have already given us quite a few totally sweet strawberries.

Other plants that are growing:

Tomatoes - planted early Dec (whole tomatoes smushed into the ground)

Corn - planted from seed 11 Dec

Beans - planted from seed 11 Dec

Second lettuce crop (from seed this time), plus the last of the first crop which we are letting go to seed so we can keep the seeds.

The rest of the strawberries (a different variety and in ordinary pots) and sunflowers. (Plus another lettuce, which really needs pulling out as the rain has ruined it). Oh, and linseeds.

Radishes - planted from seeds 11 Dec.

More corn, planted later than the other crop, and in a wicking bed

The passionfruit I was given for my birthday (thanks!), plus the overgrown roses (and couch).

Pumpkin (and couch. Lots of couch.)

I just can’t get over how much and how quickly it is growing this year, but then I guess that’s what La Niña does here, huh?

Better pictures of all the chickens

Here are some close up photos of all our girls.

The three Wyandottes, Paprika, Juniper and Pepper:

Paprika - gold laced Wyandotte

Juniper - Blue laced silver Wyandotte

Pepper - silver laced Wyandotte

 

And the three light Sussex whom you have met before.

Penelope

Henrietta

Adelaide

Happily, it seems that all three of the Sussex chickens are pullets.  Both the Wyandotte and Sussex breeds are apparently slow to mature and they should start to lay at 22-27 weeks old.  The the Sussex girls are about 18-19 weeks old and the Wyandottes 12-13 weeks so we should start getting some eggs from February onwards.

Paprika and Juniper

Penelope, Adelaide and Pepper

Henrietta, Adelaide, Paprika and Penelope

Pepper's straight comb - not quite true to the breed; she ought to have a rose comb like Paprika and Juniper.

Paprika (Juniper in the background)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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