Archive for the ‘Chickens’ Category

Hail!

We had a fairly heavy storm come through yesterday and it dumped a lot of hail on us. Here are a few pictures of our yard just after the storm.

Hail1

Hail2

Hail3

Thankfully the chickens were sensible and stayed in their house.

Hail6

Our broccoli seedlings were safe and warm in their little mini greenhouses (aka upturned plastic cups), installed the night before in the nick of time (good work MacGyver!)

Hail9

The silverbeet looks okay but this might be the end of the basil and mint for the season though – I’ve been expecting them to curl up and die for well over a month now, but so far they have stayed alive.

Hail4

 

This morning there was still lots of hail left on the ground.

Hail second day04

Hail second day01

Hail second day02

Hail second day03

Hail second day04

The chickens came out and braved the icy ground this morning and seemed quite perplexed by the cold white stuff.

Hail second day07

Hail second day08

Hail second day01

Splash was not amused by the cold stuff.

Hail second day10

The broccoli seedlings and mint (amazingly) look fine, but I think this is it for the basil.

Hail second day05

Hail second day06

Our makeshift kafir lime greenhouse (aka a plastic bag over a tripod) has also done a great job of protecting the little tree.

Hail second day09

All very exciting really.  It’s rare for Canberra to get snow that sticks to the ground so seeing everything white was a big novelty for the kidlets.  Mme Four had a lovely time building “hail castles” after the storm had passed.

Love in the time of smoked chicken

Today’s post is a culinary adventure and homage to the wife.

Here’s the smoker she found at the tip for $80:

image

Fired it up for the first time today:

image

Four pairs of chicken breast in:

image

A few hours later:

image

Smoked chicken for pasta sauces, salads, sandwiches etc.

Of course, if you kill chickens yourself it has some risks:

image

But it’s ok, she got me some band-aids.

You could see this as a post about food or chickens, but to me it can only be about marrying someone who has an eye for a bargain and a heart of gold.

Murrumbateman field days 2012

We had a great time at the field days this weekend.
To the other Canberra backyard poultry club members, to all the lovely people we met (those who bought or just stopped to chat), to Laucke and Brindabella stockfeed for the samples, to our enthusiastic and talented babysitters and to our youngest new recruit, a big thanks and we hope to see you all again next year if not sooner!

image

Rooster logistics

We’ve been getting a few questions recently about the logistics of keeping roosters in suburbia so I thought I would write a bit more about life with our boys.

Hugh, with his girls

We currently have three (eek) roosters: two Araucanas (father and son Craig and Hugh) and a Light Sussex (Clock). We also don’t count any cockerels we may have growing out for eating at any given time – their first crow is sadly usually their death warrant by the following weekend.  We only plan to have two breeding roosters in the long term.  The reason we have three at the moment is that Hugh (the son) is bigger and better looking than Craig (the father), but Hugh got sick a lot in last summer and autumn and we a) kept expecting Hugh to just die, and b) were sure as soon as we decided he would be fine and knocked off Craig, Hugh would get sick again and die, leaving us roosterless.  So Craig has sort of been hanging around as a backup.  Plus Craig has a very sweet temperament (as does Hugh) and we do like to breed for calm chickens.

Craig, with his girls

(Much younger then) Craig in the kitchen

Clock, however, is a whole ‘nother story – he’s a bit of a bastard.  We were given Clock and decided to breed from him (replacing Red the RIR) because he is quite simply massive and we are breeding for meat.

Clock, in all his massive glory.

But as he has gotten older, Clock can be a bit aggressive and I won’t turn my back on him while in the main pen, nor will I let the 3 year old in the main pen anymore, which is sad for her.  So Clock will probably be heading for the great crock pot in the sky soon – his only saving grace at the moment is his fertility which is excellent!

We built a proper night box (documented here and here) to keep the roosters (Craig and Red at the time) quiet at night and in the morning.  Red kept crowing at random times in the middle of the night and it took us a while to work out that he was waking and crowing anytime our toddler was crying out in the night.  With our new baby due (last March) we knew we’d need decent night accommodation to keep him quiet!

The night box is divided in two so that we can keep two roosters.  Hugh and Clock sleep in it at the moment.  We hoped it would be soundproof, but it’s not, though it does severely muffle the crowing.  When Red slept in there we also used to have a portable radio hanging in there at night to provide more white noise to stop him waking and crowing at sounds in the night, but we haven’t needed this for the current residents.

Logistically, we pick up the roosters and put them into the night box at some point in the evening, usually after they have roosted, but occasionally before if we can be bothered catching them.  We then let them out in the morning.  On a weekday we let them at around 7am.  On a weekend it is more like 8 -10am.  The record lateness was the day our son was born this year – they didn’t get let out until 1pm when we got home from the hospital.  They were fine, just keen to get out!

The night box is sitting in the run of the main pen, so when we open the door Clock just explodes out of it and immediately starts chasing his girls.  Hugh knows to sit and wait until he is carried across the yard to his pen (where he also immediately starts chasing his girls).  Moving them twice a day is beneficial as it means that they are used to being handled.  This means that Hugh at least is quite tame.  Handling Clock a bit also helps to remind him that we are top of the pecking order, not him.

Moving them around twice a day is, to be honest, a colossal pain in the ass.  Clock is really big and I (SF) can’t quite get my hands around him enough to pin his wings down so I usually make WWMD put them in at night.  However, we think of it as a responsibility of keeping roosters in a suburban setting.  We have fantastic neighbours and we want to keep them that way!  We discussed with all our surrounding neighbours when we were thinking of keeping roosters, and they all assured us that it was fine.  Almost all of our surrounding neighbours have dogs that bark a lot (which we also don’t mind) so they were very understanding about animal noise.  We check in with them regularly to check that the crowing isn’t bothering them.  We also reiterate regularly that they need to let us know if the roosters start to bother them so that we can revisit the sound proofing, though thankfully this hasn’t happened yet.  Our bedroom is also the closest to the night box of all the neighbours so we should be able to hear a problem before they do!

There isn’t much we can do about the crowing in the day.  They usually have several crowing sessions throughout the day, and if one starts they all start up so it can be quite noisy at times.  Clock likes to stand up on top of the night box and crow his heart out.

That’s about all I can think of for now, but I’m happy to answer questions in the comments!

BTW did anyone notice that this is our 101st post?!  I can’t believe we have passed 100!

Pomo chickens?

Yolk within white within shell is a social construct. Pomo chicken transcends it.

image

And in today’s episode of Araucana Antics…

Today the chickens in the Araucana pen managed to knock their nesting box upside down trapping Hugh Grant (the rooster) inside it.  I feel there may be something to read into this, especially given that a couple of the girls are starting to lose some back feathers at the, ahem, mounting point.  Maybe they decided they’d had enough today and took matters into their ownhands (wings? claws? feet?  This cliche loses something when applied to chickens…)

The rooster trapping episode backfired a bit though; as soon as the nesting box was righted again there was an immediate squabble between Imogen and Tinsel for who got to use it first.  Looks like they’d been holding on all morning.

Roll Call Winter ’12

More for our records as much as anything else, here is a line up of who we have where, Winter 2012.

Main Pen sans inhabitants:

The rooster night box in the run.

“Clock”  Light Sussex cockerel, around 7 months old.  Named by our three year old.

Light Sussex hens: “Adelaide” (front), “Penelope” (middle) and “Henrietta” (back).  Sisters, just under 2 years old. As far as we know unrelated to Clock.

Two Blue laced silver Wyandotte hens: “Juniper” (L) and “Pepper” (R); and two RIR hens: “Scarlet” and “Carmine”.  Anyone’s guess as to which is which without looking at their legbands.  All around 18 months – 2 years old.

Our reliable layers: “Barnadette” 3 year old Barnevelder, and “Blue” nearly 2 years old, BLR wyandotte hen,

The little brown one at the back is the only one I couldn’t manage to photograph on her own.  She is a LS x RIR (sex-linked) pullet of our own hatching, 6 months old. She was the only girl hatched with about 8 boys (who were delicious…) and we decided to keep her to see how she lays.

 

In the aviary (the grower pen):

Araucana x GL Wyandotte cockerel & RIR pullet.  Hatched Feb 2012.  These two were rejected by Blue who was broody at the time.  She took a huge chunk out of the cockerels back but he healed up fine.  He probably will be eaten in a month or so, she will move to the main pen.  The third is a Welsummer pullet (around 6 months old) we are adjisting for a friend.

 

The green house is currently empty.

In the Araucana pen:

At the front “HughGrant” (so named for his hair).  Cockerel, nearly a year old. The other two lavender Araucana’s in this pen are “Tinsel” his full sister (also nearly a year old) and “Lavinia,” their mother (2 years old).  Hiding at the back is “Imogen”, black bantam Araucana, 2 years old.  The last pullet is “Houdini” Araucana x GL wyandotte, hatched in Feb and just come on the lay. She was raised by “Blue” (the very same who rejected the two in the aviary).  As her name would imply, “Houdini” has a bit of a knack for escaping.
“Houdini” lays a lovely green egg, “Tinsel” and “Imogen” blue eggs.  Lavinia is still moulting, but she lays blue eggs too.

 

And a temporary resident of the Araucana pen – this black cross breed cockerel, full sibling to “Houdini” and also raised by “Blue”.  He doesn’t have a name, and will probably only be around another few weeks.

In Craig’s Pen we have “Craig” (obviously), “Thyme” and newcomer “Gypsy”. “Gypsy” is about 7 months old (just come on the lay) and is some sort of Araucana cross from several generations back. She unfortunately doesn’t have the blue egg gene but I think she might be splash so she will hopefully make interesting coloured babies with “Craig”.

This is the pen we are breeding for temperament and/or interesting colours.

 

Our final pen is the brooder. It currently has 8 five week old chicks; 7 pure lavender Araucana one RIR x Wyandotte.  Two of the Araucanas have twisted beaks and are missing an eye each.  No doubt we will lose some of these chicks as they get older to cocci etc.  The two twisty beaks and one other look a bit cocci at the moment.  They are all being treated for it but it with meds in their water and a coccistat food but it never seems to do much good and we are mostly just resigned to losing a few as they get older.

They are nigh on impossible to photograph as they move around too fast!

And as an extra we are adjisting another four and a chicken tractor for a friend for a few months.

In the tractor there is a lavender Araucana, an Australorp and two Salmon Faverelles. No idea about ages.  The Araucana and Australorp are laying.

 

%d bloggers like this: