2011 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Syndey Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 26,000 times in 2011. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 10 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Moving Chickens

Hi there keepers, it’s been a while since I posted, there has been alot going on. Our landlord moved to Australia leaving our house with a property manager. She immediately put the rent up by over 10%, (her fee), and then instructed us we had ten days to remove our chickens from the property, quoting some tenancy act.

Rubbish, we had an agreement with our landlord about our hens from the beginning nearly three yeears ago. Waiakere council allows twelve hens on an urban plot, no roosters.

So we have moved, lock stock n chicken coop. The girls found it all a bit confusing, and are settling into the new garden slowly, I had to cut their coop in half to transport it, and then realised it was far too big for them, now that there is only four left, so I just reconstructed the coop half the size. We didn’t give them their afternoon feed to make it easier to  catch them when we moved,using the food as a lure to the box, it worked just like you see in the cartoons.

The Cost Effectiveness of Chicken Keeping

Hi chicken keepers, or prospective chicken keepers, I recently read a report from an american publication, about a dispute between neighbours in the city of Salem, where the city by-law says the keeping of farm animals is prohibited, domestic pets only.

 The owner of the hens is disputing that they are penned the whole time, and are no bother to anyone other than herself, the case is pending in court, it appeared that the journalist was pro chicken keeping, until a quote from a professor from some obscure university said ” the cost of purchasing the hens, plus buying a coop, which can run into hundreds of dollars, then the feed and time involved, made it totally inaffective as a cost cutting self sufficient exercise”. Poppycock!!

 I imagine this comment was made through ignorance, that may be the case for the yuppies of chicken keeping, but I suspect most of the coops have been made by the keeper, as most of the increase in chicken keeping is from the undeveloped third world countries, where live chickens are sold to eat, there are no Safeways, Tesco or Foodtown to supply prepared birds in shiny plastic bags, therefore the cost would be smaller than buying from breeders as we do in the western world. As for feed, again with no suppliers of feed in remote areas of the world they rely on there surroundings and scraps from human consumption.

So here’s our financial figures, cost of purchasing hens $96.00 , cost of coop $0.00 (totally recycled materials), cost of feed $2o per month. The biggest cost is TIME, one could argue that one til the cows come home, but lets not bring other animals into it, that will just confuse matters.

The price of half a dozen free range eggs at the supermarket $4.00 (organic $6.00), normally we would have purchased half a dozen in our weekly shopping,  we use more eggs now we have more, in baking cakes and other such delights, we also barter with spare eggs, for home grown vegetables from the neighbours, and sometimes we swap the eggs for gold coins, which you can then use later at shops to buy stuff, like chicken feed. ( all dollars figures mentioned are in NZ dollars).

At the end of the day, our seven hens are less expensive to keep than a domestic cat or dog, however the hens provide food in return, they also add to our wellbeing, they provide secondary products like fertiliser, feathers and meat if you so wish, healthy eggs with maximum omega levels, they are really alot of fun to have around, each with their own character.

So it doesn’t have to cost a fortune to start keeping chickens in your back garden, especially if you’re handy with a hammer. The returns are wide and varied, it’s given me the contents of this blog.  As pointed out to me by Karmyn from Oregan, they are also good bug eaters, organic pesticide.

dust bath

dust bath

Breeds We Have

Hi Keepers, just thought for those who may be intersted in the different breeds and a bit of history thrown into the bargain.

 

WYANDOTTE GOLDEN LACED

 The golden laced wyandotte is a golden color with black around the edge of every feather and black tail. Joseph McKeen of Wisconsin was the originator of the Golden Laced Wyandotte. In 1880 he crossed Silver Laced Wyandotte females with a large “Black Red” patterned fowl of unknown origin called the Winnebago. The variety was admitted to the American Standard in 1888.

Betty

Betty

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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 MINORCA. The black (occasionally blue or white) Minorca is the largest of the Mediterranean ‘light’ breeds, and famous for its extra-large white eggs.  A proud and stately chicken which does surprisingly well in confined surroundings. The Minorca can be traced back in Britain to 1780 but its origins lie in Spain, perhaps originally as the ‘Castillian’. The Castillian is the common black fowl of Spain, the name of Minorca being derived from the port from which most of the birds were exported. By selective breeding, the head features of the Minorca became famous during the twentieth century, with the white almond shaped lobes particularly striking.

Manuella

Manuella

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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LIGHT SUSSEX.

The Sussex chicken was created over a century ago in the county of Sussex, England. The original colours were the Brown, Red and Speckled, and the Silver is the latest variety. The breed was prized as table fowl more than one-hundred years ago and, more recently, the Light Sussex was very popular for the laying trials of the 30’s. Today they are a popular breed for exhibitions as well as a backyard breed. The breed has made a huge contribution to the poultry industry and is even an ancestor to the modern broiler. Sussex is one of the oldest breeds of chicken that still exists today.
The Sussex was bred to be a dual purpose bird and is one of the most productive breeds of poultry. They lay large eggs that are cream to light brown in colour. A person owning a member of this breed should expect approximately 240 to 260 eggs a year, although the light and white varieties are the best choice for layers. Recently there has been an olive green coloured egg introduced to some Light Sussex breeds, although these green egg layers are very rare.

 Renee

Renee

 

 

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BROWN SHAVERS

These are the brown chickens you get if you buy layers from a commercial poultry farm. The names Shaver and Hyline denote the different commercial breeding companies that created the bird. The two breeds look very similar and are a complex genetic mix, designed by humans over many years to get a strain of bird that is a good layer, that eats less for higher production and produces on average 300 eggs per year at its peak.

Nellie

Nellie

Lice and Mites

Hi there chicken keepers, or fans of keeping chickens, today has been de-lousing day for the girls, after the death of poor Nellie, I thought I should give the girls an M.O.T or fitness check, they do have a few lice but nothing major, however just to be on the safe side, I bought some powder to exterminate the little blighters.

Buying the powder was the easy bit, applying to the girls is alot harder, the first patient, (the easiest to catch) was Daisy, the whole process obviously scared her a bit, but I had some warning, a shot across my bow’s, so to speak and I managed to lift her up before she deposited on my lap, next in line was Gloria, again easy to catch, she gets lots of stroking, I think she just thought it was another cuddle with dust this time, after I had finished her, she didn’t want to get off of my lap, Nancy was next, and was alot of trouble, kicking and moaning, it’s what I expected from her, the last to recieve the treatment so far today was Betty, the Wyandotte, and she was a perfect patient, she just lay there while I covered her in strange white powder, as if she was at the hairdressers.

The other three, Renee, Daphne and Manuella were so wary of me by the time had treated the other four, that I think I’ll have to wait til tea time. When their faces willl be down in the trough.

Managed to get Manuella and Daphne last night before bed time, well in thruth I had to pluck Daphne from the coop, poor girl.

Nancy’s Secret

Well hello there readers, firstly I must say, I was bowled over by the response from the ‘ thankyou for your support ‘ note,  thanks again, but on to the serious business of the broody Nancy.

As some of you might read nancy has been disappearing for days on end, only breifly coming back on some days for about twenty minutes to grab a snack, this behaviour to the experienced chicken keeper, would lead to only one conclusion, however as we are  novice chicken keepers, we thought she had just had enough of the new chicks, and was losing her place as top hen, so decided to ‘ fly the coop’, ( first time I’ve been able used that expression in it’s proper place), when she returned a second time, I started to think that she is laying somewhere secret, as Nancy has only ever layed one egg before to our knowledge, it seemed unlikely.

She turned up for the third time on Sunday, which meant as I was at home all day, I would be able to follow her when she left. They know when they are being watched, so I had to potter around the garden pretending to do something other than watching her, always looking out through the sides of my eyes. 

Eventually she made her move, down to the bamboo fence, one last stratch around to make it look like she wasn’t doing anything, then she popped through a hole in the fence and heading from the neighbours back porch, where they have their outdoor furniture arranged under cover, I lepted the fence, and hid behind a shrubery, I’d cleared this with the neighbours first, I don’t just go leaping into people’s garden willy nilly, might look strange, well from behind that bush I saw Nancy doing what looked liked something from mission impossible. She goes into the seating area, flies up over the back of one of the sofa’s, lands on the shelf with the plants on, then works her way along the shelf, going around the pot plants, jumps off the end onto a small wall, and then squeezes in between the shed and trellis fence, which is covered with ivy, talk about effort.

As she was in such a tight space she could not turn around, I was able to remove four of the eggs that had slipped out the back of her, I’m sure she is still sitting on at least 3 more, at least I know where she is now.

The Grand Deluxe Coop is under construction, this time with nesting boxes, all this sneaking around the gardens following chickens is,  A . Very time consuming and, B . I look silly doing it, if you didn’t know, I probably look like a peeping tom, sneaking around hiding behind neighbours bushes.

Has Nancy Gone Broody?

Hi there reader, low and behold as I looked out of the window down into the garden this morning, there she was, I called to her with the same sort of tone you would use after loosing a friend at a festival , ‘ Nancy!!! , there you are ‘. It was great to her well, if a little hungry.  What struck me straight away as I went out into the garden, although Nancy had returned there was no sight of any other bird, all seven were hiding, as it turned out not so much hiding, just away from Nancy, it really seemed as if she were being ignored by the others, the three newbies were down in the ginger bush,  with Nellie, the shaver most pecked by Nancy, and the other three were down in the bamboo by the edge of the creek, both groups had that look about them, you when you come into a room and the conversation stops, and everybodies pretending to just be talking about the weather.

There they were the two factions of hens in their hides, discussing Nancy, ‘ I see she’s back then! ‘ , ‘ I thought we’d seen last last of her ‘ , maybe the chicks were consouling Nellie, ‘ I know, she pecks us too, it’s not very nice, hmm ‘.  Well all their ignoring her payed off, I noticed she was starting to squeeze her way through the bamboo fence again, into Mani’s garden, so I watched her, unfortunately I had to go the post office, early closing Saturday, by the time I had wrapped the parcel, she had disappeared from sight, I look in the neighbours garden, racing her last movements, no sign. So I think she has gone broody and is laying in secret somewhere nearby, sitting patiently for eggs that will never hatch, bless her.