Girls On Strike

Hi there keepers, we appear to be eggless for the first time in the last 18 months, I nearly considered buying some yesterday, then common sense prevailed. It seems as though Renee, the first to moult, and the only one who had started laying again, has decided to moult again, this is a first for us, and a bit strange as winter is here already, quite cold last night.

I hope the Minorca starts her winter laying soon, as I am missing the eggs, as they have become a constant in my everyday, also not getting my natural omega.  This is also part of being a caring chicken keeper, appreciating the birds for just being, rather than viewing them purely as a source of food or machines that constantly produce eggs.

As we have lost a couple of our flock, due to illness and possibly drunk youths, maybe it’s time in increase the numbers again, which in turn should increase the possibilty of an egg a day, to keep the psychiatrist away.

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Nest Sharing

Hi there keepers, I try to write my posts first thing in the morning when the brain is supposed to be alert,  I make a coffee,  roll a smoke,  and sit down to type.  So far today I have sorted out the feeder, it’s getting a bit clogged up with the damp weather, then I went to collect the eggs. Yesterday when cleaning out the coop, which was very messy, as it has been raining so much I haven’t felt inclined to stand out in the rain scooping chicken poo, well I noticed Manuella the Minorcan has stopped laying under the coop, she is the fussiest layer, if you so much as touch the egg that you are leaving behind in the nest, she will kick it outof the nest, she has done this on three occassions, and finally she has decided to move her nest, just when I had tracked down Daphne and Daisy’s new spot, and found the new nest of Betty.

I decided to clear the nest that Daphne and Daisy are using, it had been two days since I checked it , again due to the weather, and to my surprise found it contained three Minorca eggs too, so it would appear three out of the four current layers are using the same nest, which makes my life a bit easier, and dryer, as I only have to negotiate one damp shrubbery. So the girls have come to their senses and set up a time share nest in Mani’s garden next door, fortunately they have set it down  just over the small bamboo fence, which I can easily reach. I wonder do they know Nancy is only inches away from them, just behind the trellis, sitting broody on an egg about six weeks old, I hope she doesn’t break it, the smell would be awful, the neigbours wouldn’t be too happy either as it is just by their outdoor seating area.

New Feeder

hi there keepers, up until now we have had several home made feeders, fashioned from pieces of plastic guttering or ice cream containers, these have served well, but they weren’t covered, so the weather and other animals would get to the feed, hence costing us more in feed, so we have finally purchased a silo type feeder, it consists of a tappered cylinder in the center, with a shaped bowl underneath, the edges of which curve up to prevent the feed from spilling out, and making it harder for non chicken feeders to get a nibble.

There is a bar hinged on the top, to enable it to be hung a couple of inches off the floor, again to prevent other critters from getting to the feed and it stops the splash from any rain spoiling the feed, the main reason for getting the feeder is that we are going to away for a few weeks visiting family in the UK and Ireland, so we wanted to be able to feed the girls for several days without any one here, then all our chicken sitter will have to do is come around every few days to top up the feeder and water troughs, as we have a creek running through the property and it the rainy season, I don’t think shortage of water will be an issue. I have yet to fill the feeder to capacity to work out roughly how long it last the hens, I’ve been giving them a little time to get used to it, which took all of about 20 minutes, once they had worked out this was the never porridge pot of pellets, the fact that it is a strange grey metal hovering device, no longer seemed to bother them.

 

feeder

feeder

 I have noticed that the sparrows are having a great time at the feeder, I think it will have to go inside the coop?? or maybe a seperate feeding house.

Free Range Drawback

Hi there keepers, just a quick post today, and it’s about the one main drawback of letting your hens free range, I am having trouble finding theirs nests all the time, as the weather has changed recently, basically is now very wet, the girls have moved nests again, the only one who is laying in the same spot is Manuella the Minorca, she lays under the coop, where it stays dry all day long, whereas the others have taken to moving their nests to a place I cannot find.

I suspect it they are in the mass of undergrowth that line the banks of the creek, however after seeing the lengths that Nancy went to, in order to conceal her nest, I could be searching for a long time. Sad as it may sound, but I think I may have to rein them in a bit, afterall we are keeping them for their eggs, and at present we are only getting one a day.

Rain stops play.

Hi there keepers, I realise alot of readers here are from the northern hemisphere, and so at this time of year they are enjoying the warmer months, the spring flowers are all in bloom, and temperatures are rising as summer rolls in like a warm carpet being laid over all the death of winter.

However down here in New Zealand, winter is fast approaching, like a cold wet flannel being flung in your face. It gets very wet in the North Island, the coldest tempertures are reserved for the South Island, where most of the Celtic immigrants settled, they like it cold, they get their winter tan of blue.

Auckland rarely drops below 10 degrees celcius during the day, but it still feels pretty cold when you’ve gotten used to the constant 30 degrees of summer, but it’s the rain, when it rains here it rains big drops, flash floods are common place, infact 2 small tributeries form under our house, feeding the creek at the bottom of the garden, I had to dig out two channels to allow them to flow through, rather than flood my workshop under the house, so if you lift one of the floor boards you can see these trickling flows of water.

So you can imagine it’s not much fun if your a chicken, the ground becomes very soggy and muddy, there appears to be less bugs in the grasses, probably washed away on a bug sized tsumani,  sunbathing has become a distant memory, and the dust baths have become mud pools. The girls spend most of their day under the deck and concrete stairs that lead down to the garden, there’s plenty of room for them all to stay dry, but they will bicker and peck over the driest spot, like kids who have been stuck indoors over the holidays due to bad weather, fighting out of boredom. Which made me think I need to provide some games for them, like ‘Peck the hanging cabbage’ and ‘ Pellets in a slightly open matchbox’, the names need work, but you get the idea. Daisy still makes the dash around the block to her mates who provide her with daily bread rations, and returns sometimes slightly soggy but full.

Bring back summer.

Who Likes my Dumplings?

Hi there , I have tried before amd failed, to make dumplings that is, I remember when my Mum made them at home, she would use shredded beef suet, which I found out is the hard layer of fat that surrounds the kidneys, I didn’t have any of that last night, so I substituted it with cold butter, ( has to be cold), then is kneaded in with the fingers, like making cake mix. Well they came out lovely, as it is getting a bit colder here, it was time for a stew. I made them some 10 years ago but they were awful, that’s why it took so long to attempt them again, my son has never tried them before, and wasn’t too sure about the flavour.

There were two dumplings leftover this morning, and I put them out for the girls, with a couple of leftover spuds, well they proved very popular with the hens, however they seemed to be getting their beaks a blocked up, a bit like watching a dog chewing a toffee, when it gets stuck to the roof the their mouths. The water trough seemed to be a hit after the dumplings.

I’m chalking that up as a culenary success.

Fussy Eaters

Hello keepers, not much to report so far this week, no projects on the go, although I did aquire a small fence, from a job I did earlier in the week, so I imagine that will be going up somewhere soon, just trying to figure out the best spot for it.

The main thing I have noticed about the girls this week, is that after their party food had ran out, of course we went back to buying feed, they have mainly been fed layer pellets, from several suppliers, they have turned their beaks up at the budget pellets before. Well we had swapped them onto mash, the week before the party, so they had been used to moist food for a couple of weeks, unfortunatly the two shops we tried were sold out of mash, so we bought them the midrange layer pellets again, well it wasn’t good enough, although they were hungry, as they had been complaining for a half an hour before I went to the shop,  when I delivered pellets to their feeding trough, they had a look, tried a couple, gagged a bit on them, like P.O.W’s from an old film, then took themselves off to bed, moaning about the dry food. I don’t know some birds just aren’t grateful.