Friday, December 14, 2012

feathery friday

I'm taking a leaf out of Tammy's book, she has a regular feature on her blog Our Neck of the Woods called Feathered Friend Friday, and devoting a post to our feathered friends.

We have kept chooks since we moved back to Nelson 7 years ago. It's been a bit ironic as both of the kids are allergic to eggs. Miss L sometimes watches us eat a fried egg and asks us what it tastes like. Now that's hard, as I don't think there's anything comparable.  Hopefully one day they will grow out of the allergy, but at 10 and 12 years old now I'm not sure if that will happen. At least she has grown out of her dairy and peanut allergies.  

When we lived in Brightwater there was a council restriction of only having 6 hens and no roosters.  Since our move to the country we now can keep as many as we like, including roosters! We brought 5 chooks with us, two gold-laced Wyndottes who are four years old, so are getting on a bit and don't lay every day. Two Light Sussex who are three years old, and slightly more regular in the laying department, and are also very good at going clucky (broody). And Molly, a buff Silky, who we got for Miss L to have as a pet, but unfortunately she never became friendly, probably due to the bigger bossier girls chasing her a bit.

 That's 4 out of the 5 on the nesting box!! Molly the Silky can just be seen in the bottom left as a few fluffy feathers poking out! They all use the same box, I've never had any luck with getting them to use more than one so have given up. It's not usually this crowded, but the Sussex were clucky again! I could have got some fertile eggs for one of them, but I'm not to sure how they would be as mothers, as I've always had a bantam as a mother.

We were waiting for Molly to go clucky and get some fertile eggs, but that hasn't happened this summer yet. On Sunday while setting up my stall for the Christmas Fair I had a wander around the other stalls and a lady was selling two hens with 2 day old chicks, so we thought we'd avoid the 21 day wait and buy a ready made brood! We chose the Dorking-Araucana cross mum with 7 chicks, 4 white leghorns and even more exciting 3 Orpingtons - two blue and one black.

 Here they all are tucked under mum in their new house, which is an A-frame coop we have inside the main chook run. I usually use it for locking up anyone who has gone broody. After a few days of not having a nest box to sit in they usually un-cluck and get ready to start laying again.

 The mum is quite a large sized bantam, not much smaller than our other chooks which hopefully means she won't be bullied by them. Although we are planning on keeping a rooster if one of the Orpingtons is that way inclined.

I was going to write this earlier in the week, but thought no I'll wait till Friday.  But boy can things change over the space of a few days (stop reading now if you don't like sad-endings!). Yesterday morning while I was having my shower Miss L went to feed the babies, and came running back saying she could only see three of the seven chicks. So I grabbed some clothes and ran down to see what had happened. Yes there are now only three, 2 leghorns and the black orpington. We found two others dead in the coop and no sign of the other two. So I think a stoat or ferret must have killed them. We never had any problems with these horrible predators at our old house, but here there is lots more space for them to live in.  Its all been very sad, and especially as the kids were going to surprise their dad with them when he returns from two weeks away on Saturday. So now each night we have to catch Mum and the chicks and put them in a large pet carrier box for safety. Something she doesn't seem to appreciate, as she is very protective of her remaining babies, but it's the only way to stop this happening again. We will now get a trap to try and catch the culprits.

So as not too end on too sombre a note, here's Mumbai not wanting to miss out on anything in the chook run. He is constantly trying to break in as he likes to eat their pellets and also the plants growing through the fence. We had to make the pop hole for the girls to go out into the paddock, as we couldn't leave the gate open. What a silly goat!


  1. Oh I just love this post, Sally! I think you should do one every week :) Your chickens are so cute and I love the photo of them all crowded in the box together! Silly! The baby chick peeking out from under the mom is too adorable.

    So sorry you lost some babies :( Now that you are keeping them in the crate with the mom hopefully they will all be safe and secure. I have lost chicks (and full grown chickens) before and it is very sad.

    Mumbai is a handsome boy! Seems so curious, too :) Thanks for sharing photos of your sweet feathered and furry friends!

  2. I love seeing your animals. I'm sorry you had a sad ending for some of little chickens, poor things.
    What a shame the children can't eat eggs,there is nothing like eating a fresh egg! Are they unable to eat anything with eggs in it e.g. cake?
    Sarah x