Plymouth Rock Attack

Recently I have been thinking about updating you on the happenings in our “chicken world”. My last post alluded to our duties as chicken owners – weekly chores, feeding rituals and the joy and companionship of chickens.

We currently have seven chickens and one rooster. Mainly Plymouth Rocks, either dark or light barred. They are a beautiful American breed, docile, friendly, albeit slow to grow – we have had our latest batch since January and they have only just come into lay during the winter. Plymouth Rocks do well in a cold climate and here, up on the Mount, it can get to below zero. They survive very well.

Since we received our first Plymouth Rock Rooster, Book-Book, we have had a rather traumatic time looking after our beloved roosters.

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Poor Book-Book was taken by a fox one Saturday morning right under our very noses, two years ago. He was a magnificent boy who protected his girls and paid the ultimate price.

With much sadness and anxiety, we sought to replace him. This time we rescued another Plymouth Rock who had been locked up for most of his life. He loved it here on the Mount staggering about in Dick Emery style- shaking his leg to one side. He was quite hilarious to watch.

20130910-204312.jpg Colin used to pick him up all the time. But he got sick.

20130910-204515.jpg We took Pecker to the Vet (his name was the source of some amusement!) and nursed him in the laundry out of the cold. But we lost him last November.

We waited to see if we could exist without a rooster. By January we could no longer do without one. Venturing far and wide, we finally found a breeder and homeward bound we went with a trio – a rooster and two hens. These little chickens took a long time to grow.

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We modernised our current chicken house for them.

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So here they are, the current clutch, led by the beautiful Long John Silver.

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Then it happened. As Colin filled their feed tin this afternoon, Long John Silver lurched and jumped at him! Swung round and attacked again. I could hear him calling out – Colin that is! Our beautiful boy has turned into a nasty teenager! Will he grow out of it?

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But we still love him. If you have any advice on how to manage a volatile rooster, please let me know!

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The House of Rock

Out little blue chook house has finally opened for business. It has take us a little longer than anticipated to lodge the girls (and a couple of boys!) in the new structure. Constantly looking for improvements, Colin decided to put in a ramp to connect the old enclosure to the new blue house.

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Then there was the matter of enticing the chickens up the ramp! A little bit of hands on coaxing was needed. The Plymouth Rock youngsters were the first to find their way in and establish their places. The old Isa browns had to be helped up into the loft but once there were as happy as “chickens in a loft”.
On the other hand, the older Plymouth Rock girls are the most reticent and sceptical of the lot. Colin needed to show them where to perch after finding a nice two metre branch to wedge in place in the house. For the last three nights he had to bring them into the blue house and position them on the perch. On a positive note they are placid and do not peck the little chooks.

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Meanwhile, there was still the problem of how to protect the old wooden floor of the house. We eventually decided to lay a rubberised matting to offer some barrier between the wood and the inevitable droppings. Sarge, our old cat always needs to inspect for quality assurance!

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After some research, I decided to make my own special blend of litter. I mixed equal parts of straw, dried leaf litter and sterilised wood shavings and spread it evenly on the floor. The images speak for themselves.

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Now, after enclosing their run in heavy duty rabbit fencing – we have had a number of fox attacks recently – we can finally breath a sigh of relief that they are all safe, warm and happy. The little blue chicken house has been dubbed the House of Rock – Plymouth Rock, that is.

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Enjoy your chickens, they are wonderfully independent and entertaining pets.

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A Very Hot Day

The weather bureau has forecast a day of extreme fire danger today. The thermometer is due to rise to around 40 degrees C. Such are our summers on the mountain and indeed in the southern quarter of Australia. The risk of a bush fire is a real possibility in the months of January and February. We have been very fortunate the last few summers with lots of rain both prior and during the summer months. Not so this season. No rain has fallen for nearly four weeks and this is cause for concern. Having spent many days watering to give the garden a head start, the heat is now upon us.

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As we are due to go away for our anniversary all of next week and with more hot weather to come we have made a decision to transport the baby chickies and our adult girls to a safer location just in case, about thirty kilometres to caring relatives.

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This will have a twofold purpose. Firstly, it will allow the young Plymouth Rocks to assimilate with their older sisters. I actually saw them “kissing” through the wire cage the other day.Secondly, it will relieve my neighbours from their very generous offers to feed them each day in our absence. Given the extremes in weather at the moment, I will be comforted that at least I will not need to worry about the chickens while we are away.

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The sun room has now been dubbed the hot house inferno!

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Much to their disgust, the brown chooks now have to share their lodgings with Psycho, the rooster.

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Thankfully, we had this nifty chicken carrier to make the job easier. All we have to do now is pray for rain and relieve us of this scorching heat.

Our New Year Plymouth Rocks

We have been wanting to add to our Plymouth Rock chicken family and so a few days ago, just after the business of Christmas ended, Colin and I took off in the old ute to collect our four new additions. We had to travel two hours to Elmore and City Chicks who had just what we were looking for.

20130101-222059.jpg After taking a wrong turn we arrived at City Chicks.

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Gorgeous wide open space just out of Bendigo.
There were hundreds to lovey chicks to choose from including a platinum Sussex, very special. But we had our eyes in some dark or light barred Plymouth Rocks and Jane, who runs City Chicks was more than helpful in our endeavour.

20130101-222350.jpg I wanted one of each!

20130101-222447.jpg The platinum Sussex.

20130101-222530.jpg Our four new additions are twelve weeks old and still a little too young to join the big girls.

20130101-222652.jpg Very cute!

20130101-222754.jpg The new chicken house has been introduced to the old girls but this will have to wait for another post after we lay some new hay!

20130101-223119.jpg Meanwhile our little chickens (two boys and two girls) have been kept separate in their new hutch and little run. The weather has been superb, warm days and cool nights. They have been eating lots of kitchen scraps as well as their special gritty meal. We can see them growing right before our very eyes. Happy New Year everyone!

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Inside The New Chicken House

Today we are close to completing the interior of the little blue, chicken house. I can now stand inside and look out of the three little windows which are lined with fly screening. The chicken house is nestled under large trees and therefore is really cool inside given that today’s temperature has just reached 36 degrees! The little house is what I imagine a Virginian cabin in the woods would seem like – will have to revisit “The Waltons”!

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Colin decided to create multi storied levels for the girls including an attic. They really love to climb upwards. The orange chicken tubs are secured in place on a ledge. Houdini chicken has already tried them out – maybe she likes the colour! We still have a few more things to do like lay some rubberised matting on the wood floor and some straw for the nesting boxes and find a way for them to climb up to the attic – maybe a walkway to the roosting area. I welcome you thoughts and any ideas we might be able to incorporate. Let’s hope we can finish it for Christmas!

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New Chicken House Update

Chickens all around the world will be green with envy when they spot this blue and yellow chicken house on stumps. Thanks to our fantastic neighbours, family and friends, the roof finally went on with much shoving and pushing. Despite the fact that we had to unexpectedly chainsaw a large overhanging tree, the house went into place quite readily.

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20121119-173516.jpg In fact, it looks like it’s always been there nestled under the trees. It was commented that it looked like a gingerbread house in the woods; someone else said we should decorate it for Christmas – no, let’s keep it simple, please.

20121119-175008.jpg If you are interested in Christmas thoughts and musings may I recommend
http://nittygrittydirtman.wordpress.com
and his marvellous writings on the subject along with thoughts of gardens, life, community and simplicity.

We have really lost the simple pleasures of life. Indeed this little house has given us so much delight in its rustic existence; in its basic tin-tacks symbolism of a simpler time. I know that it will house chickens and that in fact it is quite grand for that purpose but it has been salvaged and given a second life – isn’t that what recycling is all about? In fact, just today I bumped into the little house’s previous owner and proclaimed its salvation. She was so pleased that she told me it had actually been their cubby house when they were little kids. They would bring their dolls and tea sets and play for hours on its blue wooden floor. Such simple pleasures remembered and revered and now, hopefully, preserved. I hope kids today still do this – perhaps they do it in a virtual world. I hope they can balance these two worlds; I hope they can sit on earth, on grass, on leaves and feel the textures and look at the sky and imagine themselves as important and have picnics, real or imaginary. That’s what life is really about, I think – simple tasks, simple times.

20121120-204159.jpg Now that the door is on, all it needs is a little coat of paint. My next post will be from the sub- tropics as I visit family and friends – watch out for frangipanis, my own childhood memories and the house in which I grew up. Here is today’s back yard deck view. Ciao.

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The New Chicken House

As we continue to feel sorry for our Pecker, the Plymouth Rock rooster, we have plunged ourselves into working on the new chicken house. For many years we admired our neighbour’s little cubby which was built for their young daughters’ guinea pigs. His girls are now in their twenties and the house now has a new owner with new ideas for his garden. It was with much delight that we were informed that he no longer wanted the little house.

20121106-201451.jpg A working team was assembled to remove and reconstruct.

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20121106-202749.jpg While the workers dismantled, it was clear that somebody – me – needed to provide food for these hungry builders. The day called for a hearty spinach lasagne, a large salad and perhaps a crisp white wine. The weather is warming up quite nicely but it is still cool enough at night for a substantial meal.

20121106-203357.jpg Now we have the walls and floor stacked up like dominoes and the tin roof nestled under the lilac tree. The remaining chickens scratch and scrape round it and this afternoon’s view from the back deck summons us to dinner after a hectic day’s work.

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A Very Sick Rooster

Poor Pecker the Plymouth Rock rooster is very sick. After consulting the vet – he was such a calm and cooperative boy, she informed us that he had a trachea virus which may or may not have reached his lungs. We had done the right thing and kept him isolated and warm over night. She gave him antibiotics and instructed us to administer the liquid twice a day for five days and to let her know if he was not much better in three days.

20121103-195249.jpg He is still resting in his hutch in the laundry. I hope he returns to his healthy self.

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20121103-195632.jpg Meanwhile, we have been offered a new chicken house from our next door neighbour. It is painted duck egg blue with windows and a gabled roof. Colin, with the help of his dad and uncle and anyone else who was about spent the day dismantling it.

20121103-195913.jpg Fingers crossed for Pecker! Enjoy today’s back deck evening view. Take care.

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