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Saturday, June 27, 2009

Worm Hunter


It has continued to surprise me that most of my hens do not seem to understand that worms are food. I think they are finally starting to get better. Elsie has taken to scratching through the dirt in their pen regularly, but for the others offering them a worm meets a look that seems to say "yuck... it's covered in dirt!"

The most exciting thing for Elsie currently is when I take the shovel into the pen. Recent heavy rain has meant that I have needed to do some clearing and moving of their dirt to allow better drainage. I also turn the dirt so that it remains soft for them to scratch. Elsie enjoys getting up to her elbows (if chickens have elbows) in mud hunting for worms.

Though they don't have a lot of dirt in their pen, which has a cement floor, the worms do seem to be breeding. I don't think there is any chance of them eating them all any time soon.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Eat Your Greens


Within a week our girls had completely cleared every speck of green from around the edge of their pen. We would love to let them out, however I don't feel they are tame enough yet to be trusted and they are starting to test their wings out. I am afraid of losing one over the fence!

While we have a lot of grass and sour sobs we have started to give them an armfull every day. We have found that a problem with cut grasses is that they are unable to pluck small pieces when the grass is no longer attached to the ground. They end up with awkward long pieces of grass that are hard for them to swallow.

To help them with this, Mark rigged up a grass press with two bricks. The greenery is held down with the weight of the brick and the chickens enjoy having fresh greens every day. They also love standing on top of the bricks and looking out.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Building a Nesting Box

New Nest Box
Checking out the new furniture

My girls decided that their little box as seen previously was better to sleep on than their perch so in order to combat this behaviour I need to build something with a sloping design.

Some coops suggest having the nest boxes attached to the outside of the shed through a hole in the wall, keeping the central area relatively clear, however when chickens have an area to run about in during the day there isn't a real need to have a large area for them to sleep in. They like to huddle up together at night to stay warm and happy.

My new nesting box design was based around available materials and the size of my coop. Because we decided to keep all 6 hens I decided to make a box with two nesting areas and of course, a sloping roof.

I put it on little legs to again keep it off the floor incase it becomes wet inside as we initially had some problems with rain. The roof ended up being taller than I expected, however it is a good solid structure and cost me nothing to build. It is painted with the same outdoor paint as the coop. More construction photos are available in the Photo Gallery

Nest boxes #8
Nest box complete and painted

Saturday, June 13, 2009

The Girls Arrive

Exploring our new home

Our beautiful girls were brought home today. The fodder store had them ready in a crate when I arrived at 9am and I let them straight out into their new home. With a little bit of hesitation they came out and started exploring their pen.

We ordered 6 young pullets from the fodder store with the intention of taking 2 or 3 to my Mothers farm (an hour drive) as she wants some new blood in her breading stock. When they were all released however we realised that the space we had is probably big enough to house 6 chickens comfortably and quickly became attached to the idea of keeping them. Sorry Mum!

The first thing to go was the grass around the edge of the pen, so we started bringing them handfulls to eat and scratch through. Surprisingly they don't know much about finding food as scattering grain is met with looks of discust and confusion. I think they're used to eating out of a bowl.

Two have names, and the rest are still wanting. Elsie and Harriet are easy to tell apart from the others, and Elsie is a sweet little light brown hen who is not too overwhelmed by being picked up and handled. They are all relatively placid around us, but not used to being handled.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Building a Coop

Chicken Coop Construction
Coop with both doors open

There is a lot of information online about housing your backyard chickens, but for me the important aspects were keeping the costs down and having a balance between not taking up too much space and big enough to clean easily. I think simple is good! Mine is obviously not the prettiest coop, but it is very functional and didn't cost very much to make.

The size was dictated by the materials in the end and we began with a square base which suited some sheets of aluminum we wanted to use for the sides. A sheet of perspex lets in light from the back and the roof has a shallow slope to shed water. To allow summer ventillation we have left a 2 inch gap between the walls and the roof. For ease of cleaning we decided to have two doors instead of one so that the whole front opens up.

Once constructed the entire coop was painted with outdoor paint inside and out which we also had left over. The legs were painted with cold galvanising compount which is intended to stop rust on metal. The only things we needed to buy were some bolts for the legs!

The pen itself was an existing structure which was constructed several years ago to keep a mischevious puppy contained when noone was home to supervise. It had walls and a gate so I purchased 12 metres of chicken wire to create a roof so that the hens would be completely contained and safe. This was the most expensive part at around $60, though the pen initially had cost several hundred due to the strength of the wire initially used.

More construction photos are available in the Photo Gallery

Monday, June 1, 2009


Backyard Chickens Forum
A fantastic resource for chicken owners world-wide to ask questions. Has a great section on local laws as well.

Poultry Help - Odd Eggs
A nice resource, but I especially like their Odd Egg page.

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Contact Us

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You can also contact me direct to email at my domain


Cracked Egg
Fresh Egg

Here is a list of all the recipes currently available at Backyard Hens.

Main Meals
Simple Quiche

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What type of chickens do you have?
They are ISA Browns, which is a hybrid of Rhode Island Reds and Rhode Island White chickens.

Do you need a rooster to get eggs?
No, they are not necessary. A hen will produce just as many eggs without a rooster. There is no difference to taste, with the only difference being that they will be unfertilized so you can't get baby chickens. If you have a small flock or live in an urban environment, consider leaving a rooster out of your plans.

What is Squatting?
Squatting is when a hen will act submissive by lowering herself to the ground with her wings spread. They do it to act submissive and accept a roosters attentions. Ours started doing it just before laying, but have continued. See also: Readiness to Lay

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About Us

Hi, I'm Metanoia. I live with my partner in a suburban area in South Australia and we keep chickens in our backyard!

I grew up on a hobby farm where my parents kept chickens and other animals, but never expected to keep them myself. With our increased interest in sustainability and money saving ideas getting chickens made sense. They are fantastic little pets and provide hours of entertainment.

We also have a thriving seasonal vegetable patch and a couple of fruit trees.

Meet The Hens

We have six hens. Some have coloured foot tags so we can tell them apart.


Hazel (red tag)

Sylvia (purple tag)

Gladys (green tag)


Doris (white tag)