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Friday, July 31, 2009

Garden Trial

Attitude chicken (the red one)
Seeking a way into the vegetables

After clipping the hens wings we decided it would be best to give them a week to unlearn their flying behaviour. After 3 or 4 days they stopped trying to get up onto the coop and were content with their ground dwelling life.

Today we had a little time and decided that we would let the girls explore the big wide world under strict supervision. When the gates were open, noone knew what to do. Elsie and Green One were the first to venture out. White One was so shocked she had to go back to the coop several times until she was confident enough in her new surroundings.

Mark spent some time in the vegetable garden and I was not very surprised when Elsie discovered the space behind the pen lead into it... and was closely followed by Green One. We have some clever and cheeky chickens!

After about 45 minutes we deemed the outing a success and I decided the next test was to see who would come back to the pen. I got a small container of wheat and calling "chook chook chook" walked slowly into the pen. Happily 5 chickens ran to follow! Elsie was not interested, but she was easily scooped up in my arms and carried home to her coop.

Now that we can be confident they are not flying and will come when called it might be time to let them spend longer in the backyard when we are home!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Clipping Wings

Eating pollard

Now that at least two of the hens have learnt to fly onto the top of the coop, wing clipping has become higher on my agenda. Unfortunately it is a two person job so I had to wait for some help. Today was the day!

One by one we caught each hen and while I held them with one wing open, Mark carefully clipped the flight feathers. At the same time we put different coloured leg rings on the birds that we've had trouble telling apart. So if you hear me mentioning the green one, purple one, red one or white one from now on, you know why! We really should decide on some more names!

For more information on wing clipping I recommend this article at Backyard Chickens.

At the end of the "ordeal" I mixed up some pollard as a treat and they loved it! Pollard needs to be mixed with water until it clumps together, otherwise it is too dry and fine for them to eat.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Dust Baths

Dust Baths!
Dust baths

Bathing in dust is one of the ways chickens keep themselves clean and prevent mites. Thanks to some unexpected sun the dirt in their pen dried out and obviously was nice enough to laze about in the sunshine.

I was surprised that the girls let me get right up to the pen in order to snap this photo. Chickens lying down in the dirt is one of the most undinified sights I have ever seen.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Gardening Adventures

Front Yard
Elsie in the garden

Most people are joined in the garden by a helpful dog or curious cat. Not our family... We started the task of removing the front lawn to replace it with a more water smart garden as our summer time water restrictions are too harsh to keep the grass alive. Though now we have two 5000L rain water tanks I want to use them for keeping our vegetables and fruit trees alive and not waste it on a bedraggled poor lawn.

Since I am confident that I can recapture Elsie if anything goes awry I carried her out to our front yard and let her loose to search for worms and bugs. She tends to stay near people but is also a very independant chicken and has taken to scratching better than the others. I think she thinks she's the rooster of the flock.