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Sunday, September 27, 2009

Through to China

Through to China
Excavating the Backyard

Excavations started this afternoon when it was discovered that there are delicious things living below the surface. Now I'll give you all one guess as to who this naughty girl is...

Did you guess it? That's right... it is the nemesis. Creator of messes, excavator of dirt, consumer of delicious worms. Gladys spent hours today digging deeper and deeper. When other hens tried to take advantage of her hard work she would tell them off.

Elsie tried to dig her own hole nearby, but gave up a lot quicker and with less of a mark left on the landscape. Poor Orange Tree! Luckily it has quite deep roots so nothing looks to have been exposed.

She wasn't going to be dragged away by any other temptations, so we let her eat her fill and Mark is out there filling holes as we speak.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Red Hen Food

Laucke Mills Red Hen Feed
Laucke Mills Red Hen Free Range Layer Feed

While overall this would be a great food to feed your hens, there are a number of things I didn't like that mean I probably won't purchase this again.

The pros of this grain mix is that it does not contain any pellets. I refused to buy pellets for my hens even though that is what the store tried to push. I prefer a more natural diet that does not contain highly processed foods which can be full of anti-biotics and hormones that your chickens just don't need.

In the cons, it contains small rocks, which hens will eat in order to help them process their food in their crop, however I provide shell grit and they are able to pick up this sort of thing in the backyard, so I wasn't very happy paying for rocks which they don't eat.

My hens are also not very keen on the split peas and these seem to comprise of roughly half of the food mix. This meant that they were always telling me how hungry they were even when they had a bowl full of neglected peas left to eat.

Therefore we've decided that we're going to switch to a diet of mainly wheat and buy smaller bags of seed mix or sunflower seeds (which they love) so that we can give them a small handful with their daily grain.

The Red Hen Layer mix was AU$32 for a 30kg bag. Wheat is only going to cost me AU$26 for a 40kg bag! So with the savings we will buy them a little 5kg bag of sunflower seeds for AU$9 as a treat.

Laucke Mills website

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Guess Who is Laying?

Elsie Chicken!
Elsie Chicken

Elsie has finally become a big girl and started laying. We got our first egg from her on Sunday and it was a darling tiny thing compared to the other eggs. You can see her comb is finally getting larger and she has a big fluffy bum like the other girls now which is making her much harder to pick out of the flock than she used to be.

Our girls are all grown up now and we are getting so many eggs! I've taken a few dozen into work so the girls can start earning their keep and other people can enjoy our delicious eggs too.

Monday, September 14, 2009

A Feathered Nemesis

"I'm going to eat you first, you know!"

That is a common saying around here...
Who is in the vegetable garden? Green one!
Who made the mess in the pots? Green one!
Who hasn't laid an egg today? Green one!
Who is snatching food? Green one!

Poor Gladys... Dont' worry darling. I won't let him eat you! ;)

Thursday, September 10, 2009

My Hens are Chicken!

Hen under the Clothes Line
Sylvia under the Clothes Line

My darling hens do not fear a plane flying overhead. They will even stand up to magpies invading their yard and Elsie chases them out. However try to hang some clothes and they run away screaming their little heads off.

The first time they reacted I was hanging out some towels and I thought it was actually fair enough that Elsie started screeching and they all ran away as they'd never been outside when the clothes line was used before. The ideal hiding place is apparently behind the shed where they can't see you, but still Mark had to go and collect Elsie who continued screaming until she was picked up.

Then last night after they had been out for several hours and had been playing around under the line I took off a pair of pants to straighted them. Six hens went running as fast as they could to the safety of the back of the shed!

So it is official... I have chicken chickens!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

For the Love of Eggs

Giant Hen Egg
Giant Hen Egg

There is nothing like a fresh egg... and there is nothing like waking up in the morning to find a monster like this in the nest box. The egg on the right is an average size for the hens at the moment. The giant egg on the left barely fits into an egg box for large eggs. I bet it is a double yolker. We have 2 of these big eggs waiting to be cracked open at the moment!

You'll notice the photos of my eggs sometimes pick up some of the dirt on them. I don't wash my eggs when I bring them inside. We keep them in cartons on the bench at the moment because we're using them so fast.

Eggs have a natural "bloom" coating on the shell that seals the pores and keeps them fresh. Therefore with fresh eggs you should only wash them just before using them. Store bought eggs have been washed and coated with mineral oil to maintain freshness. Eggs straight from the hen are said to keep as long as 3 months and perhaps longer.

Reference: Georgia Egg Commission
Further Reading: The Humble Goog

Monday, September 7, 2009

Chicken Bums

Chicken Bums
Chicken Bums - Hazel, Gladys and Doris

Today marks one complete month (31 days) since our girls first started laying. We've had 8 dozen eggs in that time and are now getting 4 or 5 eggs per day.

Today also marks the christening of Doris, the last hen to get a name. She is the one with the white tag.

It rained heavily this morning, but fined up this afternoon and the girls had a lovely run outside in the garden. I took a stack of photos, including one of Mark cuddling Harriet and one of the ducks that visit my neighbour, then I managed to delete them all accidentally! I was mightily annoyed at myself.

The girls went mad in the garden beds, scratching around and fighting over worms. The rain has brought a lot of goodness to the surface and they are doing a fine job of slowing down the weeds. I am hesitant to mow and tidy up the backyard as I know summer will kill off the grass and I want them to enjoy the green while they can.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Hazel's Egg Song


Today Hazel sang "the egg song", but of course I wasn't home to hear it. Mark rang me at about 4pm to let me know he'd come outside because he'd heard her carrying on and saw her appearing from the side of the house. So he spent some time this afternoon searching for an egg and wondering if she was only teasing him.

When I got home we had another hunt around because we only had 4 eggs today instead of the usual 5. If she did lay an egg she has hidden it really well.

Have a look at Hazel's beautiful red comb. They are becoming beautiful grown-up hens and look nothing like the sleek birds I started off with. Even Elsie is starting to catch up. By our estimations she is approximately a month younger than the other 5 and we expect her to start laying soon.