Happy New Year! Yes it’s 2017 and The Year of the Rooster (hence the pic). After an extended break the blog is back up and running. The farm of course never really stopped, though things did quieten down. So what’s been happening?
You may remember the five mixed chicks we bought way back when:
The babies all grew up, as babies tend to do, and that sneaking suspicion I had that four out of five were roosters was absolutely…correct! Minty, Sunshine, Maggie and Pam all turned out to be roosters. Our one and only hen was Sophie (the chick fourth from the left). By the time all four were crowing it was definitely time to reduce our numbers to one rooster. Maggie and Pam were assertive to the point of aggressive so both needed to go. That only left a choice between Sunshine and Minty. The kids couldn’t bear to let our one feather-footed rooster go so that was how Minty came to be our head rooster. Here he is:
Minty has turned out to be a very calm, gentle rooster without any hint of aggression (so far at least) I’m happy to say. He takes his responsibilities to his girls very seriously, standing guard while they lay eggs and pointing out any tasty things he finds while free ranging. He seems awfully small for a rooster and we’re assuming he’s some kind of bantam breed.
Sophie is incredibly independent for a hen. She does her own thing and stands apart from the other Isa Brown hens. She has frequently escaped from the fenced off area and we’d look out the window to see her happily foraging in the bushes. Though her adventures have come to a temporary halt as she’s currently four days into siting on eggs 🙂 That’s right, our first clucky chicken to have fertile eggs beneath her. But we won’t count our chicks before they hatch…
Speaking of clucky, our wild Isa Brown, Chocolate Chicken, has gone clucky yet again – apparently she never heard that Isa Browns are not meant to go clucky. She has escaped into out neighbour’s paddock and is hiding in long grass somewhere sitting on eggs. She visits once a day, clucking incessantly, comes to the back door demanding fresh food and water and takes herself off again. We don’t think she’s been close enough to Minty to have fertile eggs but time will tell.
Cherry and Midnight have been very healthy and happy. They’ve been spending more time in the closest paddock to the house, hanging out under the trees and the shade and sitting by the water trough – they seem to feel the heat in summer. We’ve had less buffalo flies this summer and I’m not entirely sure why. It’s been a lot drier so maybe that has something to do with it. Apart from a tick or two on Midnight they haven’t had any problems.
It has been uncharacteristically dry here since October, with no solid rain in that time – more just a few showers. Strangely even as close as four or five kilometres away they’ve had summer storms, according to a neighbour, but not us. Despite this the grass cover in the paddocks has been holding up well, the cows have maintained their condition, and we haven’t needed to buy in supplementary feed besides their usual molasses and salt lick block.
The Guinea Fowl
We’re coming to the conclusion that guinea fowl just aren’t long-lived animals. We’ve lost all except one of our new white-splashed guinea fowl to car strike. They just have no road sense and, short of locking them in a cage (which would make these wild birds exceptionally miserable and prevent them from doing their job, eating ticks and deterring snakes), there’s nothing you can do to keep them off the road. We only have a little country lane out front of our place but that’s enough to get them run over. A neighbour up the road has a similar problem. So we’re currently down to one domesticated guinea fowl and five wild ones. Here is Chocolate Chicken hanging out with the guinea fowl at feed time:
The garden has been reduced to a few pots at the moment. I have grand plans to get it up and running properly this year, converting it from a makeshift vegie patch to a proper kitchen garden with paths and beds. For now the vegies consist of a few pots of tomatoes (struggling along), mint, a few capsicums and salad greens directly planted into a bag of organic 5-in-1 fertiliser on the back patio. Ok, ok, not classy but it seems to be working:
We’ve had a few other exciting additions – namely a kitten, a worm farm, electric netting for the chickens (not so electrified at present), and a chicken treadle feeder to name a few. But more on those another day.
As I sign off I can hear it starting to rain. It’s going to be a good year.