My Tiny Brood of Backyard Chooks

chooks, hens or chickens?


5 Comments

I hope my chickens don’t forget who I am

In New Zealand it is the middle of winter. We have just moved past the shortest day and so it can only get better from here.

I don’t really mind the winter. I get to wear nice warm coats and I get to have the fire going and I get to eat fresh kiwifruit, crispy apples and seedless mandarins and winter is actually a welcome retreat from the long tedious drought that gripped our country during the summer this year.

But what I don’t like about winter is that I don’t get to see my chickens for days and days on end. I am worried that they will forget who I am. I open their coop door long before daylight and I close their coop door long after the sun has set. They have food left for them but they have no human contact for six days out of seven.

They get up just as the sun is rising and usually make their way to the front of the house and down the bank into the garden where they probably spend a large portion of their day but I don’t really know as I am not here. Then they make their way back to the coop at sunset from wherever they are and they have no idea that I am work trying hard to finish work early so I can get home before they go to bed but this never happens during the winter.

Tomorrow is Sunday and I am going to be home all day! I am very excited and I am hoping my girls realise it is Sunday and that I will be around to talk to them and throw them treats throughout the day. But I guess they won’t really know that tomorrow is Sunday but I am hoping they will get a wonderful surprise when they see me looking out at them.


8 Comments

Winter proofing my chicken coop

DSC_0055

Living in the Auckland area of New Zealand, we don’t have really cold winters. Well at least we don’t have snow.

But at our house we have very, very strong winds. We live at the top of a hill and the wind rushes across the Kaipara Harbour, up the valley towards us and slams straight into the front of our house with all of it’s Westerly might.

Sometimes I see the chickens out the front on a windy day, struggling to keep upright against the wind. Their little feathers are blowing all around and sometimes the wind gusts send them a few quick steps in a different direction to where they were heading but they haven’t yet been blown away.

This weekend a storm struck New Zealand and along with the storm came very high winds (and rain).  I have a plastic tarpaulin covering the chicken coop to keep the rain out and as you can see, I have lots of very heavy rocks on the tarpaulin to keep it from blowing away. The rocks probably help to keep the chicken coop from blowing over as well.

DSC_0057

As I went to bed that evening, the wind and rain hitting the front of our house was probably the worst I have heard since we moved here. I went out to the side of the house where the chicken coop is and shone a torch to make sure the coop was still there and that the tarpaulin was still on. It was but the wind in the trees beside the coop was so loud, I wondered if the chickens were scared. Probably not. I doubt they feel that kind of fear. They can’t visualise the coop blowing over and them being all tipped around inside, or one of the massive trees falling on their coop and crushing them.

The next morning it was all very quiet. The wind had gone. I rushed outside to see if the chickens were ok.

There they were, waiting patiently for me to open their coop door so they could come outside to scratch and peck. They had no idea that their plastic roofing that covers their coop had blown off in the night and was lying broken and bent all over the lawn.

Somehow it had blown out from under the stretchies that I use to tie down the roofing. The photo above was taken after I managed to piece some of the plastic roof back together. I guess that will do until the next big winds, probably in a few days time.


4 Comments

The continuous chicken moult

Not so long ago, I was feeling sorry for Helen Hen as she continued to look lack lustre and hadn’t laid since February after going into a “mini moult”. I say mini because she never looked as though she had lost any feathers but there were feathers in the coop and she had stopped laying so I was guessing she was in some sort of moult.

Hilda Hen also went into the same “mini moult” although she was laying sporadically throughout. A few weeks ago, Hilda Hen was  fat and glossy and her comb was nice and bright and she picked up her laying consistency to about 2 eggs per week.

DSC_0007

This was Hilda Hen three weeks ago, all fat and happy and laying.

DSC_0014

 

As you are probably aware, it is winter here in New Zealand and I leave for work in the dark and come home in the dark so I don’t see my girls except in the weekend. So you can imagine my surprise when I saw Hilda Hen this morning. Scruffy, skinny (maybe her feather loss makes her look skinny) and looking quite pathetic. And of course it is raining today, so not the best type of day to show off her beauty at the best of times.

Here was I feeling sorry for Helen Hen last weekend as she hadn’t laid for such a long time and her comb was pale. Well, she has nothing on Hilda Hen when it comes to looking pathetic. I guess she is now going into a full moult. No wonder she hasn’t laid any eggs for two weeks and there are a lot more feathers in the coop. Poor girl.

 


6 Comments

My 6 month old partridge wyandotte chicken has gone broody

Well, the six month old partridge wyandotte chicken isn’t exactly mine anymore but I did hatch her and raise her so I am guessing I can still call her “mine” when it suits me of course.

I had a call from her new chicken dad yesterday and he said she was sitting on a clutch of eggs in the bushes and that she was quite protective if they went near her.  She is only six months old! I was amazed that she had gone broody so young.

He is going to shift her and her eggs into the hen house as it is winter here in New Zealand at the moment and she will need protection from the rain and wind while she is hatching her eggs. The rooster, Harry Hen-boy may be too young to fertilise eggs so they are going to candle them in a few weeks time. I am not sure at what age roosters are fertile but he is also six months.

They are all doing well at their new home and all of the three girls are laying regularly. But there is only one boy left. (But at least there is one.)