Skinflint Sunday: Make your own eggs at home.

p5080136I’ve been feeling a bit overwhelmed the last few weeks. Lots going on at work, boys hardly lifting a finger in the house and the garden…. honestly…. don’t get me started on the garden. It’s an absolute disgrace. I do what I can but at the moment the place looks like it’s a rental property that a bunch of bogans live in. So what is the sensible thing to do when you feel like this?

You buy Martha and  Maggie. Imagine all the money we’ll save on eggs? (Forget the money I’ve spent on the coop. It was tutoring money so technically it’s ‘free’. ) Shut up. I know it’s a rationalisation.

ANYWAY….

Ryan3 and I have been talking about getting chooks for a while now. When David2 heard us he got all enthused too. He wants to raise a couple of chicks and imprint them, just as I did when I was in year 11 Biology. I started lurking on a few chook sites and talking with Blogless Karen at work who’s had chooks for years. I’m scared of chickens and their savage looking beaks which look as if they’d take a small, neat circle of flesh from your leg if they wanted to. I’m sure I’d be delicious and that’s a worry. Still, I kept coming back to the idea of keeping a few hens, mainly because I like the idea of them fertilising the veggie patch and eating all the weeds. Lord knows, the boys aren’t helping me keep the weeks under control so I might as well let Mother Nature With The Scary Beaks help….

I found out that our local council lets people keep up to 6 chickens. I went onto Ebay and saw a nice, civilised looking coop. I contacted the Ebay guy and arranged to pick it up to save on postage and he knocked $20 off the price. That’s about $40 or $50 saved right there. So the girl are technically free! (Shut up. I have to rationalise this.)

Ryan3, David2 accompanied me to Frankston where we bought the flat-packed coop and run and loaded it into the car. On the way home we passed by the chook farm where Karen had told me to look for pullets. (For people like me who know nothing about chickens, pullets are hens who are just on the point of starting to lay. About 18 weeks old.) It was 5 minutes before they were due to shut for the day, so we decided to just pop in and see what they were selling.

Of course, once we left with the two girls, that meant that the boys had to get the coop and run assembled. The clock was ticking and the hens were clucking. That box got a bit noisy after an hour or so.

p5080139

The first step was to lock Daphne and Maris in the laundry. Maris wasn’t happy.

p5080141Daphne wasn’t exactly full of mirth either.

The boys set straight to work. It was really good for my namby-pamby little musicians and Playstation players to get out in the sun and bend their minds to something practical.

p5080145Molly was all over it, really happy that all of her people were in her backyard. The boys wanted to see if the coop would make a good kennel…

p5080147p5080148“Let’s get rid of the chickens and let the dogs live in this, Mum,” said Tom1. “Let’s face it, we’ve known Molly for longer…”

David2 was the one who put it all together while the other boys helped. I was expecting Ryan3 to be the carpenter, so that was a bit of a surprise. Once it was all put together we carried it down to the half of the veggie garden that I’ve let lie fallow. It’s covered with grass and it seemed like a nice spot to have the chooks poop and eat, making the ground all fertilised for our summer crop. It gets a lot of sun in the summer, so we’ll move the coop to the other side of the yard under a big tree by that time.

We grabbed the box from the kitchen bench and brought it down.

p5080155

This next shot is taken from a little window at the back of the coop. See the verdant green beckoning the chooks? (Weeds… all weeds… I’m a bad bad gardener.)

p5080157Our other animals are filled with welcome for the new additions. Daphne jumped on top of the roof of the coop and smooched me, purring with thanks. The dogs…? Well, I’ve never seen Molly so excited.

p5080177Molly is quivering with eagerness to become acquainted. Cavaliers were originally bred as bird dogs to retrieve small game and I think the gene is alive and well in our little gentle baby.

p5080158She ran this way….

p5080161… and that way. She barked and scratched the wire. She was horrible, until a stand off occurred between her and Maggie.

p5080172At least, I think it was Maggie.

Bertie, on the other hand, seemd to feel slightly peckish.

p5080166Or maybe he was bored. He and Molly made sure that the girls didn’t feel lonely by surrounding them.

p5080170Maris made sure that even if they looked to the sky, they’d still have company.

p5080165Chickens don’t lay eggs if they’re feeling nervous. So I was astonished not to find eggs in the nesting boxes this morning. What else can the other pets do to make them feel more welcome?

A couple of quick questions for people who have backyard chooks:

1. The plan is for the hens to free range in the afternoons when we get back from school. Will they be big enough to keep Molly and the cats at bay or will we have to supervise? (That would be a slight inconvenience. In fact, more than slight.)

2. Why is chook poo so huge and slimy? It’s disgusting.

LOOK! LOOK! LOOK!

Just before I pressed ‘publish’ I went out to the coop just in case there was an egg.  As I was walking up to them, I heard a “BER-UCK!’ that didn’t sound like a normal cluck. There in the door of the hen house was this:

p5090136The rice hulls are stuck to it and it’s warm. I’m sorry it’s blurred but either Tom1 or I (or both) were trembling with excitement. I think I’ll have a boiled egg for breakfast!!

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15 Responses to Skinflint Sunday: Make your own eggs at home.

  1. kate says:

    Congratulations!

    I’m so jealous.

  2. Sandi says:

    Um, congratulations? No, really, congratulations – I just have reservations about handling freshly laid eggs what with the whole cloaca-is-the-single-reproductive-urinary-and-intestinal-opening thing.

  3. Widget says:

    woo hoo….how are the animals coping now…..have they all settled down?

  4. Wendy says:

    Kindred spirit! I’m in the middle of building our danged coop (grumble, grumble) and the chickens are growing at an alarming rate. The playroom smells like a barnyard, and the eggs won’t be in the offing till at least August. Lovely to hear that I’m not the only nutjob out there longing for homegrown eggs…

    Best of luck with your chooks!

  5. Fe says:

    Oooh!! Excitement!! I’m very jealous!

  6. Jayne says:

    The cats shouldn’t be a bother but the dogs might get a bit too curious and overwhelm the chookens.
    Supervision for a while until you’re sure the dogs won’t get overly friendly and/or decided chook is on the menu lol.
    To get them foraging during the day, remove the seed/feed container.
    Some kitchen scraps are ok, others are a big no no – the list is long so best to google it from expert poultry sites.

  7. librarygirl says:

    Very jealous. Our neighbours have chooks and we love hearing them clucking away. We’re too nervous to try – our house backs onto parkland and foxy-loxy types and their poo have been spotted there….

  8. Scott says:

    You never cease to entertain me.

  9. Ellen says:

    Martha and Maggie look as if they will fit into the Frogdanger abode very nicely. Fresh, organic eggs, yummm.

  10. libby says:

    i wish i could have chooks. always have loved them. one of my friends has some and shares their lovely eggies with me. they are the best, you wont be sorry… Im sure we will hear many chookie stories 🙂

  11. Katy says:

    Chooks! Awesome! You should have named one of them Grandpa Chook! (Seriously, I’m just weirdly excited that people call them chooks just like in my favorite book of all time. I’m a dork.)

    I don’t know anything about chickens but we just got five goats yesterday and NOW husband is talking about chickens so I’m going to take notes while reading your comments.

    Chooks!

  12. Andi says:

    I think you’d be delicious too!!!
    LOL
    Enjoy your goog.
    Andi 🙂

  13. Mistress B says:

    You’ll love having chooks!

    And ours have never pecked our legs yet.

    The cat’s shouldn’t bother them at that size. Ours occasionally pounce at the them but the chooks are too big to be overly bothered by them.

    Like Jayne said though, I’d keep an eye on the dogs with the chooks until they are used to them.

  14. Jen says:

    Aw! Clover is indifferent to birds, but her pal Faith chases them as fast as her fat little torso will allow.

  15. Michelle says:

    Such a great post – you’ll love having chooks!

    If their poos are sloppy it usually means they have worms. You can buy worming treatments from pet stores but I find that crushed garlic and a cap full of apple cider vinegar in their drinking water keeps them healthy on the inside!

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