I’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.
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.
The first step was to lock Daphne and Maris in the laundry. Maris wasn’t happy.
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.
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.
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.)
Bertie, on the other hand, seemd to feel slightly peckish.
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: