New Chooks

So much for the planned update the next day…  Life just seems to get in the way constantly.  I have no idea how, but it does.  Friday was spent surviving the hot temperatures and mostly doing nothing, Saturday saw a respite in the hot temperatures, but we were preparing for a party, a fancy dress party and I needed to deal with my costume.  It took me all day.  Sunday was lost to recovery and then Monday started OK, but went downhill in the late morning when I was taken down with a bug.  Nothing wanted to stay down including plain water, and all my body wanted to do and was capable of was sleep.  Tuesday was much the same, until early afternoon when I seemed to pick up.  Today, I was meant to be at a friend’s home, but she has been taken down with it as well and hospitalised as a result, so I guess I was lucky!

So Chooks.  We needed more chooks for our rooster, so after visiting Stuart’s cousin, I had arranged for us to call by at a place on the coast and purchase 2 new chooks.  There is a lack of point of lay pullets at the moment in our area, and these were almost the closest I could find.  Plus they were a pure bred Australian Black Langshan which is a nice looking bird and whilst once they start to lay, they will lay yet more brown eggs, they are different and I wanted something different.

We were both immediately impressed with the place, the elderly couple who bred the pullets, took pride in them and in keeping the place clean and tidy.  They were basically a small holding with a couple of cattle and sheep somewhere, geese and chickens everywhere and a dog or two thrown in for good measure.  Cats went without saying.  But they were getting on in age and starting to struggle to look after the several hundred chickens they had and were clearing out some of the flocks.  The flock in question only had the 2 pullets left unsold: I had arranged to purchase and collect them 10 days or so previously, so I didn’t really get a choice in the birds I had.

As we headed home from the coast, we had a couple of options as to whether to sit on the main highway (single lane mountain road with hairpin bends and a fatal road accident) or head off on what could and is probably a dirt road up and over the top.  We didn’t do it, my back was on its last legs and we both knew I had done too much in the day.  Heading up the highway seemed to be the best idea.  We could eat whilst we were on the road, pulling over at one of the rest stops if needed for Stuart, but when we were to get there, there were several very large recovery vehicles there including a crane.  We made the decision to carry on and hope we were getting in front of them rather than having to wait for the road to be closed and them to do their work before we could proceed.  I always pack picnic style food on these occasions, though I will include a salad with a spoon (rice salad for example) for the passenger (yeh, I know).  Sometimes I am allowed to drive, but not normally on the way home because I won’t given the amount of morphine I have usually had to take by the end of the day.  It is just not worth the risk if I can avoid it, but my back is one of the reasons we have a vehicle with heated seats – the warmth helps considerably with the pain!

We still had to stop and wait for some time whilst the police held up the traffic for various reasons, oncoming vehicles being allowed a turn and for a recovery vehicle to position itself.  Hairpin bends are awkward places for recovery!

The newbies, the twins has they have become known, settled down in the back of the car making a whole load new series of noises that we had not heard before.  Sometimes we could get them to reply to us, but mostly they were terrified and we left them alone.  It is to be expected.  They were not expecting a pet carrier and a long journey and had never experienced anything like it.  We were to arrive home long after dark and our flock had already gone to roost, so I just left the pet carrier in the chook house and locked up for the night when we arrived home.

The next morning, they were introduced to the flock.  I don’t have biosecurity options, sorry that should ready didn’t, we have had to make some amendments to the place since their arrival, but when they arrived we still didn’t have any biosecurity quarantine options available, so they were given a brief once over (I was exhausted and in pain and not looking at them carefully enough) and locked into the chook house and inner enclosure whilst the flock was left to its own devices, as per the norm, during the day.

I was to spend most of Sunday sitting out in the top of the veg plot watching to see if I could introduce the lowest in the pecking order and our rooster to the new twins.  That went surprisingly well and I got to spend most of the day sitting in the garden knitting, hiding from the sun in the shade and watching the flock as they tried to work out who the newbies were and what they were doing in the top of the veg plot when the rest of the flock isn’t allowed in there!

So Black Langshans.  What do they look like?  Well they are black and have a lovely green sheen to their feathers when they have adult feathers.

Looking rather pathetic after a good demiting.  Sadly they had feather mites which meant that the entire flock had to be dusted down, plus the nesting material thrown and the chook house dusted as well.  Needless to say it will be a while until Stuart and I have mites!  We have a tendency to get covered and need a shower afterwards as well.

A week later and after a wash in dog flea shampoo as well, and as you can see, they are looking a lot better.  That one is Spot, actually her name is Clara after our friend’s 2 girls Clara and Tilda, but Spot has been nicknamed Spot after we took rather a long time to choose names and also because the 2 pullets are almost identical.  The only different is that one has a couple of black spots on her comb and the other has a single white feather on her right foot (so she, Tilda) has nicknamed White.

Looking better now after a bath and a few days to recover.

A walk around the garden a few days after they were re-introduced to the flock, they were quarantined in the area beneath the house which we had originally tried to put a deep freeze into, only to find out that the door hole size (literally a hole in the wall) wasn’t big enough to get the deep freeze (or anything for that matter) through.  It’s a shame because it’s a 6 foot by 6 foot space of brick build under the house which remains pretty cool through the day even when you leave the stairs door open.

HP taking a dust bath in the new plant bed.

HP has decided that our new border is a great place for a dust bath – in fact the entire flock including the twins now use it.  I guess that shows how dry it is and that we need to get more organic matter in to the soil.  We now have an active composter, a tumbler which is making compost for us much faster and safer than abandoning it on the compost heap some distance from the house – this style does not attract vermin because it is complete enclosed and they can not get in to it being raised off the ground as well.

Mum and the chicks.

Mum (CC) and the chicks, currently named Ginger and Welsummer or just Summer.  We haven’t named him, knowing we are going to have to part with him soon.  The sex of Ginger remains unknown.  She and we suspect she is a she, hangs out with Summer during the day mostly but he is the only other chick her age, so that is natural, but she roosts up in the hayloft with the other pullets and Ellie, and her behaviour is such that we suspect she is a she, but the comb is very large and her legs very strong, so we are not particularly sure!

 Australian Black Langshans are not particularly huge layers of eggs, laying around only 200 eggs a year once they start to lay, that is compared to something like an ISA Brown which are what most commercial chickens are and what our 2 rescue hens (Ellie and Vickie) are.  They are bred to lay +300 eggs a year but are very sadly very short lived as a result.

Vickie trying her hardest to roll over in a deep dust bath in the new border!
The Twins, starting to explore
Ellie, also making herself a dust bath area