The following day was chook arrival day and it was another beautiful day starting off frosty and clear from the word go. There was a touch more work to be done in the chook house, a lower level perch to be put in and some more fencing to be anchored but mostly the work was all done and it was a case of getting on with the normal chores and gardening whilst we waited for their arrival. It was to be late afternoon before they arrived, but they were to settle in very quickly as we were to find out.
I don’t yet have any better pictures of them, but we have one black and one white chook. One (the black one) is in her 2nd season of laying eggs and lays brownie blue eggs. The other (the white one) is a pullet, not a hen, and should start laying very soon. It will be the start of her 1st season laying eggs. The plan was that we would then get 2 rescue hens that are in their 3rd season of laying eggs (and would normally be slaughtered as a result) and so, in theory at least, won’t lay eggs every day. The plan has changed slightly in that there are now 3 that need a new home, so we have decided to take all 3. We don’t want just 2 hens because they are both a flock bird and that there is safety in numbers. Also if one gets taken, goes missing, dies etc, we are left with one by itself and we have been there before with a blind guinea pig, got a new one to accompany her and it turned out to be pregnant. It just seems easier to have a small flock in advance of any issues.
The next day we got our first egg late in the afternoon and the layer was to follow that pattern for a few days, laying late in the day before not laying for 2 days and then laying very first thing in the morning. So far she has lain 2 days on, 2 days off. She is also the Houdini of the family, not content to stay in the large outer run she soon worked out that whilst she could not fly over the fence (she’s not the better flyer of the two) she could flutter up onto a post, walk up a supporting beam for the gate and straight through the gap on the gate post. All she has to do then is jump (when she decides she can) and she is out. Trouble is, she can’t get back in by herself and one the first day, getting her back into the outer pen alone was hard work (Stuart caught her eventually).
On the second day she escaped (she just abandoned Jealous Jane who gets really upset about not being able to get out of the outer run herself), she got herself stuck on the far side of the run, away from the house and did allow me to catch her and throw her back into the run.
The following day I gave up and risked leaving the gate open, knowing that at least one of the hens knew their way back to the chook house. That evening they were both in the chook pen and ready to go back in. Since then they have been happy to return to the chook house as and when they want, to lay eggs and roost as and when the time is right. Life works itself out. Last Saturday we were late home after a day shopping in Canberra (we save everything up and do it all in one go) and came home after dark (naughty us), they were in the chook house roosting by then!
We have purchased a feeder which in theory at least, feeds then for a week or more (chooks only eat til full and won’t over eat apparently) but the Crimson Rosellas found it and have been picking the best bits out of the ‘layer mix’ that we purchased. This has been causing a few issues because it means we are getting through rather a lot of food, and on top of that, the rosellas are rather messy eaters, so scatter what they don’t want on the floor to get at the better stuff in the feeder. They feeder has since been removed and it is great fun watching the 2 chooks chase the rosellas around the chook house until they leave. They get trapped in the inner run and the chooks have great fun. Sadly the chooks won’t take on the much larger Sulphur Crested Cockatoos or the Australia Magpie. I don’t blame them on either account really, but once there are more of them, perhaps the issue will go away (finger’s crossed). For the time being they are being fed very little food now, they don’t seem to want much preferring to be out in the garden, specially the veg plot. I can see another issue on the horizon!
The only issue I have now is that they shadow me around the garden constantly! Everytime I am in the veg plot, so are they. When I go into the house, they are either under the house (I kid not) or even on the veranda. If I go away, they stand and watch… I am left feeling guilty. I know they need a few friends. I will have to chase the progress with the 3 rescue chooks. Last I heard was that they needed some more treatment for scaly red leg mites and every time it rains it has to be repeated. It has rained at least once a week, very heavily recently which has resulted in their treatment being washed off!
An update: Overnight a brown egg was lain. I assume it was our white hen, Jealous Jane who may no longer be a pullet, but has come of age and is now an hen. Sadly, she laid it from the roosting perch and it did not survive the fall! 🙁