We are, very happily, once again hen owners. Hurruh! I’d really missed having my ladies, and not just for the egg supply (the horror that is buying eggs – ugh!) I am unashamedly a self-confessed crazy chook lady – I love my ladies, their funny little buck-buck-buck’s back to me when I go to feed them and collect their generous offerings. Our hens have again come from our friends Nic and Amy at Ruby Hills Organics, they really are the happiest of all happy hens, they’ve spent their days roaming the South Gippsland hills being loved by Nic and Amy’s littles, fed on soy free organic feed and protected by their gorgeous maremmas. (I still want to take gentle giant Holly home with me some day).
The chook pen here is quite the work of art – just ask it’s creator Matt. Despite ‘ridiculous’ notions of a beautiful hen house like this, Matt built this fine structure mostly out of found materials around the farm or what he had on hand in the shed. It was meticulously planned, with such practical design features as a raised and enclosed little house for the chookies, with a little ladder for access, a big door can be open for human-size access and mesh flooring above their roosting perch so we can easily collect nitrogen-rich chookie fertiliser. There is a self-watering dripper system and cosy little nesting boxes with a collection hatch, which is totally at ‘Matt-height’. Sigh. He has promised me to fashion some sort of steps for Blueberry to collect the eggs. Bless.
Our ladies are just coming out of their Autumn moult, hence the white fluffy bums! Amy said they might not be laying too well yet, but the day after she delivered the precious cargo I got two eggs! (We have four hens, which should be just the right amount for us if they all decide to be good layers. We’ve previously had six, but not the best layers). I’m getting about 1-2 eggs a day at the moment, and I’m sure with a lot of love and care, some yummy combination of layer pallets and kitchen scraps, production will be upped shortly. I’m convinced that having a chat to the chooks makes them happy little layers.
Our one problem…one excitable kelpie by the name of Bella. She has always shown quite the interest in chooks. I don’t think she actually wants to kill or eat them, she mainly wants to herd and stalk them. After all if she was herding and stalking sheep and lambs I wouldn’t expect her to want to kill a lamb – well I should hope not! Those natural working dog genes are made of strong stuff it seems (especially now she’s not a working dog, she has to herd something!) Bella ’rounds up’ the chooks incessantly. And I mean incessantly. She goes round and round and round and round the chook pen, back and forth, over and back, so much so I don’t think she realises she’s actually doing it – it’s become a bit more of a neurosis obsessive behaviour. But the chooks? Well the chooks couldn’t care less! I’m pleased to report that the ladies don’t pay her any attention at all, they must feel very secure in their pen, and as Matt pointed out, are probably quite used to dogs like at Nic and Amy’s. But Bella, oh Bella. How to stop Bella? The track being pounded around the chook pen is getting ridiculous! On the upside, if Bella is not to be found snoozing on the back porch or chewing on a bone under the horse chestnut, she will be going around the chook pen. Around and around and around and around.
I’m so pleased to have henny penny’s once again, I think these four and I are going to be firm friends. Crazy kelpie stalking and all. Now what shall I name them?