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Tag: chickens

Feathery, Daphne and Grass…

In my new approach to my situation (subtitled: Don’t Wait Until the Boat’s Finished – DO IT NOW!) I went out last Saturday and bought us three chickens. Am thrilled with self.

Plans for this have been Small Z’s kindergarten teacher put us on to a free chicken coop that has been tweaked and downsized by M. I have bought straw, molasses, mixed grain, shellgrit and two heavy old saucepans for water vessels. We are now correspondingly poorer…but for a good cause.

One thing I hadn’t counted on was having to keep them (ahem) cooped up for a week…but of course we have had to – if we just plopped them out in the backyard they would have been totally discombobulated and probably have flown away.

So this week has been about giving them their little routine and keeping them confined to quarters. I am so longing for a still, sunny day where we can sit out the back and have some bonding time. The weather has been of fleeting sunshine, huge gusts of wind and general chill. Over it.

Chooks first morning.

The names? Each girl in the family got to pick a name for our new girls: Small Z’s is called ‘Feathery’, Small DB’s is ‘Grass’ and mine is ‘Daphne’. They are lovely – I am SO looking forward to having some chook time with them – the coop is a bit small to get in and cuddle them in any comfort. The funny thing is, I’ve been so thrilled by them that for a while, I forgot that they might actually lay us some eggs!

I thought that their dinner last night looked very pretty with Small Z’s additions of dandelions….

Chooks dinner. Gourmet!

Pictures of Feathery, Daphne and Grass to come, once they are free ranging…

Little lambs eat ivy…

We are lucky enough to have friends nearby that live on a 20 acre property. They have a few sheep and lots of chickens. Small Z attends once a week for sewing lessons, and at other times for playdates. We got a text in the morning to say that twin lambs had been born…we shot over there to see them…they were two hours old.

Freshly hatched lamb. Two hours old.
Twin lambs. Two hours old.

A few weeks earlier, six chicks had hatched – once they were a few days old the Smalls were allowed to handle them. Bliss…

DB and a week old chicky
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A Mitey Housesit

For a couple of days the Smalls and I lived in the caravan on the property of our friends who have 20 acres in Hastings. They had asked us if we would like to housesit while they went caravanning for a week and we jumped at the chance. They were to be leaving on Friday…but that turned into Saturday…and that turned into 3pm Sunday…

I love them dearly, but the temptation of having a WHOLE HOUSE to myself, while they extended their leaving time by two days was a bit of a torment. Once they were gone I finally felt able to stuff our food into their fridge, put the Thermomix on their bench and start doing a load of washing. Bliss…

We are in charge of some sheep, an aged cat and about 20 chickens. My relationship with the latter did not begin well – I had been showed by my farmer-friend how to crowbar a few of the hens out of their nests to check for eggs. She did it in a heartbeat – me? I was poking around, worried I was going to hurt the chicken – the chicken could sense my fear and would not budge… and then I felt something strange.

I looked down and saw (ok, so it might not have been hundreds, but it felt like MILLIONS) of tiny mites crawling over my hands and up my wrists. There were some on the Smalls too – they had been helping me. Small Z, hater of such things, ran inside to wash her hands. I wiped them off and continued with my duties. But I could still feel them. Yuuuuuuck….

Later I bathed the Smalls and took a looooong shower and scrubbed my whole self. But after drying off and sorting out dinner, I was STILL finding them 🙁 They are super-tiny, like the head of a needle (not a pin) and almost translucent. I was so grossed out. I had contacted my farmer-friend, who called me and said that she had not known the chooks had mites – they usually treated them with sulphur – but that it was a very stinky and messy job. 

Our first night in the house was less than stellar. I could feel small creatures walking around on me. Small DB had chosen to sleep in a different bedroom and woke up twice, calling for me. The morning dawned on three very grumpy people – eventually I took us all to meet up with the WildThings at the beach, and that was a welcome circuit breaker. 

On the way home I went into a workwear place and spent $10 on a full body disposable suit – the kind you use for spray-painting. I looked like I worked in a nuclear power plant. But when I checked the eggs, I remained mite-free! The victory would have been sweeter if the suit itself hadn’t stunk like some kind of cheap skanko plastic, requiring another long scrubby shower…

I didn’t check the eggs yesterday – I am hoping that M – who is having a Dadda Day, will do the honours. He continues to spend all his time at the boat, readying it for life aboard ‘on the hard’ (that is the boat-savvy way of saying that the boat is not in the water – it is on the land).  

Other than the mites our two days of house-sitting have been pretty awesome. There are many plums, stupid amounts of zucchini and I stewed some of the peaches that had been starting to look unhappy. The Smalls don’t want to leave! My farmer-friend is a crafting goddess and in a former life used to be an art teacher – there are bountiful supplies for us to get making – I am hoping the next two days will involve some of that.

It’s 6am again. Dark. And I am on a train to work to do an 11 hour day or so – this is working better for us all at the moment – giving M an extra day at the boat. I don’t seem to have found any other time to type! 

Goodbye Farm

I have enjoyed being a farmer 🙂 Getting out the chooks every morning, feeding the sheep, making sure everything is fox-proof at night. I have enjoyed the crafting shed and the air-hockey table, and the sound of Small DB playing the piano at every opportunity…

That we have been here for five weeks…. Those five weeks already feel intangible. The night we all jumped into a cool shower because the weather was too hot. The parched look of the fruit trees. I woke up this morning and it was still dark at 6.30am – the morning was a proper cold Autumn one, with dew on the grass and a chill in the air. It turned into a very beautiful day…

079/365 • goddamn it's a beautiful day! one load of wash down and a monkey on the clothesline - moving back to the boat late this afternoon • #079_2016 #Autumn2016 #housesitting #hillshoist #clothesline #5yo #feet #breezy #sunshine

Our five weeks here has contained two seasons – I am very much hoping that we have seen the last of the hot glaring summer days. Today was all OK, up until about 2pm when I took on what I thought was the last GREAT EFFORT to clean up and get out of here…

Four hours later I was still going, and this did not include cleaning the chook home or hanging out and then retrieving two loads of wash. Nevertheless – by 6pm I was a vacant eyed drooling Zombie, with two Smalls that were trying to help me, but… my task was almost impossible.

In order to return to the boat by dinner time, we had to put the chooks away early. “No worries,” I thought, “Cheese will do it.”
Cheese. The great persuader.
Well, for some reason it persuaded only half of them inside their home. I became increasing irate, as they would dart for the cheese and then race outside, dodging Small Z who was valiantly trying to prevent them exiting, gobble their prize, and then slope back in to score some more.

After half and hour I had reached the end of the line. I stuffed whatever else I could fit into the car, including two children, and left the goddamn chickens to their own devices. We returned to the boat, to M, to dinner – gasped at the beauty of the ceiling and the coathooks that have been installed in three different places – and then I returned to the farm alone to foxproof the bloody chooks and have a few hours to myself *goggle* before waking up early and finally… vacating.

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