Life sure has been busy of late. Three young children and their activities along with work keeps me super occupied. I have however found the time recently to finally realise one of the items on my home ‘to do’ list. It may have taken a while. Like a really long while, but finally our home has welcomes four chickadees! Our hens joined our family about 4 weeks ago.
My children have had some experience with chickens are part of ‘chook chat’ at their school. The four chickens at school are cared for on a roster by students, mine included. Students collect the eggs and every now and then do a big cook up. I love this way of engaging with the kids.
So with the ice broken, I decided to get the ball rolling at home and get our own chooks. It’s taken about a year from the time I bought the coop – to constructing the run – to finally getting to the exciting part – making the trip to a nursery to buy our hens. It’s been worth the wait though. Pepper, Caramel, Blackie and Tiny Ninja are now well and truly at home with us.
After some good tips from a work friend, we ended up buying two Australopes and two Isa Browns from New Leaf Nursery: http://www.newleafnursery.com.au/ They were especially selected by the chook whisperer there for our family. The good thing about the Australope hens is that they lay eggs throughout their lives. The Isa Browns we bought because of their good nature.
So far all are pretty friendly, though not super friendly because we’re not at the stage where they come to you and sit by your feet. We’ve had the occasional toe and leg pecking, but after holding them and spending more time with them they seem to be coming around. They especially love me because I’m usually the source of food!
Now, if a garden of veggies and some fruit and now chickens wasn’t enough, last week I discovered a new mysterious bird. At first I thought it looked like a cross between a quail and a duck. After many misses in trying to photograph it, the bird ended stuck on the trampoline. After taking some great photos, I sent them to my local Council for identification. They confirmed, that it was not a quail, but a Bush Turkey and while I am a friend of wildlife, I am not so sure about having a bird make itself at home in the garden I have spent some year building up. Time will tell whether it decided to stay. So far the hens are wary, but the Turkey doesn’t seem fazed.
Now with my garden project pretty much complete, I can sit back and enjoy the years of work and planning that’s gone into my very own urban farm. Or maybe not! Next on my ‘to do’ list: ‘bug hotel’/ native beehive and possibly a frog pond. ..watch this space!
My tips for keeping chickens (so far):
- Choose a spot in the garden with some sun, but not too much;
- Talk to your local Council about what their requirement are. Besides not keeping a whole lots of hens and telling my neighbours as a courtesy, my Council didn’t have any specific requirements;
- Buy the hens and move them in together at the same time, that way you don’t have any problems later with introducing a new hen to the flock;
- They LOVE grain and get quickly get fussy with food if given the good stuff all the time. So balance out some boring food with something exciting;
- Get them used to you straight away by spending time with them. Mine aren’t too excited about being held and to be honest I’m still getting used to them too, but now we’re all getting used to each other; and
- Get the kids involved in feeding them and enjoy!