Winter made a dramatic entrance today, but was all puff and no substance. It was all fog, but not really cold – not in the standard winter scheme of things. Once the fog lifted it was a lovely sunny, mild day. The kind of day you would expect from a gentle autumn. I hope this is an indication of how things will continue for the next three months, but it probably won’t be.
Not trying to moan too much about the last season, but we encountered a bit of a problem. The chickens really didn’t give us many eggs at all. Time has whizzed by so quickly that it never really dawned on us the chickens were getting a bit elderly at 8 and 9 years old. That is about the equivalent of 80 – 90 year olds so no wonder they didn’t want to enter into a breeding program for us to refresh our flock. Old Chicken the Rooster is probably firing blanks anyway.
So instead of being accused of being freeloading good for nothings – they have been allowed to take it easy and enjoy a life of leisure with no expectations placed upon on them. If they want to lay an egg then all good and well but if not that’s ok too. The coop became a retirement village.
This didn’t help with our egg situation and we had to resort to purchasing eggs. They just weren’t the same. The yoke wasn’t as nice and rich but we didn’t need to crack it into a bowl first to avoid a potential nasty surprize that is always a risk when you have a rooster and the kids collect the eggs.
Buying eggs was a bit of an eye opener after not buying eggs for the better part of a decade. There are different varieties depending on your social consciousness. There are organic, free range, eco, colony, barn, uncaged, caged and one that doesn’t say for those who don’t want to know. Of course, the prices also varied greatly. Organic were the most expensive and the poor caged eggs have very little value.
Fortunately, we have had the opportunity to increase our flock with a youthful vigour, and in doing so saving 6 poor wee souls from a life in cages. Our new chickens have been adopted from a group of 1600 chickens that were rescued from a caged chicken farm. Having seen these poor bedraggled birds, it upsets me that they have spent the first eighteen months of their lives living in such an unnatural way.
But they are with us now and things are about to get a whole lot better for them. I’ve set them up for now in the lamb’s quarters with their own roost, nesting boxes and outside area. It is right next to the actual coop separated by a fence so they get used to their soon to be geriatric roomies.
It has been interesting to watch them explore their new world. At first, they were reluctant to come outside, but Chicken the Rooster, sensing they were there, called gently to them and they came over to the fence and they cooed back and forth. He is such a sweet natured rooster and we love him for it. Although the bravest of the 6 did stand up for the group to start with and in an act of dominance tried to take him on. He is too old for all of that and quickly defused the situation. But I am pleased there is a fence between them. He hovered there all day trying to connect with them, and the old ladies wandered over from time to time to say hi and see what all the fuss what about.
The new girls were kind of funny. Walking on the earth was strange to them and they kept lifting their feet in a way that looked like they were going ‘ewwwh…. Something is making my feet ikky.’ Two of them preferred to avoid the experience all together and pretty much stayed indoors. One girl with barely any feathers discovered the joy of lying in the sun and popped herself in a sunny corner and pretty much stayed there all day. They all laid an egg, however due to the worming treatment they received upon rescue we can’t eat them so I left them in the nesting boxes for now so they know where to lay next time.
There is something mesmerising about watching them discover life at our place. We’ll probably leave them in the lamb’s quarters for as long as they need to, so they can join the flock with little fuss, all going well. But for now, they are just featherless, bewildered nervous wrecks and are being spoilt rotten by us.
Come again soon – winter is here and I am going to make the most of the quiet time.
Sarah the Gardener : o)