Saturday, 17 October 2015

Raising Hens

Anything - growing plants, making art, keeping chooks, raising kids - looks easy when it's done right, by someone who knows what they're doing. It was gratifying to have a laugh at this cartoon being somewhat of a city person in a regional environment.

However, I have had a few wins - the hens started laying again after (to me a very mysterious) egg-less stint of maybe 4 months. I relocated their house to the less soggy back corner of the garden which is a pleasanter experience for the carer at least. Constrained their movements to a fenced portion of the yard, so that they aren't free to poo under the carport, on the lawn and on the back deck. Spent a day in the hot sun building the fence higher to stop them going next door and kicking the mulch out of my neighbours garden beds. Even clipped most of their wings with Emmy's help - though flying may have helped them escape a fox I saw run from our yard early one morning -  the decision was made based on the havoc they can create and my available time & energy to spend fixing it.

So it's taken nearly a year, but I think I've got it working fairly well - eggs, pleasant clucking and scratching, good compost creation, minimal garden damage, and happy neighbours.

But now one of the hens has started to crow.
In the morning, once they wake up, the girls make their way as close as they can to the house and make a racket of clucking and squawking until I bring their food out to settle them down. I should add that often their feeder is full of pellets, and of course their area has ample space to scratch and explore, but this is the routine. It's at this time that the one Em calls Jodyhighroller, has started to position herself on a treestump, flap her wings, and blast out a croaky, gutteral crow, like an adolescent rooster. And like a trained seal, I run out instantly in my dressing gown with an icecream container full of food to shut the noise down before the neighbours think I have a rooster. Which I don't. Incidentally rewarding and reinforcing the whole routine.

It will be interesting to see if she stops laying and makes further gender identity changes, or whether the crowing is just a dominance thing... Otherwise she might have to go to the special rooster farm as Fil of Howash has explained.

Eggs are available on weekends from Bayside Emporium. The dozens are a mix of sizes - the tiny ones are Lucy's.