Monday, 26 March 2012

Avian politics

Nancy sits on her eggs, looking more self-important and confident.  We assume she gets up to eat and drink and so on, but every time we visit the Marmalade Cottage CWA Hall, she's firmly ensconced.

The other chooks are laying fewer eggs, but we still get one or two a day.

Interestingly, there's been a reshuffle.

In case you ever doubted it, a chook pecking order is a literal thing.

There is a clear boss chook - that's Alice.  She's the biggest, glossiest and bossiest.

Her deputy is Marion - a bit smaller, a bit less glossy, but only marginally less bossy.

Nancy was at the bottom of the order.  The most obvious demonstration of this was the perch on which the girls roosted to sleep at night.  Alice and Marion took the higher perch, Nancy roosted by herself on the lower one.  It's not very subtle

Then we introduced the two rescued battery hens, Joan and Joyce.  For a week or so there was confusion, then Joan emerged as a real contender for deputy boss chook, and we wondered whether Nancy would assert herself a bit more, leaving Joyce at the bottom of the order.

Not to be.  The two new girls roosted on the higher perch and Nancy stayed on her lower one.

But now Nancy sits day and night on her eggs, there's been another reorganisation.  Joyce has been relegated to the lower perch.

It's not like there's any great disadvantage to the lower perch, it's just very symbolic. 

It's a bit sad.

Monday, 19 March 2012

Poor dear, she's feeling hormonal

Being city children, neither inventor recognised that Nancy

had gone broody. 

According to Jackie French, this overwhelming maternal urge is largely bred out of modern hens.  She's fluffed all her feathers out, gone a bit grumpy, and has a weird deep cluck.

As we have no roosters, letting her sit on any of our chooks' eggs was going to be an exercise in frustration.  Luckily lovely friends D and P (who gave us Nancy in the first place, along with Alice and Marion) have roosters and fertile eggs and sympathy.

She's sitting on six fertile eggs, so, if all goes well, we'll have six little chicks in a couple of weeks.

As soon as Nancy gave in to her hormones, the other hens pretty much stopped laying - just the odd one and usually on top of Nancy, who then sat on it, along with her others.

We sacrificed a couple of infertile eggs and put them in other nesting boxes.  Chooks, being fairly simple creatures, will only lay where others have laid.  Apparently they're quite taken in by wooden or plastic eggs too. 

The other girls seem to be laying again, although we do have to check under Nancy every day.

And here are the stupid pigeons who get into the hen house then can't work out how to get out.

Saturday, 10 March 2012


Despite regular and frequent applications of water, seasol and powerfeed and lots of mulch, some plants have, just this week, turned up their toes.

It's like they withstood so much, and this last heatwave - a record - was too much.

We've lost chamomile, chives, strawberries, a blueberry, both the male and female kiwifruit vines and two different varieties of thyme. 

Poor little plants.

On the other hand, the moonflowers threaten to take over the front garden, the mulberry is looking lush and shady and the zucchinis are wonderful.  Next year we will have passionfruit.