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Meet the Chooks!

I am now the proud owner of four backyard chooks. With a rising trend of urban families raising chooks in their backyard I just had to jump on the bandwagon, partially for the eggs, but also because they genuinely make good pets. Owning chooks seemed like a natural progression from my interest in great food, to wanting to grow my own herbs, then vegetables and now eggs! I didn’t intend to get four. With the number of eggs we usually consume in a week, three were going to be more than enough, but in the first week there was a little incident…

I still feel guilty as I write these words, thinking about the lone chook that is at large somewhere in our suburban neighbourhood. I naively believed the man in the pet shop that told me I didn’t need to clip the birds wings as they couldn’t fly any higher than my knee. How wrong he and I were. On their fifth morning in our yard I let them all out as I prepared myself for a work trip away. It then got to the stage in the proceedings where I really did have to put them away and set off for work. Picture the scene, chook running one way Nic the other, then round and round in circle around the coop; Nic swoops down for the catch, chook has other ideas. This debacle continued for a good 20 minutes, by which time I was running very late for work. With my “must get to work” head on, I had a momentary slip of responsibility and decided the chooks would be fine for an hour and sent Graham a message stating he needed to come home after his meeting and put his chicken whispering skills into practice.

But mid morning I received a text message, it read “Houston, we have a problem…” Apparently, the chooks could fly further than we anticipated, and there was one lonely chook sat on the fence, with the other two no-where to be seen.  Graham hunted high and low (by this time I was in Wagga Wagga for a work trip) but there really was no trace, not even the feathers we expected as we do have a high population of dogs in our neighbourhood.

On my return from Wagga, I checked on our one remaining chook to find her moping in the roost.  It was apparent that she hadn’t left her perch for 48 hours, I offered her food, but she looked very sorry for herself.  With the disappearance of the other two on my conscience, I couldn’t let this one die of sadness, so early Saturday morning I hot footed it back to the pet shop to get two more friends for my lonely chook.

It was an instant cure, as soon as the other two were introduced she came down from her perch, happy at last. With my conscience feeling better, I continued with my Saturday chores but as I started to collect the washing from the line I heard a shriek of “there’s a chicken” from over the fence.  My neighbour was more than a little surprised as a chook ran across her front garden, along the nature strip and over the road.  I sent Graham in hot pursuit and he managed to catch her and bring her safely home to roost.

So there you have it, tales of an irresponsible mother, and how I ended up with four chooks.  This meant Graham had to build an extension to the coop and Sunday’s first job was to clip wings!

So let me introduce the girls properly now they have settled into their new home. First meet Dandelion, she is the most distinctive one of the brood and she’s the one that didn’t get away.  Dandelion is the easiest to identify because she has the most white feathers on her head.  Dandelion is also the most cognitively challenged of the bunch.  She is the one that often can’t work out how to get out of the coop, when the others are pecking on the outside and the door is open, Dandelion tries to peck through the wire. I guess that’s why she didn’t quite get away.

Secondly, I can introduce Scramble, she was the one that got away! Scramble is the most brown chook. Initially, her name was Omelette, but when I replaced her I recycled the names, then when she came home, Scramble seemed more suitable.  Despite her initial escapades, she is actually the home bird. I’m not sure what happened on her little adventure, but it seems to have reset her body clock. Scramble has to be the first on the perch to roost, and she consistently puts herself to bed half an hour before the rest of them, i.e. half an hour before sun down. I think she either likes to get the best spot or she has serious problems telling the time.

This leaves Omelette and Boc Boc. These two are pretty similar to look at and I’m still not 100% certain whether I can tell them apart, but in theory, Boc Boc (named by a friends child, because that is the noise chooks make) has a couple of white spots on her head (see photo above) and Omelette (see photo below) has a whiter behind. Omelette is also the true adventurer, she is always the one waiting at the door to be let out, the bravest of the four, she will walk past me as I am standing in the doorway, and I’m pretty sure she is always the last one in.

So now they are in and settled all I have to do now is feed and water them until they start laying. They are now about 20 weeks old, and Google tells me chooks usually start laying around 20-22 weeks, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed. Until then I am starting to plan what I shall do with all of my eggs. Without a doubt one of the first dishes I will make is my egg yolk salad and I’m sure there will be plenty of Scotch eggs and I won’t have any excuses not to do more baking. Please start laying soon girls!


Comment from Linda
Time September 25, 2011 at 3:41 pm

What a tale!!! Enjoy all your adventures in chook land :) ps, they may not start laying till their combs have really pinked up and got fleshy…..

Comment from nic
Time September 25, 2011 at 3:53 pm

Thanks Linda, these photos are a week old, and their combs are already looking bigger and redder, so hopefully another week or so and there will be eggs!

Comment from Miss Piggy
Time September 25, 2011 at 7:48 pm

My niece once had two rabbits that escaped and were last seen bouncing down a major road near their house – oh dear! I’m sure your gals won’t want to escape again.

My friend – who has chooks – puts a “fake egg” in the laying boxes, this helps the chooks feel clucky. Also, she crushes up the used eggs shells and this goes back into the chook food to help make their eggs stronger…

Comment from chocolatesuze
Time September 26, 2011 at 4:56 pm

BAHAHAHA i absolutely adore your chooks names!!! gold!

Comment from Sam
Time October 1, 2011 at 8:09 pm

We met dandelion today… And I would have to agree that she’s a few eggs short of a dozen!

Comment from Geoff
Time October 3, 2011 at 5:55 pm

Love the chooks (and the names!) Our girls’ combs were much bigger than yours were when they started laying. Ours like to roost on the fence to the delight of our neighbour’s kids, and the consternation of their dog.

Comment from nic
Time October 3, 2011 at 6:06 pm

Thanks Geoff, Linda said the same about her chooks, so I wonder if they are younger than the shop suggested. I will try and be patient, I’m just soooo excited about having a regular supply of good eggs!

Comment from Colin
Time October 4, 2011 at 9:13 pm

As you know Nic,we have five ex bats,but only ever get,at the most,four eggs a day(tell a lie,there was one day when mum found a broken egg in the nest box,removed it,and later,found four eggs had been laid?)but its getting colder here now,so they may stop laying altogether.P.S.Thank you Miss Piggy,for the suggestion of crushing up the empty shells,I mentioned this last week to the ‘Hen Mistress’ and it was pooh poohed.

Comment from Wendy Croxford
Time October 6, 2011 at 5:25 pm

Hi Nichole,
I met you at the Social Media get together last Thursday and took your card. You were teling me about your blog so I logged in today. it’s fabulous! I loved your chook story. I grew up on a farm (in Australia) and my job as a young girl was to feed our 60 chooks and 15 pigs! Also, we now live in Manly and our neighbour (like you) has 5 chookens as they call them with great names like ‘Miss Mary’ etc and we often are passed across the fence lovely warm eggs which we eat for breakfast. Keep up the good work, I will definitely be checking your blog again. All the best, Wendy PS: My husband is an avid cook as well so will use some of your great recipes.

Comment from Jo
Time October 17, 2011 at 7:00 am

This was my first visit to your blog and I will be back. Thanks. I really enjoyed reading your story – gave me a good “first thing in the morning giggle”! It is surprising how high a chook can lurch its un-aerodynamic body – especially when they are young. Hopefully we will see some egg recipes soon inspired by an abundance of home laid eggs!

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