Thursday, January 12, 2012

The Girls (and Co.)

There have been many developments in the chook department since I last blogged about our girls. 

Turns out, one is NOT a girl.

He is a very loud, very delightful ROOSTER.  Grr.  Fooled us all, because he was so much smaller than the others.  Ember has now been renamed Fred II.  Fred I was the bantam rooster we had in Townsville which we ate for dinner - not that there was much to him, but the name is one we now use for all roosters, as I'd decided never to name a rooster in case it had to be eaten, then my enterprising husband started calling him Fred!).  So, Fred the second is a really nice bird.  He is quite friendly, and would even let us stroke his feathers.  BUT, he is still a boy.  Not an egg-laying girl.  Nope, a rather LOUD boy.  No strangled or garbled attempts at crowing for this young man.  He, at the delicate age of around 13 weeks, has been managing a full throated crow, at least three times every morning.  Not as long as a mature adult maybe, but definitely as loud, and very, very definitely a crow.  As we are not allowed to keep roosters in the city, he had to go.  Even if we were allowed, he would still have to go.  My parents would have done it if I (or the neighbours!!!) didn't.
Fred the second.  A small, voluble rooster!
I had to put notes in all our closest neighbour's letterboxes informing them of our (and their) misfortune.  And advising them that Fred II would be finding a nice country home as soon as possible.  As he is such a gorgeous bird and a purebred Barnevelder we were not going to eat him.  He was our pet, which doesn't help...if I'd always known we'd eat him that would be okay, but I can't just decide to do the deed now!  I tried to find someone locally who would swap him with me, but don't have enough contacts.

He ended up returning to Precious Poultry on Tuesday.  Dropped of entroute to Auckland airport so at least the fuel was not just for returning one chook.  My dad returned with these in his place:

They are Bantam Sussex, which I didn't even know you could get till we visited Precious Poultry to collect our original birds.  They lay a lot less eggs, but also eat a lot less.  And they are just CUTE, don't you think?!?  I paid for a second bird, as they are so little I didn't one one poor wee bantam on it's own at the mercy of our two full sized birds.  Being so small they only take up the room of one full sized bird anyway.

Much discussion and concern arose while trying to settle them in.  I had to do it all via phone while my longsuffering parents did all the leg work for birds that are not even theirs (theirs have caused no issues other than having to be put to bed the first week we had them!).  Boyo was working last night, which meant I was stranded at home with Munchy-baby.  My parents introduced, watched over, intervened, and ultimately created the new babies their own little sub-cage within our big one (you are meant to introduce any new chooks gradually but we don't have another cage we can keep them in and Autumn, our big New Hampshire was being rather mean).  They are babies, not yet fully grown and I'm not sure exactly how old, but they will not get a huge amount bigger.  Hopefully after a few days of living in closer quarters (and forgetting about Fred II) our birds will happily share their space with their new companions.

Temporary accommodations while we all get to know each other!
Check out the size difference between them and Autumn.

Very big, and very small!
 Although, I must confess to feeling very paranoid about Autumn today.  I am worried, oh so worried, that she might be a boy too.  I find myself wishing she'd taken a trip to Ngatea yesterday just to be sure.  She looks different to the other New Hampshire, has always been bigger but we thought she might just be a few weeks older, or perhaps a different breed.  Now I'm not so sure.  The feathers around her neck are really shiny and fine.  The other girls are not.  And her comb is turning dark red.  She is TALL, much, much taller than her 'sisters' in the other cage.  Very leggy.  Oh dear.  Oh dear.  Oh dear.  This was supposed to be economical.  Or at least have the semblence of being so.  Having to do yet another trip for yet another single bird is NOT economical.  Plus I don't want to deal with any more crowing in the interim.  I do hope I am imagining all this.  Maybe I could wake up tomorrow and she be morphed into a perfect model copy of the other birds???

The other girls (Mum and Dad's) are doing well.  Although very scatty compared to mine.  We have discovered that this was an accidental inclusion in the breeding line when they were trying to get more genetic variety.  So I'm guessing that means not all New Hampshires are this flighty.  Ours are certainly much less people friendly than the Barnevelder or Australorp.  I am hoping they will settle down a bit more with age though.  Or they can lay us lots and lots of eggs so we overlook their lack of people skills!  Grin. 

Polly, Molly, or Dolly.

In the meantime, little Tui is a darling.  She is quiet, gentle and just plodding along while all around her is chaos.  She now has no tail feathers at all.  This actually looks a bit better than her 3 mangled ones did.  She's growing more, but very slowly we are just not looking too closely at her naked rump!  Wouldn't want to embarass the poor dear!

Tui with her tail-less rump.
So those are our chook adventures for the present.  Owning chooks has certainly not been as simple as I imagined.  I should have known better, I know.  I have done this twice before now.  You'd think I'd learn.  Well, this time round I have learnt something important: next time we buy chooks I am buying older birds (at least 12weeks or more so we are more likely to get accurate sexing!).

Anyone want to own chooks?   Totally put off?  Don't be!  They are amazing workers, lay beautiful, delicious eggs, and cluck so nicely (when you don't accidentally get a boy!).  They really are wonderful.  I know, I am a bit silly about chooks, but seriously, they are great.  Even with all the work.  And by the time I'm done here I'll be able to tell you the perfect breed, and the perfect cage for terrific easy-peasy back yard chooks.  I hope.



MaxineD said...

Oh Amy you really do have some interesting 'adventures' with your chooks!!

Elizabeth said...

Oh - keep us up to date with Autumn! Man, I hope she stays a 'she' for you ;-)!