Thursday, September 16, 2010

Art imitates Life

Or is it Life imitates Art??

Either way I have Chickens imitating IF.

4 chickens, 13 days, 8 eggs.

If we gave my chickens AMH tests they'd fail as badly as I did.

Why oh why did I get chickens who are peri-menopausal? I have traded desperately wishing for eggs from me for desperately wishing for eggs from chickens.

Do you think if I gave them wheatgrass shots or Royal Jelly then they'd do better? What about CoQ10 or yoga?

Maybe they just need to relax.  Maybe I do.

Getting-the-Chickehs ...
I saw a animals alert thing on Faceblerk that led me to a page when some ladies were organising a chicken rescue from a big battery farm.  When battery chickens reach 78 weeks old (past peak lay) the farmers kill them. This particular farmer was killing 52,000 hens and offered the chicken-rescue ladies as many chooks as they could find homes for.  They thought they'd rehome a couple of hundred but they ended up with orders from fellow chicken-lover-animal-rescue-types for over 16,000 chickens. They whole rescue went belly-up after the battery farmer was reported to the DPI (Department of Primary Industries).  The DPI wanted to investigate the rescue, which meant they needed to shut down the battery and the farmer did not want to shut down (loss of livelihood) so he withdrew his offer.

The whole thing fell apart the day we were supposed to go collect our chickens. Lots of people were very disappointed. Lots of people had built coops and gotten organised to house poor old sad badly-treated battery chooks ... us included. But what I learnt was that most battery farms sell their old chickens - they put them on the sale shelf at a crazy-low price and give them a chance to live. So we went to Wagner's Poultry in Coldstream and bought ourselves some old $3 chickehs.  Past peak lay but still laying ... apparently.

So there's one question answered - fellow chook lovers, you too can rescue old chickehs.

Maddy, the chickens will not have chicks because we can't have a rooster.  We live in the city and though the council is hen-friendly, they've banned roosters due to the evil-early-morning-noise they make.  So no bebe-chickehs for us. Even though I would love a little Peeper following me around.

Andie, Maddy and Jenn - the gumboots are from Bunnings.  Imagine that - hardware wonderland sells rockin' gumboots. Not online though. I does love me a trip to Bunnings.

The chickens are definitely great entertainment. I pop my boots on morning and night to go tend to my ladies and sometimes just to watch them at their chicken-business.  They have distinct personalities and I am doing my best to train them to come when they are called and to be hand-happy.
  • Henrietta is the tamest - I call "Henny-Henny-Henny" and she'll come and peck at whatever tidbit I have in my hand, though sometimes she does like to try to eat my fingertips instead of the treats. 
  • Sparkles is pecked on by the others, she's the scrappiest of the four, but also seems to be the cleverest.  She discovered dust-baths on day 5 much to my horror. I went down to visit them and found her lying on her side in the dirt, ruffling up her feathers and totally covered in dirt.  The other chickens were standing around sort of watching her.  I though she was having a fit or something and went to pick her up whereupon she growled at me (yes, growled!!! it was very LOL-worthy) and pecked my hand. Anyway I quickly ran inside and Dr-Googled "chicken rolling in dirt" and found that dirt is how chickens clean themselves! They get completely covered in it and shake shake shake and get clean. Somehow.
  • Ivy is a scaredy-cat, she gets very flustered when I come near her and freaks out completely if she's in the coop and I stick my arm in to top up the feed or something.  She just can't cope with humanity.
  • Kakashi is funny, she clucks around following Henrietta and basically copycats everything Henny does.  She is interested in me, but tends to keep a safe distance. She does come running if there's scratch grain in the offing though.

I am an animal rescuer from way back.  When I was 13 I (with the help of a friend) liberated the mice in our science experiment when we found out they were going to be gassed the following day.  We had mice as a Mendelian inheritance experiment, breeding them to see what coloured furs we would get and I loved my mice. So I was horrified to discover that death was their reward. K and I snuck into the science teacher's office and stole the lab key late one afternoon and liberated our mice. We weren't terribly organised about it so she ended up with 3 or 4 and I took 2.   We got in so much trouble at school. There were meetings with parents and demands for mice returns but although K caved and gave her mice back I refused and kept them.  They lived for 18 months in a cage in my bedroom and my step-father named them Dim and Sim. Which was really a terrible set of names. Mum and my SF stood behind me and backed up my right to save the mice which was totally cool of them. I got a series of afternoons detentions and a series of Saturday detentions as a punishment and it was worth it 'cause my mice were awesome and fun and worth saving.  All life is worth saving.



  1. Your mouse story is so funny!! When we did something with mice in science lab in college (I don't remember what the experiment was now), we had the option of keeping ours. So I kept mine, and had it in a cardboard box in my dorm for one night, after which my roommate said she could not put up with any more of its all night chewing. So I then put the box, with mouse,on a table in front of the dorm with a 'free pet mouse' sign. It was soon gone, and who knows what that poor animal's next adventure was!!!

    Also, I grew up with chickens, and they are awesome once you tame them! So sweet and cute. The dust gets in the spiracles of their mites and suffocates them (the mites), so that's why they (the chickens) do it. You could get a dusting powder from the local livestock store that kills the mites more directly, too.

  2. Pundy, this is such great info. We are getting chix in January, so please keep going with these wonderful stories. Also, you are dead on with our future kidlet causing chaos in public. We will be one of those folks too stunned by our good fortune(please) that our angel will be the most spoiled rat in the town.

    What did you do for your coop? We have a tiny lot so space is at a premium.

  3. Oooh, thanks for the info. Yeah, I loves me some Bunnings action.

    After your last post I looked up people rehoming chickens in NSW and there are people doing that, so that is good. That's helpful about the tip of buying from poultry farmers.

  4. PS. Do you have the latest Organic Gardener magazine? It has a good article about chickens - they have been doing a series on that lately. I think I read in there some tips for rescue chickens - food, socialising, laying etc.

  5. HA HA HA - this post made me laugh and laugh. The line about the wheat grass and rolly jelly! Classic.

  6. I am smiling ear-to-ear after reading this post. Thank you, Rescue Lady of the Chickens. I have an especially soft spot in my heart for you after hearing about your mice rescue. And good on your mum and SF for supporting you. Any parent should be so lucky as to have a child like that - independent-minded and, well, GOOD. I can't believe they punished you. It sounds like some psychological experiment where they should TRY to get kids thinking out of the box, and reward the ones who go against the conventional, group mob mentality.

    What a shame that the Great Chicken Rescue fell through:( I can imagine that loads of people were disappointed. But I'm also kind of heartened to hear how many people wanted to rescue me a few warm fuzzies about humanity (which I sometimes get tricked into thinking is a dastardly race).

    I'm reaching back into the shadowy lore of Upper Goatlandia, but isn't there something about hens needing an adjustment period if something "unusual" (like a move) has happened? Here's hoping that they start laying abundantly, very soon. For right now, though, sounds like you have oodles of entertainment:)

    (Any chance you could set up a webcam? I'd pay a subscription to follow Henrietta and the gang).

  7. Cheekins! And I second the webcam suggestion, I totally want to spy on your chicks.

  8. I LOVE that you rescued the mice, and so young! I hope your chickens are all doing well. They sound like a lot of fun.


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