We’re hard at work once again here, this time upgrading the chicken/goat pen.
We may have only recently moved here and built the pen but Anna’s arrival has added an extra dimension to the use of the shed and with the requirement of more space we had upgraded and enlarged the shed. However, we have reason to suspect there may be more to Anna than just herself 😉 and we need to work out an area that can be kept clean of chook poop and chooks in which Anna can birth and then later be milked in a clean place. We are not sure she is indeed pregnant but even if she isn’t at this time we are planning to put her to kid in the near future as her health is continuing to pick up beautifully and so whether she kids now or in a few months time, she will need these renovation works to be completed. 🙂
Last week saw the majority of the works completed – I sunk 2 new post holes then wired up the walls in between, leaving a gap for a wire door to allow access. We’ve been offered an old screen door although it’s a really old solid metal construction and I’m not sure the 1/2 posts I sunk would have borne the weight so we have done the old door shuffle and the solid door is now the entry door tot he pen. The shed has also had a big muck out and the fresh straw makes all the difference. Anna’s bowl was also elevated off the ground making it more comfortable for her to eat and at the moment it’s keeping the chooks from her dinner too. A good days work I reckon. 🙂
We have also released Mandy and her ducklings back into the general populace which is wonderful and brings the absolutely adorable sight of Yin and Yang puddling around the pen. They have a bag habit of trying to climb through the chicken wire though and Yin got him/herself stuck so I’ll be retrofitting some bird wire around the bottom of the wire to stop that happening. We had no choice but to release them back though as the small pen was needed for another purpose.
That other purpose was as a holding pen for our mature roosters. Yes, the time had come to cull our noisy boys so all 5 were put in the pen whilst we finalised the decision to see who would become the father of the next generation. Black Boy, our lovely coloured silver Dorking had been earmarked to be the father of our flock and indeed he was a perfect gentleman, a lovely rooster and had a great deep crow which I loved but unfortunately he was of a rather tall and wiry build. Not what one wants to encourage in a flock of birds that are being raised for meat and egg purposes so the heartbreaking decision was made. Black Boys brother from the same hatching, BT, had proven himself to be a grumpy bird and had chased the kids screaming around the pen. Again, not an admirable characteristic in a rooster. This left us with the 3 yellow tagged boys from our second generation of Dorkings. I made the random decision and picked the fattest of the 3, releasing him back into the general populace where he promptly pinned and ‘serviced’ one of the hens.
Last Sunday was D-Day for 3 of the 4 roosters. Not a fun day but it had to be done. We’ve been working to build a chicken plucker as the most time-consuming part of preparing a bird for the table is the plucking. It’s fiddly work and if you don’t get it right it leaves you with a bird from which you don’t particularly want to eat the skin. And when you’ve spent an hour or more plucking it, it’s easy to go near enough. The chicken plucker is a simple thing but it cut plucking time down to around 15 minutes! The labour intensive part of culling a chicken is now no more for us thankfully. It still doesn’t make the cull any easier, just shorter.
Out of respect for our roosters they are thanked for their sacrifice and then I stay and watch whilst they die. It’s not fun. It’s not pleasant. It’s not nice either but I must admit I would rather meet my maker in the great outdoors rather than in a shed or factory filled with thousands of other frightened birds and whirring machinery. So, amidst the tears I watched Black boy die, then we plucked and processed him for the freezer. Then BT was killed and processed and one of the yellow tag boys. I still feel somewhat sad about what we’ve done but I believe that we are being ethical about our meat as much as we can at this time and I am at peace with that.
Otherwise we’ve been hunkering down inside avoiding the not so pleasant weather we’ve had. Sure we’ve seen some sunny days but we’ve also seen a lot of cold wet rainy days although no more snow. We’ve focussed on getting the house in order and getting the household in order too. Drying washing is not fun when the clothesline is out-of-order due to rain and you have several loads to get dry but we’re getting there. Last week I made myself some of those small sock or underwear clothes lines, the ones that have the pegs attached but fold up which are usually made out of pastel neon plastic and break after being in the sun for about a month, but I made mine from the upcycled wires from an old lamp shade that had broken (it was from the 70’s), some wire and some wooden pegs. It’s not pretty and it does have a few sharp edges but it won’t disintegrate in the sunshine and it cost me about $2 for the pegs and best of all it works a treat. 🙂 By hanging it from the chimney I can get socks and underwear dry over the fire without taking up space. Otherwise Martin takes clothes and hangs them on the line set up in his shed. It’s not a perfect system but we’re getting our washing dried at least. 🙂
I’ve also done a big downsize of the kids clothes and also in the kitchen with utensils, attempting to get rid of the clutter around the place. A discussion with Linne from A Random Harvest saw me defining clutter as “… unnecessary stuff that isn’t wanted that you haven’t yet got rid of.” What one person sees as clutter isn’t necessarily clutter to someone else. For me, 2 drawers of utensils in the kitchen defines as clutter. I don’t need 3 serving spoons, 2 sets of salad servers, 2 soup ladles and so on. I’ve boxed up the extras and we’ll see how we go without them. Less stuff means less cleaning for me, hence the reason I’m trying to de-clutter. 🙂 Same with the kids (and my) clothes. I mean, do we really need 15 or so pairs of jeans? Yes, having spare jeans is a good thing as things happen and we can’t always keep clean but I must have around 9 pair of, all second-hand, jeans. I am planning to keep out a couple of pair for wearing and pack the rest away for when the current ones wear out. It’s a balance between waste not want not and lack of clutter. I will probably send several items to the op shop and there are some of the kids clothes that need to be repurposed, probably as rags. I can and will patch holes but when the holes are bigger than the remaining in tact clothing? 😉
I have very few photos to share of anything which is why I’ve delayed posting for so long but I figure I need to get this out there and I will post again, hopefully tonight, with photographs. Unconventional maybe but I’ve never particularly subscribed to convention (unless it suits me to 😉 )