Works continue apace

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 πŸ˜‰ 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. πŸ™‚

A broody hen on top of the straw.

A broody hen on top of the straw.

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. πŸ™‚

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.

I love the unintended patterns created by variegated yarn.

I love the unintended patterns created by variegated yarn.

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 fiddlyΒ 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.

A chicken plucker finger

A chicken plucker finger


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. πŸ™‚ 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. πŸ™‚

A new door to a nestng box to put Mr Rooster away for the night to minimise his crowing at 5am.

A new door to a nestng box to put Mr Rooster away for the night to minimise his crowing at 5am.

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 Β “… 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. πŸ™‚ 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 Β 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? πŸ˜‰



Hanging the pegs before attaching them to the wire

Hanging the pegs before attaching them to the wire


And finished (although I've since taped around to hold the pegs in place and try to blunten the sharp wire on top)

And finished (although I’ve since taped around to hold the pegs in place and try to blunt the sharp wire on top.

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 πŸ˜‰ )



22 thoughts on “Works continue apace

  1. Bek says:

    Very clever go at making the sock airer. You are quite amazing at what you are able to accomplish and it has been quite thrilling being able to see, although from a distance, the evolution of your dreams. ❀

  2. Nicole says:

    Hey Jessie, you guys are doing a great job getting set up for this life, you seem to be in a similar place to us. Our mama goat arrives in September!! I was just wondering if you had a link for instructions on making a plucker?? Thanks,

    • Hey Nic, How exciting your goat arrives soon. Which breed is she?
      I don’t have instructions for the plucker as I sort of just made it up as I went along but I bought the fingers off eBay (chicken plucker fingers or plucker fingers), a cap for poly pipe from the hardware store, a bolt that was nice and long but thin enough to go into the drill for powering and then 2 washers and 2 nylock nuts to lock it in place. I just wort of imitated the one I saw on youTube which of course I can’t find the link for anymore. But there are heaps and heaps of pluckers on youTube. You can buy the parts or kits for the large barrel ones on eBay from the USA too if that’s what you prefer. I will post more pictures of ours once it’s finished being used and is cleaned up.

      • Nicole says:

        Thanks so much Jessie I’ll check out youtube. Our goat is an Australian Miniature Goat. We are only on half an acre so needed a small breed πŸ™‚

        • We too have the half acre but Anna is penned and not able to forage or free range so well (she’s missing a few teeth is our lovely lady) but she’s been enjoying some walks on a leash around the garden and will, ne spring arrives and the leaves regrow, spend some time foraging in our hawthorn, poplar and pine thicket across our creek. πŸ™‚ As for Australian Miniatures, I’ve not heard of them. They sound gorgeous though. I look forward to photos when your lovely arrives.
          Have you read ‘Natural Goat Care’ by Pat Coleby? It was recommended to me by goat keeping friends and I’ve found it an informative and easy read. πŸ™‚ In fact, I’m about to go and bone up on midwifery caprine style. πŸ™‚

          • Nicole says:

            Ooo another recommendation for that book, my friend has it and loves it, too. I’m keeping my eye out for a secondhand copy. What breed is Anna? Is she noisy? It’s pretty exciting stuff, we can’t wait!!

            • She’s a British Alpine, usually a breed that can be a little noisy but are known for jumping which had us a little nervous but she has not jumped once, just darts quickly for open doors, attempting to be a houdini! lol She is also mindblowingly quiet. being in a semi suburban area we have endevoured to keep quiet animals – Muscovies often being called ‘quackless ducks’ and Miss Anna who is no louder than the ducks. By far the children and roosters are the noisiest beings here. πŸ˜‰
              I can’t recommend this book highly enough. It’s brilliant and we feed Anna as per what we’ve read in here. She gets the mineral supplementation Pat describes with copper, dolomite, seaweed meal, mineral block, sulphur and we have vitamin C on hand too for medicinal reasons. I couldn’t find a second hand copy on eBay or Gumtree so bought it new from book depository I think and it has been worth its weight already. Best of all, it’s written for complete newbies like me who have absolutely no idea about goat care. If you plan to hold out til you get a second hand copy, maybe see if the library has a copy or can get one in. It’s well and truly worth the read.

  3. Lynda says:

    You sure do have it all going on. Im sorry but i feel no sympathy for your roosters, they were mean (read randy) beastly boys to our little girls. I agree that plucking is the pits. Yuk. Hope the plucker works (got to come up with another name Jess). Great craft project as usual.

  4. Ross says:

    You are a murderer!

  5. narf77 says:

    I feel like I have been “gone” forever! A week chained to the rotoscoping master of media was enough for me. Steve and I both passed the unit and are footloose and fancy free for the weekend (I am sure our lecturer will have something else for us to slave over next week :(…) so for now I am trying to catch up with my RSS Feed Reader and with eliminating a lot of boards that I followed on Pinterest when I was a newbie and went nuts (nuts…the story of my life! πŸ˜‰ ). Looks like you are knitting up winter camoflage gear on your machine! Is Martin going shooting?!!! I am a vegan and I hold our roosters while Steve cuts off their heads. Ross is obviously a bit tetchy about what does and doesn’t constitute reality. Things die…sometimes they HAVE to die and if it is a choice between 5 crowing roosters and your neighbour jumping the fence with his shotgun and taking you out, it is probably wisest to choose the former of the 2 eventualities. I agree with Jess. Sod off Ross πŸ˜‰

    • Hmmm, it does look a bit like camo gear. Might work on Pandora but not sure we’ve got too much bright blue scrub around here in which to hide. πŸ˜‰
      As for our roosters, I appreciate your support Narf. I try to be respectful of others (hence no photos of the day) but it is hard when the courtesy is not returned. And wow, you hold them whilst they die. I salute you. We use a killing cone so our birds are contained but if I am assisting I hold their feet.

      • narf77 says:

        I figure I owe them that much…I hold them still and Steve chops their heads off with an axe. If Ross is still reading, might have been best to click “unfollow” if you didn’t want to read things like that πŸ˜‰

  6. narf77 says:

    Steve here do you dunk your roosters in hot boiling water,,,, (when dead) it makes plucking real easy me and fran dunk them and it takes us about 5 to 10 mins max to pluck .

    • Hey Steve. Yes we do dunk the birds but no way we’d get a pluck done by hand in 5-10 minutes! I am in awe at your plucking prowess if that’s how long it takes you.

      • narf77 says:

        Both Steve and I can pluck a bird in 5 – 10 minutes… just wondering why it takes you guys longer? Maybe our roosters give up their feathers more readily or it might be the kind of roosters that we have. Predominately Wyandotte so they might not have as many little downy feathers to deal with. Either way, after a dunk in the boiling briny they come out practically begging to drop their feathers around here.

        • Maybe the different breeds makes a difference. Maybe practice makes perfect but all I know is that we sucked at a quick pluck. lol
          We’ve also read that boiling water sin’t so good but hot water, sure. We usually use the water straight from the tap which is about 60C and what we’d read was the right temperature. One bird we had repeatedly dunked, before we learned that it’s a one off treatment, was as tough as old shoe leather and literally inedible. We had to make him into stock and the meat was canned for risotto. That is all we could do to make it edible. 😦 Still, I love my plucker. πŸ™‚

          • narf77 says:

            Boiling water works for us but I guess it’s different for everyone and your plucker certainly looks interesting! I think I would be rolling on the floor laughing every time I went near it so there wouldn’t be much plucking done πŸ˜‰

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