Morning routine

Anna is settling in well and learning the routines of our life. She watches the door for her breakfast in the morning and when she sees me come out the look just intensifies. Then she follows me as I follow my feeding routine.

The routine starts by collecting the 3 different bowls of food from the back deck. Into the first and largest bowl goes some lucerne chaff. Anna loves lucerne and being in chaff form makes it easier to eat for her. One of the reasons she’s a little on the skinny side is that she has come a cropper with something hard at some time in her life and broken off the teeth on one side of her mouth. Foraging and chewing up tough plant stems isn’t easy for her with only one side of her mouth able to bite. So she loves the chaff as she can munch it down with ease. I then fill an old colander with some chook grains then finally a small round plastic take away dish with chick crumbles. Stacking these all up and then balancing on my way down the stairs I head for the greenhouse.

Excuse the toys and sundry all over the place - we're focusing more on the getting things done than the cleaning up.

Excuse the toys and sundry all over the place – we’re focusing more on the getting things done than the cleaning up.

Inside the greenhouse I have my grain sprouting set up. I also have a cheeky mouse who has resisted attempts to bury and drown him out. Next step is find a cat and Here’s hoping it’s a hungry or playful cat. I do NOT like feeding rodents. Anyway, I take a tray of sprouted grains and put half in Anna’s bowl with her chaff, close up the greenhouse and head to the chook pen gate. Can I still call it a chook pen with chooks, ducks AND a goat?

Anna at this point has been watching me in the greenhouse but then follows me at a prance up to the gate where she waits for her tucker. She knows already that I won’t feed her just anywhere, but only in her bowl inside the shed. Still, she waits eagerly, trotting in front of me much like a large dog with hooves, not trying to get to the food but desperate to be where it is. “Hey Anna. How you doing lovely lady? In the shed you go. Come on girl, out of my way. Into the shed. Thaaaat’s a girl, here, head out of your bowl til I tip in the food. I know you’re hungry but out f the way. Here it comes.” Yes, I keep up the chatter as I visit with my lady. πŸ™‚ Once she’s chowing down I head into the now fortified chooks side of the shed to tip in their grain. Mandy greeted me very loudly this morning with a “Hey lady, hurry up there. I’m STARVING hungry as that mean old goat keeps stealing our food. I hope you’ve sorted it this time already!” To which I reply with a “Hey Miss Mandy. Has mean old Anna eaten all your food again? Sorry lovely. Here you go. I’m sorting it out for you at the moment but here’s hoping the newly locked door stops her in her tracks.” A quick look for eggs, a release of the roosters and then back out of the chooks shed. We bar the roosters into a nesting box each at night so they can’t arch those long necks to wake us at the 2-hours-before-the-crack-of-dawn that they consider dawn. They still manage to crow but nowhere near as much or as loudly. The only problem is we have the room to lock 4 in and we have 5-6 crowing roos.

We’re also looking at a different feeder for our various fowl as we’re wasting a lot and we also want to stop the goats from accessing it. Yes, goats. I’m planning for the future when Anna has babies. πŸ™‚ I’ve started off following up inspiration from Gavin from Greening of Gavin fame. He has a new chook feeder that is working a treat for him although won’t work so well with our ducks but the inspiration has helped immensely. Thanks Gav. πŸ™‚

My wonderfully green veggie gardens in the background

My wonderfully green veggie gardens in the background

Once the chooks and duck are done I head out with the last and smallest bowl for Miss Blackie and her chicks. If I fed her first I would be mobbed by hungry creatures clamouring for their food so she and her babies wait until last. I tip in their food, check that their waterer has enough water for the day, pat anything I can reach or catch and then close their pen back up to keep them safe and to keep Anna away from their food. Being crumbled pellets it’s really not good for Anna at all so it’s vitally important she can’t reach it.

Animals fed, I bemoan the cold (it was 2 degrees out there in fairly thick fog with frost and dew earlier this morning) before heading back inside via the feed bins to deposit the various feed carrying bowls and containers ready for tomorrows run (and Anna’s dinner run too). As much as it is insanely cold I don’t mind the morning feed run. It’s quieter and more peaceful than the same run required inside I can tell you. πŸ˜‰

I feel distinctly farmer-like in my gumboots and feeding our livestock, but a little less so when I consider that I’m in my oh-so-sexy knitted trousers (hey, they’re warm), a woolen jumper and crocheted hat. It’s a good look but it is warm so I don’t care. πŸ˜€ If it’s not raining or nothing is pressing inside I also stop and just stand and soak in the glory of the morning. The sun was just over the hill and sending light-sabres of gold through the trees as I stood, breathing in the clean (but icy) air this morning. It’s pretty much a perfect winters day. πŸ™‚

Winter sun seems so special. I can see the smoke from the wood-fire and the dust motes dancing in those beams as I type.

Winter sun seems so special. I can see the smoke from the wood-fire and the dust motes dancing in those beams as I type.

The best bit of all though? Miss Anna is becoming more and more comfortable with me. She’s a bit antsy about me stroking and touching her all over at the moment but gets a little more comfortable every single day which is great. Slowly slowly is the motto here, patience is something that I am generally not soΒ never good at so it’s a great learning experience for me too. πŸ™‚

What a fowl day

I’ve had a completely fowl kind of day. πŸ˜‰ It’s been foul at times too but generally it’s been wonderful. The days started with my, big bum up in the air, chasing 9 silver-grey doring chicks around the garden to catch them and put them in our “dog” carry box to take them up to Ballan. THEN I spent the next few minutes in exactly the same pose boxing up our 3 Pekin Bantams. Following that I repeated the process fed, dressed and loaded 3 children into the car. We arrived at Ballan a little after 9, a minor miracle there! Jasper was as sweet as pie when we introduced the chooks to their new home. “Welcome to Balland little chickens. This is your new home, the Balland house. It’s very nice here”. Very sweet! He then let them out and promptly chased them around the pen. *sigh*

After unloading the chooks we loaded back into the car to go pick up our new ducklings. We were undecided between 3 girls, 1 older and 2 younger or a drake and 2 younger girls.Β I’ve learned several things today too. Here’s the list of things I’ve learned.

1. Ducks are cuter than chickens. Ok, you may not all agree but I think that 6 week old ducks vs 6 week old chicks the ducks will win hands down. Those ridiculous little wings and the fluff all over them! Too cute.

2. Duck poo STINKS! Ok so chicken poo isn’t exactly a fragrant rose one wants to sniff but duck poo stinks a LOT worse.

3. Ducks have surprisingly sharp claws. I’d never thought about it but they’re not just all soft webbing. They’ve got sharp claws, quite remniscent of those thorns one finds on new growth on rose bushes. Ouch.

4. Most important lesson of all… NEVER name something you are planning to eat! 😦 Yes, our ducks were purchased for the table, however, Martin being unsure if he could actually kill a duck or not, we purchased 3 girls just in case. However, it was me that committed the unforgivable (as far as animals raised for meat at least) crime- I named the 2 younger ducklings. So, let me introduce you to Milly and Molly who will no longer be on the menu.

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Milly is taking a bath in her drinking water and Molly is stretching her wings.

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They’ve been named after the childrens TV show characters Milly, aΒ 7-year-old girl of dark skin and hair and Molly, aΒ 7-year-old girl of light skin and bright blonde-orange hair (taken from here).

Here are some other photos from the day.

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Milly and Molly’s older sister, as yet unnamed.

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A temporary set up of a pond for the ducks. So far the ducks are swimming in their drinking water and the chooks are drinking from the swimming water. Go figure. The tyres will be filled with oil and stacked to provide access to the water as well as somewhere to get down and dusty.

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Nesting boxes, still a little incomplete, with a perch on top. i need to add a lip to the front of the boxes to prevent egg spillage and a ramp up to the perching area for the pekins. Nearly there.

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They avoided the scattered food, much preferring to scratch around for bugs.

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Still need to attach the roofing iron and guttering to get the water tank running but in the meantime they are in and happy.

Tomorrow I am off to Hoppers Crossing to pick up 10 more silver-grey Dorking chicks, all only a few days old. I had to buy an incandescent globe to use for heating their brooder box tonight and I was joyfully disappointed. Looks like the light bulb really has gone on of eco savings and there was a selection of maybe 9 different incandescents available – 5 different colours and 4 different flame shaped bulbs (2 screw in, 2 bayonette, each in different wattages). They’ve been replaced with halogen globes. They are still using a relatively high amount of power, at least in comparison to LED or CFL’s but I bought a 53w halogen bulb which is the equivalent of a 70w incandescent bulb. Stuck in my craw to buy it but I need the heat output for the baby chicks. Seems there is at least one more negative against LED’s. Well, if you raise chicks it is. Can’t wait to get them home. Pics most definitely to come.