Thursday, 19 June 2014

Chicken Tree Loppers Inc.

Robert: they cut the banana tree down
Me: was it that badly damaged? (thinking Robert's parents had over reacted about the chickens eating the banana tree) 
Robert: no. The chickens cut it down. 

He then sent me these pictures. 

They gnawed through a tree enough for it to fall over! That's an impressive combination of boredom and dedication. The core of plantain trees are actually edible by people too, Robert said it smelt amazing when he ripped the remains out of the coop. 

I love chickens, I couldn't ask for more hilarious pets. I bet they just stood around looking surprised after it happened.

Wednesday, 18 June 2014


We left the chickens under the supervision of the in-laws and went on a two night mini break to Hobart for the weekend. I was in desperate need of a break. Work has been awful, and my overall mood has suffered. The holiday was the exactly what I needed to recharge.

We flew into chilly Hobart at 10am and made our way to Moto Vecchia. We finally got to check out the cafe, it looked amazing. We had some drinks and a quick catch up with Mel. She very generously lent us her car so we could go be tourists until the end of the work day. We went somewhere new, which on our 5th trip to Hobart (my 6th to Tasmania) was an achievement. We went to Fern Tree, had some surprisingly nice typical pub food for lunch at the tavern, then started the short bush walk to Silver Falls. The walk was lovely, but the falls weren't overly impressive at about 4 metres tall.


That night we went to The Winston for dinner for some American style bar food. We shared some southern style wings and a pulled pork burger. The wings were excellent, though they might have needed a little more salt. The burger actually needed less meat on it, haha! The coleslaw was exceptional, we shall be trying to replicate that at home for sure.

Saturday morning we naturally went to Salamanca Markets. We had gypsy rolls again, quickly followed by some salmon sausages which were amazing! We shall definitely be ordering some online. We bought yet more hand carved wooden chopsticks (because apparently two people need at least 12 pairs of chopsticks), and a gorgeous wooden tea light holder which will look fantastic when we redecorate the living room.

Then we went to Lark Distillery and sampled some delicious whiskey before lunch. Then walked over to Grape for a cider and a mind-blowingly awesome soft shell crab salad. We wrote down all the ingredients we could identify and will be making that very shortly. Then to Jack Greene (about three doors down) for beer & lunch part two (chilli lime prawns: perfectly cooked, battered & flavoured).

Lark Distillery whiskey tasting tray

The amazing soft shell crab & sheep haloumi salad

Cider connoisseurs
Mel & Mitch picked us up and we drove out to the Willie Smith Apple Shed for more cider, this time next to a fire. The scenery on the drive was beautiful, and the venue itself was cozily rustic. Then back to their place for pizza. I am so jealous that we don't live near a pizza place like that.

Sunday was pretty lazy. A spot of pizza for breakfast - personal note: always oven leftover pizza rather than microwave it; followed by a trip to the Mt Nelson Station cafe for scones. They took 50 minutes to bring our order out, which was completely unacceptable, and we ended up being a bit late to the airport, but still in time to check in.

View from Mt Nelson

I think the highlight of my day Sunday was when I walked out of the garage door and Lumi was about to jump up to the roost, she looked over at me, and jumped down and sprinted to the front of the enclosure, closely followed by the other two girls who were already in bed. I think they missed us :). I know I missed them.

Monday, 9 June 2014

Lumi is feeling better

I spent a lot of time with the girls over the long weekend, trying to pay a lot of attention to Lumi's breathing and sneezing. She doesn't seem to be gurgling anymore which is a huge relief, and she is definitely sneezing less frequently, I'd say she's back to her normal amount. She's always sneezed more than any other chicken though. She's talking a bit more, the silent days really freaked me out, though she's still not back to normal yet.

I'm so relieved the liquid anti-inflammatories are finished, Lumi hated the syringe. Now we just need to administer one large tablet and a quarter of tablet, which she doesn't seem to hate quite as much. Grabbing her twice is better than 3 times.

She's starting to be affectionate, not just tolerant of our pats, which is quite exciting. As soon as I step into the enclosure she'll run up and start weaving against my legs as I try and walk, if she's not busy eating grass that is. It's so cute.

She is not tolerant of being locked in the coop all day, and ate a fist sized chunk of the banana tree in retaliatiom

We noticed this weekend just how highly strung Greta is. She was standing on Robert eating seeds and was trembling. I don't know how we haven't noticed this before, but now that we're looking for it, she shakes a lot when we're nearby. She runs up to us, stands next to us, or on us (all voluntarily) and is just trembling, it's incredibly strange.

Thursday, 5 June 2014

First vet trip, plus frolicking

Lumi did really well at the vet yesterday, she was far less of a handful than Agnes & Ripley ever were. She wasn't too scared being away from the other two, who apparently cried out the entire time we were gone with Lumi.

When it was just A&R, the other always came to keep the sick one company, but it just seemed ridiculous to bring three chickens to the vet when only one was sick. We thought leaving two behind would keep them calm, and that the sick chicken would be kept company by us, problem solved. Apparently not. Maybe they'll be calmer when we go next Thursday. I must say that if she had to get sick, I couldn't be gladder it was after she trusted us, I can't even imagine how horrific it would have been if it was while she still didn't like us.

The vet didn't find anything particularly worrying, but respiratory problems in birds can escalate quickly. She'll be on one week of antibiotics and a few days of anti-inflammatories to make sure nothing gets caught in her airway. If this doesn't work then they might try and put a probe down her throat to see what's going on, I really, really hope it doesn't come to that.

On a happier note, we let all the chickens out into the main yard for a supervised adventure yesterday morning. Lumi had crawled under the mesh before we'd even finished raising it. Harriet scurried under it once it was propped up, it was her first adventure outside the enclosure! She can't jump over the mesh like the other two can. Greta required seeds to bribe her under the mesh, and she didn't stop making her weird noise the entire time she was out, not sure why she was so wary, she's escaped many times before. Over half an hour they romped through the grass & clover and eventually onto the herbs, then they had to go back. Lumi spent the rest of the afternoon jumping over, and wriggling under the mesh. Greta jumped over on the last escape too. They are quite the handful.

 I noticed Lumi outside (for about the fourth time) and went outside, picked her up, carried her through the shed and put her down. Though what I didn't realise what that I'd put her down right next to her escape point because within 1 second of touching the ground she was already worming her way under the fence again. I lost it, it was hilariously cute. We then pinned that section down too.

I just don't understand why they can't free range all the time. The enclosure isn't working, they have almost destroyed the grass in that area, and they annihilated the herb garden within the first two weeks. It would be much easier to fence off the special plants and vegetable garden like before. Then the chickens could do whatever they like, Robert's parents wouldn't get upset and yell at us about the chickens escaping, and we wouldn't have to run outside and "fix" the "problem". Everyone would be happy. The current situation is dumb.

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

First illness

Lumi chicken has been sneezing for a few weeks now, a bit more regularly than what would be considered 'normal'. Today she has apparently upgraded to sounding a little gurgly when breathing. However she is still running around and being as greedy and hungry as normal, and had even jumped the fence four times by 9am. No discharge from beak or nose, not lethargic, nor any normal bad sign. Robert called the vet to make an appointment, who upon hearing all of the above said it doesn't sound serious, but it'd be best to bring her in just in case. So now she has an appointment tomorrow afternoon.

Naturally, I am horrendously scarred from the last two vet trips. This has brought up all the horrible memories from 7 months ago. I'm scared, and panicky for no sensible reason (since she is most likely fine or only in need of a course of antibiotics). Most of all, this rush of feelings has just made me sadder than normal, especially after almost no sleep last night. I miss them so much, every day.

I'm sure Lumi will be fine, not that that knowledge helps dull the worry.

Monday, 2 June 2014

More eggs

I looked at Greta on Saturday morning and said to Robert, "that looks like an 'I've got an egg' walk", and sure enough, half an hour later the 'where shall I lay process' started. We'd put the fake egg back into the nesting box to see if we could convince Lumi she'd rather lay in the box rather than on the ground, but it turned out really useful for Greta.

She was in and out of the two boxes, and was piling up straw on her back like a champ. This is apparently some sort of genetically triggered behaviour that humans are not supposed to understand. She eventually, with a lot less drama than Lumi created, pooped out a stark white egg.

y u do dis?
The best part is that after watching Greta lay in the nesting box, Lumi has laid all eggs since in the nesting box.

Greta had quite the audience for the intial prepping, though we left her alone for the actual egg laying. When she first started in the smaller right box she kept shuffling around and kicking the fake egg out of the way, I thought maybe it was uncomfortable for her. She let me reach into the box and take the fake egg out from under her. I was so surprised, I kept expecting her to go nuts about my proximity. I moved the egg into the right side of the large box. Which is where she moved to immediately after I moved the egg. Clearly I don't know anything about egg laying requirements.

Greta has lost all inhibitors about jumping up on us for treats. She is all over us almost as much as Lumi. I don't believe it's possible for any chicken to be more vigorous in reaching for treats than Lumi, she is ruthless. I think eventually I'll be able to convince Greta to jump on my arm, though Lumi doesn't seem like much of a jumper.