After months of not having any chook activity here, grieving the loss of our last flock after the devastating fox invasion and missing the sounds of the friendly clucking, we have taken a leap of faith and re-stocked the pen. The time felt right, we were ready to jump back in.
Five Rhode Island Reds at point of lay, bought at our local farmer's market from this reputable breeder.
They look extremely similar to Isa Browns (hybrids), although I was assured they were not. Having kept Isa Browns in the past and noticing several of their flaws, I was keen to veer towards purebreds this time around.
Paranoid about the security of the chook run (even though hubby had been over it, veggie group had been over it and I had been over it), I fashioned a door to enclose them into their 'bedroom' within the pen at night. During the day I have been letting them into the fully enclosed run for dust bathes and grain pecking.
For a couple of hours in the afternoon, if the weather is fine (that is, not foxy..ie - gloomy), they go into the fenced off raspberry patch, hence the netting of delicate seedlings in the previous post. The first time they entered the patch I lost them immediately to the undergrowth of the raspberries and cabbages. It is any chook's dream in there and goodness knows there is a lot of bug control to catch up on!
We have also invested in a new poultry feeder that will hopefully reduce the vermin numbers we have experienced in the past associated with keeping hens. One step onto the platform pushes back the barrier, allowing the hen access to the feed. The barrier shuts back into position when the bird hops off the platform. It only took two days for them to learn! (www.chooktred.com.au)
Wish me luck as we travel down this path again. I watch them with quiet happiness this time around, not the eager excitement of a novice. Being burned does that to a person. Nothing will replace our lost birds but hopefully in time, these new creatures will become part of our family, offering their eggs, manure and entertainment via quirky antics to our daily life.
Breathinig deeply. Be safe, little hens. Be safe. xx