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Archive for January, 2014|Monthly archive page

Summer Chick-a-Dees

In Non-Fiction, Poultry on January 19, 2014 at 7:50 am

When the warmer months came, one-by-one some of my hens began acting a little out of character. They no longer foraged and laid eggs for me to collect. Instead they’d sit on their eggs— brooding!

They weren’t the only ones… the ducks were at it too, but sadly the ducks don’t have a drake yet and so their eggs definitely weren’t fertile. When we found the whereabouts of a nest where one of the ducks were, we had to take them away and destroy the nest much to the disappointment of the Muscovy duck who sulked for the next week—wondering around aimlessly, not knowing what to do with herself.

One of the light Sussex hens had successfully hatched out one of her own eggs – the only one that was fertile, which produced Georgie who appeared in another blog post and I’m pleased to report it is a girl – phew! Another egg layer to add to the flock… she is now a 17 week old pullet, but it won’t be long before she’s a hen! As she grew, her markings became very interesting as she’s a cross breed, and her appearance is much the same as a Plymouth barred rock, therefore we suspect the daddy rooster ‘Ozzy’ who is also a cross, has the barred rock gene.

20140117_114738 Georgie

Next… the Orpington became broody, known as ‘Miss’ Orpington, but sadly she had no fertile eggs and her efforts of sitting for 21 days on a nest failed. I did feel sorry for her. Meanwhile the other light Sussex hen was brooding, so I decided to buy some fertile eggs on the Internet from a local breeder. I wanted a heavy breed and I came across the Dorking.

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The Dorking is one of the most ancient of all domesticated races of poultry. It was brought to Great Britain by the Romans with Julius Caesar, but was known and described by the Roman writer Columella long before it became a popular breed in England. He spoke of the hens as being ‘square framed, large and broad breasted, with big heads and small upright combs,’ adding ‘the purest breeds are five clawed’-

Source: http://dorkingbreedersclub.webs.com/generalcharacteristics.htm

Miss Orpington was not happy and continued to brood even though I’d removed her from the nest and her eggs were gone. 20140117_114655

I collected the Dorking eggs and popped some under both the brooding hens and twenty-one days later, nine magnificently hatched out. They were very cute. One more did hatch but didn’t make it and the remaining weren’t fertile. The journey of raising chicks began, and Mr C. made a run— keeping them safe alongside their mums and I could keep a close eye on their development and their mother’s behaviour.

IMG_4498 A few days old

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Unfortunately, the light Sussex mother hen appeared to have lost patience after a couple of weeks and attacked one of her chicks. I think we found it just in time, another half an hour and I may have found a dead chick. She could very well have turned on another one, because there was another chick with some blood marks on its face. When I found the little chick, it looked like it had been pinned to the ground and its head had been pecked that much it was covered in blood and there was no feathers left. Its tail end was the same and mother hen had blood all over her beak. No predators could get in to the enclosure; it had to be her… she was taken away from them. Horrible mum!

Over the following weeks the three Muscovy ducks all went broody for the second time, the white one being the hardest to knock off the brood. I lifted her off her nest (wearing gloves as she’d bite incessantly) for at least fourteen days consecutively and she wasn’t even sitting on her own eggs, she was stealing hen’s eggs! The other female was nesting underneath our daughter’s sleep-out. It had taken a couple of weeks to find out where she was. This had given her time to lay a good sized latch of eggs that I then had to rake out from under the sleep-out because the space was so tight I couldn’t even look underneath it. However, she’d managed to squeeze herself under there. One day when she was bustling around the chook area, quickly feeding and bathing herself as broody ducks do – ‘in a hurry’— I did the deed of taking her eggs. Poor Jemima! Next season they will be able to have ducklings when they get their new man.

The Dorking chicks could be sexed pretty early and there are four boys and five girls. A really good result as it’s the females for eggs I really need. I will sell three of the boys if I can, but if they don’t sell we may keep them as meat birds. This area is a bit shady for me though, as we’ve culled and dressed one rooster and it was done quickly and humanely. But I’m not sure if I could do it again let alone with chicks I’ve raised. I had bought the rooster we culled with three hens from another poultry keeper, but he turned out to be very aggressive and I just couldn’t keep him or give him to anyone else. He’d attacked me twice and two times was enough. He was a big bird. I’m not tall but he came up past my knees! Anyhow he’s in the freezer now, but not very meaty so it will be a curry!

The chicks are now seven weeks old and I’ve moved them to their own enclosure with more room to rummage. They are completely different visually compared to when they were born and I’m so pleased they’re all doing so well and are healthy. Even the attacked boy is doing well, aka ‘baldy’ – his feathers are growing back and before long I won’t even know which one he is. Picture (below) of the poor wee fella and his injuries.

1387574541719IMG_4583 Baldy after a few days recovery back with his flock

I’ve considered putting a ring on his leg so I know who’baldy is; because I nursed him through his recovery – comforting him and smearing his head with Vaseline twice a day, every day for a week, but I decided it’s best that I don’t know who he is if there’s a possibility I won’t be keeping them.

IMG_4582 Boy (Cockeral) 7 wks old

20140117_114857 Girl (Pullet) 7 wks old

 

The small poultry farm has grown and it’s thriving!

 

 

 

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Living Room Renovation: Part Two

In Non-Fiction, Renovating/DIY on January 15, 2014 at 7:16 am

The Furniture

The room was used as storage for over two years and after all the building works and decoration was complete, I asked myself: What furniture do I put in here? A new sofa was ordered and it was the only piece of furniture allowed in the budget for this room. Therefore I decided to create ‘something’ from two old pieces of furniture we already owned; given to us at least ten (or more years) previously by both of our mothers. One piece: an oak corner unit, the other an oak unit kind of like a side board. I didn’t want all the furniture in the living room to be dark wood— like the existing furniture that would be moving in there.  I opted for transforming these inherited units into white pieces… shabby chic style, although I don’t think there are many rules about shabby chic. I’ve seen different varieties and it’s a personal choice of how shabby you want it to look as well as colour etc.

With the first piece: I removed the glass doors, kept the original hinges and handles on the lower cupboard, sanded it down with an electric sander using medium coarse sandpaper. I manually sanded any delicate areas, such as corners and edges. Then I filled the holes where the hinges for the glass doors used to be with wood filler and sanded when it had set. I painted the entire unit with four coats of matt white undercoat, sanding in between layers. When the paint had been dry for approximately 24 hours, I re-fitted the lower doors and used fine sandpaper to gently distress the areas where natural wear may occur, and also where I felt it needed it— to achieve the sought after effect. I used a screwdriver to carve out the paint from the objects engraved at the top of the unit. When I was finished I gave it a rub down with a soft cloth and furniture polish.

Et Voila!

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IMG_4599 - Copy

I did exactly the same thing with the corner unit. I removed the glass door
to expose the shelves; sanded the unit inside and out and then applied four
coats of matt white undercoat, with light sanding in between layers. When the
painting was complete I used fine sandpaper to give a distressed looked to the
edges and corners. Unfortunately, I forgot to take a photo of this piece before
I started so I only have an old photo that I have cropped and enlarged, which
was when it was stored in the living room before renovation.

July 2011 055 - Copy

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Curtains, Poles & Lighting

The last thing to do after the carpet was fitted and the furniture went in was to dress the windows – the new windows!

With the budget pretty much consumed with building alterations—especially the cost of double glazed windows here in NZ—I knew that I needed to make careful considerations when dressing them. The most frugal option would most likely have been to buy fabric and make blinds for all the windows, hence the lesser amount of fabric needed for blinds. Then again,  I wanted curtains for the main window; therefore buying material to make curtains for such a large window wouldn’t be cost effective, and having them made for me in NZ, UK or  Australia, wouldn’t be either.

My research continued. I considered buying ready-made curtains in NZ, but preferred the UK choice on the Internet and they were not much different in price. I also opted for the light fittings from a UK store (they cost much less to buy in England).

Luckily the fabric that I was keen on from one store in their made-to-measure outlet was available as a readymade curtain in another. Obviously they needed to be of a certain colour; however I needed them to be bold! I bought a second pair of curtains to use as fabric to make two roman blinds for the smaller windows, but sadly I haven’t finished them due to lack of time recently. I can add this to the page at a later date! Nevertheless the large window is dressed with the curtains and voile panels to diffuse the light. This gives the room options— the voiles can be closed or open depending on preference and weather. In order to hang them behind the curtain I needed a double pole, which I eventually found from a company in the North Island.

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Lighting – This was easy and I purchased the main light fittings from the UK at sale price and my mum posted them over to me using a courier service she has used before to send me things and they are reasonable with their postage fee. I definitely saved money doing it this way, even with paying for postage. The wall lights were inexpensive from the local DIY store and have a heritage look. The lamps threw some green in to the room and I really liked them! The buy-one-get-the-other-lamp-free was a huge part in the ‘like’.

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After all our hard work it was a deservingly momentous and satisfying time moving in to our new living room!

July 2011 056July 2011 055 BEFORE (JUNE 2011)

IMG_4598IMG_4595 AFTER (SEPT 2013)

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THE END.