You know? For free range chickens those d@mn birds spend a lot of time in the chook house!
You let them out in the morning, they can’t get out of the chook house fast enough!
But heaven help you if you don’t have the bucket of Hormone and Anti-biotic free chicken food! Scraps just won’t do! Green grass, yellow grass, brown grass, clover, thistles, various weeds, and suckering plums…………..just won’t do! They want their processed food, and they want it NOW!
They will follow me up the hill (towards the kelpie’s who are standing on back legs looking over the fence, because they love those birds…..just a different sort of love from mine!) Frank has been known to walk back and forth along the shadecloth fence, driving the kelpies mad, because Mum didn’t give us any chook food!
It’s not even organic! Well, there isn’t Organic and hormone and anti-biotic free chook food so we just have to do the best we can 🙁
But yes, there they are. Frank saying – yes girls, go forth and forage, off you go! He’s the last to go out into the wild grassy yonder. He was well named! Always sending Hotlips, Shirley and Laverne out in front and him bringing up the rear! The only time he looked brave was along the shadecloth fence, and that’s only because he coudn’t see the kelpie’s. Frank may not be the bravest bird, or it may be that he feels he’s the most photogenic and therefore, needs to be in the foreground of the photo!
But yes, you let the chooks out in the morning. Give them their healthy chicken feed. Then watch them scratching around the grass and dirt. I’ve taken to throwing their feed into the chook forest, to encourage the b*ggers to go further afield! They now have little tunnels thru the chook forest, so you can see in there.
When you come down in the middle of the day, to give them some scraps, or to clean out their coop and put some more hay in for them, or change their water…….you look into the chook forest. Nothing. You look around the top of the gully. Nothing. But you can hear them?
Yep, that’s right. The free range birds are not in the trees, the grass, the gully. They’re in their flippin’ chook house on their chook roosts. Looking at you looking for them! It’s too hot, Mum. It’s too wet, Mum. It’s too windy, Mum. I’m thinking of renaming them: The Princess Chooks!
Of a night time, down you go to lock them up. And there they are in the chook house. I do wonder if free range is actually a chooky idea, or a human one. Do they run back into the coop as soon as I leave, saying to each other ‘TG she’s gone and we can go back home?’
Of course, I’m not referring to them as hens. And Frank was probably not saying ‘Go Forth and Forage, Girls.’
Why not? Because Frank was probably aware much sooner than me, that Margy and Laverne were actually roosters! Someone suggested that Margy should be renamed ‘Clinger,’ and that would probably have worked. Except we already had Frank.
I let them out one morning and out came Margy and I thought OMG – you’re MASSIVE! Oh, and you’re a rooster to boot!
Laverne was pretty feisty, and starting to just show the Roosterish looks! So, here we have not 3 hens and a Rooster! No, we have 3 Roosters and a Hen! Not good odds for poor Shirl.
So I locked two roosters out. One rooster in the 2nd coop. The poor hen I locked in, to give her a break!
That evening I was deciding what to do, as Frank and Laverne were going at it. I didn’t want any bloodshed. We had bought the chooks on the understanding that if they didn’t turn out to be hens we could swap them. But what to do in the meantime? I hardly liked to leave one out overnight to see if the fox would solve the problem.
So I caught Laverne, and started walking around the farm with the boy Teenager, discussing why we couldn’t keep the chook in my laundry overnight. Why we couldn’t keep it in the trailer we’d borrowed, but had no top on it. How we couldn’t find a large box to put it in. The final decision was to put Laverne in the back of my new ute. Yes, the NEW ute, because it has a canopy. Water was put in. The bottom half of the cat box with something soft, for it to sleep in. And shut the canopy. You should have seen the dogs the next day when the rooster started crowing in the back of the ute!
So then, I had to go down and get back into the tree. Because when we took Laverne away, Frank (being still locked out of Shirley’s place, got up in the tree. Luckily they seem to be easy to catch in trees. So I put Frank away.
Next morning tho………I put some gloves on this morning, because my hands were scratched up. Into the back of the ute I climbed. Put the cat box together, tipped the water out. Shut the canopy door again. And proceeded to try and catch a rooster whilst lying down in the back. Not easy. And all the while there are two horses with their noses pressed up against the back window – sticky beaks!
Scratched and bleeding arms now. But I got her, I mean him, into the box. Drink of water. Phone the chook lady to say I’m running late. Go down to catch Margy and put her/him, into the dirty laundry basket, since I’m not happy to put that large OMG Margy into a small cat box with Laverne, not even for a 20 min drive.
Have you ever looked a LARGE Rhode Island Red Rooster in the eye and thought about catching it? Bluddy scary I tell you!
I’ll also tell you that a padded flannelette jacket as well as gloves would have been a good start. I’m not ruling out mowing goggles either next time, since the B*ggers fly staight up and past your face! It wasn’t fun, and I was sweating when I finished although I wasn’t wearing the padded flannelette, I was dripping with blood, but I clot well, so it’s all good.
So a quick run into town to pick up two new little hens (we hope.) And release the two cross dressers to their old owners.
These are the two new ones. Much smaller than Shirl. And very, very nervous in the beginning. Which is why I didn’t get a photo till they’d been with us a couple of weeks. These are The Tic Tacs. As we can’t tell them apart and they are little.
Margy I believe had a new home before the end of the day. Where she, I mean he, rules the roost.
Laverne looked like he had a couple of possible offers by the next day. They were awesome looking roosters! Certainly a credit to their breeders. But I’ll be keeping a closer eye on the Tic Tacs and if they don’t prove they are laying and look they have attitude they’re going back before they get MASSIVE!
The blood clotted almost immediately, so I was able to go to the Teen Girls Award Day and then to work, without a trip to ED. The scars are almost healed now. I’ll definately be getting my gear on before I go Rooster Wrangling next time.
And here’s Shirley, the real egg layer of the henhouse! Can’t believe Shirl was doing all the laying and Margy getting all the credit!