{building a menagerie}

Ever since we first bought our property, there has been an ongoing discussion about the various critters we would like to populate it with. In fact, the discussion began long before that, when we first seriously floated the idea of buying a place out of town with a view to having space for the kids and some animals and a rather extensive veggie patch.

Of course, life is never as simple just dreaming things into existence. Buying our place in the middle of a drought meant there wasn’t a whole lot of feed around, and the little we had was fading by the day. The dams were empty, and there was very little prospect of that changing in the near future. So the discussions remained just that. We instead focused our efforts on getting the veggie gardens up and running. Then, at the beginning of the year, a whole lot changed – not the least of which was it finally started raining again.

With the rains, of course, came the restocking rush, and stock prices started rising rapidly. We weren’t overly in a hurry ourselves, and so instead decided to let the pastures rest a while and focus on weed control – so many weeds showed up after those first rains – and building the gardens, orchards and vineyards. We also figured we had room for a couple of small critters in our lives, and so began the building of the chook pen.

Of course, doing things the easy way would be boring, so we also thought instead of buying some chicks like a normal person, we might go the DIY route. Our first attempt at incubating eggs was a bit of a fail, so we splurged on a proper automated incubator, and…

…CHICKENS!! Our first batch yielded us 5 chicks from 12 eggs. Sadly, Captain Eggmerica passed away at 3 weeks old, leaving us with four Australorps – Cluck Kent (in the lego truck, bottom left), Eggmelia Eggheart, Shreg, and The Gentleman Of The Run, Huckus. Bouyed by our success, we went for round two, and ended up with 8 chicks from the 12 eggs we started with. Two were weak and unwell at hatching, and despite some pretty intensive nursing and coddling, we were unable to save them.

Our current flock, then, is one rooster and three hens heading towards three months old, and what we think is another rooster and five hens that are 6 weeks olds. We also have another dozen eggs in the incubator that are due for candling this weekend. Mr11, the Chook Whisperer, is in heaven with so many feathery friends, and the chooks are learning to be very tame and patient with all the cuddling. The next few weeks are going to be very exciting as we welcome another clutch of babies, and then hopefully bounce straight from that to the first eggs from our big ladies.

Plans for the rest of the menagerie continue to chug along in the background. Miss9 is campaigning hard for a horse. We are keeping half an eye out for a house cow. Next in the incubator is hopefully some duck eggs to DIY ourselves a little gaggle of duckies. Much of it will take time and work and patience, of course, but it is fun in the meantime to dream of a farm full of furry and feathered friends.