Sunday, January 8, 2023

S&C: When Balancing Plates Fall


Three peachicks next to their mom.

I've come to realize that I picked a very, very poor time of year to attempt to return to blogging. I failed to account for the sheer amount of mental and physical effort that my newfound Hen Mother role would take.

At the end of November, Scruffy disappeared. We ended up finding her a couple of weeks later, brooding over a large clutch of eggs in the shed. After some discussion, we decided to let her finish being broody on the eggs. It would be quicker than trying to break her of her broodiness.

Scruff fluffing up at Christmasboi (top).

On December 16/17, ten Little Scruffles (what we've been calling Scruffy's babies) hatched. They began hatching the night of the 16th, and by the evening of the 17th they were done and I swooped in and relocated them to a secure coop. During their relocation, I let them spend some time on the porch with us while we chopped wood for the fire.

This particular peacock has given us a lot of trouble. He became obsessed with his reflection in the sliding glass door, attacking it until he bled all over the glass. We had to put various lawn furniture in front of the door while we worked out some way to break up the reflection or keep him scared off.

In the end, we slapped a metal peacock statue we had on a basic wooden base and placed it over the single bit of noticeable glass. You can even see the peacock's most recent masterpiece on the glass in this picture. 

I love peafowl, but this time of year always makes me question the various claims about peafowl intelligence. I see evidence of this intelligence, but I also see how single-minded the males can get during mating season. They will kill themselves and destroy property over their own reflection. They've been known to kill innocent victims while in the heat of, for lack of better words, arousal. The peacock from the picture above earned the name Half Tail after I, in a panicked hurry, yanked him by his tail to get him to drop a young chick he had dangling in his beak. 

This particular phenomenon isn't restricted to Half Tail. Each of the other peacocks have had their own instances of locking in on the wrong thing while performing a mating dance. I have a theory about why this happens, but I'm wary of adding to the veritable pile of unproven hearsay in poultry circles without more scientific proof than 'a hunch' or 'my personal knowledge and experience of a single, isolated population of peafowl'. In any case, there is a reason why it is not recommended to keep peafowl alongside certain other animals. Unfortunately for us, these guys are our wild permanent resident peafowl and we've had to figure out how to best facilitate a peaceful coexistence from a very handicapped starting point. 

Here is a blurry, poorly lit photo of the single piece of Christmas decoration I managed to put up. The Christmas season and festive feeling never really happened for me this year. It wasn't for lack of trying; I cleaned in preparation and tidied up the areas I knew I would want to put decorations, then brought over two bins of decorations from the office shed. Nothing beyond this table runner got pulled out in the end. I had already been struggling with finding my holiday cheer, but events on the Funny Farm and beyond managed to completely kill any festivities left in my heart through the holidays and beyond.

In short, we had a mite infestation, influx (and subsequent dying off via swamp hen predation) of peachicks, fowl pox, and childhood dog death. The flock is still recovering, and I'm still in High Alert Mode 24/7 for any untoward sounds coming from the flock.

Peachick snuggles.

I had to make a hard decision to step away from something I had been looking forward to for nearly a year: raising peachicks. The timing between when I had an opportunity to take in peachicks and the rest of the flock's woes put me at my emotional breaking point.

Kookie got hit particularly hard by fowl pox, and there was a point where I was worried she would lose her eye. We believe she's beyond the worst of it now, but we both have been keeping an extra close eye on her. Partner and I did what we could with every chicken we could when we saw particularly worrying pox wounds, but we still lost several.  

Crumble and other young roosters on alert while the hens forage.

Earlier this week my mom let me know that they had made the decision that it was Thor's time. I don't think any of us found this surprising, as he had been getting worse for a while, but it still sucked. When I last left the States, I knew there was a possibility that I would not get a chance to visit again before either or both of my childhood dogs died. This was before the pandemic. I haven't been home in three and a half years due to it.

Writing out this post and catching up on my UO blog has been my way to distract myself from everything. I've been taking the past few days to blast music and gave myself permission to ignore a few household duties so I could have a break. I still ended up doing most of them, but there's a pile of dirty laundry staring at me from the dirty clothes hamper that's begging for attention.

I don't want to leave off on a bad note, but I've been typing for the past couple of hours and if I don't finish now I'll end up forgetting to eat dinner. Just know that even though there was a lot of sad content, I'm doing very well overall. Things are looking up with the flock and I've been able to take a break from some of the daily chicken keeping duties since Partner has stepped in to help.

Here's hoping your corner of the world has been much more joyful!

Friday, November 25, 2022

S&C: Thanksgiving Catch Up

Thursday the 3rd was an entertaining day. Partner left early for some work he had to do around 6:30, leaving me to feed and release the flock on my own. This isn't a problem, and I've done it before many times, however this time Partner accidentally took the keys to the office with him. That meant I couldn't feed the wild flock until somebody brought the keys over. Luckily a friend who also uses the office stopped by around 9 AM and let me in to feed the flock.

While letting everybody out for the day, I noticed a traffin jam in one of the nesting boxes. Dora is really trying to be broody, and Scruff wanted to lay her egg in that specific nesting box. Later on when I went to check on them, Fluffy was staring into the nest like she wanted to add to the chicken pile, too.

Fortunately Scruff laid her egg and Fluff settled for the other nesting box, leaving me to steal Dora's eggs and move her off the nest. 

Around lunch time I went out to refill the water containers like I normally do. As I was putting the big water container back, a group of three people rounded the house corner and came up to talk to me. This group was a woman with her daughter and granddaughter who wanted to look at the peacocks. People around the area know they're free to come and look at the peacocks, and evidently the woman's husband has come here before with their grandsons to look at the peacocks. 
When the woman mentioned this, I remembered one morning a few months back when a big silver SUV pulled into the driveway while I was feeding the flock. In the SUV was an older man with two young children, and the man explained that he just wanted to show his grandchildren the peacocks. We chitchatted while I fed the flock close enough for the children to look at the peacocks before he thanked me for my time and left with the kids. 

Apparently what he went home he didn't tell his wife about all the pretty peacocks and chickens. Instead he told her "I met this lovely American girl over there with curly purple hair like the jacarandas in Grafton and she was so nice! I've always wanted to meet an American!"

So I showed the ladies around and told them about the flock and we chitchatted a bit. Unfortunately, the flock was a bit wary of these strangers, especially the very loud and excited little girl, so they couldn't get as close to the peacocks as they would like. Even when I threw out bread, they stayed hidden in the bushes and trees. I told them that if they come in the mornings around feeding time, they'll be able to get really close to the peacocks if they'd like. They thanked me again and said they would be back some day. :)

I told Partner and my mom about this and now we've all joked about the farm's exotic offerings: pet chickens, guinea fowl, peacocks, and an American. LOL. I don't mind it, as I understand that my accent is a bit of a novelty in this small town and everyone is incredibly nice. Plus, as far as I'm aware, I'm the only person with violently purple hair in the area. It's hard to miss when I'm out and about.

This picture is from November 5th. While talking to Mom, Kookie came inside and sat on my desk chair. While I was trying to take a picture of her to show mom, she hopped onto my head. After some wrangling around, she eventually settled onto my shoulder, and that's where this picture came from.
On November 7th I got out a whipper snipper (weed whacker) and put in some work clearing up an area behind the caravan that we've been wanting to clear.
Progress picture...

This is going to be a long term project. We need to beat back the overgrowth in between rain showers and unbearably hot days. This area has been overgrown since before we moved here, so it's going to take a lot to cut down the larger clumps of grass that have formed mounds.
On November 9th, one of the named Cheeps, Pepper, died. I began writing this post the day before, but for obvious reasons I ended up too distracted to finish the post or return to polish it. We still don't 100% know what caused it, but given she had seemed to be smaller than the others for a while we suspect she may have just been born with one of those common 'failure to thrive' conditions and it had finally caught up to her.
Part of the problem with caring for prey animals as pets, such as hamsters and chickens, is they really don't like showing us that something is wrong unless it's really, really wrong. That's why I got in the habit of doing health checks on all my pets while I interact with them. Yes, I'm playing with and giving them love, but I'm also using all those opportunities to check them over for anything I should be concerned about.

I was initially torn about my response to her death. Yes, I cried and was devastated, but only for a few moments before I had to pull myself together and jump into action. Since she had died of an unknown cause, I needed to treat her like she was potentially infectious to the rest of the flock. I cleaned and sanitized all of the chickens' coops, bins, food, and water containers while Partner buried her. When we were done we did a quick check of the rest of the flock. From there, it was time to wait and see if anybody else showed signs of illness. I was certain I would sink back into my sadness once I had a quiet moment. Instead I just... felt fine. Does that mean I didn't care for Pepper? Or have I grown in my ability to take these emotional blows? Or does it mean my anhedonia from my depression is so bad I can't healthily release my emotions?

I've since settled on 'I have have grown in my ability to take these emotional blows'. What started as a simple infatuation with how adorable newborn chicks are has turned into a full on passion for caring for our little (sarcastic) flock, and I've come to appreciate everything that entails - including the sad parts.

Yesterday we had a resident come out in the yard to say hi. This is a Red-bellied Black Snake. These guys are relatively docile and antisocial, however they are also venomous and one of the most commonly-encountered snakes in Eastern Australia. It's debatable on whether there are any recorded deaths from a red belly strike, and any of those supposed deaths predate much of modern medicine and our current snake identification standards. They can be a problem to young children and pets, however.

I found this guy because I heard the chickens right outside the door start their "stranger danger" sounds. I didn't think anything of it since I was expecting a friend to possibly stop by. When I went to check the driveway from the window, however, nobody was there. I checked out front, where most of the chickens were making their disturbed sounds, and caught this little fellow slithering around. 

Don't worry, I didn't get close. This picture was taken from a fair distance away using my zoom lens on my camera. 

Speaking of cameras, the weather is finally good enough for me to put in the time to relearn my 70D and attempt to take better pictures of the flock. Everybody is so comfortable with me, it would be a shame not to use that opportunity to take some gorgeous and close up pictures.

I don't know what else to say without dragging this post out to an even more ridiculous length, so I'm just going to wish everyone a happy Thanksgiving and hope your holiday goes just the way you'd like.

Thursday, November 3, 2022

S&C: October 31-November 2

 Monday was a self care day. I ended up cutting off a couple inches of my hair to get rid of some split ends and make the heat a bit more bearable in the coming months. Then I put on a face mask and relaxed until Partner brought home the package my mom sent. The package had a bunch of my soap bars, some nail polish, some decorations for the house, and some wax! It's been so long since I've been able to melt some wax and make the caravan smell nice. I popped in some Sweet Lavender Marshmallow Cake from Sniff My Tarts and enjoyed the smelly goodness while hanging out with the chickens. I did end up washing the last set of linens I had been holding off on. Besides that, Monday was a really relaxed day.

Tuesday it rained, so I took advantage of that and spent the entire day decorating and organizing on UO.


I'm nowhere close to done, but I'm very happy with the progress I made.

I decided to ignore the date and decorate the house with a Halloweenish theme. Hopefully I won't run out of steam and will finish up this house before Thanksgiving so I can enjoy the early holiday season color scheme before adjusting the house to fit winter and Christmas more. This has been a fun experiment as I've figured out some of the idiosyncrasies of a ServUO server vs OSI servers. I also got stuck several times when I knew of a specific object I wanted to use, but did not have on this server. In any case, the castle isn't as empty as it was looking before. Trick or treating is still active through the end of November as far as I'm aware, so I may go trick or treating and get more spooky decorations.

Tuesday night we were plagued with high winds that ripped a bunch of palm fronds off the palm trees that litter the property. We're used to fronds falling occasionally, and they're an eternal source of stress for me due to their size and weight and general danger when they fall, but that night was something else. It felt like every time we finally fell asleep yet another frond had fallen and managed to hit every possible piece of tin roofing within a five mile radius on the way down.

Wednesday, yesterday, started off great. The Babies and Roostyboi were very polite when I let them out, and Roostyboi went into his daytime coop with no issues like he normally does. Kookie and Crumble didn't give us any trouble when we let them out for the day. I stripped the bed completely and started a load of laundry.

Instead of grabbing food for the flock immediately, we made the mistake of moving all of the fallen fronds into a pile out of the way. This upset the flock, and they all went running to find a place to hide. Initially we weren't too concerned, but after I finished feeding the wild flock and returned to Partner to help finish letting the Cheeps out he informed me that he couldn't find Kookie.

I ended up finding Kookie hiding in some of the lean-to structures built along the back of the sheds, but when I went to retrieve her she ended up running deep into the underbrush near the water way. That was my fault for not waiting for her to stop being so freaked out from the fronds. Normally she doesn't run from us, and if anything she ends up attached to our hip until we give her our contractually obligated Lap Time. Her running off wasn't great for us, though, as we now know that if Kookie gets her silly butt stuck or lost she will do absolutely nothing to remedy the situation.

Thus began an hour long trudge through the sheds and underbrush to try and find her. Eventually Partner had to head off to work and I needed a moment to hydrate. While I was inside, I put on a healthy heaping of sunscreen (no repeats of Friday's burning, please!) and clipped my hair up in a hat to prevent it from getting caught in everything. I also grabbed a set of gloves and shears, because the pathway to behind the sheds was overgrown and painful to slog through in my search for Kookie.

After about an hour of going to town on the underbrush, Kookie poked her head out from whatever hiding place she found and started happily foraging around. I was able to walk up to her and pick her up with no issues. Kookie happily trilled in my hands while I carried her out from behind the sheds and brought her over to Partner to say hi. We ended up putting her back in her bin as she needed to lay an egg.

While Kookie sat in her bin, I hopped into a voice and video call and showed my Mom a video game Partner has been working on in his free time just to get the hang of game creation and have some fun. I also showed her the work I had done in UO, and told her about my eventful morning. We chitchatted a bit and I ran some treasure maps in the game while we talked.

After Mom got off to get ready for bed, I thought I would return to UO and continue decorating. More laundry needed to be hung, though, so I did that instead. While I was out I refilled the water containers. The mattress cover was dry by this point, so I started making the bed. Once the bed was done, I realized the weather was ideal for finally cleaning the floors. While taking some trash out I also cleaned up some of the eggs that have piled up on our counters. 

The rest of my day was spent cleaning. I cleaned baseboards and moved every piece of furniture to sweep, vacuum, and mop the floors. I wiped down walls and windowsills of dust that has become a fact of farm life. One of the windows was extra dusty as the wind has blown in a bunch of dust and crap from outside, so I took an hour to thoroughly clean the window and blinds. By the time Partner got home from work, the entire floor was clean and I was very much done with doing anything that required movement or thought. I took a quick shower, we ate a bit, and I stayed upright for my hair to dry enough to lay down before I succumbed to exhaustion. 

I feel a lot better now that stuff is a lot more clean, but I keep getting distracted by what still needs to be done. I'm not unfamiliar with needing to dust and clean; Yellow Dust season in Korea was nasty. It seems like it's on a whole new level here, though, and at any moment it always feels like there's something that could use a good dusting or tidy up. Since I've cleared a walkway to the area behind the sheds, I may take a whipper snipper back there to help tidy up the overgrown grass. We've been wanting to do that for a good while, so this might be the best opportunity to get started. Who knows if that'll end up happening though; as Deb likes to say, it's always something. LOL

Monday, October 31, 2022

S&C: October 29 & 30 - Emotional Damage

A picture from late August/early September of Pale Foot with some of the Cheep Cheeps poking out from under her.

Instead of relaxing in bed all day on Saturday, I ended up fighting off near constant chicken incursions. Partner and a friend spent the whole day on another area of the property clearing off and hauling out old pig pens, water tanks, and various other farm scrap.

The entire flock has learned that Partner and I keep our own personal stash of food for our chickens. Our stash is intended for our personal chickens, and there is a stash in the office that we feed the wild flock from. When the stash in the office has run low or out, we've occasionally fed the entire flock from our stash. This past week, however, we haven't been able to replenish the office stash and the local pet supply store has not been doing a good job of keeping a stock of the chicken feed Partner and I use. 

Since the wild flock gets most of their food from free roaming, we've had to cut back on feeding the wild flock in the mornings and instead just make sure our personal chickens are fed in their coops and bins before we let them out for the day. That normally works, and the wild flock will stick to 'their' area of the property while our chickens hang out around our caravan.

With Partner and Friend in the area the wild flock usually forage, however, everybody was pushed towards our caravan and thus they heard and saw whenever I left the caravan to tend to our flock.

So that was fun. And I do genuinely mean fun. At one point I had Crumble perched on my back while 9 cheep cheeps and 3 other fully grown chickens were strutting around the entryway carpet, bok-boking at me incessantly for food while I tried to gently usher them back outside. Nobody was being mean, and nobody left any extreme messes in their wake, so I really just got to force some extra snuggles upon select chickens.

Since the weather is getting warmer, I have to keep a closer eye on everybody's water and refill their containers at least once a day. Doing that, and periodically checking on everybody's whereabouts has brought me into the territory of a local Willie Wagtail, which is where the video below came from.

Besides the semi-mandatory chicken tending duties, I've really failed at giving myself a moment to decompress and tend to my needs. For as long as I can remember, I have always struggled with food if I'm under any amount of stress. After a big move, I struggle to want to eat. I feel nauseous whenever I do eat. I no longer listen to or even notice normal signs of hunger, as food becomes the last thing on my mind. Other causes of stress have this same effect. Since I've been so stressed about the weather and the chickens' health, I've done a poor job of keeping an eye on myself. Oopsie.

So I gave myself a day off on Sunday and had fun organizing and decorating my houses in UO. I didn't get as much done as I wanted to, but I've definitely made progress and I think I'm going to put more time into decorating over the next few days, just to get myself more into the holiday spirit and let my body take a break from walking around in the sun all day with no sunscreen.

Saturday, October 29, 2022

Stop & Chat: October 28 - High Highs, Low Lows

The rest of the 27th went about as well as I expected it to. I ended up spending the day outside with the flock. That's where this adorable picture above came from. I was sitting on the Great Wall watching the flock and Kookie and Crumble came and pancaked next to me. I spent a decent portion of my time with the flock loving on these two and telling them how beautiful and adorable they are.

I still can't believe Crumble as gotten so big!!

Friday started off good. We woke up, fed and released the flock, and refilled water. I showered and started on that last load of laundry I refused to touch the day before. Kookie screeched at the door to be let in for Lap Snuggles and egg laying. I got some UO time in.

At 11:45, Kookie still hadn't laid her egg and had started screeching to be let out to explore the world. I was a bit annoyed at her, as I could feel the egg and I knew she would come right back to the door to ask to be let in. I figured she knew best, though, and let her out and went to go hang laundry.

I then started working on blog posts and commenting, in between throwing down Halloween decorations in my UO houses.

It's not anything special, but at least I have a little bit of the Halloween spirit! 

Before I get into this next part, I need to emphasize that EVERYTHING TURNED OUT OKAY. Just to preemptively save your emotions.
At about 1 pm I heard Crumble's distinctive honking sounds. This alarmed me for a few reasons. 1. they were his distressed honks, and 2. they were coming from an area of the property he has never been in before: the sheds where the wild flock roost at night.

I scurried over there and found him on a pile of hay, honking his head off. Since I've experienced this before with Coffee, I knew without seeing the cause that Crumble had decided to chase a hen over and got cut off by a protective rooster. So I grabbed him and brought him back to where I knew Kookie would be, around the caravan.

The only issue was, Kookie wasn't around. I couldn't find her. This immediately alarmed me, as Kookie is not an explorer. She is always either within sight of the caravan, dust bathing under the caravan, or chilling on the steps waiting for the door to open so she can sneak in and torment us with her love. So I started looking for her. 
There was no sign of her. I couldn't hear her. I couldn't see her. She didn't run over at the sound of my voice, or at the sight of me crouching down to check under places. Normally even if I can't see her, she will run over if she sees one of us crouching because crouching = Lap Time, whether we want it to be or not.
I roasted myself alive in the Australian sun for three hours thoroughly searching through each and every place I could think of looking for her. After about an hour and a half, I started crying. She never disappears for this long. Especially since I knew she needed to lay an egg, and she always lays her eggs inside in her bin. She should be at the door screaming at me to let her inside by now. My goal shifted from finding my chicken, to finding my chicken's body so I could at least get some closure.

As 4:00 rolled around, I tried to distract myself from my misery by going to pull down the laundry. As I opened the garage door, I noticed a face out of the corner of my eye that I would recognize anywhere peeking out from behind one of the chairs on the porch.

Poor Kookie had spent a good portion of the hot day stuck behind this chair and hidden behind the metal cart, which originally was closer to the chair and completely hid her from sight unless you happened to catch the one angle that let you see her.

She was dehydrated and seemed unsteady on her feet, so I took her over to the water container and helped her keep her balance while she drank and drank and drank. After she was done drinking, she seemed a lot more stable. I moved her inside to the bin anyway to keep an eye on her, and added some ice cubes to her water to help her cool down. When I checked on her a few minutes later, she was happily foraging around and even gave her normal happy trill at the sight of me. I was initially worried that whatever happened when she got stuck could have broken that egg inside her, and that she was in great danger. I ended up finding the egg where she was stuck, though, and she's had normal bowel movements since then, so those fears have been abated.

The rest of the day was a wash. I had intended to mop the floors and do some more Spring cleaning before the incident happened, but I was too emotionally and physically exhausted. Partner got home from work relieved to see a happy, healthy Kookie (I had kept him up to date throughout the whole ordeal), and he helped me put the chickens to bed when their bedtime came. After that, I laid in bed with extreme nausea and a migraine that kept me from falling asleep to escape my body's response to the day. Instead of that 'oh no I'm falling!' feeling some people experience as they fall asleep, I was hit with 'I hear a chicken screaming in fear and terror!' When I could fall asleep, I was plagued with nightmares about those I love being hurt or dying in various horrible ways. 

So today I'm planning for an easy day in bed. Kookie is perfectly fine today, as is the rest of the flock. I did make a point to come here and write what I could about yesterday while the memories are fresh, but I'm still nauseous and my head is screaming so I'm sure I haven't said everything I wanted to say about the situation. 

Here's hoping your Friday & Saturday go better than mine!

Thursday, October 27, 2022

Stop & Chat: October 14-27 - Not Enough Time

Hanging out with chickens is good for mental health and chicken bonding time!
Farm life is exhausting. If there isn't one thing, there's another. Partner and I have a running joke that whenever we 'clear' the caravan of long term chicken residents that it's a perfect opportunity for more chickens to come through the house. Each and every time we've finally moved a group of chickens outside, something has happened and we've ended up with chickens inside again.
As we were getting ready to move Kookie and Coffee (siblings; Coffee died in May so he's not mentioned much any more) outside, Tan Mom from the wild flock disappeared and her 7 remaining week old babies needed someone to care for them. That group of chickens is called the Babies. I ended up holding off on moving Kookie and Crumble into an outside night time coop because I was afraid of something getting them while they were still very small.
When the Babies were about 7 weeks old, we moved them to a coop outside so they could have more space. Unfortunately, a carpet python ate three of them. The morning I discovered the snake, I brought the four survivors inside again. That same week, the February/March 2022 floods hit, and any plans we had for moving our chickens into coops outside got put indefinitely on hold.
In April, we got Kookie and Coffee outside into the coop. Since Coffee was in his horny rooster bully months, I couldn't introduce the Babies to the coop. That did leave an empty space inside the caravan, however, for a string of chickens from the wild flock to come through. We had a couple of injured young pullets and cockerels that needed to be put in a hospital bin inside while we tended to their wounds and nursed them back to health.

In May, Coffee died rather suddenly, and we were left with a very needy Kookie. At the time, Kookie only recognized Coffee, Partner, or I as 'her flock' and she became very needy of our attention without Coffee to keep her company. After a few weeks, I was able to get her to socialize with the wild members of the flock and get her moved into her own coop to sleep at night.

In June Kookie went broody, and I was finally able to move the Babies into the coop and reclaim our caravan for humans. Mid June-early July is the longest we've gone since December without any poultry in our caravan. Of course, that didn't last long as once Kookie's single baby, Crumble, hatched, we had to move the two of them inside into a large bin for Crumble's protection. It was Kookie's first time being a momma, after all, and it was the middle of winter. It was too cold for little Crumble to be free roaming outside with Kookie. 

Side note: being able to watch a chick and mother hen when the mother absolutely trusts you is a treasure of an experience. 

My partner (blue crown icon) knows me so well.

At the end of July, while we still had Kookie and Crumble inside, one of the wild roosters got himself wedged between a palm tree and the side fencing of the house. He ended up with a pretty nasty looking eye and his sense of balance and direction seemed to be completely missing. We took him in and tried nursing him back to health. His eye healed okay, but his balance seems to be permanently affected. We tried releasing him back into the wild flock, but the other roosters bully him relentlessly until he gets stuck or finds a corner to hide in. 

As we were nursing him back to health, he earned the nickname Roostyboi (we're so creative...) and we became very attached to his majestic plumage and gentle disposition.

I mean, just look at that sweet face. 

We've ended up figuring out a living situation for Roostyboi that he seems happy with. At night, he goes into the coop with the Babies. When we let the Babies out in the morning, we grab Roostyboi and put him in one of the chicken tractors (a mobile coop on wheels) with the flock. That way he gets interaction with the flock and he remains protected from bully roosters. At the end of the day, we grab him and have ourselves a little snuggle before putting him back in the coop.

As far as either of us can tell, Roostyboi is happy with this setup. The only time I've seen him act like he doesn't like his tractor coop and wants out is at the end of the day, when he wants to go to his night time roost. He even gets friends keeping him company; young chicks can easily squeeze their way into the coop to say hi to him.

In August, I took to putting Kookie and Crumble in the chicken tractor with Roostyboi if I wasn't going to supervise their free range time. This kept Roostyboi company and let Crumble get integrated into the flock without them bullying him too much. It also got Kookie re-integrated into the flock, as she had been mostly absent for the better part of two months.

In September, we took in 22 chicks after their mother was carried off by some predator in the early hours of the morning. All we could find of her was a trail of feathers leading off the property. Their mother, who we had called Pale Foot, was a wild hen I had watched grow up and formed a decently friendly bond with. She would always bring the babies over to me to grab any food I offered her, and I spent many hours sitting next to her and telling her how gorgeous all of her babies are.


 The now-21 chicks, who we call Cheep Cheeps, have finally reached a size where I'm comfortable letting them free roam during the day. It's not an ideal situation, but we don't have a secure chicken run to keep them in and the coop/bin is far too small to let them sit in there unless they're just sleeping. Putting them to bed is easy; I just open the caravan door and they come filing in and let me transfer them to their bin.


I went on a huge tangent. I was supposed to write about what's been happening, and instead I'm just talking about chickens LOL.

I believe in my last post I mentioned I had picked up some sort of stomach bug. That bug plagued me for several days before I started feeling human again. Then, as my bodily functions were returning to normal, my period decided to come early and further plague me. Unfortunately, I also gave whatever the bug was to Partner, and he spent about a week feeling pretty awful as well. We're both not at 100%, but we feel a whole lot better.  

On the 8th, we finally managed to capture String Foot. String Foot is a peahen that has lived at the property since before we moved here. She's had a clump of string knotted tightly around one of her ankles that we've wanted to remove to make her life easier. The only issue is, she is a very very agile bird and all of our efforts to capture her have failed. On this day, she happened to go into Roostyboi's daytime coop after I put him away. That made the capture process a lot easier: just close the door. From there, it was just a matter of grabbing her foot and keeping her as calm as possible while we cut and removed the string. To her credit, once we grabbed her foot she ended up just laying down and staring around. She didn't fight us at all, even when we discovered a good portion of her leg had grown around the string and had to get a bit rougher to remove said string.

Since her string removal, String Foot has gotten a lot more friendly with us. She hangs out by the caravan all day, and consistently gets close enough for us to reach out and touch her. I'd like to think that to some extent, she seems to realize that we were trying to help her. In any case, she's putting a lot more weight on that leg and the wound is healing beautifully. We don't think she'll ever regain full range of motion for that foot and leg, but hopefully she feels a lot better without a string buried in her skin.

I scrubbed and power washed the house porch this weekend. The flock loves hanging out on the porch during the day, which leaves the porch covered in poop and feathers quite easily. I don't normally care, as we barely use the porch, but the clothesline is also on the porch area. Hanging laundry while dodging stink bombs isn't fun, so every so often we clean the porch off to save my poor shoes from poop. 

I also got us mostly caught up on laundry. This is something I'm not quite sure I'll ever get used to in Australia. By and large, people just don't have dryers. Us included. They're energy hogs, and why would you use a machine to dry your clothes when Australia has perfectly good sun to dry your clothes for you?

The only issue is the sun bleaches my clothes, and I hate hanging up wet laundry with a fiery passion that burns in my soul. I'm truly spoiled. Why should I have to lug all these clothes and hang them up myself when I could just toss them into a dryer that'll do the job for me?! It's so much faster and easier!

Another thing that sucks is the weather. We've been in a La Niña and are projected to continue to be in La Niña over the next summer, which brings very wet weather. Wet weather is not conducive to drying clothes on a line. I hate feeling like I'm beholden to the weather on doing laundry. I did just a fine job keeping on top of laundry in America without having to factor in the weather. Now it feels like every time we get a smidge of decent weather, I'm tied to the washing machine and clotheslines as I need to be able to hang the laundry ASAP to prevent a moldy smell. Then I need to be around to pull down the clothes as soon as they're dry, since stormy weather is always a moment's notice away. Even today, as I'm typing this, we have linens that need washed and dried. We have awful weather coming later today, but right now is pretty sunny and decent. Do I wash more linens now, even though I'm still in a bad mood after folding and washing multiple loads of laundry and linens yesterday just to catch up on laundry that couldn't get done because of the weather?

We've entered the part of the year where the weather is unbearable. If it's not wet and so humid your clothes feel damp, it's unbearably hot. Yesterday while I was folding laundry it got up to 85F/29C. I know it gets hotter in Texas, for instance, but I need to emphasize that Australian construction is not to the same standards as American construction. Houses don't have double-pane windows to keep temperatures stable inside. Structures aren't built for temperature regulation because for the longest time it wasn't needed; the weather in most of settled Australia has always been relatively pleasant year round. AC in homes is also not used in the same way it is in America. So when I say it got to 85 degrees, I mean the temperature inside our own home got to at least 85 degrees. Whether we were in a caravan or a proper house, the temperature would be unbearable.

The same thing happens in the winter. In immigration and expat forums, I've read about many people coming from incredibly cold climates saying that they've never been as cold as they have in an Australian home in winter. I know that for myself, I end up wearing fingerless gloves all the time just so my hands maintain enough heat to function. That's just for doing stuff around the house!

My point is, I'm a very very spoiled American who will find any excuse to complain that she can. LOL

While I was feeling sick, my trusty keyboard finally gave out on me. At least my 'a' and 'q' keys did. So I ordered another keyboard that I'm still getting used to. That was money I didn't want to spend, but I'm rather particular about having a fully functioning keyboard and I've gotten spoiled by the quality of higher end keyboards. This one only cost me about $88 USD shipped, so here's hoping I get at least six years out of this keyboard like I got out of my last one.

This morning Dave found a dead rooster under the big tree the peafowl sleep in at night. This rooster was one of the wild fully grown roosters that has been here longer than we have. I checked his body over, and didn't see anything untoward about him. No injuries, no blood. It looks like he just curled up and died. Yet another mystery that we have to live with. Was it old age? Did he get into some sort of toxic chemical? We found a tomato plant nearby, and we know any plant in the night shade family is toxic to chickens, so maybe he got into that. Given how these chickens are notorious for eating anything they can fit in their mouth, I wouldn't be surprised if the rooster found the tomato plant and decided to eat the green parts. In any case, I'll be keeping an eye on the flock for any signs of some sort of disease that puts everybody at risk.

Back to why I don't have enough time. The chickens take up quite a lot of my free time, and the rest of my time has to be split between household caretaking tasks and whatever hobbies I'm currently interested in. There are a lot of Halloween themed things going on in UO, and I just don't have the time to participate in most of the activities because something chicken related always pulls me away from the keyboard. On those days where I could sit and play video games, I end up convincing myself that I need to do some household chore instead. Yesterday it was laundry and cleaning the floors. Due to the temperature, I was only able to get laundry done. Mopping the floors of a small space takes up a surprising amount of time. I end up having to do the floor in small sections while I move furniture around, and I have to wait for each section to dry off before I can move the furniture further to get to sections I haven't cleaned yet. 

When the weather is good and I've done all of the chores I've convinced myself I should do, I still opt to spend time with the chickens instead of working on any of my hobbies. I guess chicken keeping could be considered a hobby, but I've never been at a place where my own personal interests are conflicting with each other in time usage. In older days, when I was exhausted from whatever events that day brought me, I still would have the time and energy to sit at the computer after dark and write about my adventures and/or relax with some video games. Here, I just don't have the energy after dark. Once I put the chickens to bed I just want to relax with Partner and watch whatever movie or TV show we're working through. Even right now as I type this, the temperature climbs towards 80, and with that all my enthusiasm about sitting at the computer and typing is waning. I could use this bout of sunny weather to sit outside with the chickens and reinforce the relationships I've built with each individual chicken. For instance, Kookie is a Lap Chicken. She loves chilling in our laps. It would be cruel to continue to deprive her of Lap Time since the weather is so great! And the Cheep Cheeps need to be secure in knowing that Partner and I are safe, so spending time outside with them and loving on them is good to reinforce that positive relationship. The wild flock has also gotten incredibly tame through me just being outside with them and surrounding myself with chickens. 

I've taken so long to write this I've forgotten half of what I wanted to say. I think I'll just post this and include anything I forgot in later posts. I hope everything is going well in your corner of the world and you aren't dealing with poor weather!

Thursday, October 13, 2022

Stop & Chat: October 3-13 - Chicken Tending

Snakes have simply become a fact of life for us here. At one point there was a resident carpet python that was a few meters long and hung out in Partner's office. On one hand, the rodent population definitely went down. On the other, the snake could very well turn and eat any baby chicks or peafowl we have running around the property. We've had some chicks we took in become a victim of a phython attack. Yet another thing I need to blog about eventually to get this space caught up. 

I did end up making that pancit. It was a smash hit and I've been encouraged to add the recipe to my personal repertoire of dishes I like to make. The noodles weren't quite the right consistency I associate with my mom and grandma's pancit, so I'll tinker with it a little more to see if I can improve upon it.

Chicken drama is getting extreme. There's a wild hen that has ginger feathers - the only fully grown chicken on the property with that coloration - that we've nicknamed Ginger Hen. She has one baby left from her first broody cycle. She decided to start roosting with the rest of the flock before her little chick could get up to the roosts with her, so for a few nights Partner and I had to go out and capture the chick to return it to momma. The chick has since then figured out how to join its mom all on its own, so we no longer have to spend our evenings running after a surprisingly agile little chicken. :)

Kookie's case of maybe-bumblefoot is... I don't even know. Her and Crumble keep working together to remove her foot bandage whenever we manage to get a secure wrapping on. It doesn't look infected any more, but I'd still prefer it if she could keep a bandage on it and stop trying to reintroduce bad bacteria to her foot.

The Cheep Cheeps have started breaking out of their sleeping bin before we're ready to let them out for the day. That has made for some funny surprises when we walk by their bin in the mornings to use the restroom and get ready for the day. Fingers crossed, we should be able to start working on their permanent coop any day now with. Weather cooperating. Sigh.

This time Scruffy has decided to try and go broody. I was a bit lazy in collecting the eggs in their coop between bad weather and catching some sort of stomach bug, so there were quite a few eggs she was determined to hatch. While I moved her off the nest and took the eggs she sat like this and stared angrily at me.

I decided to take this opportunity and do some other cleaning and tidying of their coop. As I did that, Scruff went to stare at her empty nest for a moment before screeching at my face for removing her eggs. Poor girl. I'm sorry, but being broody isn't allowed. No more chicks!

In between all of the chicken drama I've been slowly updating my UO blog, playing more UO, and working on some posts for this blog. I have one that I'm struggling with, but I can't seem to bring myself to work on anything else until that post is done. 

I've started making sure my nicer camera battery is charged whenever I think about it. The weather hasn't been conducive to nicer pictures, but it's ready to go for the day the sun comes out.

Monday, October 3, 2022

Stop & Chat: September 29-Oct 2


No current pictures to share of the past few days, so enjoy this picture of Kookie (left) and Crumble (right) from a month ago! 

This week the weather hit again. Storm clouds have been constantly rolling in and out of town, bringing an uncomfortable amount of rain with it and many indoor days. I used to really love stormy weather. It was a perfect excuse to stay inside and read a book or play some video games. Ever since the floods earlier this year, a cloudy sky brings with it a ball of anxiety in my chest. The rain pooling on the ground sends me checking the local emergency channels for flood watches. The waterway at the back rising up makes me do a mental inventory of all of our 'get out of dodge' essentials. Another La Niña being declared for this year alongside other oceanic conditions north and west of Australia paint another wet summer. We got lucky this year, but while it was still flooding there were many times we were faced with the real possibility of losing everything. I recount the floods to friends and family back home as something much more humorous than it felt at the time. Yes, we were making jokes and laughing while in the thick of it, but that was our way of coping through a very real, very stressful time in our lives. We live close to a tidal river, too, so a day with the water lapping at our bottom steps had us stressed about what high tide would bring.

So, as a distraction, I made sure all of the chickens were okay to the best of my ability and then I threw myself into some video games. 

We've been slowly spring cleaning the place when weather allows. Deep cleaning cupboards we haven't gone through in a while. I finally started the painting process in the bathroom a few weeks back. We need more paint, and you can tell when you look closely that it's not a perfect paint job, but overall that area already looks a lot better. Who knows when the weather will clear up enough for me to finish the bathroom, much less the rest of the place. Since going outside tracks mud everywhere we've resigned ourselves to dirty floors until the weather clears up a bit. We try not to wear our shoes indoors, but it's rather hard when you just need a quick thing from inside and it'll be faster to just grab it as opposed to taking the time to remove my shoes, grabbing the item, putting my shoes back on and bundling up, then heading out.

I'll probably get around to more commenting and reading in the next few days since some things I've neglected around the house (like dishes... sigh) really need to be finished. I may end up making some pancit. My partner has never had it before, so I'm excited to share it with him.

Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Stop & Chat: September 28 - Farm Life Woes


Today still started off slow, as I mentioned in the post I finished writing this morning LOL, but boy did it escalate.

We fed the flock like we normally do, splitting off in two in order to feed the 'wild flock' where they're used to being fed and 'our flock' over by their coop. Everyone was present, minus the last chick Empty Nester (longish story, I will eventually tell it) had. It disappeared some time in the night, so we don't know whether it succumbed to the elements, was taken by a swamp hen, or was a victim to some other tragedy. I'm quite upset, as I had a vested interest in EM's success, as well as the two babies she had started out with, but something I've had to accept is that these things will happen unless I lock everybody away into the far-too-tiny spaces available on this property for the flock. 

The swamp hens have been menaces. They spend their time patrolling around the coop the Cheep Cheeps are in, and a few weeks back they tried and nearly successfully grabbed Crumble while I was letting him and Kookie free roam. Earlier this year we witnessed one steal a peachick (peafowl baby) right from under its mother's nose, and there wasn't anything we could do to save the chick. They just move too fast and the water way at the back of the property is overgrown and hard to navigate to. 

Roostyboi, a formerly wild rooster we took in after he had a head and eye injury a couple months ago, seemed to want to dust bathe, so I thought I would give him some supervised 'free roaming' time in some good, dusty dirt and sand. He loved it, but he ended up moving too close to some of the wild roosters and they did not like his presence and made it very well known. I had tried to circumvent this issue by keeping him far away from the other chickens, but the sillybutt decided to march his way up to them and then proceeded to act shocked when they got angry with him. I ended up having to put him in the coop to let him calm down before moving him back to his daytime enclosure. 

Around lunch time, I did my normal flock check and went to check on a few wild broody hens that I've been keeping an eye on. Unfortunately, one of the white hens was just... dead, a few feet away from her nest. I checked her over to see if I could find an obvious cause for her demise, but nothing seemed untowards about her. For all we know, she had a bad run in with a venomous snake, of which we know there are many on the property. Her nest was on the ground in the sheds, so anything could have gotten to her. I've tried moving a wild hen and her nest before, but if they don't trust me enough all they'll do is abandon the nest or find a new one to brood over. This one didn't quite trust me, so I couldn't move her to a safer location without compromising the chicks.

The rest of the day was relatively quiet. I managed to get some laundry done and felt well enough to take a much needed shower. I even got in some snuggles with Kookie and Crumble, and marveled at Crumble's adorable squeaky honks.

Putting everybody to bed was uneventful. If anything, it was really easy. The Cheep Cheeps have gotten used to being handled enough to transport them from their nighttime coop to their daytime coop, and the Babies and Roostyboi went into their coop easily as always. Kookie and Crumble always go to bed easily, so that wasn't too much of a surprise. I found a new potentially broody hen in the sheds, though she could just be laying an egg rather late in the day. I'll keep an eye on where she was to confirm one way or the other.

While I was wrangling the Cheep Cheeps, I saw the turtle in the first picture of this post. He seemed to not want to move, and he was hiding in his shell, probably from the wild chickens, so I decided to give him some space while I put the Cheep Cheeps away and see where to go from there. Fortunately, he seemed to decide he was good to scurry off back home and disappear into the brush.

Dora, one of our hens we call the Babies, is trying to go broody again. I successfully broke her of her broodiness last month, as we really don't need any more chickens if we can help it, but she's gone ahead and determinedly sat on the few eggs her and the other Babies have laid today. I was too tired to deal with her today, and I know she's been fed and watered, so tomorrow I'll remove the eggs and see if that's enough to break her broodiness before going to more extreme measures, such as Broody Jail LOL. 

I took some time to work on my UO blog and consolidate some pictures and videos I have for that eventual post or possibly series of posts to get this corner of the internet caught up on what's going on in my life.

I think that covers just about everything for the day. I did have a bit of the leftover stroganoff, but I haven't been hungry enough to eat more than that. Tomorrow is another day. I can stuff my face then.

Stop & Chat: September 27 - Migraine

Kookie and her child, Crumble, enjoying the comfort of my head and shoulders.

At around 3 in the morning, I woke up and ran to the sink to puke. This was a problem, as I had nothing but water in my system, but my head and stomach had decided that there must be nothing in my stomach before I will stop heaving.

Unfortunately, I had a migraine. And a pretty severe one. I ended up laying in bed all day and drinking copious amounts of water and powerade. I also took some sumatriptan, which helped, but the day was not meant to be.

I drifted in and out of sleep while the day passed by. I did try to eat the stroganoff I made, and it was good, but it didn't stay down long. The chickens did fine today, even though I wasn't obsessively checking on them every 5-10 minutes. I only paid attention when somebody got particularly loud or obnoxious in "REEEEEEEE"ing, but even those noises were normal for these guys and never progressed into "something is wrong" territory.

This morning, the 28th, I feel a bit better, but I am still confining myself to bed. I feel all sorts of exhausted, so I'd like to be able to fall asleep easily if I get tired enough for it. I have some general goals of commenting and maybe starting on some other blog posts, but I'll have to see how the day progresses as it's before 9 AM. Migraine hangovers are no joke.