The new feather children have landed! Things are going to get interesting. I spent a large chunk of the day yesterday preparing for their arrival. They are two barred Plymouth Rock pullets, aged around 9-11 weeks. Due to the size difference, they need to be separated from the other two until they are bigger.
While The Husband took The Little Fulla off for a trip to Bunnings, as much as I wanted to go, I waterblasted and disinfected The Crap Shack, which is going to be their house for a little while. It is still functional and hopefully will hold up until the pullets are big enough to join the others. I also cleaned and disinfected water and food vessels. In the afternoon The Little Fulla thankfully had a long nap, which gave me plenty of time to sort out the pen. I set about fencing off an area within the others’ orchard pen for the pullets to reside. This will allow all the chickens to see and hear each other without having to be in direct contact.
I decided the concrete pad by the garage rainwater tank was a good site for their house, water and food. There was just one problem. I had to move the pile of fruit tree prunings that had somehow been gathering in the orchard. Did I say pile? I meant mountain. I tried to get The Husband to chop them up with the chainsaw. He was taking a while to come out of the garage and when I went to see what he was doing he was sitting on a table playing with the visor and ear muffs that were on his head. That should have been the first sign that he was in a non-productive, own-little-world mode. He chopped up a few branches before stopping to ask, “What am I doing?” He couldn’t understand why the fence couldn’t just go around the pile and we could call it a day. The chickens needed more space, that’s why. And the pruning mountain needed to be dealt with anyway.
Next, I tried to get The Husband to help me move the branches around to the side of the firewood shed instead. He did a couple of trips before stopping and announcing, “The branches are poky.” “I don’t like it.” Oh dear. Now we’re five years old. I suggested he could wear gloves. He found me an extra piece of fencing then disappeared. So I pretty much hauled all the pruning mountain branches away myself, load by load, and stacked them along the back fence by the firewood shed. I did manage to get The Husband out of his own little world to come back out and help hammer in stakes for the fence and carry The Crap Shack to its new site.
We all went for the drive to pick up the newbies. They are so little! Well, not chick little, but little compared to what I’m used to now. They came home in a carry cage and stayed in it within their pen for almost an hour to settle them down. Then we had to rush off to after hours with The Little Fulla because he swallowed something.* That was terrible and not great timing, but I opened the pullets’ cage door before I left so they could wander out into their pen when they were ready.
When we got home I went to check on them and one had escaped into the main pen. Argh! Luckily for her, Sam, the boss, was in the broody breaker cage and Frodo was in the hen house because she had just gone broody too. Argh! Those chickens! There’s a reason I got two Plymouth Rocks: aside from Strider’s awesome personality she never went broody. I had left the carry cage close to the fence and I think the pullet had jumped on it and over the fence. Oops. You don’t think about these things when you have medical incidents. It took a while to get her back in there. I had forgotten how flighty and scared pullets can be. I looked at their pen and house full of fresh shavings and thought, “What a lovely new home.” They looked at it and probably thought, “What is this freaky place?! And who’s that scary monster?!” I opened up the fence but then the other one ran out. I got her back in and shut her in the house, then herded the first one back in, got her in the house and shut them up for the night. Phew.
Today they have been alternating between hiding away in their house and doing little bursts of exploring. Sam came out of the broody breaker and Frodo went in. It’s like the changing of the guards. I don’t know if Frodo met the newbies when they ventured out yesterday evening, because we were at A&E and Frodo was being broody in the house when we came home. Sam, however, has met the wee feather children today, through the fence. I am pleased to report that I witnessed no aggression from her. She actually made pleasant-sounding noises towards them as she scratched around in the leaf litter beside their pen. Then they started scratching in the leaf litter in their pen. It was very cute. Maybe Sam’s still feeling a tad maternal or maybe she just enjoyed having close company. Let’s hope things stay so friendly.
*The Little Fulla bit off a piece of foam toy while I was changing his nappy, started choking on it and I had to quickly slap him on the back, after which he swallowed it. After phoning a nurse we took him to A&E and then just had to watch him for any possible toxic reactions and wait for it to come out of his system. It was all very scary and I felt absolutely terrible, but he carried on being his normal happy self and pooped out the purple piece this afternoon. Hallelujah! I’ve never been so excited about poop in my life. Sure, poop for the garden can be pretty exciting, but this was utter relief.