We said an unexpected goodbye to one of our appliances on the weekend. The Husband went to get a bag of frozen plums out of one of the garage freezers, which I had suddenly remembered we could snack on after a little defrosting on the bench. The Little Fulla came running inside and exclaimed, “There are clumps of ice in the freezer and they’ve got poop on them!” What The Husband actually said was, “Tell Mummy that the freezer’s pooped.” A small child’s translation of such statements is always amusing.

I’ve been looking for a taller, reasonably priced replacement for this freezer for a while, to fit more stuff in, but then a few occasions arose on which we found it had stopped. Each time The Husband managed to fix it, or he thought he had. On Sunday we found it off and let’s just say we’re not sure how long it had been off for… But the presence of mould on the bagged tomatoes and the general sogginess of all the contents was a sure sign that it was too long. We lost 2 containers of chicken soup, 2 bags of strawberries, 2 large bags of plums, 2 bags of chopped tomatoes, 1 bag of chopped celery and lots of bags of sliced green pepper. The silver lining is that there wasn’t any meat in there or too much of anything since we’re coming towards the end of our freezer-preserved crops from last season. But it was still sad to tip out all that goodness into the compost bin. And to lose a freezer. It is totally pooped now. So the hunt for another one has increased in intensity. I have about 2 1/2 months before we’ll start running out of freezer space as the Billington plum harvest piles in.

While we’re on the subject of food, The Husband asked me if I could get a pineapple when I went to the supermarket. He said he needed it for an experiment. And it had to be a fresh pineapple, not tinned. Naturally, I had to find out what this experiment would involve. “Do you want to try and grow it?” “No.” “Sculpt something out of it?” “No.” “Blow it up?” *Laughs* “No.” Well, he has done stranger things… He used it as a marinade to tenderise some stewing steak, which it did very quickly, in about 45 minutes. The beef actually got a little bit tooooo soft, but it’s interesting to know about this method.

Meanwhile, in chicken business, there’s been a lot going on. There’s so much to write about from the last few weeks.

I decided upon names for the four young chickens. Well, the older young chickens. The blue Frodo cockerel is Timmy Tiptoes, the blue Jemima cockerel is Chippee Hackee, the black pullet is Duchess and the blue pullet is Ribby. Duchess has started laying cute little pullet eggs.

Compared to keeping a backyard flock, breeding purebred chickens, especially on a small property, can be a fast and furious game when you’re try to improve what you have. I decided not to keep the blue Jemima boy but to sell him, as I liked the Frodo boy so much that I wanted to ensure I got offspring just from him. The chicken tractor has not been built yet, and since I’ll be using The Henley Hut for raising chicks, there isn’t the space for a separate breeding group. I am trying to pace myself, so down to one rooster we go. That also meant saying goodbye to Andrew. Andrew is one of the loveliest roosters I’ve had, so this was hard, but his tail was too high and his type needed improvement too. What did make the decision a little easier was his problem of crowing at very indecent hours of the morning. Andrew had been spending nights in the garage for some time, which is not ideal.

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Farewell, Andrew. Thanks for being a sweet boy.

The problem came when I realised that Timmy Tiptoes had a worsening curve in his back, which is known as roach back. It can come hand-in-hand with wry tail (tail bending to one side), which is also slightly apparent in Timmy Tiptoes. It also caused him to start walking a little funny, although it didn’t stop him from running around and maintaining dominance over Chippee Hackee. I have been gutted about this as Timmy Tiptoes is a lovely boy and his bottom line is really nice, without the excess fluff that I am trying to breed/cull out. At the end of the day, I decided to cull him. That’s what other breeders would do, as this skeletal deformity could have a genetic basis. Well, happy day for Chippee Hackee. He is a great-looking boy too and is becoming more friendly, so he’s not a bad choice. And he has better colouring.

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Timmy Tiptoes and Chippee Hackee. Chippee has much better colouring with darker dark grey feathers and good lacing (light grey feathers edged in dark grey). I’m sure I’ll get more chickens with less thigh and butt fluff in the future. See the earlier photo of Timmy Tiptoes with the undesirable curve in his back.

In further happenings, I set some eggs in the incubator from Frodo and Tiggywinkle, for ‘one last hatch from Andrew’. Except they may not all be from Andrew, as the two young boys got active before I was prepared. A few eggs got chucked on Day 8 due to infertility or very early death and one more got chucked at lockdown as it had stopped growing. It was a Frodo egg that was so symmetrical I had stored it the wrong way up, only to realise later. Oops. I should have candled it at the start to see where the air cell was. We have 9 eggs left: 5 of Frodo’s and 4 of Tiggwinkle’s, although one of her’s looked to have ruptured into the air cell. The last hatch out of Andrew (now 11 weeks old) didn’t include any Frodo offspring as her eggs were infertile. Hatching is underway already, in the midst of a family chest infection. Ugh.

In further, further happenings, Moppet and Mittens, the two Dorking hens, were getting scratched up on their backs from the eager roosters, so they have temporarily moved into The Henley Hut (which I had just cleaned and sprayed for the chicks later on…) to have a break from roosters. It is apparent that I can’t keep them with the Australorps all the time, as they are too easy a target for the roosters. They are lower to the ground, don’t have as many feathers for protection and they are also slower to get away. They have slow responses to everything. When I throw bits of food or greens in the pen they stand there like, “Huh?” while the Australorps swoop in and scoff everything. I am thinking about what to do with them in the future.

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The Dorking girls, Mittens and Moppet, are getting a well-deserved break from those frisky roosters.

In further, further, further happenings, Frodo has been the broody breaker because I don’t want her raising chicks again so soon and I want fertile eggs from her soon. I let her out one morning to see if she was out of her broody funk yet and was very surprised by what happened next. One of the young Dorking cross boys jumped on her and was right into the act of mating with her when I shook off my shock and pushed him off. He then made a pass at Paris, grabbing her by the neck very decisively before she fought him off. He was only 10 weeks old then. Not even big enough for eating yet! I had to go back and check my database to make sure I had his age right. Yup, 10 weeks old and already on duty. I don’t want him spoiling my next blue rooster hatching plans. I’m sure he wouldn’t be fertile yet, but who knows? He’s a real hustler. He will be walking the green mile very soon.

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This black dude here is the little cockerel found on active duty at 10 weeks old. He’s next to Chippee Hackee (left) and Ribby (right). He does have a very big comb for his age, but he’s still a child!
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Here’s another shot of the busy little boy, at the back. The rose-comb cockerel in the centre is the other Dorking cross boy.
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Some of the other youngsters. I still think the blue Jemima one on the left is a girl, but she does have me second-guessing with her beefiness at this age. Jemima was the same though, and Jane B (PB), from the same genetics. The other two blues, from Blaze, are, unfortunately boys. There’s one crazy black Jemima boy who made me chase him around for ages when I last changed their leg tags, then bit me fiercely as I held him, causing a blood bruise on my arm. Not a good choice, little dude, not a good choice.

And now we wait for the cheeps and pitter patter of new feather babies and a garden update…

6 thoughts on “When Appliances go Bad & Chicken Keeping Gets Mad

      1. Earlier this morning, I just wrote about the power outages that could start at any moment here. I do not normally use a freezer, but have accumulated a bit of frozen meat (and bread that I did not want to discard) for local homeless. I do not think it will thaw in the short time the electricity will be out, but I can’t help but be a bit concerned. If the weather cooperates, the electricity might not get turned off, or might get turned back on pretty quick.

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    1. Thank you! They are Australorps, which were developed as an ‘Australian Orpington’. They have Orpington in their makeup, as well as Langshan and probably other things. They’re not as fluffy as Orpingtons, they’re a bit more streamlined and better at laying, but come in the same base colours.

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