Today, as I’m writing this column, it happens to be the shortest day of the year. The great thing about this is that, from now on, the days will become longer by a few seconds each day. It takes ages before we notice any difference, but it still brings us closer to my favourite time of year, spring.
Last Christmas, some friends from Perth were spending time in New Zealand and heard the story of me accidentally running over one of my hens, which caused much stress in our household. Anyway, they purchased three chickens from Chooks n Things as a Christmas present, although, as Reay explained in an earlier issue, they were actually roosters, so we exchanged them for hens.
We have patiently been waiting for the hens to start laying and, to our surprise, we had our first egg last week. I was working at my usual task for this time of the year – the raking up leaves on the driveway – when I noticed that one hen was missing. I had earlier seen her wandering towards the henhouse so I crept over to have a peep. There was a lot of scratching and noise going on in the house so I sat and waited.
After about 30 minutes, she made a proud appearance and made her way back to the other hens. I went over and lifted the lid on the outside of the laying boxes and thought: ‘strange, no egg!’ I then noticed she had laid her egg on the floor – problem… what to do about this? I removed all the hay and shavings that I kept on the floor and left it bare. I then made a ramp up to the laying boxes and ‘bingo!’ the next day, the second egg was in the right place.
Since then, a second hen has started laying and a third should also go into production soon. My other four hens have gone on strike at the moment but, hopefully, not for too long.
The second part of this month’s diary also takes place in my hen run. When feeding my hens some weeks ago, I saw a kitten sneak out of a hedge, grab a piece of bread and scurry away with it. The next evening, there were two of them scavenging. So, by the third day, I took some cat food and two bowls and placed them away from the hens to try and entice the cats into catching distance, without any luck.
Alan from All Season Pet Resort sent around a possum trap to help catch the kittens, and Town & Country Vets are lending another trap as well, so hopefully I can catch the cats, have them de-sexed and maybe domesticate them. If not, we may have to take some more drastic action. Hope to have some results next month. In the meantime, go the ABs!
Brian Neben publishes Rural Living and is also an avid lifestyle farmer