lost sheep and pecking orders

Here I am. On the morning of the first of two whole days I have to myself to do whatever I feel like doing.

And I’m sitting on the computer cause I can’t think past what I have to do. A friend of mine calls it ‘lost sheeping’… the act of being totally bewildered by the choices of things to do. (I seem to spend a lot of time lost sheeping.)

This is the kitchen table at the moment. Bits of breakfast and a collection of glass, ceramics and crystals I’m using to make garden stakes. Along with some correspondence, the netbook, and – wait – there may be some tools on there too.

The office is way worse. I stopped short of taking a photo of that. I mean, you’ll be understanding of some messes… but there has to be a line somewhere. This morning I found another pee spot on the carpet. Its now beyond a joke. If I walked into a house with carpet that looked like this I’d refuse coffee and have a tetanus shot.

I banished Barney from the office when I blamed him for the pee spots a few weeks ago. Last night Mischa slept in the office alone and yet there’s another pee puddle. So Mischa is now banished as well. I cannot wait to rip out these carpets and either polish the floorboards or put in vinyl. I’m so over floors that are hard to keep clean.

This is the coffee table in the living room. You’re allowed to see that. I cleaned it off last weekend but then over the week things crept back onto it. I use that table to do beading while I watch TV.

No way will you see the kitchen sink. There are 2 days worth of dishes there… We need a bigger sink. And more dishes.

Actually, I need a new kitchen with a dishwasher.

Wayne says I don’t need a new kitchen for the amount of time I spend in this one… grrr. And I already have 2 dishwashers – on the end of my arms.

That man sure does like to live close to the edge!

So, here I am. There are clothes to be washed. The kitchen to wash up and clean up. Animals to feed… all before I can even start to think of indulging myself.

Speaking of chickens (we are now!)… Yesterday afternoon (after spending a scintillating hour packing chicken frames into freezer bags for the dogs) I went up to feed the animals and found a red hen sitting on the perch acting ‘off’. I picked her up and looked her over. She had tons of broken off feathers and an area of baldness on her right thigh.

Off to Alcatraz she went.

Let me explain. We inherited a chicken coop up the back and a dog kennel. When the 5 light sussex roosters we were given to eat but couldn’t grew up, they started visiting the neighbour’s hens and digging up his vegetable patch. So Wayne built Alcatraz – a timber and wire atrocity off the side of the casita – to pen them up in. Eventually captivity turned nasty and we gave away 2 roosters to a chicken breeder, then had to separate the last two due to fighting. We kept the 2 picked on roosters cause they were the injured ones.

Yes, you can count. That was only 4 roosters accounted for. One rooster had been dispatched to the big perch in the sky by the poodles, I’m sorry to admit.

Boris No. 1 moved to Stalag 13, the ex-dog kennel. He shares his life with Clarice, one of our Isa Brown hens who was lame and picked on by the bantam rooster who has no name.

Boris No. 2 had to spend some time in a cage to get over his injuries but eventally moved into Alcatraz with 3 new black poulets the breeder gave us in exchange for the roosters.

So last night, when I picked up the injured red hen I had to put her somewhere. Stalag 13 is really too small for too many chickens so I put her into the more natural (ie not cemented) Alcatraz with Boris No. 2. I then moved 2 of the black chickens up to the old chook pen and shut them all inside so they could bond and get used to the coop.

Then I stood back and saw the bantam rooster have a go at them! So I got him out and closed in just the hens.

This morning I watched as the remaining black hen in Alcatraz pecked on the injured red hen over food. Thats it. I grabbed her and moved her out to join her sisters in the chicken coop.

Then the older hens picked on her.

Damn. I can never win. I feel like its musical chickens around here. Is it really meant to be this hard? Or do farmers just let them work it out themselves and let the feathers fly where they may?

So – to recap:

Alcatraz houses Boris No. 2 and 1 red hen. Both limping though he’s halfway to getting better.

Stalag 13 houses Boris No. 1 and Clarice, both of whom look healthy though if you watch closely, Clarice still has a slight limp.

Chookpen houses all the red hens (5 or 6, I’m sure we had more..) and the original black hen and 3 black poulets.

Plus one very pissed off bantam rooster strutting around outside the chookpen with his chest out.

And as if that wasn’t enough, there’s a wallaby eating grass at the bottom gate. In broad daylight. Another blind wallaby. And its Saturday and I refuse to go out into the quagmire that is that part of our land, mud up to my knees, to try to catch a wallaby and drive it into Hobart for the vet to (most likely) put down.


Times like this I long for a house in the suburbs with a tiny yard.


PS. Its funny how the breed of chicken really does make a huge difference… The isa browns are very friendly, easy going chooks. The black ones won’t come near us and are very skittish. The light sussex roosters are calm and lovely natured where the red and black bantam rooster is a pushy arrogant little b**&^%d.

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