For years and years and years - in fact, the fifteen years I have been living here, I have wanted to keep chickens. I just never seemed to get around to it, and there always seemed to be too many insurmountable hurdles. Well, the time for waiting is over! Wombat and I went out on Friday and bought home 8 lovely Rhode Island Red Bantams.
It was perfect timing, as the woman with the chooks had just had an argument with her husband about having too many chickens. She originally wanted $20 per chook, but when I said I wanted the Reds, she decided I could have the whole pen for $100. She had taken them from an old guy who had to move into the city when his wife died, and was looking after them for his sake, but wasn't really interested in breeding with them.
They are EXACTLY what I wanted, so I am very pleased - a gorgeous plump, solid Bantam, with rich russetty feathers, and black tails with a green sheen. They are a bit shell-shocked to find themselves in a hugely overgrown, full-of-weeds, ex-dog-pen, which is about 4 times the size of their previous home, but they are loving the chance to eat & scratch around in all the greenery as the pen they came from was all dirt.
Wombat thinks they are wonderful, and I would spend all day sitting watching them if I didn't have so many other things on my list... I can't wait until we get nest boxes set up for their eggs! Rosie laid the first egg last night, but she was up on the perch at the time, so it fell on the ground and broke... still, an egg is an egg, and I am very proud of her!
This is the most common view of them I get at the moment! They are starting to make tracks and trails through the long grass, and it won't be long before they overcome their shyness.
I am sure I will get better photos over time, but these will give you a rough idea!
We had to have a chook called Rosie, because Wombat loves the book: Rosie's Walk. You can see Rosie and the chicks behind the tree. The other one on the left, I think is Ruby... more about her later...
Rosie is a real "mother hen". I'm not sure if the three younger chooks we got are all hers (there are two young roosters and one young hen) but she looks after them beautifully, keeping them together and making sure they get enough to eat. On the first night, Yeti was convinced I had only got 7 chooks because he couldn't find number 8 when he went to check them during the night... we worked out that the smallest chook sleeps cuddled up so deep under Rosie's wing that he can't be seen! Rosie and the three chicks tend to form one little group.
Then there is Rufous and his harem. Rufous is a wonderful family man - the girls (and young ones) all hide in the background while he boldly checks out any new situation, and when he is sure it is safe, he calls them to join him. He is always at the front, looking out for all the others.
I think he is the handsomest rooster I've ever seen! I haven't heard him crow yet, but I'm sure he will when he settles in.
If Rosie is Rufous's number one wife, Ruby is the leader of the harem and chief concubine. She's a real show off - the total opposite of Rosie! Where Rosie hangs back and keeps the chicks safe until Rufous calls, Ruby runs after him at the first opportunity... she's always second to do anything, and always proving she can do it better than anyone else!
Last night Yeti built a roost for them... Rufous jumped up, followed by Ruby, and then the other 2 hens. The young hen flies like a champion - the best flyer of the bunch - and she was soon up there with them, but the young boys couldn't quite manage the jump. Rosie stayed and encouraged them, showing them how it was done, and Yeti threw a couple of old cushions in for them to jump off, to give them a boost(he had built a ramp, but they wouldn't use it, so he will build a half-way step today). When everyone was finally settled on the perch, what did Ruby do? She jumped up to balance on top of the sheet metal Yeti had put up to shelter them from the wind! There she was swaying back and forth clucking "Look at me Rufous! Look at me! Nya Nya all you others, bet you can't do this!!!"
Lol... I'll name the others in time, but I am waiting for their personalities to emerge, and to get a better idea of who is who! At the moment, Rufous is easy; Rosie is the hen who stays with the chicks; and Ruby is the plump show-off. The chicks are easy to tell apart and will probably get names next - 2 boys and 1 girl - followed by the other 2 hens...
Wombat is just waking up, so I don't have time to proofread this - sorry for any mistakes - and sorry for going on about my new pets, but if you can't tell, they make me feel all warm and fuzzy-feathery!