frightened: Photo by Jason B (Default)
I blame the chickens.

Tomorrow I'm off to my birds-work to try and catch the nearly-full-grown red-eared terrapin (slider to the Americans) some bastard dumped in the koi pond. Hopefully once it's out and fostered at mine, I won't have to field idiots telling me "oh, but it's the kindest thing to do". No! No it bloody isn't! Skipping over the fact it's ILLEGAL to abandon animals like that, we have no way to provide it with an appropriate diet or the UV rays it needs. Also, the koi keep trying to eat its face. They're a lot bigger than it is. All we can do is hope it doesn't return the favour.

And they're a bugger to rehome, because they're a really common species for people to get sick of when they grow too big or need too much specialist equipment. Ho hum.

I managed to hand-feed and handle it last week, so I'm hoping that if I go in with a tin of sardines I can repeat the trick tomorrow. And I'm setting up its tank tonight.

I don't actually want to keep it though, so I've been emailing various rescue organisations. No luck so far.
frightened: Photo by Jason B (Default)
A week after getting them, all four chickens are alive and as well as can be expected, and I've had loads of eggs. [personal profile] bokbokosaurus* for lengthy updates. When I checked on them at bedtime tonight, they were lined up in the nestboxes making soft trilling noises.

* Please don't mention this account if you're commenting on that one; I'd like to keep the two separate.
frightened: Photo by Jason B (Default)

Picked up four ex-battery hens from a driveway in Rubery yesterday lunchtime. Got them home on public transport in two cat carriers, which was a bit of a mission, and into the run on my allotment. Two came out of the carriers immediately, saw all the straw and space, and promptly went into a catatonic state of WHAT THE FUCK IS THIS I DON'T EVEN. The other two apparently decided that since the cat carriers offered more space, nesting material and privacy than they'd ever had in their lives before, they'd stay just where they were, thanks.

Eventually they all emerged and figured out the food and water, after first making a concerted effort to eat the wood shavings, dust bath and straw. One explored the coop, came out shouting, and made her bid for Top Hen, beating up each of the others in turn. She seems to have settled down today, though I put Vaseline on their combs (stops the attacker from getting a grip) and sprayed the bottom hen with anti-peck spray just in case.

They're not actually in terrible condition. Three are missing half their beaks, and they've all got bald spots, and the unfortunate hen at the bottom of the pecking order only uses one of her legs. But I was genuinely expecting worse. We'll see how they do.

The Top Hen, the only one with a proper-shaped beak, is Dippy. The next one down, with the frilly feathers, predatory walk and upright comb (all the others have their combs oversized and flopped over), is Trex. I assumed she'd be Top Hen, but she seems content with second place. She does like to stand up tall and give you assessing looks, though. Then there's Steg, with the mucky back feathers and enormous comb. Steg is curious about people, and is the one who'll run up and stare at you. And then there's Arky at the bottom, who gets most of Dippy's wrath because she's only got one working leg, so she's not as quick to get out of the way. But Trex seems to have decided she's Arky's bodyguard, and stands over her when she's resting and guards the door when she's in the nest box.

They've survived their first 24 hours, which is a Good Start. And I sincerely hope we've now sorted out the pecking order. I've had three eggs so far, which is impressive, given they're meant to be off lay and knackered.
frightened: Photo by Jason B (Default)
I did DIY in the dark. With hammering. I am legendarily clumsy and failed woodwork at school. I still have all my fingers, which is astonishing.

The two runs are both up, roofed over the wire to keep the rain out (with wood till I ran out of wood, and then with tarpaulins), lined with tarpaulins on the floor, and filled with straw, since my super-fast-growing grass seed, well, didn't. (They'll never have seen straw before. You get SO MUCH STRAW out of a compacted bale. It's gonna blow their tiny chicken minds, and it smells beautiful.) The coop roof is painted with: "These birds are checked at least twice a day. They are rescue birds and will need time and rest to recover. In an emergency call NAME on NUMBER." The run roof is painted with: "These birds were saved from tiny, overcrowded cages. Even this little run is big and scary for them. They had never been outside before. They will get more room and treats as soon as they can cope." Hopefully that will prevent well-meaning intervention. The coop and run meet and sometimes exceed recommended welfare standards - I wouldn't even think of using them if they didn't - but I look at it and think "that's a bit small", so I can't blame other people for doing the same. But chickens are creatures of habit, and I'm introducing them to all sorts of terrifying new things, so let's go slow.

I still have to join the two runs together, and join the ensuing megarun to the coop. There's gonna be a lot of hammering steel mesh over the gaps, because cheapass coop + uneven ground != fitting together well. I already covered the bottoms of the runs with mesh to prevent burrowing attacks. I also need to put hasps and padlocks on the hinged section of the coop roof (it wasn't hinged till I MacGuyvered it. Now it is) and the run roofs (ditto). Oh, and mesh over the bottom of the nest box and coop to stop foxes and rats getting in that way. I think... I hope... one more evening, and it's habitable? Better be, since I'm getting the chooks Saturday morning...

Ah, c'mon

Oct. 3rd, 2011 09:43 pm
frightened: Photo by Jason B (Default)
Dear weather,

If you could manage a slow and lengthy transition from the unseasonal warmth to the forecast snow, me and my soon-to-arrive fragile chickens would appreciate it.

Love and kisses,


PS Have knitted 0.5 of 4 chicken jumpers, as modelled by some poor baldy hens here.
frightened: Photo by Jason B (me clown wig)
I'm getting 4 rescued ex-batt chickens on October 15th. Putting them on my allotment. Tasks yet to do:

- galvanised mesh floor for runs to prevent tunnelling
- replace wooden toggles and stupid little bolts with hasps and padlocks
- construct second run; finish painting second run; join two together
- draughtproof coop
- replace mesh roofs on runs with hinged wood
- acquire diatomaceous earth for de-lousing purposes
- knit jumpers in case of baldness
- tarps and some kind of soft scratchable flooring for runs
- sonic and stinky fox-repellents

Less worryingly )

Oh, and I need to make a sign explaining that it's not my fault they look like hell and don't seem to know what to do with enough space to stretch their wings, and if the state of them outrages people, then don't report me to the RSPCA, just buy organic eggs in future.
frightened: (sigh)
So I bought one of these, with an extra run because I thought it looked a bit small. I'm transferring it over to the allotment and putting it up, box by box. So far I've got one of the runs constructed, though not reinforced to my satisfaction.

All the hen rescue places tell you to buy a coop and run that's meant to fit at least two more hens than you're planning to get, because the space in these things is seriously stingy. They're right.

6 to 10 hens? Seriously? Are you on crack? Have they been zapped by the incredible shrinking ray? You cannot keep 10 hens in that run. Well, it's physically possible, but it makes you an asshole. It's just over four feet by just over two feet - gives you just over ten square feet of space. Just over one square foot per hen. That's shitty. That's a couple of inches more than they had in a battery cage.

I'm only planning to keep 3 or 4 hens, and I'd feel seriously guilty about keeping them in one of those runs. I'm very glad I got a second one. I might get a third.

Aw, man!

Jan. 6th, 2011 11:26 pm
frightened: (sigh)
Damn it, Dick King-Smith's dead.

When I was a kid, I liked books and I liked animals. I was painfully shy, so I didn't like people. Dick King-Smith wrote a huge number of kids' books about animals. You see how he might've been a massive part of my childhood.

I read The Sheep-Pig and Saddlebottom and The Hodgeheg and King Max the Last and Pets for Keeps and Sophie's Tom and Martin's Mice. All or most were published by Young Puffin, I think.

I mean, he was 88. But damn it.


Dec. 19th, 2010 08:51 am
frightened: (bike)
I really don't want to leave the house. I have to, though. I have to go to my outdoor job and feed the animals. But it's soooooooo cold, and the roads are so screwed-up...

Come on, girl. Up. Dressed. Go.
frightened: (janis)
Teenage schoolgirl: Do you work here?
Me: Yep.
Schoolgirl: How old are you?
Me: 27.
Schoolgirl: ...Are you a boy or a girl?
Me: I'm a girl.
Schoolgirl: Oh! *Covers face with hands, flees*
Me: Well, that was subtle.


frightened: Photo by Jason B (Default)

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