frightened: Photo by Jason B (Default)
2011-10-22 08:43 pm

Chicken updates

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)
2011-10-16 07:59 pm
Entry tags:



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)
2011-10-12 07:10 am

Chicken prep continues

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...
frightened: Photo by Jason B (Default)
2011-10-03 09:43 pm

Ah, c'mon

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)
2011-09-20 09:47 pm

In nicer news

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: (karate)
2011-04-23 09:08 pm
Entry tags:

Yes, yes, free the weed and all that

But while it is, in fact, illegal, DON'T GROW IT ON MY ALLOTMENT, YOU MONUMENTAL ARSEHOLES!!!!!

So the wife was weeding up the far end of my allotment today, while I was digging out bindweed roots and planting spuds. And she says "Er, there's a plant with seven leaves down here." Well, there were two. With marks of watering, and potting compost still in their roots.

Some fucker planted cannabis on the overgrown end of my allotment. I pulled it up in a rage, and I was going to dispose of it somehow (hadn't planned that far ahead), and the Voice Of Reason (also known as the wife) pointed out we should probably contact the police. So we did.

I'm not in favour of the war on drugs. I think drugs should be legalised. I don't give a damn if someone smokes weed (although if you drive stoned, you're an irresponsible potentially-murdering fucker and you really should be arrested, just like if you drive drunk). I disagree with arrests for possession. I also think growing your own is better than giving money to organised crime.

But here's the thing: it is still illegal. When you possess or grow weed, you are taking a calculated risk. And you don't get to make other people take calculated risks without their knowledge or consent. You don't get to plant - no pun intended - drugs on me. Take responsibility for your own fucking habit, and grow it on your own fucking property.

Also, I know you can't tell because it looks like shit, but I work hard on that allotment. Clearing a couple of cubic feet of stones and invasive weeds takes me about an hour of sweating and hayfever and sunburn and backache. You don't get to treat it like an abandoned piece of waste ground that's yours for the taking. Fuck off.

And then things took a turn for the weirder still, when the police did show up and tried to convince us it was just mint! What species of mint has long, thin, serrated leaflets arranged in three pairs leading up to a single long one? What species of mint smells like the top deck of a bus that goes through Handsworth? And who the hell goes to that much trouble to cultivate mint where they think it won't be found?

The police were also singularly unhelpful when we raised the issue of my stuff being trashed in revenge for destroying the plants. "Did they see you pulling them up?" Well, no, but I think they'll notice that they're not there any more! And when they do, I'd quite like my garden to stay in one piece.
frightened: (bike)
2011-03-21 07:31 pm

Amazingly productive day

If there's anybody who reads my LJ who doesn't have some kind of mental or chronic illness, it's probably not clear what all the fuss is about. But for me, this is one of the best days I've had in a long time, and I've done a bunch of stuff I've been meaning to get around to. There's still stuff that needs doing - I didn't get around to picking up my prescription, for instance - but still, this was a damn good day. Recently, if I'd managed one of these things, I was calling it a success.

Stuff I did! YAY! Go team me! )

Phew! Now I think I'm going to bed.

* Bad thing: discovering the raspberry bush you want to save is thoroughly tangled up with couch grass you want to fatally kill very hard to death until it dies of it and isn't alive any more.

Worse thing: starting the uprooting and untangling process with your bare hands, and finding the large and thriving nest of red** ants in there.

** Since I didn't get stung, I'm thinking they were actually yellow ants, which are less aggressive. Still startled the hell out of me.