Republic of Moreland

April 23, 2007

Midnight mayhem in Moreland

Two nights ago I awoke to the sound of screaming.

No, I didn’t copy that from my grade 4 creative writing “opening lines” exercise. I actually did awake to the sound of screaming.

It was coming from my back yard. Out of sleep’s fug, it dawned on me that the alarming sounds were coming from the chook pen. I grabbed the torch and raced outside to hear the delicate tinkle of a cat-collar bell. My chickens were all out of the coop, clearly agitated.

I didn’t see the cat, but yesterday a tabby, wearing said bell, was casing the joint. I threw stones at it, as one does. But it kept returning all day, eventually terrorising the baby chooks. In broad daylight!

Despite my stone-throwing, word of larks at Number xx got around, and before long a tortoise-shell cat was stalking the back yard, And then you, spooky.

My chicken-coop, being of open plan (Eames era) design, is a drop-in facility for all class of creature. It’s not maximum security, but it looks like I’ll have to work on upgrading it today.

Unless anyone has suggestions as to how to keep them there kitties away. I’ve heard of pepper to deter dogs: is there any non-structural deterrent for cats?

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March 2, 2007

Backyard experiment #2

Filed under: Backyard experiment,Birds,Coburg,urban farming — Kath @ 6:25 pm

Here’s something you probably didn’t know: if you have a broody chook, you can mail-order live eggs to stick under her. After they’re kept warm for 24 hours, they start to incubate. And after 21 days precisely (depending on what fowl you choose), they hatch! Cuuuute. (Stay away, Spooky and Kitty.) Gawd knows what I’ll do if they turn out male. (On second thoughts, S & K…)

I ordered some live eggs from Abundant Layers, one of the many live egg mail services. I wanted Rhode Island Reds, but they advised me that Isa Browns (cross between Reds and New Hampshires) are the best layers. So I ordered five Isa Brown eggs, figuring odds are at least two will be female. One of them arrived cracked, and had to be discarded. The remaining four went under broody Mrs Chooky (pictured, above).

Someone I spoke to a few days later said they’d had problems with Abundant Layer livestock, so I went and visited Deb from Book a Chook in Coburg. (I discussed Book a Chook in a previous post.) Deb gave me three live eggs from her Bantams, chickens I initially wasn’t too keen on, as they’re less productive and have smaller eggs. But hers are very, very nice birds. So I put those eggs under Mrs Chooky as well.

Twenty-one days passed since the Abundant Layer eggs were adopted. Then 22, 23, 24. None hatched, but I kept them under Mrs Chookie just in case. Then this morning, two of the three eggs from Book a Chook hatched (one chick is pictured next to proud adoptive mother, above). Little One was thrilled, and I’m a bit pleased, too. Out of curiosity, I cracked open the Abundant Layer eggs that had been kept so warm this past month. I wanted to see how much — if at all — the chicks had developed. When I cracked each one, it exploded disgusting liquid muck that smelled pure evil. (Just thought you might like to know.)

February 10, 2007

Bird-busters wanted

Filed under: Birds,environment,gardens,urban farming — Kath @ 10:00 pm

I need advice. Since planting my vegies, putting in a couple of ponds and installing a seed-feeder for the chooks, my garden has become the bird hub of Coburg. By the hundreds the little shites are eating the chook-food, the tomatoes and the figs, and making a goddam mess of the garden with their carryings-on. They’re digging up my seedlings, tossing earth out of the beds and making my vegies and fruit trees root-bare. Little One and I made an alarming Mrs Scarecrow and mantled her in the chook pen, and they laughed at me. I tried hanging Little One’s sterner-looking Bert from the shed roof, no change. Someone suggested hanging CDs from the trees: a good call, as I’ve been pondering ways to deal with Bloke on The Avenue’s Skinny Puppy albums. But I tried suspending a few CDs, and while I think they’ve had marginal effect on blackbirds and sparrows, they’ve been ignored by the doves, crows and miner birds. I also fear they’ll scare off native songbirds. Help.

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