Archive for the ‘Chickens’ Category

A little news and my baby bird saga

February 25, 2020

Well, I thought it was time to bring you up to date with the happenings at Milkenunny before we head off on our overseas adventure in just over a week.  So soon!!  After that I imagine I won’t be talking of anything else for a while.

 

Kim has struggled with a long run of bad health, numerous kidney stones and a cold and stomach wog all took their toll and made his chronic fatigue syndrome worse.  Lately he has begun to improve, but has to be very careful of himself to ensure he recovers properly.  Nevertheless, we have made some progress on his container shed.  A friend came over and helped Kim to mount the uprights of the hoist, and to raise the top beam up and bolt it in place (no mean feat!).

Then we waited for some warm dry weather and painted the floor with 2 coats of an epoxy paint which should seal it and protect the surface somewhat.  After that the tractor came out and we moved a bunch of gravel over to make a drivable ramp into the shed.  Now we can finally park cars in there again!  The hoist needs a fair bit more work running cables, attaching arms and motors and all sorts, but that can be done at a later date as it is out of the weather.  🙂

Earlier this month Willow, our first corgi, finally came on heat.  That meant a (very) early trip to the airport so she could fly off for a week to Queensland.  She had a successful mating with a handsome Pembroke corgi over there, and then came back home again.  We will not be able to tell if she is pregnant for about 4 weeks, but fingers are crossed!

Twinkles milk supply slowly reduced with my limited milking routine, and the calf is drinking it all now.  That will be one less thing for the family to have on their plate while Kim and I are away.  My hen also managed to hatch some chicks.  She lost a couple, but is doing well with the remaining 4.  We hope that one of them will be a nice natured rooster.

Then a few weeks ago I found a bird’s nest upside down on the path as I was doing my morning chores.  On a whim I picked it up and discovered two healthy and hungry chicks inside!

I phoned wildlife rescue, trying to find a carer for them, but was told instead that if I couldn’t find the parents I should take them to the vets to be put down.  I’m afraid that, foolish woman that I am, I couldn’t bring myself to do that and so I took on the role of momma bird instead.  We thought they must be wrens, as we have heaps of them here, and everything I read said that wrens would be out and about in just a few weeks and that they should be fairly readily accepted by the family groups in our yard.  Accordingly I researched feed mixes and had them on an interesting mix of egg, breadcrumbs, insectivore mix and grated cheese.  I supplemented that with maggots and chopped up meal worms.  Yum!  I also pulled out the heat pad that I used for the pygmy possums.  Anyway, they thrived!

After just a few days they looked a lot more like birds and wouldn’t stay in their nest anymore and didn’t need any extra heat.  Mind you we were keeping them in the lounge room of the caravan and annexe that Kim and I use for our sleeping accomodation.  I brought in some branches and they settled nicely into sitting on them.  The next stage was to get them to start to feed themselves, instead of needing me to feed them by hand.  I made some tiny feed bowls out of bottle caps and hung them in the bushes.  I also dug out an old cage so I could take them to my volunteering work with me.  I was very excited when they began to occasionally feed themselves, although they still wanted to be hand fed as well.

It was good to have the cage as I could sit it outside in a bush on a warm day to get them used to being outside a bit.  Just over a week after getting them they looked really sweet, and it was plainly obvious that they were not wrens at all, but Silvereyes.  We added honeyeater mix to their food blend.

They continued to grow and mature, developing better feathers and a greater activity level.  I ended up with the room getting rather messy and full of branches for the babies to fly to.  I would change them for fresh ones a couple of times a week, and they began to really enjoy fossicking through the leaves in search of goodness knows what.  I think their favourite was the gum tree, and they would find leaves stuck together by insects and pry them apart to see if there was anything good to eat in there.

Finally we decided that they were looking pretty mature, flying well and being generally quite active and that we should let them go.  They still would happily eat food off a spoon, but were also happy to eat from my hanging bowls.  I managed to find a wildlife carer not to far away who had looked after lots of birds, and he was helpful and encouraging and agreed that releasing them where they were was the best idea.

Since they had been living in the building with the window open to ensure they acclimatised to the outside temperature, releasing was as simple as taking the flyscreen off the window one warm and mellow afternoon.  I tied a small gum sapling to the hand rail outside to give them easy access, and hung some feeders in that as well.  They considered the idea for a while before taking the plunge, but then they ventured out into the big wide world.  We have a nice bushy Japonica close by that they quickly flew into, and then they could work their way to the big gums and wattles nearby via some other bushes.

It seemed quite strange that night to have no baby birds in the building.  I looked around at dusk to see if they had returned, but there was no sign of them.  However, the next day, as Kim was leaving the building, there they were, flying into the little gum and asking for breakfast!  They were hungry and very tired and I coaxed them back inside for a few hours sleep.  However they were recovered again by the afternoon and enjoyed flitting around the bushes nearby before retiring back into the building at dusk to sleep.

Yesterday morning they headed out again and disappeared for a few hours, before returning for more food out of the bowls in the gum, and hanging around the bushes again.  I was out a lot today but had to refill their bowl a couple of times and did see one of them feeding in the afternoon, before taking off back to the gum trees.  They have a good startle reflex, but are otherwise fearless of Kim and myself and will happily eat while we are walking past on the ramp.  It is nice to think that they can learn to live outside and hunt, but still have the support of the feeders when they need it. Hopefully in just a little while they will become completely independent.  Some Silvereyes in Tasmania migrate to the mainland in Winter, but if ours don’t hook up with a flock that go, they may be some of those who stay here instead.

 

Kim has enjoyed being able to get nice and close to take pictures of some birds that are usually too high up in the trees and too quick moving to easily photograph on our property.

And that is enough news for now!  Best wishes to you all

Howes Things

December 3, 2017
It seems like ages since I last wrote, so I thought I best catch up on some news before the Christmas rush is upon us!  Life has been rolling on.  We had a very warm November and we missed the slow introduction to the heat, however the tomatoes, peas, cucumbers and other assorted vegetables are doing well.  With our improved water pickup area I can keep the gardens irrigated without the water pressure problems I used to have.
The raspberries are going a bit mad this year, and I have added some strawberries as well.
We were greatly blessed to have some good friends come and stay with us for about 10 days in October.  They helped us out with a couple of projects and we talked ourselves hoarse!  It was a wonderful time, though we felt rather bad that we spent most of the time at home rather than doing the tourist trips, but they assured us they didn’t mind. We did visit Woolmers estate on their last day here, which we had never been to before.  It was interesting to have a tour of the historic old house and look around the outside buildings and gardens.  They did apple crushing in this shed.

Apple crushing stone at Woolmers

One of the jobs Laurelie and I did was to put new netting over the area between the vegetable/chook cages and we raised it up with some light posts which makes it much more pleasant to walk in now.
One hen, who had a hidden nest, came out with a dozen chicks just this week, and we herded them into this protected area.  No hawks, crows or currawongs can get in there to harass her or her babies.
We have collected more implements for our tractor too.  We now have a slasher, smallish roller and a grader blade.  Kim wants to do a little more work on the PTO (power take off) before we use the slasher, but we have been trying out the grader blade on Lydia’s arena this weekend.
We also bought a battery powered Stihl chainsaw which has turned out to be a real work-horse (not our photo by the way). I just love it!  Lydia and I find the normal chainsaws hard to start and rather scary to use, but we feel very comfortable using this new machine, and it’s small size and ease of use has meant we use it for a lot of things.  Pruning is its primary intended use, and we have cut down bushes, saplings and young trees, chopped off branches from felled trees to make burn piles, cut firewood rounds and used it as a general saw for cutting pine lining to length.
The pine lining that we cut was used to renovate the shack the older two boys sleep in, affectionately called the Manor.  When the boys first moved in there we put woollen insulation on the walls but couldn’t afford the time or money to line it just then.  As a temporary measure we stapled old sheets on the walls to hold the insulation in place – and that temporary measure stayed there for 10 years!

Kim decided last month to upgrade their solar power system and needed a wall lined in order to mount the inverter, solar controller and fuses.  So FINALLY we did the proper job of renovating the Manor!  We first lined the walls and put a level floor in the back room.  Then we moved the beds in there and did the same to the front room.  Along the way it was decided to remove most of the division wall between the two rooms which has given the place a lovely open feel.  We still need to put in a replacement wood heater and do some other odds and ends, but it is already a huge improvement to what it was.  Then Kim finally got to wire up the new power system which started us off on the job.  The boys have been having fun sorting out a 12V car stereo system to use up there, complete with sub woofer and the works!  Speaking of the boys, they have also been thrilled to reconnect with a friend from WA, Judson, who has moved to Hobart with his family.  We had a lovely time when the family all came to visit one weekend.
Our old dog, Lupo, has been getting noticeably older over the last month.  Her back legs occasionally collapse under her and she has started to struggle to get up and down the ramp and step that she needs to negotiate to get in and out of the house.  She still stoically soldiers on, but we are not sure how much longer she will be able to manage!  Meanwhile the younger dog, Okami, has settled in well to the household.  She is naturally submissive and obedient which makes her easy to live with.  We made her an agility course out of odds and ends to be found around the property, and she loves the attention she gets when she uses it.
There are bending poles, jumps, a ramp, a table and a tunnel.
The bridge work around the corner is looking close to being finished now.  It really seems to be useable now!

Union Bridge nearing completion

Kim has had a lot of bad health this year, often seeming to get worse on the weekends.  Last month one of the health related emails he receives had an article in it about Aspartame which interested him greatly.  He did some more research and decided that this may well have been the cause of his recent problems, as we have been having diet fizzy drinks on weekends as a treat and it turned out that the main sweetener in them was #951 which is Aspartame/Nutrasweet.  His chronic fatigue makes him very sensitive to a lot of chemicals and since stopping the drinks he has improved a lot.  He still has CFS of course, but is now able to do more than he could and he hopes to be able to build up his strength again now.  I have taken to making home made ginger beer and crabapple lemonade as a treat to drink instead.  🙂  Interestingly Josiah has also noticed an improvement in health and energy as a result.
My own health has been pretty good despite various aches and pains, but I am currently having a lot of issues with carpal tunnel syndrome.  Whereas in the past it has mostly just been a problem in the mornings, it is now affecting me at any time of the day (like making it hard to type this email) and is especially bad at night when I can wake up in a lot of pain all the way up both arms.  My helpful chiropractor has given me some exercises to do and my physio sister has suggested some stretching and wrist braces too.  I also have a doctors appointment booked in a week so hopefully I can get it improved as it is a busy time of year with the gardens and slashing grass etc.  The wallabies are supposed to eat the grass in the front yard, but they are not keeping up and I have had to slash it 3 times already this season.  I wish I could grow grass in the paddocks as well as I can in the front yard!
Anyway, I guess I best finish up now.  Wishing you all the best.

Waiting for Spring

November 4, 2014
How are you out there?  We are waiting for Spring to settle in over here.  We have had some warm days over the last couple of months, but we’ve had plenty of wet, cold and windy ones too.  Just Sunday morning I was admiring the fresh snow on the mountain range in the distance and lighting the fire again at church.  We do love the scenery over here though, with the vivid green of the lush grass, the darker green of the trees, the blue skies and the white snow.  The dairy heifers in the paddock across the road add to the beauty too, and they found Kim very intriguing when he was taking this picture this morning.
  FromOurFrontGate
I hope we can grow grass like that on our own property one day, and I think my cow hopes that we can even more ardently than I do!
Cathy with Twinkles

Did I mention she is the best cow ever!!!!!!!!

So, what have we been up to?  Firstly I dug up our remaining fruit trees and put them in pots.  Until we can do a better job of keeping the possums and wallabies away from them in our prospective orchard area I decided it was best to keep them in the pigeon cage – which is fully fenced and inside the electric fence to boot.  I also prepped a couple of our chook house runs as gardens for this year, shifting compost into them and moving the chooks into different areas, setting up sprinklers and planting out some peas, lettuce, broccoli, kale and beetroot.  I’ve got some tomatoes and corn in the greenhouse waiting to go out, but we’ve had some serious frosts lately so it’s just as well I haven’t planted them into the garden yet, though we’ll have to risk it sometime soon.
Our chooks have been separated into one cage for the old girls and another for the young ones.  The plan was to breed from the old girls this year, but our Araucana rooster turned nasty and began to attack some of the hens – so he had to go without delay.  I had already had one hen go broody and we had given her a couple of eggs which hatched two young Araucana chicks this last weekend, so for once we are hoping for roosters!  Her other chicks are purebred French Marans, the eggs coming from a friend in town.  We can only hope they are resistant to Avian TB, but we wanted to get a few more of that breed so thought it was worth a try.
  Hen (Pea) with Yellow Chick
Yellow Chick

French Maran chick

Our poor long suffering turkeys have been struggling this year as the currawongs (a bird similar to a crow) have been stealing all their eggs as soon as they lay them.  To prevent this we ran some anti-bird netting between our two runs of chook house / garden cages today.  I hope that will mean the turkeys can safely lay and also that any hens with young chicks can be protected in there as well.
Netted Area
I have not been making so much cheese lately as I am spending more time outside, but when I was still going strong I made myself a cheese press which works well.  It is much better than balancing buckets of water on top of the cheese mold.  🙂  However we did recently make a large batch of hams from our last pig which are yummy.  Also on the subject of food we now have a freezer full of beef again.  I do love beef and there is nothing quite like a juicy piece of eye fillet steak for delicious dining!!!  It also means we now have one less mouth to buy hay for!
Press with mIni cheeses

My home made cheese press

Kim has continued to really enjoy his photography.  He just upgraded his camera again, and is currently selling the old one on eBay.  Now he is involved with a local club who have monthly meetings and he is going on his first excursion with them to take photos this week.  They are going to our local wildlife park after hours.  They also do an annual display in the local hall and every year produce a calendar with a selection of their photos of the Mole Creek area.  Kim has begun to go to a chiropractor who has helped him to recover from a back problem he was experiencing, and has improved his posture also.  His weight continues to drop on the sugar free diet and he was pleased to tell us all that he had lost 10% of his original weight just the other day.  No doubt many of you saw the recent blood moon.  Kim took some photos of course and it was interesting to watch, though I thought it looked more of a rusty brown than red.
Blood Moon
Kim spent quite a while putting a new roof on the tractor and draining the gearbox oil (well over 100L of it which I am told is not supposed to be a milky colour as it was in the photo – that was apparently caused by water getting into it over the years) and replacing it with the 50L it was supposed to have.
Transmission oil draining from tractor

Is that really supposed to be oil draining from the tractor?

Tractor

Shiny new roof on the tractor

 It is wonderful to have the tractor back again, there is so much that is easier to do with the tractor than without!  We manually dug a couple of fencepost holes while the tractor was out of service and I am here to tell you that doing it with the tractor is preferable.  We were also pleased to pick up a cheap but good Massey Ferguson mouldboard plough for the tractor in nearby Beulah.  Using the tractor for that is more fun than digging with a mattock too.  🙂
Plough
We have been busy down at the church with things other than the usual Sunday service, Bible studies and craft group.  We have burnt off a wood stack in the back paddock, had stumps removed out the front and set up a garden bed out the front of the hall.  Our wonderful overseeing pastor, with his own church up the Tamar Valley, has become seriously unwell with Lupus.  It is especially sad for us as it means we will no longer have his regular visits since he has to cut back drastically to try to manage his disease.  However he continues to organise speakers to come and take our services, though we have had to resort to watching some online sermons a few times lately while things settle down.  Still, we keep the doors open and enjoy the fellowship that we have.
IMG_5897
Caleb continues to study his Japanese course online with Macquarie University.  He struggles, even with his reduced workload, some days with his rotten health.  His Japanese is pretty good though!  Sam is going to see if the chiropractor can help him too with troubling neck pain and the debilitating nausea that he has had for over 10 years now.  We have tried so many other things that we figure it is worth a go.  Lydia finally talked her doctor into removing the side of her most recent ingrown toenail and killing the nail bed.  For some reason they were reluctant to do it, but having a recurring infected toe for months again motivated her to push the issue.  It was painful when it was done, but is healed now and hopefully will mean it will stay trouble free from here on.  Josiah once again has 2 new mice, this time called Cocoa and Trixie.  Along with his schoolwork he has been doing a little photography, and of course enjoys taking pictures of his mice.  He has been playing Minecraft online with a friend and they chat on Skype at the same time.  He actually got to meet this new friend in person recently on a homeschool hike and they got on well.  His friend now also has his own pet mouse, so they have even more in common!  We bought an online course in Swift programming for the iPods/iPads etc which Josiah has started as part of his homeschooling.  Kim, Lydia and myself have also been doing the lessons from the course and it is fun to get back into programming, although I haven’t gotten terribly far through the course yet.
SONY DSC

Copyright 2014 Josiah!

The appointed day for our private power pole to be disconnected finally arrived… and passed by with no sign of Aurora coming.  We don’t mind if they delay a while.  Our power plan is to add to the small off-grid solar system we have with a micro hydro system which should bring in power 24/7 summer and winter.  It should be good but will entail a fair bit of work and money organising a decent water pickup set up and laying out 500m of large pipe through our bushland down to the micro hydro turbine which will be housed in a shed near to the house – but not too close as they get quite noisy.  In the meantime we bought a nice secondhand Honda 6.5kVA generator, so even if the power goes off tomorrow we will be able to manage by using the generator for peak times when the solar system is not enough.  Kim also intends to mount a car alternator on our old non-working generator to be used to charge the batteries if they need it when there is not enough sunlight to do the job for us.
Generator
And finally we decided we needed a place for people sit outside in the fresh air when the weather is nice, so I gathered together some bits and pieces and we have a nice little outdoor spot now.  🙂  Frivolous but nice.
Outdoor Setting