Chez Chien

So I’m told there haven’t been enough updates on this blog. Specifically canine related updates. I hate to keep my readers (all two of you) disappointed, so here we are.

We have a dog. A puppy. Who is now 5 months old.

He wasn’t always this old. We first met him when he was just six weeks old.

He came home to us at 9 weeks, via a long car journey from Napier to Whangarei.  This picture was taken with his mum just before he realised what he was in for.

Since then we’ve got to know his many facets. Including “Angry Dog”:

“Zonked Dog”:

“Burger Lover”:

“Vain Dog” – Is this my best side?

Crazy Maniac Dog:

“Beach Bum Dog”:

“Bath Time Dog”:

“Fly Hunter Extraordinaire”:

“Sun Worshiper”:

“Leaky Dog”:

“Can We Quit Training Now?”:

We’ve also had no shortage of “helpers” wanting to take him for a walk:

Of Roosters (and Chicks)

Ever wondered why a rooster is called a rooster? (As opposed to an annoyance, or an alarm clock, or some wonderfully unprintable name…)

Well here at Chez.Chooks we may just have the answer to that question. But first, we also have some absolutely gorgeous chicks.

HenAndChicks-201601

These chicks hatched on Christmas Day. Half in our trusty little incubator, and half under a broody hen that had disappeared into the undergrowth and showed up mid Christmas Day with them in tow. Very convenient, because it allowed us to skip the hand-raising phase of incubator hatched chicks by grafting them on to her. That night she went to sleep with 8 chicks and woke up with 17!

She’s a first time mum and doing an absolutely fabulous job of it.

A couple of weeks ago we moved her into the more spacious accommodations of our large walk-in chicken run, a place she currently has to share with the one hen we own that ignores our fences, plus one rooster. This rooster turns out to be an exceptionally good father (for a rooster…), even to babies that are not genetically his.

We’ve been letting them all free range during the day, and locking them back up at night. A couple of nights ago we went out to check on them and snapped this:

GoodRooster

He makes a great roost for the chicks – and there you have it – why roosters are called roosters. 😀

Of Cuteness

Around here at Chez.Chooks we often have bundles of cuteness. Here’s the latest lot.

Week old ducklings having their second ever bath. Yes, that’s really a paint tray. And yes, the phrase, “Take to it like a duck to water” does actually appear to be based on reality.

AllPileIn

How can you resist something that looks like this?

TooCuteToOmit

Of course, duck plus water equals water everywhere…

WaterEverywhere

This duckling is saying, “Who let that gosling in here?! Bloomin’ gatecrashers.”

WhoLetThatGooseInHere

Just when you thought that ducklings made everything wet, you find out that goslings are the same, only ten times wetter.

ShakeOffGoose

A marginally damp duck:

DampDuck

And a very damp gosling:

DampGoose

A Short Back and Sides

Today was hedge trimming day. I don’t mean little 1m high hedges, or even those trip hazard tiny box hedges, but I mean shelterbelt wind-blocking sized hedges. Ours were a touch overgrown.

Cue picture of the view from our place, minus view (thanks mist!)

before_with_mist

A slightly later picture of the view without mist, albeit with the sides of the shelterbelt already trimmed:

before_with_side_crop_no_mist

Shelterbelt trimming guy turned up with one of these:

HaveDiggerWillTrimHedges

It may not be yellow, and it may not technically be a digger, but it’s still pretty neat. Especially when it can do this:

Trimming

This:

HedgeTrimming

And this:

HedgeTrimmerSpray

The goats were quite happy, despite the noise, because we also had the Feijoa lining the driveway trimmed. Today I learned that it’s possible for a goat to be out-feijoa leaved. You just need a LOT of them:

WeCantEatAnyMoreFeijoa

Some cleanup required. Glad it’s not me!

SomeCleanupRequired

A reminder of what we started with:

before_with_side_crop_no_mist

And finally what we ended up with:

after

And not to forget the really bad ass chipper that’s being used for the cleanup:

SexyLadyOnVehicle

And the back view showing the really wide mouth: (anyone remember the wide mouthed frog?)

WhatABigAssYouveGot

Project Motzle 2nd Gen

Project Motzle has been simmering along for two years now. This year’s breeding didn’t go quite to plan, thanks to an abundance of other broody hens and quacky ducks. However, we did manage to get a limited number of second generation chicks hatched from our 1st gen rooster (Babybrush) and our 1st gen hens (plus one extremely flighty and broody Ancona).

From these we’ve ended up with two smooth feathered 2nd gen mottled pullets, 3 frizzled 2nd gen pullets and 3 frizzled 2nd gen cockerels. Unfortunately while we did hatch out some initially promising blue chicks, none of those were mottled. We will try again next year with the blue mottle carrier hen and one of the 2nd gen Motzle roosters.

We will be keeping the two smooth feathered pullets and two of the cockerels (one as insurance vs death of the other), plus one of the frizzled pullets so that we can compare her with next years’ offspring.

I will be getting some coloured leg bands shortly that we can use to identify the year of hatch of each of these pullets and cockerels, which I think will make life much easier a couple of years down the line when we potentially have a paddock with mixed age groups in it.

This is one of the keeper pullet options, she’s nicely mottled and also has mottled feet.

Motzle1

This pullet has some extra white markings around the neck feathers, which we can probably attribute to the columbian gene from the buff sussex grandmother.

Motzle2

One of the cockerels. We’re waiting for these to reach full size before making any decisions on which to call our primary rooster and which the backup (and sadly for the cockerel, which gets to be called dinner).

MotzleBoy1

Another Year, Another Post

Christmas has rolled around and disappeared into the distance since I last wrote an entry here. New Year was soon on its heels and it, too, has vanished without a trace.

One the Christmas gifts we received was the fencing of the bottom paddock with chicken wire so that the geese could be installed in there to aid in grass control. The geese moved in last week. Thank you for your time (lots of time!) and effort – you know who you are!

The goats also received a Christmas gift. In the days after Christmas Mr Chez Chook dug a trench under our nicely manicured lawn (or as nicely manicured as any lawn looked after by me can look, especially after a visit from next door’s cows) and crawled around under the house to install the lead out wire for a mains powered energizer for the electric fence. In the day or two after flicking the on switch the goats took it in turns to discover that the electric fence now a) worked and b) had some kick. Merry Crispmas goats!

I received an awesome present of a lego chair, which was later converted into a real office chair. Super!

We’ve had a bumper broody season. The incubator has been running non-stop since November providing backup services to sitting ducks and uncommitted chickens. Chick mountain is covered in turkeys, ducklings and chicks. The geese produced 12 goslings, managing to raise 8 to teenagehood.

Goslings

CockerelsJousting

Chicks2015

Kidding – Part 3

Part 3 in the increasingly long “short” series of posts about kidding and lambing.

This part starts 10 days after Oreo had given birth to triplets, only one of which survived. Oreo has started to have discharge from her vulva. What came next was a flurry of Google searches trying to determine exactly how much discharge, if any, is considered normal, what it should look like and how long after the goat gives birth it should carry on for. Google wasn’t particularly helpful in that the answers to those questions were “some”, “dischargey” and “hand wavy period of time”. So back to gut instincts…

Goat alive and kicking. Definitely kicking and somewhat pissed off at being prodded and poked all the time. Discharge copious, not whiffy, pale pink and somewhat resembling a well chopped up uncooked gammon steak(!). We leave it overnight as it’s 8pm and doesn’t seem worthy of an afterhours vet call out.

Next morning, even more gammon steak. More pissed off goat, because we had to milk her too as the kid was only drinking from one side, leaving the other looking like a beach ball. We make the decision to give our vet a call during normal hours to ask what “normal” discharge is. He makes the decision that he’ll come out and look at her. A short number of hours later the vet’s out and poking at goat and discharge, noting that “it’s a lot”. Diagnosis is a retained placenta that’s now making its way out – 10 days after she delivered – and that it’ll continue for another day or so. Goat given ABs. We’re told to keep an eye on her.

That was a month ago now. Oreo’s still alive and kicking. And decidedly less grumpy now that her kid is drinking from BOTH sides of her udder so we don’t have to pin her down to milk her.

Next time… lambing.

Kidding – Part 2

The last post left off with Oreo having kidded triplets, only one of which survived, and Peanut left to kid.

Peanut went into labour in the early hours of 26th August. It pretty quickly became apparent that birthing wasn’t going right. Kid’s nose appeared without any legs, which is not a standard presentation. Cue a 2am vet callout. The vet arrived within 20 minutes and proceded to examine Peanut. He was able to discern that she had twins and that they were pretty tangled. It took a good 10 minutes for him to sort out one kid from the other and deliver them, by which time they were both dead. Peanut was given antibiotics (standard after this sort of thing) and an energy boost.

The next afternoon she was showing signs of septicaemia. Another vet call out, but by this time she was rapidly going downhill and it was too late to save her.

RIP Peanut, you are missed.
Peanut
Goats

Peanut is now buried in our orchard, with her kids, beneath a new avocado tree.

Kidding – Part 1

It’s been a while since a post was added to this blog. Life has been marching on. Most weekends have been spent either dodging some pretty horrible weather (wettest winter since the 1940s apparently) or getting stuck into tasks that just had to be done, or as more recently spent constantly fighting against crap happening.

This is intended to be the first in a short series of posts covering some of that crap.

Peanut and Oreo went away on March 22nd for what was to be a dirty 7 weeks with an Anglo Nubian buck, George.

GeorgeAndGoats

They returned to the Chez Chooks pastures on May 10th and spent the next few months getting rounder and rounder and rounder. By the time they were due to give birth they were both very round and unable to jump up onto the chicken coop to do their usual tap dancing routine, which would have been a great relief to the chickens if they hadn’t been sold a couple of weeks previously.

Oreo

Peanut

On Saturday 23rd August I got up just before 7am as usual and went to check on the goats. Oreo was in the goat shed with one boy kid suckling from her and two girl kids on the floor. Unfortunately one was deceased, and the other extremely hypothermic and not moving.

The hypothermic kid was taken inside and placed next to the heat pump to warm up. Later it was taken to the vet for a tube feed, a process we’re now familiar with and can do ourselves next time. We were able to get it warmed up and even drinking from mum. Unfortunately at 3 days old it contracted pneumonia and went downhill very quickly. With much sadness we chose to give it a peaceful end. RIP little nameless kid.

So that leaves Oreo with just one kid, who has since been named Chips (short for Chocolate Chip Shortbread, a favourite cookie of Mr Chez Chook’s granny). Oreo is proving to be a great mother.

HappyKid

Chips and mum are doing well, though that wasn’t to be the end of our troubles. More in the next installment.

Google Farmers – The Year In Review

It’s been (more than) a year since we moved to our lifestyle block. I still remember leaving Auckland at 5am with a boot full of chickens. The other half left with a boot full of cats and the trailer full of random odd items that we didn’t want on the removals truck. I arrived in Whangarei at 8am with a boot full of very smelly chickens. The other half arrived a little later with the type of hearing loss that can only be achieved after spending 3.5 hours in a car with 6 unhappy cats.

Since then we’ve expanded the chicken collection and added ducks and more recently geese. I’ve learned how to make chicken coops, and then had lots and lots of practice perfecting them as every chicken on the premises decided to go broody at the same time. I’ve made everything from a small rabbit-style coop, through to a walk in shed, and even a portable (sort of) walk in fully-covered aviary.

On the downside we’ve dealt with a mysterious respiratory illness in the chooks, which remained mysterious even after extensive testing was carried out by MPI, though we have a long list of things that it wasn’t. With that over and done with (thankfully only affecting a couple of hatches), we then had fowl pox make an appearance. Fowl pox is basically chicken pox for chickens (and other poultry) and isn’t generally problematic unless a chook is unfortunate enough to get a pox in a really stupid location (like on its eyelid, or worse still, inside the mouth).

As well as poultry, we’ve (well I say “we”, the other half has) removed fifty or so olive trees from the bottom paddock and replaced them with a wide variety of fruit trees, including apples, pears, avocado, fig, loquat, oranges, nashi, cherries and almonds. Eventually one of us will get around to installing some chicken wire around that paddock and the recently acquired geese will move in there.

We’ve bought and learned how to use a ride-on mower. Mowing the lawn (or the orchard…) has never been so much fun! Anyone that hates mowing the lawn should get a ride on 🙂

Speaking of mowers, the sheep are doing well. Stinky, the ram, is in with them and we will hopefully have some lambs in spring. The two Anglo-Nubian dairy goats are still respecting their fences (when they’re turned on anyway). They’ve also had a visit to a buck and likewise are hopefully expecting in September. The goats had their living quarters expanded as part of the mad build-a-billion-coops campaign, using a variation on the walk-in chicken shed design (because goats totally NEED a chicken sized door, right?)

Off the lifestyle block I’ve become involved with badminton in Northland. I’m playing on a couple of their teams, playing 3 times a week most weeks, and some weekends as well. I’ve also discovered that yoga is not just for hippies.