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Life on two acres of arid dirt, on the edge of the Australian outback.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

a tiny chicken story

It all started with this little guy.


A few nights ago I was outside taking photos of the sensational sunset pictured in my previous post. Before coming inside I thought I would check on the veggie beds and found they were all quite dry, so decided to give them a water. Once I had finished, I turned off the hose, shut the gate and proceeded down the path to the house.  

In the distance I could hear a cheeping sound like that from a chicken. As it was now dark, I quickly ran inside to grab a torch so I could see better.  The chirping was starting to get quieter but I followed to where it was and found an empty chooks nest with lots of broken open eggs inside. At first I didn't see this little fella because he was black and blended in well with his surroundings. 

So mother hen, the same one as last time, had done it again. Once more she sneaked away from the others to lay her eggs and sit on them. This time in a different location to the last. 

She is a very shrewd girl as I had no inclination of what she was up to, although I had laid eyes on her a couple of times. What I didn't notice was her absence from the hen house (that's what happens when there are too many chooks and the bantams want babies all the time!). We had eight broody ones the week before we went away, so we isolated them from the nest boxes for a few days and they came off the brood.

Anyway back to the story.  Mama hen had abandoned this little chicken as he was hatching because the ants started to move in. She moved the remaining ten chickens to safer ground and still I didn't know.

I picked up the chick all covered in ants and brought the poor little mite inside.  At this point I was thinking that he had been abandoned because there was something wrong with him. He wasn't able to stand so I thought he may have crippled legs, not realising that he had only just hatched out of the egg.

I cleaned all the ants from his fluffy downy feathers and wrapped him up gently and placed him on a warmed hot water bottle. He stayed nice and warm all night and he had improved by the next morning. He was nearly able to stand on his feet...yay! I was so relieved.

Right, so off I go early next morning looking for mama chook. I looked high and low but could not find her.  Thoughts of a fox started to enter my head, but I remained hopeful. 

While I was headed down that same path to the house I could hear more cheeping coming from the empty nest, but this time it was very faint.  My heart sank.  Why didn't I check properly last night?  Anyway I found an egg with a hole, and in it, was a live wriggling chicken, and heaps of ants running in and out of the hole...yikes!

So I brought the egg inside and warmed it up, this time using my heat bag and knitted cover. I placed the still moving chirping egg with the little black chicken, hoping the cheeping would spur him on, which it did do.

On you-tube I found videos of chicks being helped to hatch and the chirping coming from the computer seem to inspire this little chicken to keep trying.

I did give him a hand to get out by gently peeling away some of the shell to make it easier. I wasn't sure how weak this chicken was. Within an hour he was out and I tucked him in the warmth to rest and recover.

I am pleased to say that both chickens are doing well and are now back with their mum who eventually turned up with the rest of her brood. She now has twelve babies to contend with and there were three eggs that never hatched.

So this was my day on Wednesday.

The moment when mama chook turned up...there she was waiting for me to show up so she could get back in the pen with her babies.

Here she comes with the chicks.

Here are the last photos of these two ratbags before being returned to their mama...a sad moment for us both. They had become very attached to me, and me to them...

It is so nice to have a happy ending to this story.  It could have been so much different. If I had not watered that night, the babies would have perished. If it happened last week when I was away, the babies would have perished. If it was cold...(if, that little word with a big meaning). I am so relieved things worked out the way they did.


Wednesday, October 25, 2017

In the garden

Hello dear friends,

An update of the garden is well overdue, so today was the day I grabbed my camera and phone to take some pictures to show you what is happening in the garden around here.

Pretty pelargoniums are blooming.  This was taken this morning and the following one in the afternoon with the sun shining on its petals.

And a red one.

Star Jasmine in bloom.

Happy hippies...

Some seedlings waiting to go in.  I did plant these out this afternoon. Cucumbers, zucchinis and Ironbark pumpkins. In the red pot is a avocado seed. Recently I bought two avocados from the nearby Wirrabara farmers market and when I got home and cut one open I found that the seed had started to grow on the inside.

Sprouted avocado seed. It reminds me of a baby chicken!

Pretty apple blossom.

Baby grapes.

There are not many nectarines this year due to heavy pruning to get the tree back into shape. But I will enjoy the ones that are there.

The apricots will make up for the lack of nectarines as the tree is loaded once again.
Always a prolific bearer.

Curly Kale.

The baby spinach has gone to seed.  We have been away camping (will post about it soon) for a week and this was the result when I got home.  There were a few hot days while we were gone so whether that made them bolt to seed, I am not sure. Could be just the time of year. If you would like to grow baby spinach, go ahead it is very easy.

I have a few celery plants growing. Another easy plant to grow.

My daughter gave me some lettuces and I put them in just before going away.  They seem to be doing okay although I did lose two plants.

Apple cucumber.

I lost all my strawberry plants from last year due to transplanting them into new beds and they did not like it at all, so now I start again...




Ox heart tomatoes.

Eggplants growing again on last years bush.

Baby spinach growing wild.

Capsicum plants.

More tomato plants.

Kale and more baby spinach.

Rainbow chard seedlings or silver beet as I know it.

The herb bed. Planted in here are sage, lemon balm, garlic, thyme, oregano, a rose bush, one baby spinach plant, chives and lemongrass.


Lemon balm.



Lemongrass and chives.

Spring onions and leeks.

Self sown tomatoes. These ones taste very sweet.

The new beds (Hugelkultur) are doing okay. I have Kale and eggplants in this photo, but have planted out zucchini and pumpkins since taking this. Please excuse the shade, I am in need of a new piece, but it does the job for now.

These potatoes I am growing just from the peel. I had not tried this before, but will continue to do so in future. I didn't really have anything to grow them in so I popped them in a shopping bag with some compost and straw and this is the result. I have more peels on the counter drying out ready to plant.

Under the shade. 

I am progressing with mulching around the fruit trees. Eight done, four to go.

And to finish off with a pretty sunset from last night.

See you all soon,