Come say hello to @Aussie-Chookmum! She has been a member since April 2019 and comes to us from Sydney, Australia.
1. Tell us a bit more about yourself.
I was born and raised in the western suburbs of Sydney, Australia.
Moved to the Blue Mountains (even further west of Sydney) almost 30 years ago and had 2 kids. (now 25 and 23 and still living with us)
We are surrounded by beautiful natural bush land and National Park with creeks and waterfalls in walking distance even though we live on a 1/4 acre suburban block.
I love native plants and animals. We have 11 animals in our family at the moment if you include our current flock. While the kids were still in school we did Puppy raising for the NSW Guide Dogs for the Blind which was very rewarding even though we had to say goodbye to the puppies when they were 18 months old so they could be trained. Of the 6 puppies we raised over the years, 3 became fully fledged Guide Dogs, one became a drug sniffer dog and 2 were unsuitable and were re homed as pets.
If I had the time, money and energy I would love to buy a large property and restore it to natural, local bush land. For now I make do with my own garden.
This is a native mint bush (Prostanthera ovalifolia) that I planted in my garden about 12 years ago. It smells heavenly and the flowers are a lot darker purple than they look in the photo.
2. Why and when did you start keeping chickens?
I was buying "free range" eggs whenever I could but the only ones regularly locally available were from the same people who also sold cage eggs.
I thought to myself that the only way to guarantee that I was getting eggs from happy chickens was to have my own chickens!
A few months after, at a local market, there was a man selling a coop and chicken starter kit. He would supply two point of lay ISA Brown hens and the first few weeks of food and assemble the coop for you himself. My husband bought them for me as an early birthday present. So Henrietta and Rowena came to live with us.
The coop was this type
That was seven years ago. The coop now looks like this
It is still pretty sturdy but is overdue for a make over!
Henrietta and Rowena have crossed the rainbow bridge but we have since been joined by Tsuki, Deana, Zen (deceased), Alice, Edwina and Pepper.
I lost Zen to egg binding/fly strike so I was determined to get hens who lay different coloured eggs so I could tell when someone wasn't laying. Hence my currently mixed flock of Leghorn, Rhode Island Red, Araucana, Copper Marans x Araucana and Australorpe x Araucana.
Can you tell who is who?
3. Which aspects of poultry keeping do you enjoy the most?
I love when you go outside and the whole flock comes running to greet you (and to look for treats!) And of course I love the happy eggs!
4. Which members of your flock, past and present, stand out for you and why?
Alice is my favourite of my current hens (Shhh, don't tell the others). She is the most tolerant of being picked up and, because of the mop of feathers on top of her head, she can't see me coming!
5. What was the funniest poultry related thing that has happened to you in your years as an owner?
My leghorn Tsuki is an escape artist. Once when Tsuki was a young hen and they were free ranging in the back yard she was nowhere to be found.
A friendly workman on a neighbour's roof shouted that if I was looking for one of my chickens, she had climbed the maple tree and flown over the other neighbour's fence!
Luckily she knew what meal worms were and I was able to bribe her back to where she belonged. Now I am teaching them to come when I call!
6. Beside poultry, what other pets do you keep?
We have 3 dogs. One of whom is one of the Guide Dog puppies we raised and has retired with us. We also have 3 cats who don't get along with each other. So 11 pets at our house at the moment.
Stella the retired Guide Dog with Alice and Tsuki. Alice has pink Cetigren on her back to discourage feather picking.
Tsuki with Lily and Stella
7. Anything you'd like to add?
When I first got chickens I was mainly thinking of the eggs. I never realized how individual each chicken is and what great pets they make. Thanks to the BYC community I have learned a lot. Not just about keeping chickens happy and healthy but how to enjoy my chickens and their behaviours and quirks.
I like to sit with them and watch them forage and preen. Some people call this chicken TV. I find it so calming and relaxing that for me it is Chicken Meditation.
Bonus chicken pictures:
Deana, Edwina and Pepper foraging together.