Jones (the puppy) has discovered the goats. The butcher birds have discovered Jones’ food and the chickens have discovered the kitchen.
It’s been a big couple of weeks here at Spencer’s Run. We got our first 5 chickens – pullets they were when they arrived in a box in the cab of the ute. Half way between a chick and a fully grown hen, they looked timid and wary. For a few days we kept them in their relocatable chook house sitting up on top of one of the raised garden beds in the vegie patch. They had plenty to peck their way through and it gave them some time to settle into their new surrounds.
They now look like proper adult chooks, although they’re still not laying. And let me tell you, they have settled into their surrounds – a little too much for my liking. Yesterday I shooed all 5 of them out of the kitchen and then had to clean up their pooh. Kitchen door now remains closed.
Not a bad thing actually, because with the kitchen door and/or window open, the butcher birds have also taken to hanging out in the kitchen. Turns out they like puppy biscuits, and the food in the chook bucket, and the scraps for the worms. Well, they like sorting through them, deciding which bits they like and leaving the place in a mess. Yesterday morning we had 4 chickens and a butcher bird in the kitchen. Welcome to the country I thought as I shooed them all out.
In other big news, we now have our first cattle. We’ve been agisting cattle until now, but last week we got our own! 15 steers, – young males with no balls. They’re spending the first few days in the yards, so they can get used to us and we to them. We’re hand feeding them. Tomorrow they’ll be vaccinated and released into a larger paddock. They’ll love it.
Not long after shooing the chickens from the kitchen yesterday, The Kid and I headed down to the yards to feed the cattle, bail of hay slung in the back of the ute. As I was unloading several biscuits of hay, I thought I heard a chicken’s cluck from the belly of the ute, and then scoffed, god the chickens are getting to me, I’m going mad and hearing things. I dismissed it, continued feeding the cattle and then jumped back in the ute and we drove back to the house.
I’m constantly counting the chooks (hopefully this will pass, but the pair of wedge tailed eagles who also call our valley home keep me on high alert) and as I returned some tools to the shed, I noticed three of the chickens rummaging around. Where are the other two, I wondered? Walking back past the ute I heard another cluck. Where are they? My eyes searched. More clucking. No chooks. I crouched down behind the ute and peered into its underbelly, and there perched on the spare tyre were two chooks. I hadn’t been hearing things after all.
Imagine if I’d driven all the way into town to do the grocery shopping? I’d have returned to the ute, trolley laden with goods to see two wind-swept chooks prancing around the car park. ‘Which irresponsible idiot let their chooks out?’, I would have scolded, before driving off.
Now, not only am I counting them regularly, but I’m also checking there are no fried ones on the ute’s engine.
Relieved we’d averted a disaster, I turned around to see The Kid, he’s calling out to me, ‘Mummy, Jones is chasing the goats again!’. This in itself is quite funny to watch, but if one of those goats decided to head-butt Jones, he’d be history, so we’re discouraging it. We go into the goat paddock to retrieve Jones. Coming out, Bill, one of the new goats (we also adopted 2 more boer goats last week) manages to squeeze his way between me and the gate and he’s on the loose.
Believe me, a goat on the loose is destructive, they will eat almost anything in their path. ‘Get some pellets’, I yell at The Kid as I desperately try to pull his horns and him back towards the gate. He’s seen one of my garden beds and he’s equally as desperate to get to it. They’re strong buggers and I provide little competition for the large ones. The Kid runs into the shed, ‘are these the pellets Mummy?’, he calls yanking a lid off the first bin. ‘No’, I peer in, the goat now heading into the shed, me being dragged behind it. ‘Next one mate, open the next one’. Bless him, The Kid comes out with a small bucket of goat pellets and between us we manage to get Bill back into his paddock, safely.
Thanks so much, I say to The Kid. ‘That’s OK Mummy, I’m here to help’. I say ‘phew, that was hard work, lets go for smoko’, and with that we walk inside to find that one of the butcher birds is inside again, trying to do himself in by flying at the back doors which are closed. Jones thinks this is a wonderful game and the poor bird starts shitting himself, it’s so sloppy it splashes up onto the walls…
Having saved the bird, set him free, cleaned up the pooh, we get our glasses of water and head out onto the verandah. I sit down with a sigh and The Kid points out nicely that I’ve just put one of my socked feet right into a big dollop of chicken pooh, more flipping pooh.
Later that evening, I returned to feed the cattle again. As the temperature cooled and light faded, I stood quietly amongst the large, warm, heaving bodies. I took in my surrounds, their big wet noses, dark beautiful eyes, strong jaws chewing and munching loudly on their hay, and the smell of, well, cow. It was a peaceful, quiet and grounding moment amid a day of much flapping and carry-on.