Thursday, October 27, 2022

Stop & Chat: October 14-27 - Not Enough Time

Hanging out with chickens is good for mental health and chicken bonding time!
Farm life is exhausting. If there isn't one thing, there's another. Partner and I have a running joke that whenever we 'clear' the caravan of long term chicken residents that it's a perfect opportunity for more chickens to come through the house. Each and every time we've finally moved a group of chickens outside, something has happened and we've ended up with chickens inside again.
As we were getting ready to move Kookie and Coffee (siblings; Coffee died in May so he's not mentioned much any more) outside, Tan Mom from the wild flock disappeared and her 7 remaining week old babies needed someone to care for them. That group of chickens is called the Babies. I ended up holding off on moving Kookie and Crumble into an outside night time coop because I was afraid of something getting them while they were still very small.
When the Babies were about 7 weeks old, we moved them to a coop outside so they could have more space. Unfortunately, a carpet python ate three of them. The morning I discovered the snake, I brought the four survivors inside again. That same week, the February/March 2022 floods hit, and any plans we had for moving our chickens into coops outside got put indefinitely on hold.
In April, we got Kookie and Coffee outside into the coop. Since Coffee was in his horny rooster bully months, I couldn't introduce the Babies to the coop. That did leave an empty space inside the caravan, however, for a string of chickens from the wild flock to come through. We had a couple of injured young pullets and cockerels that needed to be put in a hospital bin inside while we tended to their wounds and nursed them back to health.

In May, Coffee died rather suddenly, and we were left with a very needy Kookie. At the time, Kookie only recognized Coffee, Partner, or I as 'her flock' and she became very needy of our attention without Coffee to keep her company. After a few weeks, I was able to get her to socialize with the wild members of the flock and get her moved into her own coop to sleep at night.

In June Kookie went broody, and I was finally able to move the Babies into the coop and reclaim our caravan for humans. Mid June-early July is the longest we've gone since December without any poultry in our caravan. Of course, that didn't last long as once Kookie's single baby, Crumble, hatched, we had to move the two of them inside into a large bin for Crumble's protection. It was Kookie's first time being a momma, after all, and it was the middle of winter. It was too cold for little Crumble to be free roaming outside with Kookie. 

Side note: being able to watch a chick and mother hen when the mother absolutely trusts you is a treasure of an experience. 

My partner (blue crown icon) knows me so well.

At the end of July, while we still had Kookie and Crumble inside, one of the wild roosters got himself wedged between a palm tree and the side fencing of the house. He ended up with a pretty nasty looking eye and his sense of balance and direction seemed to be completely missing. We took him in and tried nursing him back to health. His eye healed okay, but his balance seems to be permanently affected. We tried releasing him back into the wild flock, but the other roosters bully him relentlessly until he gets stuck or finds a corner to hide in. 

As we were nursing him back to health, he earned the nickname Roostyboi (we're so creative...) and we became very attached to his majestic plumage and gentle disposition.

I mean, just look at that sweet face. 

We've ended up figuring out a living situation for Roostyboi that he seems happy with. At night, he goes into the coop with the Babies. When we let the Babies out in the morning, we grab Roostyboi and put him in one of the chicken tractors (a mobile coop on wheels) with the flock. That way he gets interaction with the flock and he remains protected from bully roosters. At the end of the day, we grab him and have ourselves a little snuggle before putting him back in the coop.

As far as either of us can tell, Roostyboi is happy with this setup. The only time I've seen him act like he doesn't like his tractor coop and wants out is at the end of the day, when he wants to go to his night time roost. He even gets friends keeping him company; young chicks can easily squeeze their way into the coop to say hi to him.

In August, I took to putting Kookie and Crumble in the chicken tractor with Roostyboi if I wasn't going to supervise their free range time. This kept Roostyboi company and let Crumble get integrated into the flock without them bullying him too much. It also got Kookie re-integrated into the flock, as she had been mostly absent for the better part of two months.

In September, we took in 22 chicks after their mother was carried off by some predator in the early hours of the morning. All we could find of her was a trail of feathers leading off the property. Their mother, who we had called Pale Foot, was a wild hen I had watched grow up and formed a decently friendly bond with. She would always bring the babies over to me to grab any food I offered her, and I spent many hours sitting next to her and telling her how gorgeous all of her babies are.


 The now-21 chicks, who we call Cheep Cheeps, have finally reached a size where I'm comfortable letting them free roam during the day. It's not an ideal situation, but we don't have a secure chicken run to keep them in and the coop/bin is far too small to let them sit in there unless they're just sleeping. Putting them to bed is easy; I just open the caravan door and they come filing in and let me transfer them to their bin.


I went on a huge tangent. I was supposed to write about what's been happening, and instead I'm just talking about chickens LOL.

I believe in my last post I mentioned I had picked up some sort of stomach bug. That bug plagued me for several days before I started feeling human again. Then, as my bodily functions were returning to normal, my period decided to come early and further plague me. Unfortunately, I also gave whatever the bug was to Partner, and he spent about a week feeling pretty awful as well. We're both not at 100%, but we feel a whole lot better.  

On the 8th, we finally managed to capture String Foot. String Foot is a peahen that has lived at the property since before we moved here. She's had a clump of string knotted tightly around one of her ankles that we've wanted to remove to make her life easier. The only issue is, she is a very very agile bird and all of our efforts to capture her have failed. On this day, she happened to go into Roostyboi's daytime coop after I put him away. That made the capture process a lot easier: just close the door. From there, it was just a matter of grabbing her foot and keeping her as calm as possible while we cut and removed the string. To her credit, once we grabbed her foot she ended up just laying down and staring around. She didn't fight us at all, even when we discovered a good portion of her leg had grown around the string and had to get a bit rougher to remove said string.

Since her string removal, String Foot has gotten a lot more friendly with us. She hangs out by the caravan all day, and consistently gets close enough for us to reach out and touch her. I'd like to think that to some extent, she seems to realize that we were trying to help her. In any case, she's putting a lot more weight on that leg and the wound is healing beautifully. We don't think she'll ever regain full range of motion for that foot and leg, but hopefully she feels a lot better without a string buried in her skin.

I scrubbed and power washed the house porch this weekend. The flock loves hanging out on the porch during the day, which leaves the porch covered in poop and feathers quite easily. I don't normally care, as we barely use the porch, but the clothesline is also on the porch area. Hanging laundry while dodging stink bombs isn't fun, so every so often we clean the porch off to save my poor shoes from poop. 

I also got us mostly caught up on laundry. This is something I'm not quite sure I'll ever get used to in Australia. By and large, people just don't have dryers. Us included. They're energy hogs, and why would you use a machine to dry your clothes when Australia has perfectly good sun to dry your clothes for you?

The only issue is the sun bleaches my clothes, and I hate hanging up wet laundry with a fiery passion that burns in my soul. I'm truly spoiled. Why should I have to lug all these clothes and hang them up myself when I could just toss them into a dryer that'll do the job for me?! It's so much faster and easier!

Another thing that sucks is the weather. We've been in a La Niña and are projected to continue to be in La Niña over the next summer, which brings very wet weather. Wet weather is not conducive to drying clothes on a line. I hate feeling like I'm beholden to the weather on doing laundry. I did just a fine job keeping on top of laundry in America without having to factor in the weather. Now it feels like every time we get a smidge of decent weather, I'm tied to the washing machine and clotheslines as I need to be able to hang the laundry ASAP to prevent a moldy smell. Then I need to be around to pull down the clothes as soon as they're dry, since stormy weather is always a moment's notice away. Even today, as I'm typing this, we have linens that need washed and dried. We have awful weather coming later today, but right now is pretty sunny and decent. Do I wash more linens now, even though I'm still in a bad mood after folding and washing multiple loads of laundry and linens yesterday just to catch up on laundry that couldn't get done because of the weather?

We've entered the part of the year where the weather is unbearable. If it's not wet and so humid your clothes feel damp, it's unbearably hot. Yesterday while I was folding laundry it got up to 85F/29C. I know it gets hotter in Texas, for instance, but I need to emphasize that Australian construction is not to the same standards as American construction. Houses don't have double-pane windows to keep temperatures stable inside. Structures aren't built for temperature regulation because for the longest time it wasn't needed; the weather in most of settled Australia has always been relatively pleasant year round. AC in homes is also not used in the same way it is in America. So when I say it got to 85 degrees, I mean the temperature inside our own home got to at least 85 degrees. Whether we were in a caravan or a proper house, the temperature would be unbearable.

The same thing happens in the winter. In immigration and expat forums, I've read about many people coming from incredibly cold climates saying that they've never been as cold as they have in an Australian home in winter. I know that for myself, I end up wearing fingerless gloves all the time just so my hands maintain enough heat to function. That's just for doing stuff around the house!

My point is, I'm a very very spoiled American who will find any excuse to complain that she can. LOL

While I was feeling sick, my trusty keyboard finally gave out on me. At least my 'a' and 'q' keys did. So I ordered another keyboard that I'm still getting used to. That was money I didn't want to spend, but I'm rather particular about having a fully functioning keyboard and I've gotten spoiled by the quality of higher end keyboards. This one only cost me about $88 USD shipped, so here's hoping I get at least six years out of this keyboard like I got out of my last one.

This morning Dave found a dead rooster under the big tree the peafowl sleep in at night. This rooster was one of the wild fully grown roosters that has been here longer than we have. I checked his body over, and didn't see anything untoward about him. No injuries, no blood. It looks like he just curled up and died. Yet another mystery that we have to live with. Was it old age? Did he get into some sort of toxic chemical? We found a tomato plant nearby, and we know any plant in the night shade family is toxic to chickens, so maybe he got into that. Given how these chickens are notorious for eating anything they can fit in their mouth, I wouldn't be surprised if the rooster found the tomato plant and decided to eat the green parts. In any case, I'll be keeping an eye on the flock for any signs of some sort of disease that puts everybody at risk.

Back to why I don't have enough time. The chickens take up quite a lot of my free time, and the rest of my time has to be split between household caretaking tasks and whatever hobbies I'm currently interested in. There are a lot of Halloween themed things going on in UO, and I just don't have the time to participate in most of the activities because something chicken related always pulls me away from the keyboard. On those days where I could sit and play video games, I end up convincing myself that I need to do some household chore instead. Yesterday it was laundry and cleaning the floors. Due to the temperature, I was only able to get laundry done. Mopping the floors of a small space takes up a surprising amount of time. I end up having to do the floor in small sections while I move furniture around, and I have to wait for each section to dry off before I can move the furniture further to get to sections I haven't cleaned yet. 

When the weather is good and I've done all of the chores I've convinced myself I should do, I still opt to spend time with the chickens instead of working on any of my hobbies. I guess chicken keeping could be considered a hobby, but I've never been at a place where my own personal interests are conflicting with each other in time usage. In older days, when I was exhausted from whatever events that day brought me, I still would have the time and energy to sit at the computer after dark and write about my adventures and/or relax with some video games. Here, I just don't have the energy after dark. Once I put the chickens to bed I just want to relax with Partner and watch whatever movie or TV show we're working through. Even right now as I type this, the temperature climbs towards 80, and with that all my enthusiasm about sitting at the computer and typing is waning. I could use this bout of sunny weather to sit outside with the chickens and reinforce the relationships I've built with each individual chicken. For instance, Kookie is a Lap Chicken. She loves chilling in our laps. It would be cruel to continue to deprive her of Lap Time since the weather is so great! And the Cheep Cheeps need to be secure in knowing that Partner and I are safe, so spending time outside with them and loving on them is good to reinforce that positive relationship. The wild flock has also gotten incredibly tame through me just being outside with them and surrounding myself with chickens. 

I've taken so long to write this I've forgotten half of what I wanted to say. I think I'll just post this and include anything I forgot in later posts. I hope everything is going well in your corner of the world and you aren't dealing with poor weather!


  1. Again, I don't think I could ever raise chickens with all the random death and disappearing that goes on. I'd be heartbroken each time and a nervous wreck the rest of the time.

    I chuckle at you saying you have no energy for the computer after dark. Same here! Man, years ago I could be online until 2am and still get up for work at 6am. It was like there wasn't enough time for all the game playing and chatting that needed to be done! Now, I can barely log on to waste a few minutes in an attempt to push bedtime past 7pm! LOLOLOL!!!!!

    1. There has definitely been a lot of self reflection and self care to let me reach a point where I can still find joy in caring for the poultry on the property. There was about a 3 month period last year where I refused to leave the caravan because I wanted NO contact with the chickens or peafowl because I had a big hole in my heart from the first chick deaths I saw. I've since reached a happy compromise where I accept the good AND the bad, and really throw myself into the good parts to help deal with the pitballs of the bad.

      I don't know where my energy went. I remember having a super regimented schedule and feeling like I was thriving with everything I managed to accomplish. On a technical comparison level, I'm doing the same amount of stuff. The vast majority of it is just farmwork related and I still haven't found a way to balance this new time sink with all my other time sinks.

      I fell asleep before 9PM last night and was awake at 4. That's pretty close to my old sleep schedule, but more of my waking hours are spent in bed trying to wake up or in bed trying to wind down and fall asleep. I think I just need to accept my current sleep schedule and just force myself out of bed in the morning once I wake up.