Evolution of a ‘crazy chicken lady’ and other musings.

Yesterday I posted about the menagerie that is evolving around me. The proliferation of animals, other than human, that are dependant on us to look after them; feed them, walk them, groom them, house them. All in all, though, they’re pretty easy to have around.

The dogs provide endless love and entertainment. They’re not little dogs. Nuh, uh! One of them is a Dingo crossed with something chunky, while the other is a Ridgeback crossed with something silly(ier).

The dingo is a male and the ridgy is a female. They’re relatively old now (11yrs and 13yrs respectively) and are bonded with each other very closely. They were with me before this relationship and have been in mine and the pup’s life for all of the younger dog’s life.

Cats, we have two but there used to be three. I provided one cat; now 16, always cantankerous and quite vocal. She has been an only cat all her life until my wife and I started living together, she has known dogs before though and keeps the house dogs and any visiting dogs in line. Here she is in her favourite position; on top of the cushion human.

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She is a complete nut when it comes to drinking water out of a tap. It’s a nightly ritual. As we head to bed she races down to the bathroom, jumps in the bath and plaintively mews until you turn on the tap, whereupon she immediately starts to lap the water feverishly, as if she hasn’t drunk all day (she has) for as long as you will let her. Sometimes she is joined by cat number two (or in my wife’s case, her number one cat). Here they are together, each drinking water from the bath in their preferred way.

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The little tortoiseshell is almost as old as the black and white one (my cat) but she has a much sweeter nature and you can successfully pat her without losing an arm. She is a well travelled cat, having started her life in Japan and emigrating to Australia when her people returned after 18 months of a working holiday. She has very short front legs, compared to her back ones and her body length, so she does actually shuffle along a little like the geisha walk. It also means when she stretches up into a sitting stretch her front paws leave the floor, it’s quite endearing.

The relationship between the two cats has been slow to form and I really think that it is only the death of my wife’s other cat that has allowed it to happen. Previously, when there were three cats, my wife’s two were bonded and my cat was always grumpy and trying to dominate them. It’s unfortunate that the other cat died, as it made my wife very sad, but there has been some good from it.

I can’t actually post a photo of the freaky cat (as I call her) as she was so skittish and scared of me that I barely saw her. I did, however, know she existed as she had a special meow she reserved for my wife when she thought they were alone (usually as my wife was trying to go to the toilet or clean her teeth). She would race down the hallway and do the head-butt dance at her, demanding full body pats with some force, and continue her squeaky mews as accompaniment.

She was only nine when she suddenly dropped dead. Literally, she was fine one minute and then she fell off the cat scratcher with a thump. It was all quite mysterious, quite possibly a stroke. It wasn’t the dogs’ fault, they weren’t in the house at the time. She has a rose bush planted over her and it blooms pinky orange flowers in the spring.

Lastly we have our recently arrived chook menagerie. It all started when a friend of ours wanted to rehouse a rooster who was being beaten up by the other rooster. I know that the logical thing to do would have been to eat him, but her children had become very attached to him and so that became an impossibility. So, since I had finally caved and said yes to chickens (I had held out for three and a half years), he and a surprise lady friend arrived in late November. The hen is six years old and she still lays an egg most every day. It’s astounding to think that she is still going strong when you think of the waste of chicken life that happens in battery farming. Anyway, not soap boxing today, on with the story.

We then wanted to add to our flock (one rooster and one hen do not a flock make) and so we went and bought two cross bred pullets. My lovely wife found them through a local Facebook ‘buy, swap, sell’ page.

Oh, I’ve not told you their breeds, or their names, so here goes. Angelo is our pure Auracana rooster, he is trying to be an impressive carer of his ladies but he is a little uncoordinated. He does keep a look out for eagles and hawks though, and calls the alarm so they all race under the hobo chicken palace for safety. Loretta is the matriarch, wiley, previously hen-pecked, and our number one Isa Brown layer. The pullets are Agatha a Barnevelder x Light Sussex and Esmerelda a Light Sussex x Pekin (so she has fluffy legs and looks like she is wearing pantaloons). Neither of them are layng yet. Some pictures for you:

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Angelo

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Loretta

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Agatha (grey/brown) and Esmerelda (white)

They all settled into their hobo chicken palace and sorted out their hierarchy. We received a semi-regular egg a day and we settled into our routine. Then, a couple of days ago, we were asked by some desperate friends to take their two remaining chickens. They live in a small town about 30 kms from us and had gotten four hens in September to provide them with eggs and entertainment (if you’ve never had chooks you might think they’re quite boring but they can be very funny to have around).

In the last two weeks their chickens were attacked by foxes, in daylight and with people around, and two of their chooks had been taken. They thought that the fox must be living close by, probably with a den and kits, and had targeted their flock, so they called us, in tears (as Gina Sparkles had just been lost), to see if we could offer refuge to the last two hens, Lucy Laysalot, an Austrolorp, and Fannie Featherbottom, a Speckled Sussex.

We weren’t planning on any more hens, three eggs a day would have been enough for our household, but we couldn’t let these well loved chooks become the fox’s next meal (and sure enough, the day after the chooks were moved to our place, the fox came back looking for breakfast only 10 minutes after normal let out time).

So, here we are, five hens and a rooster. Hilarious scenes ensued when we brought the new girls into the enclosure. Angelo immediately started his ‘hey baby’ routine on them, Loretta carried on like a rooster, actually trying to crow, to express her outrage and her dominance and the pullets ducked for cover under the hobo palace. It’s been two days and it seems like they’re settling in and have happily accepted Loretta as boss chicken. One last picture with the hobo palace and I think I’m done. See you tomorrow with more inane adventures in Jill’land’.

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