This week it’s the poultry’s turn in the spotlight.
Once upon a not so long ago, we believed chickens were pretty much the same the world over. Now, with two winters of life on this Homestead under our belt (where did that time go?!), we know differently. While our little seaside flock was quite content to continually supply us with eggs enough for our needs – with a few extras -whatever the season
60 kilometres down the road and 200 metres above sea level, it’s a completely different story.
We now know that there will be a couple of weeks each winter where we receive no eggs whatsoever and, for a month or so either side of that fortnight, quiche will definitely be off the menu. Having said that, once the days heat up a little, the chicken coop needs to be visited several times a day to clear out the poultry largesse. Whatever the reason, it’s just another example of how much more seasonal life is here, down on the farm.
While there’s been a smattering of births and deaths in the coop, the core of our flock remains the same. There’s our coop matriach, Delia, airhead Kiki, and bootscooting Jolene but a quick glance at coop colourway will indicate we have definite plans. Slowly but surely, our flock is becoming more trademark Sussex, a dual-purpose breed we have identified as suiting the Homestead’s needs best. Our Light Sussex ladies, all called Sylvia, have recently been joined by three Speckled Sussex girls. We’re getting pretty good at the whole poultry auction deal now (even if we do say so ourselves) and were rather proud to have identified the three bedraggled, tatty looking birds, now known collectively as Raylene, as just needing a little Homestead TLC and coming home with a bargain basement deal.
We also came home with a boyfriend for Farm Girl’s chicken, Gertrude. Another poultry auction bargain, Peter now rules the smaller bird’s roost and, with third- wheeling Kiki, Gertrude is much has perked up enough to settle happily into her job of Homestead egg incubator. Hopefully we’ll be seeing the result of this soon.
But the Flock Character Award has to go to Leonardo.
Destined for the Homestead freezer, Leonardo managed the unimaginable for a second maincoop rooster: a name. Not his father’s favourite, Leonardo’s early life was spent keeping a good distance between him and Earl’s spurs. That is, right up until he discovered that, even with his wings clipped, he could clear the coop’s fence; Not that he’d receive any style points. Suddenly, we were being greeted at the yard gate each morning by a naively enthusiastic rooster who didn’t seem to understand that he was next cab off the rank for The Bean Counter and his trusty axe. As the days passed, we all began to tire of the Benny Hill chase required to get him back in with the flock and he came to the conclusion the chicken life really wasn’t for him, anyway. The day we discovered him jostling for space at the feed trough, chowing down on sheepnuts with Sapphire and crew, was the day he earned his reprieve – and his name.
Every farmyard needs a freerange rooster. Loony Tunes has Foghorn Leghorn
and, as long as he doesn’t start eyeing up the vegetable garden fence, Leonardo is ours.