Tuesday, September 29, 2009


A bit over a week ago, I recieved a call from my Vet, asking me for help for a local lady who's husband and daughter had found 3 ducklings in the Gutter in town one evening.

These are Wild Wood Ducklings, WIRES were called and were not really interested in them.

The Vet gave the lady my number and I walked her through the care they needed and how they would grow and develop, the Lady was concerned that as they were moving back to Sydney at christmas time, the ducks would then...although grown and most likley caring for themselves would be easy Target for foxes.
I offered once she had raised them as far as she could (as the young daughter wanted to keep them) she could release them on my property and I would keep an eye on them.

Calls ensued back and forward and on Monday Her husband called sounding quite worried.

The family have Jack Russell Terriers who have decided that they would enjoy Ducklings for dinner
So Monday afternoon, I became the foster mother for 3 VERY cute fluffy Ducklings, who have imprinted on humans. The family have done very very well with them, as at just over a week old they are still to show any pin feathering, so could not have been more than a few hours old, when found.....

There is now way these birds will fare well in the wild, they are too bonded to humans...I am limiting my contact with them, which is really hard as they are just too cute...my kids think so too....but they MUST learn to be ducks not humans...they follow feet and jump at you to get your attention.

My intention is when they are old enough to introduce them to my waterfowl so they will learn to go out every day and come home of an evening....or they will just become dinner for Mr or Mrs Fox, with no parents to teach them how to self preserve from predators.

I have sexed them and there are 2 females and 1 male....

The kids are thinking of names for them......

I will get some pics today.....

They are just too cute.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

White Leghorns

Yesterday i was fortunate enough to purchase at Auction some nice White leghorns.

1 rooster
2 hens
3 pullets

they are all very nice birds, all laid eggs yesterday either in their transport crates or in the pens at the auction and all the eggs are large and white., just as they should be.

The girls are all in perfect condition, so expect them to continue laying well, the Rooster unfortunately was covered so badly in lice, mites and eggs his feathers have actually matted to his skin.

He has been treated for the infestation, and as soon as the weather warms up, he will be bathed to rid him of anything that may have escaped the treatment.

They are currently in isolation to protect my birds from anything they may have been exposed to at Auction, and will be allowed to free range in the paddocks as soon as they get the all clear.

here is a pic, though not great.....

Friday, September 25, 2009

Heirloom Poultry / Rare Traditional Breeds

Did you have a grandparent with chooks in their back yard?

Providing eggs for the family and meat for dinner?

Mine did.

My Nan had 8 white leghorn hens in her yard….I remember the joy of going with her to collect the “cackle-berries” from the girls, bringing warm white eggs back to the kitchen to either have boiled for me or to help make the cake they were to be used in.

I also remember the disappointment when (the family had all moved out of her large home) and she got older and the birds became too much for her to care for.

The chook shed stayed, like an old ghost town…empty and alone.

I promised myself when I had my family, if living arrangements would allow

…I would have hens for my kitchen.

When we moved to the Southern Highlands, the first thing we added to our farm was chickens….8 silkies….a breed we still keep.

We have since added:

*Sussex (considered on the decline lay 160 / 180 eggs / yr  light tinted egg)

*Black Orpington (endangered Lay 180 - 200 eggs / yr  light Brown egg)

*French Marans (almost non existent....Lay 200 eggs  / yr egg colour Russet brown to burgandy)

*Pekins (true bantam, small white egg aprox 100 / yr)

* Australian Langshans (Large bantam egg round and light tinted)

*Welsh Harlequin Ducks (critically endangered 250 - 300 eggs/ yr Green / blue egg)

* Sebastopol and Pilgrim Geese (endangered)

I have recently added

*white CSIRO Leghorn

*Araucana (blue egg layer)

I am currently on the hunt for the:

*Bronze turkey (King Island Strain)

Nearly all the breeds I have mentioned above are considered Traditional Heritage breeds

(Rare Breeds), Sussex / Orpington / French Marans / Australian Langshan are considered a Dual purpose bird…lay eggs for the kitchen and provide meat, and like the Heirloom seeds for fruit and vege, the Heirloom breeds of poultry are once again taking off in popularity.

To the point I cant supply enough birds, for the people wanting them for their back yard…..

For commercial purposes, the heritage breeds don’t cut it…according to the big commercial production teams, their feed to egg conversion rate is just not good enough…plus being pure they go broody…..and could not cope with intensive farming, so the scientists invented the BIG GUNS.....Isa Brown / Hy-line / Lohman Brown....huge egg laying for the first 18 months....then stop being commercially Viable.
AKA: “The bare Naked Ladies”

who have their own merit in a commercial situation (NOT CAGES THOUGH)...but how many people are running a commercial chicken enterprise in their back yard?

And meat birds that weigh in at 3kg @11 weeks and white turkeys that are so large they can not mate naturally and must be Artificially inseminated by humans.

Scientists only supplied what we were demanding.

We as humans are also to blame…we demand BIG BROWN EGGS all year round…want size 18 chooks ASAP…..My father tells me that growing up,

Having a roast chicken was a celebration, it was “Aussie Turkey” at Christmas….

Now we eat it every other day in preference to red meat.

Have you considered having a Traditional Heritage Breed of bird in your yard?

Put some colour variation into your egg basket.

  • Additional Breeds to consider: 

• Silver Grey Dorking

• Ancona

• Minorca

• Sebright

• Barnevelder

• Hamburgh

• New Hampshire

• Rhode Island

• Plymouth Rock

• Welsummer

• Indian Game

• Aylesbury Duck

• Campbell Duck

• Buff Orpington Duck

There are so many breeds I have not mentioned.

Geese (pilgrim gander at front)

Light Sussex

Welsh Harlequin Ducks

Black Orpingtons

Wheaten Pekin Bantam

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Dusty Clean up and this and that.

The dust descended on us for 2 days....it went from brilliant orange to the white cloud you can see in the pic....it has settled on everything...from the plants to the fences...the roof will need washing as will all the windows.

Felix the white Alpaca is now a nice shade of orange brown. (I actually watched them chase a fox out of the paddock this morning at about 5.45 am was amazing to watch them work together)

The wind is still gale force and its quite cold, I worry for the "bare naked ladies" as they have next to no feathers.

The egg production has dropped, we are only getting 3 eggs a day from the 8 girls (Shayne is coming to pick up her 2 so then there will be 6). With the egg drop I have noticed a change in the girls, they are starting to replace their feathers, or where their feathers should have been.

Iris in particular has nice little dark pin feathers all over her bald spots....very exciting
so instead of the protein in their diet going into making eggs (which I am in no short supply of)
their bodies are using it to create new feathers. Unfortunately chooks can't do both...lay eggs and make new feathers that's why when a normal chook moults in the autumn, their egg production falls off until they have their new clothes....!!

They have all discovered the delights of the out doors, even in the wind and dust, and are becoming increasingly difficult to get to go home in the evening....they have me running round in circles trying to get them to go home, you can't but help laugh at the antics of these girls burning around avoiding home, featherless and sprinting like naked road runners.
Only one girl ...(not sure who) is using the nest box, the other 2 lay where ever they are standing.

Spring has sprung, and I have my first Broody Goose sitting on 10 eggs, my ducks are laying, and we are using the eggs to make the most amazing cakes, though I do have to hunt around for the eggs at times, one girl likes to lay in the compost heap, another in the garden at the stable doors....I have to get to them before the Wiley crow...who shadows their every move...grrrr

Other than cleaning the dust...today's project is transplanting all the veg seedlings into the Veg garden that are ready, pulling out what is finished and saving the seeds for next year.

I am really excited to be planting some Heirloom Tomatoes again this year ..the fruit was amazing.......

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Cullinary Delights

Well this morning was another "First" for the "Bare Naked Ladies"

The got a bucket full of veg peelings some left over sausages, and some fruit....all from the weekends lunches and dinners.

At first the looked at me as though I was insane tipping this rubbish in the middle of their yard....

THEN Lola discovered a Tomato...well it was on for young and old....Gloria stood in the middle of the pile of goodies....getting the best bits for herself....others were grabbing bits and running to a corner to gobble down what they could before someone else decided to steal it on them.

Was a chicken frenzy!!!!!!!!!!

Sorry no pictures of the blessed event....Batteries on camera dead as a door nail.

But to say the least...they have discovered what comes in the RED bucked is "Good Stuff"


Friday, September 18, 2009

Whole Health Source: Pastured Eggs

Whole Health Source: Pastured Eggs

Link to an American Blogger......but very good info about benefits of Free Range Pasture Eggs


Thursday, September 17, 2009

Landline - 04/06/2006: Laying hens to get bigger cages . Australian Broadcasting Corp

Landline - 04/06/2006: Laying hens to get bigger cages . Australian Broadcasting Corp

I know its a few years old but it is very interesting.

Green Recycling machine

I wanted to tell you about my AMAZING Recycling machine.
For anyone interested in gardening....and benefits to the family,
people who are conscious of how their food is produced.....

  • Requires minimal fuel, runs well on almost all your kitchen scraps plus a small amount of Fuel.

  • Low Cost

  • Comes in a Variety of colours, Sizes and shapes....

  • Turns all your household waste into Usable material,for both Garden and kitchen....

  • Vitamin and Nutrient rich by-products

  • By-product suitable for human consumption

  • User friendly, requires minimal skill for operating.

  • Gives great Joy to the user

  • can be used to aid in soil regeneration, and harrowing of unsuitable soils.

  • great addition to your orchard and veg Garden

  • will make you highly popular with friends and relatives wanting to get the by products!!!

  • Do something for the environment......get your self a "Green Recycling Machine"

Picture below of this LOW COST WONDER.....

Monday, September 14, 2009

Felix and Salvadore

Meet Felix (white Alpaca wether) and Salvadore (Brown Alpaca Wether) they are best friends and Guardians of the Feathered flock.

Whilst they do not run directly with the birds (chooks), they are in the paddocks surrounding the flock. Since their addition to our property, we have a noticeable reduction of Crows (stealing eggs), Wild ducks (spreading disease) and Foxes, preying on the Flock. Old Mr Fox who crossed the paddock like clock work has not been seen since they boys took over.

They enjoy the company of our 3 pet lambs, Ringo, Buddy and Molly, and get quite ruffled when the geese leave their dam and the paddock to go wandering around....this is when this pic was taken, they were waiting to count the waterfowl and usher them back to bed....mind you they were also hitting me up for some Alpaca Tucker.

Not a great deal has changed in the last 24 hrs with the Rescue hens, other than again like clock work we got eggs....they have not got with the idea of a nesting box yet and lay their eggs where they stand...so it can mean grubby eggs and a bit of a treasure hunt.

Again its Lola who is venturing out doors again, while the others are happy to bask in the sunshine and dust bathe in the mulch....they are kind of looking like Sigmund the sea monster, as all the much and litter is sticking to their Porcupine quills......All of them have more colour in their combs and wattles, which is a good sign for a chook....quite vocal with each other making the "bok bok bok" happy chook noise.

I must say it is a real joy to watch them, discover life......


Sunday, September 13, 2009

The Natural Lives of Chickens // FreeBetty.com

The Natural Lives of Chickens // FreeBetty.com

How chickens should live.


Operation Gloria: A road to recovery

This is a confronting picture, close up of what is left of the feathers on Gloria's side and back, most of it is caused due to the cramped conditions and being constantly left to rub against both other birds and against the wires of the cages.

The "quills / stems" of the feathers are left, no down on them, they are rough like sand paper and sharp. The birds stand with their wings out from their body to try to protect their skin.

The feathers on their backs are missing as they jump on each other fighting for space and feed, so pull them out.

These are 4 of the 'Not so Bad" bunch....Lola is the one looking through her legs......

Discovering food...In a bowl

This is Gloria......Day 1

Top shot of Gloria and Mandy.......meeting the male neighbours.

The door to their run is open all day, though only Lola has been brave enough to venture out doors.

The smell these birds are giving off from what is left of their commercial feed in their bodies is EXTREME...I have never smelt anything like it...and have smelt some pretty rank things over the years.....

Poor Birdies

The hardest thing was only taking 8.....


Operation Gloria : The Beginning

My Name is Heidi, I live in the beautiful NSW Southern Highlands, we have 50 acres of grazing land where we run a few cattle a geriatric horse, some pet sheep, 2 Alpaca Guradians and and ever suffering husban... we raise our 3 kids and a bunch of chooks, geese, ducks and guinea fowl.

I have always had a passion for animals, caught the poultry bug from my Irish Grandmother at age 3, and always was determined to have a rural property and some chooks.

Well 100 birds later, numerous breeds and many exhibition awards under my belt, we decided to take the jump into small Free Range Pasture egg Production.

I have always had a massive hatred toward mass produced cage raised eggs, and can say I have never KNOWINGLY purchased a cage produced egg.

I am always banging on to who ever will listen about the suffering a cage hen is put through so humans can have low cost all year round eggs.

I dont understand why when there are so many alternatives out there, how people can purchase eggs produced in such angst and suffering....how can eating such "karma" be good for your body?

Almost every council in NSW will allow the household to keep 3 or 4 hens in your backyard.....simple and inexpensive coop in your yard will give you endless eggs for your kitchen and provide you not only with hours of entertainment but a living garbage disposal for all edible waste from your household.

SO, on Sunday September 13 2009, i decided to put my money where my mouth was....

I visited a Battery egg farm on the outskirts of Sydney, purchased 8 EX-BATTERY HENS ($3.00 ea) who have spent the best side of 14 months inside a shed. In a cage no bigger than an A4 size piece of paper (Go on look how big that isn't), with 3 - 4 birds crammed in with them....laying eggs...fighting for Food, water, space and somewhere to sit.

Never having felt sunshine, wind in their feathers, or dirt under their feet (they stand on wire for their entire laying life) only to be killed off when they are no longer mass producers......dont get me started on how they are killed.....

Egg laying is a naural sexual function that is extended by high protein feeds and artificial lighting.
The very yellow yolk that is naturally produced when a bird has access to green feed (grass, vege leaves etc) is created by mass quantities of Beta-carotene, fed to them nonstop in pelleted form.

An unhappy hen will lay.....featherless, De-beaked and starved for space, never even being able to extend their wings ...SHE will still lay......

For conditions these birds are kept in ...please visit http://www.freebetty.com/

I intend to introduce you to Gloria, Mandy, Lola, Sadie and friends, have a look at what they look like.....I am going to start a Photographic journal of their progress from what you will see to "Normal Chooks"...If you can eat a cage egg again after veiwing the state of these birds....

"karma will get you eventually"....lol

Oh BTW...they have all laid an egg today...bald as they are...they still did what they were supposed to!!!!

Welcome to OPERATION GLORIA : A road to recovery!