Two and a half years ago, we decided to get some chooks. We had chooks for many years before moving to Tassie. Always the ‘domestic reds’, purchased as point-of-lay from the local fodder store. They even had names, Satay and Tandoori were the first.
Then we moved to the country and had four, named after my mum and her three sisters – Jean, Doreen, Mavis and Susan.
Lovely chooks, they’d sit on our laps, knock on the front door,
help with the gardening,
go to bed when asked, give us eggs in return for a comfortable home, food & water. We thought we’d do a bit of research for our Tassie chooks, something to withstand the harsher climate yet provide us with the eggs they were intended for. The number one recommended all-purpose fowl for a cool-temperate climate…..the Barnevelder.
Adaptable, sedate, calm, quiet, easy to tame and train to the hand. Not to mention the lustrous satin-like plumage and glorious dark red-brown eggs. We built a house and a run, making sure it was impenetrable to lurking quolls (we don’t have foxes in Tasmania but the native quoll will do the same damage). We went to the local poultry show and agreed they were a fine looking specimen. We sought out a local breeder and brought home four, supposedly ‘point-of-lay’. The first morning, I opened the door to the chook house, greeted them with, ‘good morning girls’, and was met with a face full of feathers, dust and chook poo as they bounced off the walls in sheer terror. I thought to myself, ‘hmmm, that went well’, as I spat out the detritus. As time progressed, we realized the chook house wasn’t going to be big enough for these large birds. We built a new one
and decorated it with curtains and memorabilia designed to encourage normal chook behaviour.
It has had the desired effect, to a degree. They are happy to free-range around the orchard
and dust baths are a regular treat.
After seven months, they starting contributing toward their keep in a very sporadic manner.
We haven’t named them, apart from one we call Broody, a reflection of her habit when she should be laying.
The others have a few chosen nicknames but I won’t repeat them in print. After all this time, our dream of civilized chooks still eludes us. Their first instinct is to flee
and the look of panic in our presence is never far away.
If anyone would like four deranged hens, let me know. If you can catch them, you can keep them.