Chickens at Dapto Community Farm
Arthur has had chickens at Dapto Community Farm for about 4 years. They fit in beautifully to a garden as they happily help to dispose of many weeds; they give us beautiful eggs to go with our Dapto Farm grown vegies; and the chicken poo adds nutrients to the soil.
Arthur got our first lot of chickens as day old chicks, and we brought them up at home in our lounge room. We were renovating our house at the time, so having the four baby chickens inside felt OK. Cheeky Chick and Me Too were red Rhode Island Cross chickens and both Blaze and Blue were black Australorp Cross chickens.
Right from the start, Cheeky Chick was the boldest baby chicken. She was clearly a natural born leader – so much so that for a time we feared she might be a rooster! But no, she was a just a very bold hen. Blaze and Blue were less flighty and more patient than Cheeky Chick. And Me Too was as her name implies – she followed Cheeky Chick everywhere!
We became very fond of the four chickens. As they grew up, they had no fear of us. It was easy to for us to pick them up and carry them around. And they thought nothing of flying up on to our sideboard, to look at themselves in the mirror!
We took them out to the Dapto Farm to live when they were about 12 weeks old. At the garden, when Arthur let them out of their coop, they would follow him around. They loved to get the worms out of freshly dug soil – which is fine – but a little annoying when they take to sitting on your spade as you are digging so that they can have an elevated view and be the first chook to see the worm as the soil is turned.
Arthur bought an Uncle Jim’s chook tractor - which is a mobile chicken coop - so we could move the chickens along the garden from time to time. This works OK. However there was a time when Arthur got tempted to make a bigger run for the chickens, using all sorts of building materials that he had on hand. Sadly, one night a fox got in through Arthur’s improvised run, and Blaze and Blue both got eaten.
Another day, in a heavy storm, Dapto garden got flooded. Arthur waded through the water and rescued his chickens in time – though they were a bit bedraggled and wet! Poor old Me Too, the second red chicken, must have been too traumatised by the flood because she died about a week later.
Cheeky Chick is our hero – she is so brave and bold, and she has outlived all her sisters. Arthur is still able to pick her up and cuddle her. We tell our friends that eggs from Cheeky Chick are extra special because they are from an organically raised cuddled chicken!
Arthur bought two more white chickens to keep Cheeky Chick company. But this time we bought them as 12 week old pullets and we did not grow them up in our lounge room. Cheeky Chick mentored the white chickens, and showed them how to eat grubs and prawn heads and other goodies that Arthur brought for them.
If you take the time to watch them, you will see that every chicken has her own personality. They are a terrific asset to the garden. If you look after them well, they repay you with fabulous eggs – better than anything you will ever find in a supermarket!