With spring in the air, little advertisements have started appearing in the ‘Tiser classifieds, promising all kinds of birds at all kinds of prices. On a trip down to the Torrens Island Market one Sunday morning, we picked up four new ladies, New Hampshires crossed with Rhode Island Reds. The guy at the fodder store selected them from their dark enclosure in the dusty old shed, dropped them into a potato chip box and taped it shut. We got them home, and Sophie released them into their new home. They scratched around curiously, standing on the perch as they surveyed their new digs.
The existing trio of chooks, Agnes and her posse, soon realised that they had company, returning to the House of the Rising Sun to find four new chicks on the block. The turf war soon began, and sadly, the new red chooks have all been debeaked, meaning that not only do some struggle to eat grain, but they have little chance of holding their own against the incumbents. Perhaps used to dingy, enclosed spaces for most of their 18-week lives so far, the new chickens spent most of the first two days in the coop, before tentatively venturing out into the green expanses of the new yard. Now, a week later, they gleefully caper in the long grass, stretching their wings and settling down to bask in the morning sun.
They run like the clappers whenever one of the white chickens gets within pecking range, but they vigilantly keep the turtledoves and magpie-larks out of the yard. If ever a turtledove makes a tentative landing on their turf, the run straight at it, velociraptor-like, drumsticks pumping. Four weeks until the eggs start rolling in!