Whenever it is windy and bark from the gum trees blows around on the pergola roof, Grumpy gets fascinated by the noise the bark makes. You can see in the background, Happy cares not.
Many days now if we are not planning to go somewhere, we put the cat door in the doorway first thing in the morning so the cats can experience the Delicate Nirvana anytime they feel like. The cat door usually stays in right until bedtime. One day there was a large lizard which was discovered by Happy. She chased it around the BBQ. Luckily I was sitting out there and was able to intervene fairly quickly.
That lizard was smart enough to find a new home. But Happy kept looking for it, for days and days. Not unlike Dudo and Moose over in Spain, who have an obsession with balcony birds.
A couple of days later I ventured out into the Nirvana to discover Happy was obsessed with one corner of the Nirvana. I soon worked out why – a new lizard friend had arrived. I placed a shoe there hoping the lizard would crawl into it.. and that almost worked. But in the end any time I would approach the lizard would run back into the hole under the drain pipe.
So then I thought, maybe if I fill the hole with paper towel, it will look for another exit – this hole has an exit on the other side of the nirvana as well, though it had a couple of leaves kinda sorta blocking it. This failed on every level – it failed to prevent Happy from being obsessed, and it failed to prevent the lizard from pushing the paper towel out. So after a while I gave up on that and just put the shoe back.
This nearly worked again, because Happy had lost interest and moved to sleep on a chair. I went inside to empty and fill the dishwasher and I heard a scuffle so rushed back out to find this..
The lizard is up on top of the drain pipe. Happy is waiting patiently and watching. Lucky for me, The Other Half arrived home soon after this, and talked the lizard into leaving.
But Happy spent a few days watching the hole near the drainpipe, just in case. :)
Last weekend was super hot time in NSW. While the weather station claimed it was 35C outside – 25C inside.. (95F/77F)
The small temperature unit in the delicate nirvana was telling a different story.. (41C/105.8F)
The chooks were dustbathing in the shady garden and completely ignoring the fridge-cold water plus an icecube I had just placed in their enclosure. My chickens are strange that way. If you tip out their slightly dusty water they’ll beeline to drink it and ignore the freshly clean water you replace it with. If you give them cold water, they will drink the warm water sitting there while eyeing your cold water with great suspicion. Especially if there is an ice cube in it. They do not understand an ice cube.
The kitties meanwhile were basking in the warmth of the nirvana. They LOVE it hot.
But they also do not understand an ice cube.
The chooks got a large serving of summer fruit – this selection of cherries and watermelon cut into chook bite size pieces and blueberries was followed by some chopped up mango, too.
This is the sedate version before the mango was given to them – they go a bit cray-cray for all these fruits but mango sends them into a clucking frenzy.
Here is Happy who soon after this photo was taken found a lizard and chased it around the BBQ until I intervened. She is still looking for the lizard, who hopefully is finding a newer and safer home after climbing into one of my shoes until I could lock Happy away.
Grumpy did not even stir during the lizard drama. She is far too happy sleeping here. Out of all of us I believe Grumpy most enjoys the delicate nirvana. She loves that it is mostly warm out here, that the sun warms her through the sun panels – but blocks most of the UV rays which is a very good thing considering how often she basks out here and she loves her large water container.
Grumpy decided to supervise kitchen tasks this week. Normally the supervisor is Happy.
Any chicken owner who has built a chook pen of any kind will tell you all the things they would do to improve it next time. I have a list of things so, so, SO long. Some of them we have already done – you see the winged roof we added to protect the run a bit better from rain. There is just one thing I would never change..
That one thing I would never change is the type and colour of the paint we chose to paint it with – both the exterior and the interior.
I first heard about Taubmans Endure on the TV show Selling Houses Australia. I’m not usually one who follows recommendations but the folks on that show explained enough about how the paint works plus I read the tin when we bought it.
Seven years later, this chook pen has been out in the weather 24/7 and we have only had to replace one door just a couple of weeks ago – due to our bad design water runs straight off the roof onto the nesting box lid and due to a poor choice of materials water collected there and ended up, eventually, after a heck of a lot of abuse, causing a small area of rotted wood.
I chose my favourite shade of teal green for the exterior and a pale yellow for the interior. Here you see some recently painted batons which we used for the sarlon screens with my most recent manicure in the foreground. Is it coincidence that they almost match? Nope. Not even a little bit. I love that shade of green. ;)
We have just replaced the door with a new one – this time we are using marine ply, and we are protecting it better with some plastic tablecloth material, instead of the leftover linoleum flooring we used from inside the chook pen.
You really cannot tell the freshly painted door from the 7 year old painted parts. There are some areas where a good clean of the surface might be required however for the most part it looks as good now as it did when we first finished it.
And that is quite a feat considering the amount of dirt, rain, dust, chook poop, and that one time Rosie tore off a toenail and splattered blood all over an interior wall. Lucky for me I already knew what to do after that one time I cut her toenails – you dip the toe into cornflour and it stops the bleeding.
That roost in the photo above is where the chickens sleep at night – you would expect it to be a lot more dirty from 7 years of chicken sleeping and pooping but this Endure paint is a bit awesome.
Anyway, if you have something you want to paint once really well and then forget all about it, I can’t recommend Taubmans Endure highly enough. They rather sadly are not paying me anything to say this.
If they happen to stumble upon this post and wish to offer me another tin of paint I will take it, in the exact same colour of green – and that is another point. We are still able to use the leftover green paint from 7 years ago. I’m sure that is probably a big No No and not supposed to be done, but it works for us. :)
One of the main reasons we wanted to build a Queensland Room was for the kitties to have a safe outside space they can visit when we are not at home. This is still our intention but we are not quite there yet, obviously the panels with shade cloth to screen the room in are still a future plan right now. Until they are built, outside time is mostly still supervised.
I say mostly because we do have surveillance cameras out there, and if we need to go inside and do a chore or task, either one of us can fire up the cameras on our phone or tablet and keep an eye on these occasionally bad kitties. I cleaned the toilets while Grumpy remained napping outside, we’ve emptied and filled the dishwasher, cooked dinner, and various other things.
Mainly the kitty to keep an eye on is Happy, because she likes to pretend stalk and chase the chickens, who are just one tantalizingly thin chicken wire fence away from her. Grumpy does not chase the chickens. She likes to watch them and have conversations with them, but she does not stalk and chase.
We are not concerned with their escaping the yard. Our kitties are not jumpers. Grumpy cannot jump up onto our bed, she pulls herself up with her front paws and claws. While Happy is able to jump, she generally does not like to jump anything over 1 metre tall. She is able to get over the fence between the yard and the shed/mancave area.
So what makes our delicate nirvana = kitty nirvana? Plenty of cardboard boxes placed in strategic positions. A lot of box swapping goes on as you can see in the first two photos of this post – same box, different kitty. But they have many boxes to choose from and you see here just a small selection of those –
Plenty of kitty friendly chair sleeping options –
The ability to watch chickens from the boxes and chairs – and for humans the ability to watch all of these –
A large water container for kitty drinking at the perfect height so kitties do not have to bend down at all – turns out the Christmas lights containers are perfect for this purpose –
Cat grass specially cultivated for kitty use –
A kitty door so they can come and go as they please without filling the house with flies and mosquitos –
Coming soon will be some shelves purpose built for kitties to climb on, and maybe a custom built kitty tower or two.
Writing about the older girls always makes me worry I am putting a jinx on them somehow. But they deserve their moment in the sun just like the new girls.
Lizzy was recently at the top of the pecking order – she seems to have been overthrown by Dark Comb now – and she is truly the mean girl of our chook yard. If she were human I would have nothing to do with her.
I understand why she is the way she is – anyone who has watched Wentworth or Orange Is The New Black knows you don’t get to be “top dog” by just chilling out and eating bon bons while your fellow chickens fan you with fern fronds. You have to work hard to be Top Chicken, and that means chasing the other girls away from the treats by pecking at them – though generally she never makes contact.
Lizzy can also be pretty nasty when she is broody, there are times when I have had to use a stick to push her out of the nesting box because she has pecked at me, but there are also times when I am able to pick her up and remove her with no trouble.
Kitty is Lizzy’s sister – they are both Pekins – and presently third in the pecking order. She also rules with an iron fist but slightly less meanly than Lizzy does. The two of them have been broody for a while now which does give the other girls a break from their beaks, and when they are not broody the newbies have been broody.
Both Kitty and Lizzy were brought up with Twiggy who had serious nutritional deficiencies – this we discovered when we sent Twiggy for necropsy as we were concerned about respiratory symptoms she’d had. Both these girls are not expected to live as long as a normal chook due to that – the damage was done before I knew them and it cannot be repaired now. However I suspect their diet since arriving here has helped them somewhat, and I do hope they will be with us for a while longer. Their time with us will involve as many treats as they can enjoy and they will be nutritionally excellent treats.
If I were allowed to have a favourite, Dark Comb would win that competition hands down. This chicken! Where do I even begin to explain all the awesomeness of this chicken? I do not believe there is a combination of words that will express it. She makes me laugh all the time, then she makes my eyes water thinking about how she is the last girl of our original flock still standing and how our time together is now limited. She is nearly 8 years old. That is like 100 in human years. There will come a day when she is no longer with us and just typing this is causing salt water to form in my eyes.
She loves blueberries more than, well, anything else on the planet. She also likes watermelon, spinach and strawberries, but if I arrive at the back door with the blueberry container she runs up to greet me and it is the cutest thing. I will have to try and get The Other Half to capture it on video.
She is extremely friendly to humans and loves to be near us. I think she believes we are her flock and if the rest of the chooks are out free ranging she will sometimes ignore them in order to be near us. If we are not in the yard she likes to sit or stand on the windowsill near Dust Bath Central where she can look in the house and see what we are up to.
It has surprised me greatly that she now is Top Chicken. I’m not sure whether it is because four of the newbies are broody right now, or whether it is because Lizzy and Kitty have recently returned from a long stretch of broodiness, or whether it is because 6 out of our 8 chickens are now English Game Hens, or if she just convinced them all to accept her as the leader. She is the only chicken to be found on the inside roost at night now. She does not rule in a mean girls way, more in a “I am your leader and therefore all the best treats are for me” kind of way.
She does spend more time sitting down chilling than she used to, especially on hot days. I try very hard not to completely freak out at this. As long as she fronts up anytime I appear with the blueberry tray, I will be happy.
Here is Dark Comb with her two English Game Hen duckwing sisters when they first arrived in Cluckingham Palace. Red Comb and Purple Comb sadly went to Rainbow Bridge in 2015/2016 and are now both buried in the garden near the lemon tree – . All of our girls at Rainbow Bridge are much missed but especially the last three as we had them the longest, that is Rosie, Red Comb and Purple Comb.
So every moment with Dark Comb is extra precious now, and she does get specially spoiled with blueberries. She knows me well enough when the blueberries are being fed, I will throw some off in another direction to send the other girls running, then drop a couple near my feet just for her.