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My chicken flock

For the past month or two I have been very excitedly observing my new flock of chickens. You might already know the story if you have read my other posts. As it always happens with the purchase of a new pet, you observe them closely over the weeks. You begin to see their personality, likes, dislikes, and interesting little quirks and traits.

I have been very busy training my new chickens, and in doing so I think I have figured out the flock pecking order.

Koeksister, my tame, ferocious hen is the matriarch. Aka boss. The new hens follow her around like sheep, and do her bidding. Its adorable really, but she is a tyrant and pecks them when they are out of order.

Koeksister

The middle hens: Alexia, Becca, Sarie Marie. These three darlings are the ‘middle hens’. They are kinda all the same in personality and try to avoid Koeksister and her pecking as much as possible. But each of them are adorable in their own ways. Alexia and Becca have a special bond. They are never too far apart from each other. Sarie Marie just sort of lopes along behind them like a lonely third wheel.

Middle hens

Kartoufelin: The lowest of the low in the pecking order. Kartoufelin is the ‘introvert’ chicken. She detests the company of other chickens and anything really. Being the lowest in the pecking order, I can understand that. Everyone pecks on her. She is always the last to eat or drink as she is always chased away. I try to sneak her some snacks, but the disdainful little bugger always ignores my gifts. She’s also an expert at hiding from cameras. The only footage I have of her is the rare time she and and the others were bunched together. She’s very good at hiding.

Then there’s Brigitte. Brigitte’s a mystery to me. I can figure out if she’s a middle hen, contestant for the matriarchy, or something else entirely. For one, she is the fattest and boldest hen of the bunch. (Koeksister of course, is even bolder.) She’s the only one brave enough to come sit by my feet and wait for food when I feed them. Only Koeksister dares to do that, and therefore Brigitte usually gets chased away. As a matter of fact, Koeksister always gets first pick of the snacks. No hen goes against this sacred rule. EXCEPT FOR BRIGITTE. I swear she’s just so brave for the food. Brigitte will do anything for a snack. She will put up with Koeksister pecking her, toddlers chasing her, and of course the natural fear of humans for a bread crumb. Extraordinary. The other hens eat to live, she lives to eat.

Brigitte eyeing my sandwich

And now I better explain the names of my chickens. What absurd names for chickens! Well, they all have their own origins. Koeksister I named so, because her original companion was named “Kaaskoek.” Direct English translation: Cake sister and Cheesecake. ‘Koeksister’ is an African dessert. Sadly, Kaaskoek has passed to a higher plane of existence. Then Roosdoring (also deceased), whom I named after an Afrikaans pet name. Its almost like when you call a toddler, “Sweetie pie”, or a husband calling his wife “Honey”. Except your literally calling them “rose thorn”.

Then Alexia, Becca, and Brigitte. We had relatives from foreign countries over, and they were the ones who picked up the new chickens for me in a nearby town. SO of course I had to let them (and my aunty Brigitte) name three of the chickens. Well, I was very disappointed to find that they did not have as much ‘foreign creativity’ as I hoped. They basically named them after themselves. BUT, I do not mind. Because now every time I talk about the chickens, someone thinks I’m talking about the human versions and I find myself in rather hilarious situations.

Then Kartoufelin and Sarie Marie. Kartoufelin means ‘potato’ in German. I got the idea of this from my German class. I am learning to speak German, so the day before I got my chickens was German class. I then managed to get everyone to choose a name for the chicken. The results were pretty hilarious. They ranged from ‘Lunch’ and ‘Nuggets’, to ‘Empress of the South China Sea’ and ‘Sylvester Stallone’. Extraordinary what people name their pets these days. Eventually I settled on the most ridiculous name of all. Because it was the only German. And now I have a chicken named Potato.

Sarie Marie I just named for no apparent reason. It was one of those situations where you wake up in the middle of the night with a random name or something in your head and then you suddenly have the answers to everything.

Well, I am going to keep observing the social patterns in my chickens.

I’ll keep you posted about Brigitte’s ranking.

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Birds have personalities

Okay, now that is probably something any person who owns a bird knows. But for those who don’t, I am going to explain the interesting phenomena of bird personalities.

I have a lot of birds. Sometimes I think too many. Therefore I have encountered a lot of unique birds.

For instance, budgies. Budgies are small little parakeets with BIG personalities. But aside from petty likes and dislikes, they also have a core personality. Some budgies are just born evil. They bite, screech, and hate the world. Even hand rearing them will not change whats in them. However, these ‘wildies’ have a greater chance of survival should they escape. They are feisty and bold and have extraordinary stamina. They also do quite well in the breeding cage, as they are strong and sturdy. But some are a slight more evil and these should be kept from colony breeding. They kill their own chicks and will kill other budgies’ chicks if they have the chance. I have a budgie like this. She was hand-reared and never bred, but she is pretty vicious. So when I paired her up with a male, well, it wasn’t that nice. She took care of her eggs alright, but she would abandon them for hours or even days! Also, she was very abusive and would taunt and bite the poor male senseless. Suffice to say she will not be breeding any time soon. And the male? My poor prized breeding male is so traumatized he is currently on a nice, long, breeding break.

Who knows what will come out of a nest full?

Then there are the ‘sugar pies’ as I like to call them. These are the frail, small, budgies, usually produced from a nest where it was the only surviving chick. These guys are sweet as sugar and super easy to tame. Unfortunately, they are exceedingly ’emotionally needy’ and require absurd volumes of care and attention. They, strangely enough, seem to prefer the company of literally anything except budgies. Hand-reared or not, they are sweet and usually won’t bite at all. I have one like this, a young chick called Kiwi. Kiwi is a sweet, timid, attention-loving little budgie. I suspect it to be a female. She absolutely loved being held by me and prefers my attention to that of her parents and or cage mates. I think she will be easy to sell.

A sugar-pie little cocketiel

Then there are the neutral budgies, who usually are a mix of both, creating the perfect balance and therefore perfect pet. Most budgies are these, sometimes leaning more to one of the other personalities.

Chickens also seem to have this personality thing.

As you might know already, they have a pecking order. The matriarch/rooster is usually bold, brave, tame, and ferocious. The intermediate chickens are all unique, some tame and chill, others hyper and wild. Then the lowest in the pecking order. Poor hen. This hen is usually shy, timid, constantly terrified and pecked on. I like to call this hen the ‘introvert’ as they prefer to wander off alone then hang out with the other social chickens. (I’ll do another post about my flock’s personalities).

Cocketiels have a similar personality to the budgies, but are a mystery to me. They have a widespread variety of personalities, along with the basic ‘wildies’, ‘sugar pies’, and ‘neutrals’.

Now that I think of it, all birds have personalities. From the smallest sparrows to the magnificent eagles, birds vary. But despite my birds’ evil/good tendencies, I love them.

Any other lover of birds could relate, I’m sure. No matter how your birds are you love them. Wildies, sugar pies, or neutrals.

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Update on the Coop situation

Well, its been a while now, and Koeksister (the spoiled brat) is still pecking the other chicks like there’s no tomorrow. However, her treacherous chasing and pecking has become increasingly less. Also, I have begun training the new chickens and trying to get them to become more accustomed to humans. Its not working very nicely. But nonetheless, today was the day. Today I let out the ladies for a stroll in the garden. All of them, new untrained chooks and all.

Well, you see, chickens have this thing where they will ALWAYS return to the same place to roost. So, since the coop has already been established as their roosting place, I had no worries whatsoever. The timid little chicks would return to the coop to roost no matter what, and this I know from experience. Plus their timidness and fear of humans makes them easy to herd, because the slight clap of my hands sends them rocketing in to the coop. Therefore I can rest assured that my girls will be back home by sunset. But it seems they prefer to stay in the backyard. Koeksister is the one who hops over the wall and wanders off to who knows where, so I don’t need to worry just yet. Unless the younger girls follow their matriarch over the wall, because then I might have problems.

As you might deuce by now, Koeksister has established herself as the boss and the younger girls tag along behind her like ducklings. Its pretty adorable, because they follow her around despite some being twice her size. Maybe they look up to her because she’s the only chicken brave enough to sit on my lap.

Well, I am very happy to conclude that Becca, Alexia, Brigitte, Kartoufelin, Sarie Marie, and Koeksister are all enjoying their free reign.

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A birdlicious outing

One fine Friday, my family and I piled up into our minivan and went on an outing to the nearest city. Let’s call it East Town. (I’m really paranoid, okay?!) My father had business to do in East Town, a meeting or something. So off we went, two screamy toddlers and two teenagers along with their parents. We dropped my father off and then decided to find somewhere to stay and wait for his meeting to be over. Then it hit us. Butterfly Paradise. (Close, but not too close..)

Butterfly paradise was a place full of butterflies, birds, and an assortment of other animals. We decided to go there as it was child-friendly, had a coffee shop, and of course animals. Off we went. When we arrived, the first thing I heard was the familiar chirping of budgies. We strolled in and on the front porch of the coffee shop an absolutely wondrous sight met my eyes. An aviary full of budgies and other parrots. But the wondrous part was the bird hiding in the corner. An Eastern Rosella.

Now, a little bit of background. Eastern Rosellas are the most beautiful birds ever. They are parrots, but usually aren’t kept as pets. This is due to their slightly aggressive temperament and the fact that they haven’t exactly been ‘domesticated’. But I would love to get my hands on a breeding pair of these babies. Their coloring is absolutely stunning and would make a peacock jealous.

I tried to snap a photograph, but it just hid in the bushes in the corner, making it difficult to get a clear shot. But a stock footage image will do the trick just as well!

An eastern Rosella

My mother and older brother could not understand why I got so excited over a pretty bird, but I’ve been wishing to see one since I saw it on the internet. I spent a lot of time swooning over the birds in that aviary. There were bourke’s parrots, a pair of hand-reared rainbow lorikeets, crested doves, and finches and more. However, my brother managed to drag me away and we headed to the animal exhibits.

The first exhibit was a room full of plants. It had a rainforesty atmosphere, and there was a pond full of terrapins. There was a pair of little doves, in the most vibrant colors I have ever seen, collecting nesting material. A blue backed parrot flapped about happily. There were butterflies, but not as many as we expected. But there were butterflies.

]The next exhibit housed two iguanas, fowls, lizards, several tame parrots, little blue buck, duiker antelope, and louries. There were pools of fish with a pair of waders peacefully preening beside it. One of the large parrots took a liking to me and waddled behind me the whole time I was in there.

The third exhibit was full of fish tanks and snakes and rodents. A huge pair of Pythons stared coldly at us from behind the glass. I got the shivers just looking at them. As we stared in morbid horror at the pythons, I heard the familiar chirping of cocketiels and budgies once again. So I moved onto the next exhibit. A sign on the door proudly stated, “Before purchasing an animal, please note they have been donated.”

The next exhibit was practically swarming with guinea pigs. Okay, I might be exaggerating a little but nonetheless there were a lot of guinea pigs. The floor was straw. There were birds and perches everywhere. Flocks of budgies swooped from perch to perch. There were several large blue and gold macaws, cockatoos, a galah, and cocketiels and African greys. It was awesome. There were two ring necks who squealed an assortment of greetings in several languages.

It was so amazing in there I stayed for half an our while my mother and siblings went to the coffee shop for food. After a brief lunch and coffee, we headed to the outdoor area. The first thing we say was this ginormous cage. And it was full of ring necks, budgies, and lovebirds. It was amazing.

The next area was the creepy crawly room, which I did not even enter. On the porch of the room was a cage that supposedly housed a ferret, which was probably asleep under the blankets. There were hairless rats and hairy rats in a cage, chameleons in tanks, and two cages housing the usual mix of parrots. They were new arrivals in the recovery ward. I also discovered another enclosure with several marmoset monkeys, who chirped and tittered excitedly. Now, butterfly paradise was more of an animal sanctuary than a ‘zoo’, so of course half of these animals were rescues. There was a pen that contained an arctic fox. It had been imported into the country through the illegal exotic pet trade, but because it had made contact with the local wildlife it could not be sent back to the Antarctic. Because of disease. And because no zoo would take him in, Foxy had to stay in Butterfly paradise. He had a nice air conditioned room and a huge outdoor pen. One of the staff noticed I was trying to spot him so they got a treat and called him to the outdoor pen.

It was adorable. Poor Foxy, however, was from a cold environment and now had to boil in the African sun. Thank goodness for air conditioning.

Aside from all that, there was an enclosure full of tortoises. Some where about the size of a golf ball and others were so large my little sister could’ve ridden on it. They were all leopard tortoises. Then there was a little pen with meerkats, who had been brought here as tame little pups. Meerkats are adorable little African mongoose thingies, but people mistake them as pets. They are not good pets and then people find out the hard way. Luckily, Butterfly Paradise takes them in.

Boy, do these little guys know how to pose!

There was another exhibit with two vervet monkeys, and another with an assortment of fowl and small antelope. This one was pretty cool, because it had a walk in “hide” to observe them from. The vervets just shrieked and bounced around madly.

Then there was the crow exhibit. It was awesome. It had four crows who were rescued from people who decided to keep them as pets, and failed to take care of them properly. I talked to them, and they cawed back. It was pretty cool.

But the most amazing thing? The owls. It was a large exhibit with a walkway and a little hide to watch the owls from. I spotted two, resting in the grass. Owls are nocturnal, so they were fast asleep. Then I strolled into the hide and was met with the sight of a huge, scowling owl. I got such a fright I almost fell over. However, the owl did not react. It just stared at me through those narrowed yellow eyes. Then it gave me a wink, and closed it eyes to sleep.

I’m sure it was probably thinking, “Ugh, more humans to disturb my afternoon nap with their flashy cameras and loud talking.” Luckily, I knew how the poor chap felt and left it alone. All the time I spent in there was very awkward, because Owly McOwlsen (as I duly dubbed it), stared at me with judging eyes. Those eyes made me remember the cookies I stole from Sunday School when I was five. Suffice to say I didn’t spend much time in there. I later found out that the larger owl is usually a female, so Mrs Owly McOwlsen was more suitable.

But nonetheless, the whole experience was wondrous. I bought some slime and a butterfly buff at the gift shop to remember this day by.

It was amazing, and I would definitely go there again.

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The new flock

A few days ago, I was curled up on the couch, reading a book. Chill as can be. Then, cue the chicken. The wind opened the back door just a crack, and Koeksister pushed it open and came storming. She flapped onto my lap, sending book pages and coffee everywhere. This was the last straw. I had to get her a new companion, before it gets worse. You see, since her best bud and life long companion Roosdoring passed to a higher plane of existence, she has become increasingly TLC demanding. So, I rang up a lady in a nearby town to buy a chicken. But I was not just going to get one. I got 5 ten week old ladies.

I named them after some family members, a folk song, and a potato.

Alexia, Becca, Brigitte, Kartoufelin, and Sarie Marie.

The two grey hens are Alexia and Becca, while the biggest, fattest, darkest koek koek is Brigitte. The other two koek koeks are Sarie Marie and Kartoufelin, and of course Koeksister.

Becca, Alexia, Sarie Marie and Brigitte.

But there was an eensie-weensie problem. Koeksister, the jealous little bugger she is, went bananas. She kept viciously pecking the poor new girls every time they strayed to close to her. Suffice to say Koeksister got a time out.

I thought I might’ve had to get a rooster, because roosters usually ensure that peace reigns in the coop. Chickens have a strict pecking order. Rooster, normal hens, and the smallest in the pecking order. The one who gets pecked on the most. But when there is no rooster, the hens take things into their own hands and the battle for dominance begins. But once the matriarch/ alpha female’s reign is established, peace reigns once again. But there are still the occasional squabbles and of course the poor hen who gets picked on the most.

At first I was concerned that maybe Koeksister is too used to being around humans and not chickens, and that this battle for dominance would be never ending. So I consulted some friends and the internet. Turns out chickens who were living peacefully beside each other in separate cages viciously attacked each other when put together. It’s just a dominance thing.

BAD CHICKEN!! I had to pick her up because she chased them around so much!

But I know, in two or three weeks, it will all be peaceful in the coop once again.

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My birds and music

Birds are mainly known for their singing. This is why I decided to blog about birds and music. Probably the most adorable thing is a bird listening to music. Budgies usually chirp along merrily, others bob their heads and prance about . Some of the more vocally accurate birds might succeed in singling a line or two, but usually not in tune.

Anyone with a pet bird knows that they love music.

But my budgies? I’m not so sure. As soon as I start strumming my guitar, they chirp along merrily. But when I start singing they go crazy.

A budgie eyeing the camera curiously.

Perhaps they don’t like my voice. I am not sure. But nonetheless, it is a rather amusing sight. Me trying my best to practice my guitar playing while my budgies echo with demented shrieks. There is a reason I close my door when I play guitar now. I don’t know if the shrieking of my birds means they are attempting to join the music, or if the sound is displeasing. to them.

Cockatiels have a similar reaction, but more low-key. They just chirp along softly. The males usually start singing, which is absolutely adorable.

This cocketiel is silently observing me playing guitar.

If you have a pet bird, try playing some music to it once in a while. Preferably classical. It’s very calming and I have used it to calm down chicks when its nest inspection time.

Birds and music are certainly meant to go together, but I am not so sure about my birds. Maybe they don’t like my taste in music. But one thing I noticed: They prefer classical music.

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For the bird nerds

Look! It’s a…a…. rainbow bird!! (aka Eastern Rosella)

Okay, so, I have a lot of birds.
A lot. As a matter of fact, birds are my passion.

Bird watching, bird breeding, bird conservation, BIRDS. So, this is a shout out to all my bird lovers out there.

I’m not going to tell you how amazing birds are. You already know that!

But I will tell you what you can do to enjoy them more, and maybe even help them!

Bird conservation. Get into the local endangered species. Learn about them. Do research! Get involved in Bird conservation groups. There are already so many birds that have gone extinct. Recently, in fact!

Bird watching. I am saying this because its the best way to enjoy birds. Get a bird book and some binoculars and observe the local birds in you area! It might sound boring, but really, its great!

Media. Get on the internet, check out website, go on YouTube! Or, make websites and photograph birds and all sorts of other thing!

Get a pet bird. This, my friends, is HIGHLY recommended. Doesn’t matter what type, shape, color, or personality. GET. A. BIRD. They are absolutely marvelous pets and you will learn a lot about birds you didn’t know!

Read books! There are hundreds of AWESOME novels about birds. Or even just plain old boring bird encyclopedias! Reading is a great way to learn more about birds.

Get some bird art! Okay, I just said that because a painting or two of birds in your house really brightens it up. Give it a shot!

And lastly, KEEP LOVING BIRDS!!

That’s all for now!

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My spoiled chicken

Okay, I know I already did a post about my chicken, but I love her so here goes.

Whatcha doing, mom?

Koeksister is (as you should know by now) an African breed of chicken called “Koek Koek”. Or Plymouth rock. I raised from the tender age of a month and she has been my loyal companion for two years now. All the technicalities aside, let me talk about Koeksister.

First of all, she loves food. I feed her full, and she comes running for more with her full belly. Crazy, right? I don’t understand how she can eat that much food!! Maybe a chicken’s metabolism is so fast it has to constantly keep eating. Because, large meals and snacks excluded, Koeksister wanders around the garden and eats bugs and grass. Wow. Maybe that also explains why she just randomly poops. She would just be walking, minding her own business, and then SPLAT!!

Second, she’s an attention loving little creature. She digs it. She comes into the house and flaps onto my lap regularly, demanding cuddles and love and selfies. I think it might be because she thinks she’s a human. I raised her since she was a chick after all, so she has obviously imprinted on me. Koeksister is an outdoor pet, but recently she started sneaking into the house. One day, as the sun was setting, she comes flapping into the house and settles herself down on the dinner table to sleep. So I just let her. Strange, though, considering that chickens usually prefer sleeping on perches.

And thirdly? She’s spoiled. Spoiled rotten. I spend so much money on her. Food, mostly. But things such as food bowls and accessories count as well. I mean its okay to spend money on your pets, but the reason I think this is important is because half of it is wasted. Koeksister regards my gifts as nothing. Ooh, you bought me a water bowl with circulation to keep it fresh 24/7 for 200 bucks? I’ll just drink out of this muddy puddle on the grass AND COMPLETELY IGNORE THE WATER BOWL. Oh, you got this food feeder that keeps the bowl topped up for 300 bucks? I’ll just COMPLETELY IGNORE IT and beg for food every time you walk past me.

Chicken logic. Dang.

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Tales of a pet chicken

Out for a stroll..

We all know chickens as egg laying, not so intelligent, docile creatures.
But have you ever heard of one as a pet? I mean sure, backyard chickens is a relatively common thing in some parts, but a household pet? Nah.
I beg to differ. Chickens, docile and seemingly stupid as they appear, are in fact not. They are intelligent, loyal, and absolutely loving pet. I say this from a place of experience. A pet chicken might sound rather odd, but they really are lovely little creatures. To illustrate this to you I will tell you about my dearest pet hen.
The pet of chicken I have, appropriately named after an African pudding, is as sweet as cotton candy. Koeksister (which directly translated means ‘cake sister’) is supposed to be an ‘African breed’ called ‘Koek Koek’. She looks like a Plymouth Rock to me. I raised Koeksister from the tender age of two weeks. Now, all grown up, the little hen happily strolls around the garden. She lays me around four to five eggs a week.

But that’s not the point. Egg laying aside, she is a loving animal. She absolutely adores TLC and hates being excluded from excitement. Like backyard birthday parties. They usually end up with a chicken on the table and chips all over the grass.
If one were to wander outside with a sandwich, she’d come running, begging for a nibble. I’m sure she only does that for attention, because yesterday, despite just having lunch and being positively bloated, she stole a piece of pizza right out of my poor mother’s hand. And ate the whole thing, right at our feet. We were yelling at her and shooing her but she just kept eating. I swear chickens can have emotions, because she looked smug.

Despite being a little attention seeker, this old girl is cuddle crazy. If one were to begin weeding the garden, she’d waddle along and come sit beside you. She loves being cuddled and would occasionally sneak into the house. If I leave the door open, she’d stroll in and plonk herself onto the couch beside me. Then she’d edge onto my lap and settle herself down for a nap.

Someone sneaked in….

Chickens imprint on people, and form a close bond to the person who regularly feeds it. So if you want a chicken to love you; feed it.
Usually Koeksister would follow me around the garden, but one day my mom fed her left over rice. Now every time my mother does some gardening, Koeksister runs along behind her like a duckling.
Chickens are very easy to maintain. They simply need a garden to wander in (preferably large), a constant source of water, enough food, and a suitable amount of TLC. They are also surprisingly hardy. This chicken of mine has eaten a variety of things from a piece of rubber to turkey meat.

The rubber incident happened in her chick days, when she had a pal called (directly translated) Rose-thorn. One of them found the broken off rubber tip of a toy snake and went bananas. They charged around the garden snatching it from each other. By the time I caught them, Koeksister had swallowed it.
And she’s still alive after taking a slurp of my coffee mug after I left it on the porch. That was a bad idea. But who would have thought the chicken would come drink your coffee, tip the mug, then stroll off like nothing happened. She’s even drunk soda!

Another interesting thing about chickens, is no matter how far they wander off into the neighborhood, they always return. They know where the food’s at. One fateful day in Koeksister’s chick months, she went for a stroll outside the property. Into the road. Luckily, our tenants found her, and took her in. They had absolutely no idea where she came from or who she belonged to. So they fed her bread, chicken feed, and food scraps. For three days she lived with them in their flat. By this time I thought she was a goner and already had a replacement. (Rose-thorn).
Then, one day, my older brother walked past the tenants washing their car and they told him about the chick. They asked him if he had any idea who it could belong to. So, five minutes later, there’s a knock on the door. And there, in his arms, was Koeksister. Back from the dead! I was so relieved I just held the poor thing for half an hour on my lap and cuddled her. Then I introduced her to her new sibling, Rose-thorn.

Sadly, and quite recently too, Rose-thorn passed away. And by passed away I mean brutally murdered in cold blood by a dog. She was strolling around outside our property (which is perfectly legal by way), when the neighbors accidentally let their huge pit-bull out. Which I am sure is not legal. ITS A PIT-BULL COME ON PEOPLE!! Anyways, that was the tragic end of ‘Roosdoring’ Rosie the first.

Despite the tragedy of the loss of her friend, Koeksister took it well. She stopped laying eggs for a week or so then she started again. When chickens get over-stressed or frightened, they tend to stop laying eggs. Only now there was one problem, with her friend around Koeksister was less interested in our goings on and left us alone. But now? Now she is a little attention seeker. If we have people over? She comes right into the house. If there’s an outdoor dinner? Chicken at our feet. Chicken. Chicken. Everywhere.

Chicken on the wall

But aside from now being an attention seeking, TLC demanding, cuddle-bug chicken, she’s still as sweet as ever. Except now it’s up a level. But it’s really cute, and we don’t mind her shenanigans.

So if you are now considering getting a chicken, here’s some important notes to consider.

You need to have a suitable backyard, and a space for a chicken coop. If you have a dog it won’t work. Dogs can’t resist taking a snap at a chicken. You will also need to ensure that there is a nearby shop to buy chicken feed. You will need food bowls and a water bowl. The water bowl must be constantly topped with water. Ensure your garden has a fence secure from flapping chickens. My chickens were known for leaping across two meter high walls.

But all that aside, here are the benefits.

Benefits of keeping a chicken as a pet:

It poops breakfast.

It’s the only pet that gives back! (Eggs.)

Its a chicken. You don’t need to get it shots or stuff.

If you don’t have feed you can feed it tidbits from the kitchen.

They are adorable.

You can train them. Yes, you can train them.
I taught my chicken to come for her food.
I did it like so: every time I fed her, I said a specific phrase. I would repeat it over and over, until she associated it with food.
So, every time Koeksister is strolling around outside the property, one peep of the food call and she flaps back as fast as her little legs can carry her. Here’s a list of breeds that are good for household pets; Silkie bantam, Plymouth rock, Buff orpington, Australorp, Cochin, Polish, Faverolle, Easter egger, and Wyandotte.

My personal fave? Plymouth rock. They are the most chill chickens you’ll find. I mean, Koeksister gets carried around by toddlers and chased in circles by four-year-olds but she still lays eggs.
Other chickens would scratch, peck, or leap for freedom when grabbed by a toddler. Plymouths? No such thing. If you get a Plymouth from a young age, under a month, and raise it? The chicken would bond with people to such an extent that it’d act like one.
But if one were to get a pet chicken, no matter what breed, I recommend getting one female. Maybe when she’s older and gets broody you could get a rooster.
Or if the taming doesn’t work out, you could get her a pal or two. But really, any chicken as a pet is a wonderful critter to have around.

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Bird Watching

Buddy the budgie, chilling in the garden.

I love birds.
They are extraordinarily interesting creatures. The variety in birds is breath taking, from the smallest humming birds to the largest ostrich, sizes vary. From the dullest little brown job to a peacock, the colors vary. Even in the small selection of your garden birds, you will notice the diversity in personality, size, shape, and color.

This is why I enjoy bird watching. Going out early on a crisp Saturday morning, piling up with family into our minivan and trekking to a bird hide literally in the middle of nowhere. Despite the rain, still stubbornly peering through the binoculars to spot a new bird. Walking on the damp path to the hide with not a bird in sight. Entering the leaking hide, drenched with rain and sweat from a two kilometer walk.
Then, while snuggled up with a flask of coffee and binoculars ready, finally spotting a new bird. The scrabbled rush through the pages of the bird book, the panicked jotting of notes as it flies away. I love it.
Even just sipping tea and observing our garden birds is a satisfying experience. Sometimes, observing my pet birds gives the same feeling. Most people think bird watching is just a hobby. I think its more than that. It’s a learning experience. An outing. Call it what you want, but its more than a hobby.

Bird watching or birding as it is more commonly known can be done anywhere. As long as there are birds of some kind. Seaside? Absolutely. Country? Of course. Small town? Worth a shot. City? Go for it. Mountains? Undoubtedly! Even if its just a gaggle of city pigeons or a lone seagull, observing is just as fun as identifying the varieties. Bird watching is not called ‘bird watching’ because you constantly identify birds. Its not just twitching, ticking birds onto your life list, its observing. Watching. Even when not bird watching. Keeping your eyes peeled, alert for the dart of a robin or the cumbersome flapping of a pigeon.

Bird watching always starts out as this immense task. But really, the best way to start is in your garden. Or a nearby park. Just observing and identifying those birds will build confidence. Then you can move to seaside birds or wild birds in nature parks. Avoid birds of prey and little brown jobs until you get the hang of it. It would be best to get a book about the common garden birds of your area first, then expanding to a book about every bird in your country. A pair of binoculars are definitely a good idea too.

Bird watching is a wonderful way to spend your free time. It is an absolutely wonderful learning experience, and one is never too old to learn. Even just watching birds and not doing the bird books or trips or binoculars is still fun.

Yes, bird watching is a wonderful hobby.