The chicken chicken sitter

Before my stepmother and my father moved to their new home, they kept chickens in the backyard. The chooks as we call them in Australia, had a pretty wooden house but also ranged free in the garden, eating pesky bugs and providing lovely organic eggs. One day, one of the chooks flew over the fence and into the next door neighbours garden. I stood in our garden ready to be passed the escapee over the fence. Sitting happily in my stepmother’s arms, the chook was passed over, it began flapping in my face, I squeaked, it squawked, and jumped out of my arms safely to the ground, no thanks to me. I learnt that chickens scare me(just a little).

Our neighbours have gone on holiday, so I have been chicken sitting. I’ve been feeding and watering the chickens and collecting their eggs. One of the chooks is broody so I was instructed to just slide my hand under her and remove the egg. Sounded easy. My younger son came with me to watch. I suggested he might like to get the egg, but no, he thought not. Instead he rolled around laughing whilst poor Miss Broody Hen pecked repeatedly at my hand every time  I tried to remove her egg. It felt mean, taking away her precious egg. How tempting it was to leave her sitting happily on her egg, but then the neighbours would  have come back to a large pile of stale eggs I suppose.

We have really been enjoying eating the fresh organic eggs, the yolks are amazingly orange. I love eating things that I know haven’t been covered in horrible sprays. I’ve grown up with my parents and grandparents growing lots of lovely things in their gardens. My mother’s father in particular grew edible plants. Papa’s little garden was full of pots of tomatoes, lemon and orange trees, rhubarb, parsley, tamarillos and silverbeet just to name a few. He was a fitter and turner and made most of the things in the garden himself. He came from an age where you didn’t go and buy new pots to plant in, you made your own by repurposing old containers. You didn’t throw broken items away, you fixed them, or turned them into new things.

Recently, I found an empty olive oil container left out on the nature strip. I remembered my Papa and his tomato pots and thought that it would make a wonderful container to plant in. Once at home though, it occurred to me that I wouldn’t be able to get the sealed top off with out making the top lip very sharp. Luckily for me, my stepfather is very handy with an angle grinder and took the top off for me, leaving the rim intact. The container already had a drainage hole built-in to let the oil out, so I didn’t need to drill holes in the base. I have to admit that I really love the look of this container too, with its pale blue colour and red map of  Australia.

It’s all planted up with a tomato, now I just have to hope the possums don’t eat the tomatoes. Can see my garden owl behind the pot? It has solar-powered eyes that light up at to scare away the night-time raiders. Will it work? I hope so, last summer I ended up with a single tomato………….

Guarding her nest

Broody chicken

Lucky roadside find

Convenient drainage

Can you see the owl?


30 thoughts on “The chicken chicken sitter

  1. What a great find. I too grew up with grandparents who raised me and refused to buy new when they could make do with what they had or repurpose something for their needs. It’s a great way to live and I’m trying to pass that on to my children and grand children. I think it’s working so far, the little ones love to see what they can do with the found items I have around here. I get plenty of inspiration from their imaginative ways too.

    • It’s lovely to pass on that way of living. I think for my grandparents it partly comes from going through the Great Depression. Today I get ideas for this way of living from all four of my parents. My stepmother makes new gift tags from last years Christmas cards and then she uses the backs for writing all her shopping lists.

      • Yes, my grandparents definitely received a lot of their values from living through the Great Depression. It’s so nice to have family that understands and shares your values, you are lucky.

  2. Jen, I enjoyed this post and the photos. There is something very homey about hens and roosters. I have several potholders, kitchen towels and a small woolen rug with roosters and hens on them.

    • I know exactly what you mean, Ruby is most interested in what she can see through a crack in the fence. Once one of the neighbours chickens stuck its head through a hole in the fence(it now has a big pot in front of it).

  3. just finding stuff I haven’t seen before πŸ™‚
    That hen looks enormous all fluffed out like that .
    Do love your lucky find I wonder if you have tomatoes now ??

    • My tomatoes have been a big fail! Two single cherry tomatoes, one Black Russian are all we have got to eat. There were two promising looking Roma toms and then a rat or a mouse ate them even though I had them under a net. I give up. Annoyingly, my stepmother sent over a punnet of her delicious Cherry toms because she had too many to eat! At least my basil is firing along so lots of delicious pesto for us (shame I have no tomatoes to eat it with)…….

      • Oh what a shame . Ours were a disaster last year …lack of sun no surprise there then !
        Something about home grown tomatoes the smell and the taste mmm .. I might give them another go this year .

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