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The early worm gets the bird

Posted by Chris McLeod almost 4 years ago

Friday morning found the editor and I awake before the sun had even risen. Usually, it is an unwise person that would attempt to discuss important matters with me before breakfast. No one is safe in that regard and even the editor is shooed out of the kitchen should she attempt cheery banter before breakfast. It is fair to say that I’m not an early morning person, but on Friday, I made an exception.

That exception was for the Seymour Alternative Farming Expo which opened its gates on Friday morning at 8am. The expo is held every year in the town of Seymour which is on the Goulburn River. Seymour is a long drive from here through predominantly rural roads and it usually takes about an hour and quarter to get there.

From past experience the Seymour Alternative Farming Expo is a hot and sunny event which I prefer to attend in the early morning thus escaping the heat of the afternoon. However, there is also another reason that I prefer attending the expo early in the morning.

That other reason is because the Seymour and District Poultry club take over a large pavilion at the expo. The poultry club offers a huge selection of chickens (and other birds) for sale - raised by their club members - including various heritage as well as the more usual breeds.

On the expo day, this means that the earlier that you visit the poultry club, the more likely you'll be able to select and purchase the best of the best of the chickens on display. Them chickens, they sure sell fast!

And so the editor and I were there early critically examining the various chickens for sale. We had many earnest discussions such as: “That one is listed as a hen, but don’t you reckon it looks like a bit like a rooster?” Amongst other such silliness. We did eventually more or less agree to two lots of chickens comprising: three black leg horn’s; and two isa brown chickens.

Fortunately you can pick up the chickens when you leave the expo which means that you don’t have to carry them around all morning in the hot sun.

All that decision making so early in the morning left me feeling hungry so we enjoyed a Polish cheese kransky sausage with onions in a bread roll and listed to bluegrass music whilst sitting on hay bales in the shade of a tree. Such is life in the country! The couple that were playing the bluegrass music were very good and they’d clearly lovingly made their own instruments from scrap. In between songs they told stories of the history of bluegrass music as well as the instruments. They earned their busking tip.

Whilst chickens, music and food are an important part of a farming expo, they’re not the only part. We visited many displays of small holder farm machinery where we drooled over machines that we would like to own, but probably never will (how about that portable mill?), there were animals for sale, hardware knickknacks, craft stuff, chainsaw artists (they make great timber wombats), plants and pretty much everything you could ever need for a small holding. I even met a dude that manufactures steel water tanks from sheet metal and has a side line producing raised garden beds. I intend to purchase some steel raised garden beds from him over the next few weeks to replace the rusty ones here.

All good things come to an end though, and the sun was fierce and the day heated up and so we left the expo and drove our way home again (with the new chickens, of course). 

Chickens on the run! The new chickens arrived in boxes waiting to join the chicken collective on the farm

Once the two boxes were inside the chicken enclosure, I opened up the first and tipped out the two Isa Browns.

The two new Isa Brown chickens were unceremoniously tipped out into the chicken enclosure

The next box to be tipped out contained the three Black Leghorn chickens. Observant readers will note in the photo below that an egg also dropped out of the box with those chickens. At the expo the birds were described as “point of lay” which is about 22 weeks old, and I was left with no doubt that that was a true statement! The thing that was not disclosed about the birds was that they are bantam chickens. Bantam is a fancy name to describe a smaller breed of bird. From hindsight it was obvious that the new chickens were bantams! Bantam chickens are quite good because whilst they produce smaller eggs, those eggs are not much smaller than what a full sized bird would produce, and the birds themselves eat far less than a full sized bird. My only concern with the bantams is that the other much larger chickens may give them too hard a time.

For the rest of the blog entry click on: Weekly notes from Fernglade farm: A permaculture and organic small holding farm

Chicken wars

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