I’ve been trying to date when the old black hens arrived here at the shop.. I’ve a photo from May 2012 and know they were here then… Grandad and Grandma went on holiday and left them here to be ‘hen/baby sat’. At that point in time ‘The Boy’ was not yet at school and spent some of his time at the shop – naturally he made friends with the chooks and loved to help feed them. Anyway the grandparents returned from their travels, moved the younger Isa brown hens back to their chook pen and left the 5 old Australop hens to ‘keep down the weeds’.
Then the day arrived… Grandad came down and was having a cup of tea with us when he announced he was ‘taking the old hens to market’ and getting some younger hens …well Mr nearly 3 let out a cry “Grandad you can’t take the old black hens to market they are my friends!” and dissolved tears. Many hugs, cuddles etc later we assured him that the old hens could stay. So we got our first feathered staff members.
By Jan 2014 we now only have 3 of the 5…the other 2 having died of natural causes. Best guess makes the girls about 9 years old (as of 2014) and so far each spring they have laid some eggs.. it will be interesting to see if it happens this coming spring? I’ve no idea how long hens live? But google has reports of up to 20 years.
26th July 2018: Glossy, the last of these beautiful girls lived to 13, we estimate. She was fit and healthy and eating half her own body weight up to the morning she literally fell off the perch. I still miss her… she was always the first hen at the gate for breakfast each morning.
Had a question this morning about the inside workings of our ‘Elliot Style’ folding trap for small marsupials and since I took some photos of the trap thought I’d share them. Most of these traps are sold to environmentalists or universities doing fauna surveys. We do have people asking about them as a rat trap, but we don’t recommend them as a rat trap, as the rats can chew the mechanism if left in the trap too long.
Being interested in the uses and history I did some quick ‘googling’ and found that the ‘Elliot Style’ trap is based on a Sherman trap invented in the 1920’s – see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sherman_trap. Most documents about the trap are related to scientific trapping practices.
Sold a few more Foxlights this morning… and for once they were actually for sheep 🙂 Naturally enough most of the lights we sell are for around the poultry yard and anecdotally they are working very well.
The word about Foxlights must be getting out there as instead of meeting customers the day after they have lost all their chooks to a fox attack (which unfortunately we had quite a number of cases of last year – 2013) now we are getting customers buying their Foxlights before they buy the chooks.
So what is a Foxlight? The simple version is a Fox deterrent. It runs on a large 6V rectangle battery like the dolphin style torches and has 9 LED lights around the top. No switches, nothing to do – the Victorian sheep farmer who designed it wanted it to be simple – it comes on a sundown, turns off at sun up and totally randomly flashes light around – rather like someone being out there with a flashlight. I’ve been told that the flashes occur between 5 seconds and 2 minutes apart and that you get anything from 1 LED to all 9 of them at once. The light appears to come out sidewards (not from the top) so it seems to come from different directions – tricky 🙂 It is made to put onto a star fence picket or hung from wire.
I realized the other day that I’ve now written several posts on a poultry equipment blog and haven’t yet mentioned an incubator! Anyone who has been in the shop quickly realizes that Jeff is the poultry expert and the one with the experience…my incubation experience is limited to the school chickens and one batch Jeff’s dad Chris did here at the shop. While I grew up on a farm with some chooks.. my mothers hens largely took care of themselves and if they did decide to reproduce, did so in the natural way. Sometimes we’d find them sitting on eggs and move them into the spare run, sometimes they would re-appear with some chickens and occasionally we’d find some feathers and broken egg shells.
However I have studied hard to learn all I can about incubators and the machine I’m most familiar with is this one, the Cova Tutto 162 egg machine. I got the job of ‘playing’ with it a few years ago when we first brought the digital Cova Tuttos in from Italy. It is very easy to set up, and what impressed me most (I’ll confess a slight basis – I like the Cova Tutto incubators) was how it managed to keep constant temperature and humidity in the main part of our shop on a day with a 30% humidity variation and 10 degree temperature change.
Like all the Cova Tutto machines above the 24 egg, the trays are adjustable for any sized egg (one of their best selling points in my opinion!) so if you want to do quails or geese you don’t need to worry about getting different sized egg trays. Each tray, there are 3 in the 162 egg machine, has its own auto turn motor – and yes these motors can handle the bigger eggs. As well as digital temperature control, the incubator gives you a reminder beep to top up the water trays. It is fan forced and has been quite popular for customers wanting to do a larger number of eggs at a time or a regular weekly hatching.
26th July 2018: We no longer have this incubator in stock.
Been very busy with the end of financial year and stocktaking. It’s been very chilly in the shop and I didn’t really need a thermometer to know it was under 10 degrees when we came in. (Yes, Molly dog is wearing her coat and I’ve my beanie, scarf and gloves on!) One of the many things I’ve been doing this week was ‘playing with/testing’ and setting up a Aqua Pro digital thermometer/hydrometer.
25th July 2018: Unfortunately these lovely Aqua Pro units are no longer available and we have been unable to source a similar device for a similar price.
The Aqua Pro digital thermometer/hydrometer is very useful in incubators or as a mini weather station. Along with the current temperature and humidity it also gives the date and time, as well as been able to be used as an alarm clock. As an added bonus you can also set high and low alarm conditions for both temperature and humidity so it let you know when your incubator is not in the range you have set. For those of us that are use to both Celsius and Fahrenheit it is very simple to change between the two – just one button press. If you think this could be useful tool for you, it’s on the website. [ no longer on website] Keep warm and until next time. Helen & Molly