19 December 2011

Meet the peeps

Many of you would know we had a broody hen die a couple of weeks ago. She hatched one egg, that chick also died and the remaining five eggs didn't hatch. We're not sure what happened but think it may have been a spider bite that did her in. We were hatching those chicks to help supply us with eggs in the coming months and years. Our current flock has decreased to only six hens, and all of them are oldish. We're getting about six eggs a week.

Here is the beautiful and gentle Martha, our buff Orpington, on egg duty.

If you're living in a similar way to us, you'd know that it's difficult to find good suppliers you can reply on. Many of the things we buy aren't mainstream products, we have to search before we buy. We decided we'd buy pullets instead of trying another batch of eggs but we wanted to look for a new supplier of heritage chooks because when we introduced new chicks into our flock with our old supplier, they would sometimes bring in a disease. So I started searching for a decent breeder, one that looked like they were doing the right thing by the birds, treated them well and had quality, healthy stock.

It's important to Hanno and me to keep the old pure breeds. Like heirloom seeds, large businesses have taken over the poultry industry and have hybridised the stock. If we backyarders don't step up and keep these old breeds, many of them will die out. Many of them already have.

I found Julie at Anstead on the outskirts of Brisbane. I chose her over the others I found because she had good quality rare breeds and sounded like she loved them. The added bonus was that all the chicks where sexed and if one turned out to be a rooster, I could exchange him for a pullet. In addition, all Julie's chicks were vaccinated for Marek's Disease and Fowlpox. Staying true to my bartering values, I emailed Julie and asked if she was interested. She was.

This is Flora, a Welsummer with the two Barnevelders, Annie and Lillian, in the background
Fiona and Margaret checking out the premises. When they're fully grown, they'll develop fluffy heads and lay blue eggs.
Above and below, settling in and having their first feed and drinks with us.

Julie saying goodbye to Fiona.
Hanno saying hello to Nora.

Hanno and I travelled over to meet Julie last Thursday and brought home two Barnevelders, two Welsummers, two Aracaunas and two New Hampshires. We've had New Hampshires and Barnevelders before but never Welsummers or Aracaunas. I am completely charmed by all of them. Barnevelders and New Hampshires are always the same colours but Welsummers seem to have three - silver and gold lacewing and black red. I forgot to ask Julie about the colours but it looks like we have a gold lacewing and a black red. Our Aracaunas are lavender and they lay blue eggs. The girls have settled in really well and I have to tell you, I'm relieved they're vaccinated and in good health.

We were very impressed with Julie and her chicken business. The chook shed was nicely organised and clean, the birds looked healthy; they all had clean water and ample food. We're happy to recommend her to you if you're looking for good quality heritage chooks. Julie is located in the western suburbs of Brisbane and you can find out more about her chickens or arrange a viewing time by phoning or emailing her. She will send the chickens interstate and if you're interested, just email her to find out the details. She does not sell fertile eggs.

Julie sells:
  • Anconas 
  • Araucanas 
  • Barnevelders 
  • Australorps 
  • Silkies 
  • Pekins 
  • Rhode Island Reds 
  • New Hampshire 
  • Plymouth Rocks 
  • Light sussex 
  • Welsummers 
Her prices are:
  • Day olds to one week old - $15
  • Week olds to one month old -  $20
  • One to two month old -  $25
  • Two months to three months - $30
  • Over three months old - $40
And as I said, they're sexed so you know what you're getting, they're vaccinated and very healthy.

You can contact Julie via email juliethompson@tpg.com.au or call 0422 856 085 for further information.

We named our new girls: New Hampshires - Dorothy (Parker) and Anne Shirley, Barnevelders - Annie (Proulx) Lillian (Hellman), Aracaunas - Fiona and Margaret (Olley), Welsummers - Nora (Barnacle) and Flora (McDonald). All will be known by their first name. They're climbing, running and exploring and being very cute doing it; they're such a joy to watch. I feel that all is right in my world again now we have a full hen house.

ADDITION: A couple of readers have asked if all the chickens are in together. Dorothy and Anne Shirley, the New Hampshires, are the only ones to have contact with the older girls yet. They're only a few weeks off laying and are much larger than the others.  The smaller girls are behind a fence in the coop, they can all see each other but the smaller ones will stay separate for a few weeks yet. Fiona and Margaret, the Aracaunas, will be the next out, then Nora, Flora, Annie and Lillian when they grow a bit bigger. We are still putting the little girls in a box to sleep at night. It's cool here and we don't want them to get too cold.



  1. Congratulations on your newly extended chook family. Are the old hens welcoming?

  2. We needed to add a couple of hens this year as well and bought five Barred Rock chicks from the local co-op. They were 3-5 days old and healthy when we picked them up. But we unfortunately lost four of them to snakes in the first two or three months. Chicks were no longer available through the co-op by that time, but we found a guy not too far from here that had some young pullets for sale. We were very impressed with his set up and with his knowledge of the birds and came home with two four month old Rhode Island Reds. I'm not sure if it's just a currency difference of if prices are really that different ...but we only paid $7 each for the two four month old hens. Considering the 3-5 day old chicks cost almost $3 each, we thought that was a bargain. We still have three hens from 2009 that lay sometimes but they are definitely winding down as far as layers. With the three new hens and the three older hens, we get 4 eggs most days and 5 eggs occasionally. Selling what eggs we don't need more than pays for the chicken feed, so it's a good deal for us.

  3. Lovely birds. My Welsummer was a little nervous to start with, but is very friendly now. I think you'll find the Barnevelders even more placid.

    Araucanas on the other hand....... Well, maybe the one I had was dropped on her head as an egg, but poor Rita was the daftest bird, stand in the most exposed corner of the run, shouting at the wind and rain rather than sheltering.

    Anyway, in your capable hands they will be fine. And enjoy those lovely eggs.

  4. Congratulations on the new peeps.

  5. Tricia, we've only let the New Hampshires in with the older girls. They can see the little ones but can't get to them. So far it's been fine. There's a little bit of pecking to let them know who's the boss, but overall, it's good.

  6. Did you keep the new chickens in a different pen from the older ones? If so..when will you introduce them to the older ones. Or will you at some point? Sarah

  7. Love the title, Rhonda! They are mighty fine looking chooks! Hoping the girls have a great week and that very soon your egg production will increase.

  8. I am glad you have your new chicks. Thanks for including the email address, as my mere male wants to get more Sussex as we also are not having much luck with the egg setting.

  9. What wonderful news! :) I'm hopeful that you have many a colourful (full) egg basket in your future! Congratulations, Rhonda and Hanno!

  10. Delightful! Thank you for sharing your joy and excitement with us :)

  11. You have all my favourite breeds there. Both the Araucana's and Welsummers are flighty, but with enough friendly contact with you and Hanno, they'll settle down and bond well.

    The new fence erected to keep the hens out of the garden, may be a fraction too short for the Araucana's. Once startled or envious of what's over the other side of the fence, they can launch themselves to great heights! A little wing clipping may be in order.

    But you'll love everything else about the Araucana's - they barely eat seed or pellets, much preferring free range, they're as hardy as cast-iron cookware and personality like The Three Stooges.

    Your selection of breeds will give a lovely range of colours in your egg shells. The New Hampshires should lay you the most eggs though. :)

  12. I'm so glad you got new additions to your flock. They look adorable.

  13. How old are your pullets, Rhonda?

    I like your idea of that piece of tin propped up there, for shade and shelter I'm guessing, and they like climbing on it....might have to do something like that for my lot.

  14. thank you so much for Julie's contact details. It's near to impossible to get purebreds where I live. I shall be giving her an email.

    Lovely to see that your family has grown with such beautiful healthy girls.

  15. Thank you so much for giving us this information I shall defiantly be contacting Julie. I have Australorps, Barnvelders & Rhode Is. Reds but the girls are getting older & starting to slow down. I have been looking for a breeder of pure breeds for a while. Julie has some of my favourite breeds when the kids were young I found the Barnvelders to be the best with young children.

  16. What lovely additions to the family at Xmas!!

  17. Lol, Chris has already mentioned the nature of the Araucanas and I know one person with a pure flock and one with a mix of breeds and the one with a mixed flock has calmer Araucanas as they tend to all go 'ADHD' at once if that is the only breed you have. Kids are fascinated by the blue eggs. Have fun with your new girls!

  18. OMG they are gorgeous, and she has Araucanas. We are down to our last and I would love to get some more but we are in Melbourne :-( . I will have to stick to my plan of Light Sussex's. But they are gorgeose and the eggs are so pretty.

  19. ahem...Im beginning to understand why you named one of the Araucanas Fiona...:/

  20. Dearest Fiona erm anonymous, I named her Fiona because she is beautiful, flamboyant and extraordinary. : - )

  21. Hi Rhonda. Just came over to see how you're doing! I've been scurrying around in the proverbial "rat race" way too much and need a taste of home. We're looking forward to the winter solstice - the days are very short now. I always love late January when I get some sunshine on both sides of my working day! The "chooks" look great.

  22. How lovely to have some new girls at home. We just added a Barnevelder, Welsummer, Rhode Island Red and a Plymouth Rock as day olds to our home so our toddler and the girls could grow and get to know each other. It's lovely having chicks again.

  23. I am so sorry for the loss of your old hen. They become good friends.

  24. Hi Rhonda,
    Wow I thought I'd lost you. It's been MONTHS...since I have been able to get your blog to work on my computer a friend of mine has had the same problem also and we are both huge fans. She recently loaned me your recipe for ANZAC biscuits, as I was unable to get it myself. What a hit. I shared them with the Keepers at Home group at our church. They loved them and were so glad for the recipe especially one family who's son is allergic to eggs. Anyway just wanted to say thanks for the great recipe and How pleased I am to be able to read your blog again. Oh, I know how long it's been, right before your book was due to come out.
    Merry Christmas.
    Mammamamma in the USA

  25. This is a great post. We have two chickens and are getting the kids three more for christmas (one each). Shhh.

  26. I am excited you were here, just one suburb over from me... And i didn't know about the chook place... Love reading your blog, but cannot get thevwebsite to open on my computer, only on my phone. The website also doesn't work at the local library so it isn't just my computer... Weird. Maybe you will do a guest visit to the Moggill CWA branch and a book signing at the moggill market at Brookfield this coming year....

  27. Ah the joy of new chickens! Lucky you and Hanno.

  28. Fluffy heads and blue eggs - LOVE it!!

  29. I'm sorry to hear about the chicken. I love however that you take great pride in providing yourself with healthy food. Good job

  30. Thank you for the chook information. I just gave Julie a ring and arranged to pick up three Light Sussex tomorrow to add to my girls. I hope your girls are settling in well.


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