We went on a trip yesterday to Luddenham to pick up a friend for Annie, after Penny's death two weeks ago. Penny was six years old, which I understand is a reasonable age for an Isa Brown, and once the weather turned cold she grew old very quickly.
From our place, it's less than an hour to Barter's Hatchery (not to be confused with Bartter's, now part of Steggles -- their chooks come cooked!). Annie's new friend is a lovely Rhode Island Red at point of lay, about 19 weeks old. We have not named her yet.
The Barters man told me that the fashion for chooks means they have had trouble keeping up with demand -- isn't it lovely that people are rediscovering the joy of chook-keeping! Of course, this isn't without its problems. I was told of a disgruntled customer who turned up the day after he'd purchased a dozen day-olds. They'd all died overnight and he wanted his money back. Being the type who won't be told anything (they'd tried!), he'd put the chicks in an area with a concrete floor and no heating.
We bought some strawberries in Wallacia (oh, the fragrance!) and had lunch at a takeaway there. Of course you can't leave a chook in a car for too long, so we had the box on the ground next to us. The chook, distressed by the change in her situation, sounded the alarm frequently -- you can imagine the looks and comments from passers-by, and our responses!
"Yep, we like our lunch really fresh!"
"Doesn't everyone take their chicken out to lunch?"
As we were only 7km away, we decided to take the Silverdale Road to Warragamba Dam. The new visitor's centre is yet to be opened (it was burnt down in 2001) and the dam is still closed while works continue on the original spillways. I'm sorry to say that the new spillway, while certainly necessary, has spoilt the look of the dam, which was previously elegantly symmetrical. The new spillway is to one side and almost as broad as the original dam wall.
We drove back to the motorway on Mulgoa Road, stopping at the Glenmore Nursery for low-grade hay at $8/bale. We don't need high-quality hay for animal bedding. Generally, we use our own dry lawn clippings, but the combination of rain and cold weather makes this an impossibility. I would have loved to have a better look at the nursery, but it really was time to take our new friend home.
Our drive took us across a picturesque part of Sydney, part of our remaining rural belt. You can see market gardens, battery farms, cows, sheep, goats, and horses. This is the world of five-acre blocks. Unfortunately, some of them consist of an ostentatious house and a five-acre lawn -- what a dreadful waste of good garden or farm space! I do wonder what prompts people to buy a large block of land and not do anything with it. I think our well-used fifth of an acre gives us plenty of work, relaxation, beauty and produce.
If you are travelling in the area yourself, these websites may be useful: