A New Beginning

I’m not beginning this blog again, not now anyway, but there is a new beginning with the animals on the farm. I hated that my blog ended on such a low note so I’m fixing that by introducing my new and already-beloved pets.

After the disaster with Patchy and our sweet chooks, I not only gave up blogging, I was unsure as to whether or not I wanted chickens again. They are sooo vulnerable to attack from birds of prey, snakes, foxes and even family pets! Could I do better if I got more chickens? Was I worthy? And did I want the responsibility of an animal that needed daily care but couldn’t be moved to a babysitter’s house if I ever went away?

Frank was pretty convinced we’d get more chickens eventually (whatever that means). We agreed that, whatever we decided, we should wait until next year. Another plan bites the dust! This I blame on Linda. She bought a new house and the old owners couldn’t take their chickens when they moved. Linda texted me about the plight of the homeless chooks with no knowledge beyond “2 eggs a day and 1 year old”. Frank and I said yes (of course we did) before we even knew how many chickens we were talking about.

With chickens in the pipeline, there wasn’t much point in putting off getting another dog now was there? This time we were determined to get a dog that was suited for our rural life. I discovered Andrea at Companions for Life online and decided it was worth a 2 hour drive (each way) to find the right dog. After a phone call and a visit, we settled on Rusty, a 5 month old Staffordshire Terrier crossed with an Australian Cattle Dog. Andrea confirmed he was a real sweetie with no interest in cats or poultry and she was happy for us to take him around all the animals on her farm so we could see for ourselves. She was right, he was afraid of the cats and ignored the poultry. We brought him home a week later and he’s now busy slipping in to his role as most adorable creature on the farm.

Rusty with his stick and elephant keeping warm by the fire

Rusty with his stick and elephant keeping warm by the fire

Rusty at the pond

Rusty at the pond

2 weeks after Rusty arrived, so did the chooks (to a new, reinforced chook run).  By that time we were pretty confident that Rusty was controllable and we didn’t want too much time to pass before he was reintroduced to chickens in case they became novel new toys.

Enter 3 Rhode Island Red chickens: Lenny (yes, a rooster *gasp*) a cocksure and totally beautiful creature; Penny a rather aloof (at this point) girl who is very quiet and; Henny, the smallest chook and the apple of Lenny’s eye – you can tell because she has no feathers on her back. They all seem reasonably comfortable around the big, scary new humans and I’m sure we’ll settle in quickly together.


Beautiful Lenny





The chickens did come with a couple of problems. Firstly, that amorous Lenny is really doing a number on Henny’s back. I’ve made her a chicken saddle thanks to some great tips from Lil at mygardenmychickens. My initial effort (made from an old pair of jeans) fell off within 5 minutes but I’m not giving up, I don’t want Lenny damaging Henny. I’ve shortened the straps and I think I’ll have to actually reduce the overall size but I’ll get there.

Henny throwing off her jacket

Henny throwing off her jacket

They also suffer from scaly leg mites. All 3 have pretty bad legs. When I first saw them I assumed they’d been in some heavy mud that was stuck to their legs. When I got them to the farm I realised the lumps were actually their scales. So, on their first day here, we caught the poor birds, one at a time, scrubbed their legs in warm, soapy water and smeared them with veggie oil. We’ve been dunking their legs in more veggie oil every other day and will keep it up until their legs heal.

Henny's scaly leg mite legs

Penny’s scaly leg mite legs

Henny having her feet washed

Henny having her feet washed

That’s the new animals, we still have Adler, our loner of a stray cat. He’s softening up around us (though no where near being a lap cat), he ignores the chooks and – shock horror – he just might like Rusty. He certainly tolerates sniffing and even a little licking. Will wonders never cease?

Adler, enjoying the sun

Adler, enjoying the sun

Of course there are also those 23 bee hives. Well, bees tend to take care of themselves (especially in Australia) and it’s pretty hard to get too attached to the hundreds of thousands of them, so, though I like my bees, I don’t feel overly emotional about them and therefore don’t really count them as part of my animals. That said, they do deserve a mention if for no other reason than because they work so darned hard all day every day!

Broken honeycomb

Broken honeycomb

Life is getting back to our new normal here on the farm. The animals rule the roost, Frank and I run hither and yon tossing balls, fetching food & water and somehow squeeze in a bit of time to actually do some work on the land as well. Who wants to sit back and relax all day anyway?


About Laura Rittenhouse

I'm an American-Australian author, gardener and traveller. Go to my writing website: www.laurarittenhouse.com for more. If you're trying to find my gardening blog, it's here.
This entry was posted in bees, cat, Chickens, dog. Bookmark the permalink.

51 Responses to A New Beginning

  1. Ruth says:

    Don’t know what made me look on this site today – some sort of thought transference I guess. Hopefully all your “regulars’ will get the same vibes and be back on board very soon.
    Better days have arrived!

  2. So good to hear from you. I have been wondering how you have been getting on. Your chickens look gorgeous. I feel sorry for their legs, all animals seem to have mites and parasites to deal with. Which reminds me – I’ve been bitten by something (midges? mosquitoes?) while working in the garden these past couple of days. But in November with temperatures under 10 degrees C? Very strange.

    • I still love reading your blog – even if I’m not updating my own, I’m following others.

      I have no idea what survives such cold weather that bites. Could it be something that lives in the house and it bit you coincidentally when you were in the garden? Or maybe a plant scratch that got inflamed? Curious.

  3. cohutt says:

    I’m really glad to read this, for many reasons.

    Happy thanksgiving and check in every now and then eh? 😉

  4. pattigail says:

    Yeah! So glad you got new “chooks”….Lenny is a handsome boy. We are not allowed roosters which does eliminate some issues, but they are gorgeous. And Rusty is adorable and will keep you busy..and smiling I think. Congratulations on your new family. Adler will remain King I predict, but nice he tolerates Rusty. I look forward to hearing more about your adventures on the farm.

    • We weren’t allowed roosters back in suburbia but out here on the farm, anything goes – which isn’t always a good thing. His noise doesn’t bother me at all, I actually like the sound of his crowing, but his enthusiastic pursuits of love are troublesome!

  5. Glad all’s back to well.

  6. So glad things are healing at your place. The rooster is so handsome! And Rusty is adorable. I am so happy to see you have pets again and thanks for sharing them with us.

  7. So glad to see you back blogging, really missed hearing from you. Also glad to see you have some more chooks and another dog. It’s like us, when Tarquin died we said we wouldn’t get another cat, then after a month I saw this photo on the local animal sanctuary website, and we went to visit and now “Forest” the semi long haired black cat has been with us nearly 2 months, and we haven’t looked back!! Hope you escaped the fires OK earlier on.

    • vuchickens says:

      I’m so happy for you! Rusty looks like such a sweet companion, and I’m glad you’re getting fresh eggs again! And a rooster to boot! Does that mean there may be some chicks in your future??? Sure looks like he’s trying for them. 😉

      • Oh no, I do NOT want chicks. I didn’t even want a rooster. Help, I’ve lost control of my own territory.

        No, chicks are too much work and stress. Plus, Lenny’s the brother of Henny and Penny which makes the idea of chicks just plain wrong (as if what he’s doing to Henny isn’t horrible to contemplate between siblings).

        • vuchickens says:

          oh dear. 😦 Well, there’s always fried chicken. You could have someone else do it for you if you don’t want to get your hands dirty. I don’t think I could do it myself, but when my cockerels started picking on my pullets and attacking me, I felt no remorse about sending them off to their doom.

    • We almost had “Kali” to add to this post – a stray long-haired kitty that lurked around for a few weeks. But after we captured her and took her to the local vet, they checked her microchip and found her original owners… 20 kilometres away (how did she get so lost?). She’s now back at her home and we’re saved one mouth to feed!

    • I forgot to comment on the fires. We survived unscathed. It was scary, we had a bag packed as burnt leaves we’re raining on our tinder dry grass and we kept our eyes on the multiple smoke plumes around us. The firefighters did an amazing job and we were safe!

  8. Glenn Rittenhouse says:

    I’m so happy for you that things are returning back to normal on the farm.

  9. Glad you are back, kind of. Suspected that chickens weren’t through with you yet…

  10. Glenn Sidney says:

    I’m so thrilled to read this post! Wonderful news to be thankful for. Thank you for sharing it with us 🙂

    • You aren’t half as thrilled as I am. And I think Rusty is tickled pink too. Now we just have to get Lenny, Penny & Henny to see how lucky they are and life will be grand.

      Of course Adler knows we’re all the lucky ones to be allowed to live on his farm 🙂

  11. Oh I am so glad that you did your update at last – I can see I am not the only one that missed you! Rusty looks like a lovely dog – we had a golden retriever called Rusty. Can you separate the rooster for a while to give Henny a little bit of a break?

    • I wonder if I could separate Lenny from the girls. I don’t have anything set up but perhaps I could build something (by “I” I really mean “hubby”). But I think that would really stress them out – Henny, regardless of any pain in her back, follows Lenny dotingly. She’s like his shadow. And he’s a great protector, always positioning himself between his girls and those scary big humans who come into their run. Right now the psychological trauma of the move worries me more than her back. Maybe because I’m putting a lot of faith in my saddle. I just have to get it on her to see if it does work.

  12. hobacaitbe says:

    I’ve been waiting for this post. Welcome back!!!! Lenny and Jack could be twins. Well Lenny’s tail is fuller since Jack did a mini-molt. Lil is behind me, shaking her head, saying “don’t ever get a rooster”. Rusty looks right at home. Now I will have to post a picture of Wrigley.

    • Lil is so right. Lenny might be a gorgeous creature and he is definitely a benevolent dictator of his tiny flock, but life would be easier for all of us if he had been a little girl rather than a little boy.

      I’m looking forward to seeing Wrigley.

  13. Thank you so much for your update and good luck.

  14. Truthseeker says:

    We live in Chatswood and love your honey (we got some from the Organic markets in Chatswood Public School). We were wondering where we can buy some more, especially now that the Jacaranda honey will be coming on soon.

    • How great that you loved our bees’ honey, I know I did too. I am not sure if you’ve read much of this blog but, back in late July, we moved from Chatswood to Richmond. We don’t sell honey any more at markets but if you are ever out Richmond way, let us know and I’m sure we can dig you up a jar. Just email me ( laura . rittenhouse (at) yahoo . com ) ahead of time so I know to expect you.

      • Truthseeker says:


        Thank you for replying. I hope the change to Richmond works for you. It is unlikely we will be going that way any time soon.

        Best of luck.

        • Fair enough, I could count on one hand the times I’d been out here before deciding to move to the farm. But the offer stands and there’s no time limit, I think we’ll be here a good long while.

  15. Emily Heath says:

    Happy that you are making a fresh start. Rusty is adorable. Hope the chicken’s legs improve.

  16. Cohutt's sis says:

    Glad you’re back!

  17. Max says:

    What with all of the turmoil of the holidays, remodeling and moving I had been neglecting some “non-essential” stuff, but I finally got around to checking in on the Blog Community this morning. What a wonderful surprise to see that you are moving forward! For me the hiatus just reinforced how non non-essential connections like these are. Thanks so much for the update.

    • Yes, it’s funny how “non” non-essential can be to the enjoyment of life. Sure, it doesn’t put food on the table like sowing seeds, but it can make for great dinner conversations that make life more than just surviving.

      It looks like your hiatus was as busy as every other day of your life. You make my head spin!

  18. cohutt says:

    How are things down under Laura? We miss you out here in Blogistan,

    • Things are great here. The weather is too hot, the temp is too high and the weeds are the only living thing that doesn’t seem to mind, but I can’t really complain. My 2 hens give me nice eggs, my rooster is beautiful, my cat and dog actually look to be learning to like each other.

      As for applying for a new visa to Blogistan, I still not feeling motivated. I lurk, I sometimes comment but I’m kind of enjoying not feeling the urge to document what I’m doing. I’m not saying I won’t change my mind, but right now I like the way my day ticks over so I’m not changing it.

      Thanks for noticing my absence and reminding me how great people are in this funny little corner of Blogistan.

  19. allarminda says:

    Hey Aunt Laura.

    I miss you and your regular updates. How is everyone getting along on the farm? There are exciting things brewing in my corner of the blogosphere – armindalindsay dot com is now live 🙂

    Love to you and Frank.

  20. Pingback: Chicken Shenanigans | Laura Rittenhouse's Gardening Journal

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