Sunday, August 12, 2012

things we did not invite

That's a chicken louse being identified under a microscope. I realised the chooks had mites (red poultry mites) after seeing some on my hands after reaching into nests, and on eggs. And after cleaning out the chookyard and beginning treatments, I found this uninvited guest almost down my cleavage. Ack! Double parasitic whammy!

The girls are fortunately still looking in fine heath, although one has been laying on the ground rather than in the nest which is probably because the mites lie there in waiting. Little creeps.

I've started with a big cleanout of the yard and chookhouse. It's not very thorough however because the floors are just the earth. One reason the bugs have taken hold may be that it's been so wet and muddy, it has been hard for the girls to find a place to dust-bath.

Treatment so far has been:

  • Spraying nest boxes and all timber inside chookhouse, with special attention to the perches, with a mixture of water with cedarwood, peppermint and eucalyptus essential oils. Smells great!
  • Put wood ash from our fire in the yard for them to dust-bath in (they haven't touched it so far - it's meant to suffocate the mites - but at least I know what to do with our wood ash now).
  • Dusting of nest boxes with Pestene, which doesn't sound too completely evil.
  • Dusting a patch of chookhouse floor where the girls were dust-bathing with Pestene.
  • When the girls go to sleep tonight we will creep in and give them a dusting too.

I have ordered some Diatomaceous Earth which could well be 'the new coconut oil' if its many claims are to be believed. I aim to dust that around judiciously - and not inhale - too.
This is something else uninvited. It's chickweed and it's everywhere in our garden at this time of year. But thanks to Tricia at Little Eco Footprints, I view it with new appreciation because it's quite a tasty delicate little green and meant to be very nutritious too. I've been munching little pieces here and there and even tried this recipe for chickweed pesto.
The verdict? Not bad, very 'grassy' which I quite like although I don't think the kids would go for it. Feeling very River Cottage with this little wild harvest!

The garden feels like it's beginning to 'wake up' from winter.

Charlie helped me with some pruning (climbing a tree and chopping at it? fun!). He's keen to cook more and made some Anzac biscuits with almost no assistance.
And I've done a wee bit of sewing. Clem wanted to make a pillowcase for his new big bed. His choice of fabric made my eyes cringe and my heart melt simultaneously. And he insisted on the buttons, which he selected with great care. He sat on my lap while I sewed.
He loves it. Therefore, so do I.

- Jane x


  1. Poor little chickens, I hope they're pest free soon. Love those pea flowers and yummy leaves!

  2. Oh red mites! How I detest thee!!!!!! We have had a couple of infestations over the years and they are a pain to get rid of. I hate how they climb up your legs and insist on biting you at your nicker / jock elastic line! The itchy spots stay itchy for weeks. (Not a good look when you have to scratch your crutch constantly). Last time Doug chose to dunk the chooks completely in the solution given to us by the fodder store - they were a very sorry sight.:( - but it worked!
    Let me know how you go with the diatomaceous earth as I have also investigated this and thought it sounded promising. - oh, and Clem's choice for bed linen is very cute, - and very 'Clem' from what I've learnt through reading your blog! ;)

    1. Heheh! I am feeling/imagining itches and creepy things all over me at the moment but I may have been lucky to escape with a really itchy ankle and a bit of hand/arm irritation. Knickers, agh, I may never walk in the chookyard again!
      I am glad you have heard of diatomaceous earth, I was ringing around asking for it and people had no idea.

  3. Red mite and chickweed - pests all over the world. At least you can eat the chickweed; Hrriet is absolutely right about the red mite itchy spots! I love the way your garden is just waking up as ours is slowly dying down.

  4. Poor chooks and poor you! Chickweed here too.....sigh.....but also signs of spring, which is so nice - I find I really notice the change of seasons more the older I get

    The Anzacs look delish, and Clem's pillow is fab!

  5. Thanks peoples, we dusted the chickens at night and it could be my imagination but they have actually seemed happier today. And three eggs, all in the nest. I think we're lucky the mites etc have happened in cold weather because I think in heat they can multiply much faster, urgh.

  6. Rainbow dolphins! I love it! Maybe not ALL over the house, but for a pillowcase, sure!

    Don't those first signs of spring just make your heart leap? I'm a little sad to see it, of course, because your first signs of spring coincide our first signs of winter. Bittersweet! But right now it's hot, I'm overwhelmed by tomatoes, and it's easy to be in denial.

    Mites. Yuck.

  7. Eeeew.... We ended up with a bird mite infestation one year when mynahs nested in our roof.. ugh. At least you have chickens and eggs!! And that dolphin fabric is awesome. I must not let Mini see it...

  8. I'm glad you are enjoying the chickweed :-)

    Will keep this post in mind if my chooks get mites. Hopefully i'll never be revisiting this post ;-)


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