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‘Nothing like a squirmy worm to get us all going!’

First published in northsider magazine Summer 2020/21 edition

Hi northsiders! Ted the Puggle here! This issue I’ve had a grrr-eat chat with Rosie the Faverolles hen, spokeschook for the ladies in the chicken run at the Coal Loader Cottage Community Garden

Ted: Hi Rosie! Thank you for taking time out from your busy day to chat. How long have you lived at the Coal Loader?

Rosie: Alors, bonjour à tous. Always a pleasure! I love a good chat. Well, it’s hard to believe, but I’ve been here for almost six years. I was an incubator chick and hatched towards the end of 2014 - what a big day that was! Two fabulous young chick sitters looked after me until I was big enough to join the chook family in the yard.

T: What do you like best about living here?

R: It’s the dream home of every Sydneysider! Harbour views, free board, no rent and a team of adoring helpers to service your every need.

T: I’ve heard you only lay eggs when you’re in the mood – is that right?

R: Yes! Us heritage ladies don’t lay that often. I surprised our helpers with an egg the other day. I hadn’t done that for a very long time.

Left to right: Spokeschook Rosie. My egg’s the one in the middle. Feeding time!

T: Who’s your best mate in the run and why?

R: Imogen, known as Immie, and I took the big step into the yard together but she’s a bit of a loner so she’s not great company. I lost my two best mates earlier this year, Dobbie and Beauty. Yes, old age comes to us all. I have fond memories of snuggling up with them on the roost at night. Magpie is a good looker but she’s very flighty. The younger ones are a bit unruly but I tell them off with a peck and that seems to sort things out.

T: What do your human helpers do for you?

R: At any time, we have up to 25 humans looking after us. They do daily ‘housework’, cleaning, feeding and of course, the weekly health checks.

T: Are people surprised when they see you?

R: At the risk of sounding vain, I am an exceptionally good-looking lady. I have feathers on my feet. Not a good look on muddy days, but weekly pedicures take care of that! My little ‘beard’ and muffle make me look very special. I love meeting people and we get along very well.

Left to right: Greens are delicious and we love a good worm! Imogen and Magpie.

T: What’s a typical day like for the ladies?

R: Early to bed and early to rise! Helpers let us out of the coop in the morning and shut us away safely at night. We feed, take sunny sand baths and scratch for worms and bugs. We have siestas and spend a fair amount of time on personal grooming and entertaining visitors.

T: What’s for dinner?

R: We have a daily diet of balanced mash but of course, we love the treats our minders bring. Greens, greens and more greens, blitzed carrot, a little cooked rice. We have to watch our waists but can have as many worms as we can find.

T: What’s the naughtiest thing you’ve done?

R: We’re generally well-behaved but sometimes gang up on each other or play chasing for food. Nothing like a squirmy worm to get us all going!

T: How can people help out with you and the community garden?

R: Email or come down to the chook yard and say hello. Wednesday mornings are best between 10am and 12pm. We have helpers then and they’ll introduce you to us all.

The Coal Loader Cottage Garden and Chooks are supported by North Sydney Council. Photo of eggs: Michel Roure Photos of hens: Steve Mullarkey

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