Thursday, 11 June 2009

Feathered Friends

We have yet more additions to the family. We got some more hens. We now have 5 ‘normal’ ones (ie not bald necked) and they go by the names of Neige (a white one), Feu (a black one with orange flecks on her), Grace (a black one), Mrs Brown (a brown one – you’d never have guessed that one eh?) and Smokey Jo (a grey one). Their fortress is hopefully now very fox proof so fingers crossed as these ones are very friendly and the boys love them. They are totally free-range – so much so that they even try to venture into the house, the besoms. Calyx sorts them out though at that point so we have a seemingly endless flutter and squawk at the front door. The first day of being out of their pen, supposedly hen-tractoring the potager, they escaped into the main garden as we haven’t clipped their wings. And I’ve not laughed so much in ages when we tried to catch them to get them back to their ‘safe’ place. I say we, it was more Ben and Rowan, but the chooks were definitely not up for it and it was hilarious to watch Ben stalking one, go diving into a bush to get it only to have it happily zip out the other side laughing at him. Needless to say, all were safely shepherded back to their pen and are now, 6 weeks on, very tame. Three out of the five are now laying every day – well it might be 4 out of 5 as Mrs Brown has the right signs to be laying (red, long comb not pink and short) but she’s perhaps found an ‘away’ place to hide her eggs. Not easy to track down in this place! We found Neige’s stash in the tractor barn in an old pile of dry grass – 9 eggs! We all had omelettes for lunch that day. Yesterday Grace laid her first ‘egg’ but it had a really weird soft papery shell – apparently quite normal.

And we also have some organic lawnmowers by way of 3 geese. Actually they are goslings and just 7 weeks old at the mo (got them at 5 weeks old). Very entertaining. They are Dirty Gertie, Filthy Phillippa, and Minky Mel. They are supposed to be keeping the grass down in the orchard and actually are really brilliant at it even at this age. That is, really brilliant if they would stay in the orchard. Not their fault as Ben reckoned that a ditch and some very long grass would be sufficient deterrent to keep them up there but no. They came waddling down the drive on day 4 pooping everywhere (they do LOTS of poop). So we herded them back with them squeaking in protest and put up a little barrier. We went to Le Mans on Wednesday and when we returned they were out again and swimming in the pond, laughing. We thought that Ben was going to have to wade in in his bathing costume but just as he was about to effect the change of clothing, they waddled out and back to their bunks. So once again, the animals rule the humans here.

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