Saturday, 6 February 2016
New chickens on a blustery day
Despite it being very wet and windy this morning, Mr J and I headed off to the Forest of Dean to collect the new chickens that we had agreed to purchase. Tintern, which is so often flooded was clear but some of the smaller roads were heavily laden with excess water. We carefully took note not to return home by the same route and to take a slightly longer route, but with wider roads. As we headed into 'no road signs' territory, we drove hoping that the directions he'd given me were correct. When I lived in Mid Wales I was used to people saying to drive up a hill and at the rock turn left then take the third track by the trees, it's such a long time since that's happened I forgot how accurate these instructions usually are.
The vendor of the chickens was one of those fabulous characters that are now almost of times gone by. A septuagenarian who had bought his house (for £2000 he told us) before he married his wife so that they would have a proper place to live and they have been there ever since. He said that weeks go by without him venturing further than the end of driveway and, given what a lovely position his smallholding is in, I fully understood. He regaled us with stories of his childhood and of how he gained a love of farming and we listened politely until our feet had gone numb with the cold from the shed floor. He suggested that we grow the girls on and think about selling some and breeding from others, he was very encouraging in us building an income for our smallholding. Perhaps he just liked us as we shook hands with him as we met, perhaps it was because we'd turned up exactly when we'd said we would (and others had let him down this week), or perhaps he could see two newbie smallholders full of enthusiasm, but with little knowledge and plenty of determination to make it work! What ever the reason, it was nice to meet him.
We brought the new chickens back and decanted them into the chicken house that will be their home for a little while until Jack and Diesel have got used to having other birds in their territory. Once the little Crested Cream Legbars are settled, we will let them into the chicken condo for a while and after that they will go out into a penned area in the paddock so that they have access to plenty of grass and other plants to scratch about in. They found their way out of the house and down the ramp and spent most of the afternoon pecking about at the floor.
Jack and Diesel watched them from a distance before they decided to get a closer look. The new chickens didn't take very long to look relaxed (if a chicken can ever look relaxed!) and start to flick the wood shavings, straw and soil around and look for edible things amongst it.
At dusk as usual, Jack and Diesel made their way towards their own hen house to go to bed for the night. The new little chickens, which will remain nameless unless we decide on a collective name for them, were making a racket of high pitched squeaks and cheeps which I assume was a 'it's getting dark, danger, danger' call. At this point it occurred to me that they have been living in an pen in a shed and know nothing of going up a ramp to roost and snuggle in a hen house. They simply had no idea of what to do, so armed with a couple of sheets of cardboard, I blocked off the access to the underneath of the house with one piece and one by one encouraged them gently up the ramp with the other piece of cardboard. This must have looked very funny, they were like reluctant teenagers and the final one to go inside kept jumping off the ramp and hiding beneath it. The whole process only took at few minutes but did have us giggling. Hopefully over the next few days they will learn how to put themselves to bed (and then I won't have to miss the first few minutes of the late afternoon matches during 6 Nations 2016).
This afternoon has been gentle and I am now sitting on the sofa with Scotland v England on the telly. I can't remember the last time it took me so long to write a blog post, but with one eye on the telly and one on the laptop screen I keep having to pause to watch the next bit of play. I love seeing some of the lads that I used to work with coming on to the pitch to play and, regardless of which team they are playing for, I like to see them do well.