Sunday, 10 January 2016

Winter months ahead

The New Year arrived with proper, cold days. The lack of snow makes it a bit boring but even heaps of leftover hay around the yard looks beautiful with a twinkling cover of frost. The four Ms (our sheep), still believe that leaving some hay for the animals that live out in the forest, is an act of kindness. I have not had the heart to tell them that the feeding places around the village are now offering grains and sometimes bread, so their food is probably not top on the list for elks and deer. But the thought is nice and I'm sure someone appreciates the hay.

The hens are already a bit fed up with the cold, so my dear husband is going to build them an indoor climbing frame. This will hopefully keep them occupied and distracted from the fact that two fully-grown cockerels are now following them around. When our hens get bored they seem to turn on the male member of the family. Monty gets upset by hens telling him what to do. Young Eric seems to have thicker skin, so to speak, and just bobs about while grumpy hens lecture him. He looks like a young guy who should be wearing Converse trainers and a funny hat.

Animals like everything to be orderly and systematic. They feel safe in the knowledge that one thing follows the other. Change the system and they get uneasy.

This morning was a good example. As its cold outside at the moment, everything speeds up a bit in the mornings. Quickly out through the door as not to let the warm air out. Small breakfast outside, then in again. More time indoors and new games to be invented to keep everyone happy.

When Mindy, Mandy, Molly and My moved in to Stoneback farm, they really disliked our stable doorway. Either they bolted in or out like racehorses or they leaped like woolly frogs. I don't know why they did that but it was not healthy for them. I started feeding them some treats just on the threshold, in order to slow them down and to make them realise that our door did not try to kill them. It worked, so after a while they got their treat outside, after everyone had gotten there, safe and sound. We also did the same thing going in for the night.

This morning I gave them some dry bread indoors in the morning, and then let them out to eat hay. Mandy could not eat her food, she just stood there, staring at me through the window. I went out to check that she was feeling okay, then carried on cleaning their loose box. Mandy kept staring until I finally understood. I went out with the morning bread and Mandy sighed deeply and went off to eat her food. It's not the animals fault if I am in a hurry, was the sentiment of today's lesson. Makes you wonder how many lessons humans fail to understand, by not listening to our animal friends.

A Pygmy Marmoset: Credit: Dasha Dimitrova

This year is The Year of the Monkey, according to the Chinese horoscope. The year should be full of curiosity and humour. All I know of the whole thing is that I'm a monkey. (Born in the year of the monkey, not that I have fluffy ears and a long tail...) So to celebrate I thought to be inquisitive and learn a new thing about animals, every week. So here goes; the worlds smallest monkey is a Pygmy Marmoset monkey and its cute. As you can tell, we start on a small scale. Eric tells me that next week will bring us trivia knowledge about cockerels. Mindy thinks it will be something big, and about sheep. All I know is that this might become a very trying project, but maybe a little interesting, all the same.

Now I have to go and provide some food for the hungry, fluffy four, or they will get upset. I work like clockwork, I do...

After writing this, the weather turned extremely cold so no animals have been outside for five days. It has been like a house party, in the stable, according to the animals. The hens have been sitting in my lap to warm their feet, our four sheep are now even bigger and my dear husband and I are sprouting grey hair. So far the water pipe has not frozen and everyone is well. -28 degrees C is not fun but part of winter, I guess. There's been a lot of mingling and food sharing and stories told to keep everyone in good spirit. We must have done something right, as two green eggs were laid next to the two brown ones, yesterday. Still don't know who got inspired to start laying eggs in January, but it is quite sweet of them. When the rest of the country is trying not to freeze to a standstill, our hens celebrate spring arriving. I don't know if I should be worried or impressed....

Text by Nina

Next blog post on the 17th January.

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