Saturday, 21 May 2016

Chicks in the yard.

Good morning! The sun is shining, it's 6am and the coffee I made is strong enough to support a flagpole. Just how a Sunday morning in May should be.

Our dear hens have had their morning ramble, with me as a visiting guest. They still insist on going in to the forest, every morning, to check if there are any foxes around. So I follow, coffee mug in hand, ready to step in if we do meet any threats to their lives. I have tried to get them to forget this little habit but to no avail. Hens are stubborn creatures so I just had to give up on that one and join in, instead. Mindy, Mandy, Molly and My are in the forest eating bilberry blooms. It's probably good for them and as it is their first morning off since the chicks arrived, I'm really glad for them.

Four days after our five very active and quite small chicks arrived, they ventured out into the yard. The moment they put one little green foot out into the sand, their nannies turned up. Whatever the chicks did after that, wherever they went, four big noses followed them around. Cross-eyed and calm our lovely sheep have done their babysitting duty with pride and precision.

The chicks thought it a bit odd at first but soon rallied around to the fact that four big sheep provided shade, security and flies. A nanny service with a snack bar... As the month of May decided to behave like midsummer this year, shade has been a very welcome feature to all and everyone.

Our hens still choose to ignore the chicks, most of the time. Monty looks surprised when he comes upon one of the little fellows, so I think he tends to forget their existence. Monty has figured out that I come bearing gifts in the form of Marie biscuits, so he concentrates on that right now. Marie is a dry wheat and vanilla biscuit – similar to a Rich tea biscuit - that used to be a good children's treat, as it hurts no one, being quite boring. This little biscuit has now become a bit of a passion for dear Monty. As the hens don't get to eat so much of the food served to them, at the moment, it might all be down to hunger. Hard to say but this particular brand is selling well around here.

The chicks are eating machines. They eat their own food, the hen’s portions, and all and everything they can find outside in the yard. I now serve the hens and Monty one main meal outside, away from the chicks, just to make sure they get enough nutrition. The older ones behave as they should, letting the small ones eat first but there is no end to these five munchers! They do grow in front of our eyes so they need all the food they can get, they just don't like to share outside their little team of five.

Credit: Dasha Dimitrova

I started thinking about hen keeping in general, the other day. We don't have extra stuff lying around in the yard. No building materials or rubbish to get tangled up in. This is partly because it's not nice to look at but also partly because we had horses for many years. (A loose horse can always be counted on bolting in to something sharp and hurt itself...). With chicks around, this is a blessing. Small birds find amazing places to get stuck in, just by being themselves. They don't seem to have a reverse gear either so they need help at times. Still, I have seen yards full of stuff and amongst it all hens picking their way, happy and unstuck. Maybe it's just me worrying too much... I do remember little Eric getting stuck in amongst some extra tuff grass one time but he was very small at the time. He did not know how to reverse, either.

All in all, it's been a nice first week with our chicks. A bunch of happy souls, it seems. They are kind to all and everyone and they seem to adapt quickly to their new surroundings. All we can do now is provide tons of food and hope for the best.

It's 8 am and Mr. Chip has had his medicine. Now time to get going with the day. The theme for today will be the vegetable patch so the hens will step up and help out. Worms and Marie biscuits on the menu this fine Sunday....

Have a nice day and take care. Hope the sun shines nicely everywhere, today. It does help to get the day going....

Text by Nina

Next blog post on the 29th May. 

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