Saturday, 17 September 2016

Monty and young Matti

It's been days of fixing and mending at our home. Dear husband has built, amongst other things, a new barn door, as the old one did not really work anymore. A door should not let in snow in the winter so even if it does look beautifully wonky, it has to be replaced. My job is usually to paint. This time I had four sheep with me as work leaders and general helpers. It was a little unclear who was who, but Molly was definitely the paint taster. She actually ate black paint when my back was turned! And survived.... Amazing animals....

As the weather was warm and summery this week, our hens were busy elsewhere. Little Ulla is growing up fast and Matti and Maja are starting to look like young, thin but grownup birds. They have all been roaming the countryside, enjoying the abundance of lingon berries in the forest. Ulla still beeps along so we can hear where they are but Matti and Maja have learned that by being quiet they can get away with a lot of things. Maja seems to be a sensible soul but young Matti has to be where the action is. This results in all the hens getting annoyed with him at one time or another during the day. As Matti is not a stoic bird, his protesting calls can be heard far and wide. (So much for keeping quiet....).

Credit: Dasha Dimitrova

Lotta was never a doting mother to Matti. She can tolerate Maja but that's about it. Pippi is a brilliant mother hen and both Eric and Ulla have had the benefit of a caring mother. Matti has been left to bob along, as best as he can manage, so even Monty woke up to the fact that the little chap needed company. Monty's style is not always so gentle so we have had words about how to guide a young son out into the world, and now they seem to be getting on better. Monty is changing his tail feathers at he moment and is looking a bit scruffy. This makes the hens ignore him for most of the day, so Monty has time for his son. It's ironic that when the father looks a bit tired around the edges, his son is growing up to be very handsome and sweet natured.

As young Matti and his companions now add up to 14, we have started to rearrange the hen house. W need more space to fly around, more indoors playing areas for the cold months to come and more sleeping places by the radiators. I decided that the potted plants should be young spruce trees, as they can be eaten by everyone and if planted in acid soil, should thrive in a hen house. (And if Molly starts snacking, I don't have to loose a night’s sleep over that, at least...). We are also hanging branches from the ceiling so that the hens don’t just ride around on the sheep, all winter. On the whole, we just hope for a very mild winter, the animals and I.

My sister popped over for the weekend and it was lovely. Monty wanted to show her how it's done and chased, caught and ate a mouse in front of my poor sister who was trying to enjoy afternoon coffee in the sun. This was the first time our funny cockerel did not share his food with the hens. It was obviously too tasty, and he did not even offer my sister a bit of the tail! Lina, the hen, was very upset about the whole thing and told him so, loudly. So if you have problems with mice, just give Monty a call!

Mr. Chip has started working again and is taking us out for long, invigorating walks. My dear husband then shares his work in turn with Mr. Chip, so he can be seen following the lawn mower around the place. Both as happy as the other... It's wonderful to watch and long may it last.

I checked and the book said that as chickens are omnivores, they will eat seeds, leaves, herbs, insects and small mammals like mice, if they can catch them. It's the gizzard, the part of the stomach that contains tiny stones, that then grinds up what they eat. Oh goody... I guess it is ecological food, locally produced and all that, but still not so nice, especially for the mice. We also have a huge badger that is turning over our lower field, looking for wasp's nests. At least that one is too big for Monty to cobble up.

Credit: Dasha Dimitrova

Have a nice week and join me in three cheers, as Dasha is back!!!

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