Sunday, 23 October 2016

New friends

We have three new hens in the stable that arrived a week ago. The first day was an introduction day for them, touring their home, tasting all the different food bowls and some general chit-chat. Our own hens were outside, muttering horrid things about me, and my bad management skills. It all seemed calm and nice until Lotta the hen turned up to lay an egg. It was unfortunate that it was her as she has been on edge since her chicks, Matti and Maja. Lotta walked up to the new team, fluffy as a grouse and waited for them to run. Instead the three, much larger birds just grabbed her by the neck and shook her. I intervened and decided that "the new girls" would have to stay separate for a while longer. Lotta was not hurt but her pride got a bit dented. (The truth is that we all felt that she had it coming, the way she has behaved all summer).

A week later everyone has settled in nicely. The latest arrivals are hybrids; they make much larger eggs than ours and are charming birds. They look like three characters from a Jane Austen novel, all airs and graces. They have great taste in food, like to potter and have lovely singing voices. I keep expecting them to pull out their needlework at any minute, while they wait for Mr. Darcy.

They have a long wait ahead of them as they took one look at our dear Monty and decided he was no Mr. D. Little Matti is fascinated by the ladies and keeps bobbing up to squawk at them. Then he gets shy and hides behind a tuft of nettles, practicing his yodeling technic. I found three large hens staring at said tuft, wondering how on earth they had ended up here, in the back and beyond... I tried to comfort them by pointing out that they are only staying for the winter. If all goes well, as we truly hope it will, they will move back home in the spring. In the meantime we just have to make the best of things.

Inside, our home is slowly being turned upside down by our new friend Ebba, the dog. To describe her is difficult, at the moment. It's all bones, angles, long legs and huge eyes, but eventually she will grow up to be approximately the size of an Alsatian, with a thicker tail. Ebba arrived on Thursday so everything is new to her. She seems to be as kindhearted as Mr. Chip but almost everything else about her is different to our dear friend in heaven.

The policy of "no dog in the bed" went out the window on Friday morning when Ebba leaped up and settled herself politely in our bed. She is so thin and long at the moment that it's fine but once she builds up her strength, it will be like sharing a bed with an elk. Dear husband pointed out that as her life so far has not been all roses and festivity, Ebba needs this time to build up her confidence. (Dear husband is also a wet blanket when it comes to waifs and strays...). The sofa is fine for napping and Ebba has her own chair for lounging, in the evenings. This one is next to dear husband so that she can check the news on the internet, too...

Ebba is about one year old and was in need of a new, kinder home. More food and general care is needed too, so we will try our best. She is frightened of practically everything, from people to tall trees. She tries hard to be brave and is slowly letting go of some fears, becoming more of a puppy, every day. She likes to fall asleep holding my arm in her mouth, while mumbling about her day in a happy sort of way. She pulls on her lead and then sits down to apologise for her bad behavior. We are trying our best to make her feel at home and judging by Ebba's tail, we are not doing so badly. Yesterday the tail started wagging as a tail should do and we celebrate peeing outside by eating cheese. (We are going to keep a small dairy farm going, by the amount of cheese this young dog eats...).

We tell her about Mr. Chip when we light the candle on his grave and we feel this was the right thing to do. Our leg muscles are in dire straits, as walking is now slightly brisker than it's been for some time. Thankfully we have one brilliant asset, for this particular sweet dog to enjoy. Ebba gets to run freely, without the danger of getting frightened and running away, in our fenced field. It is unused by the sheep, but loved by the dog and dear husband as a playground. Our dear sheep are still convinced that getting a new dog was a very bad idea, so we have to work on that problem. All we can say is that it feels good to be able to give Ebba a new chance to be happy. We are sure our leg muscles will be up to all these brisk walks, come Christmas time.....

I just read that dogs don't like rain because the amplified sound hurt their sensitive ears. I also read that dogs have a third eyelid called a haw to protect the eye and to help it remain moist. These are two things I did not know about dogs. What I did know is, that they bring joy to a home and are good company on walks. They are quite sweet to like us too....

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