Saturday, 29 April 2017

Hens can be hard work, whatever they say.

My mornings are spent chopping, mixing and cooking hen food. Not only am I making the normal amount of breakfast for hens and sheep, but now I'm also catering for small beeping and very hungry chicks.

I stick to a base of cottage cheese, finely chopped and then with added various ingredients, according to mood and availability. Apples and carrots are very popular, as is sweet corn and peas. I add some water to the mix, just to be certain that the chicks don't choke on their food. They also get dry chick feed and various seeds, also chopped up into smaller bits. I never really learned what food chicks should eat so I follow the " tried and tested" principal. With our first small, funny looking bunch I read up on what and when, but they never ate any of it. Then the experts told me about the magic of cottage cheese and we were off.

The chicks can now drink from the hen's water dispenser. The mother hen stands primly by while they drink, but the little chick-gang quickly jumps into the water and ends up standing knee deep in their drink. This means that the water must be changed a few times each day. They do seem to have a lot of fun, while fighting dehydration.

As I think I told you, the second nest of eggs was tended to by three hens and as I have not had time to monitor the comings and goings of the care unit, I completely missed the fact that the hen who finally claimed the nest was Pippi, Eric's, mother. As two times before, Pippi left the nest and its eggs, after the first, tiny chick was born.

I worried about two mothers in the henhouse at the same time, but once I realised that our old pro was tending to the baby, all worries vanished. Pippi can stand her ground and we can all hear her doing so. By her command, we all stand quietly in a row when Queen Pippi walks past, tiny toddler in tow. She is one of our oldest hens and knows her place in the pecking order. The first thing she told me when she became a mother for little Eric was that I was now to give way and behave myself. It’s only possible that I call the shots because I know the location of the fridge. Pippi is a practical hen but not really a barrel of laughs, when she is tending to a small chick. I think this baby will be called Sunny and we must hope that it's finally a small hen.

Trisha the hen, runs around like a grouse version of the Queen of Sheba, with five small minions in tow. As her five are almost a week older than Sunny they are much braver, wilder and very keen on visiting our dear sheep. Molly greeted them yesterday, but I stayed close by just to stop Trisha from pecking Molly on the nose. All went well and I think the chicks agreed that our small flock of sheep are a fun lot. Trisha had to have a rest after all the excitement as she stresses a lot!

The month of April is leaving us with snow, slush and still slightly wintry weather. Never have I been so cold, as these last few weeks! Last night's snowstorm felt like winter is never planning to leave us, but it was a warm, snug feel in the stable. Mindy, Mandy, Molly and My stayed indoors as they find getting wet to be highly irritating. As the radiator is still on in the stable, even I warmed up a degree or two.

The only one enjoying the weather is happy, funny Ebba, our very kind dog. Dear husband introduced Ebba to the idea of grilling meat outside and our dog is now the newest member of the BBQ-fun club. Apparently, it's the only way forward when it comes to cooking food. As a vegetarian, I can't really agree but they are happy and at least the smell of burned meat stayed outside. Ebba thinks vegetarians are a silly lot but it means more meat for the club members.

The rain has set in so maybe we can celebrate the first of May, tomorrow, without snow. Ebba can work on digging her mud bath in the paddock and that way keep her coat glossy and healthy. Ebba is a Spa kind of dog. Mud baths and paddling around in cold water. She will soon ask for healthy smoothies too! As long as she is happy, we'll just keep on drying her after her sessions in the paddock and hope for summer to arrive soon.

Happy month of May to everyone and please send us suggestions of names for five fluffy chicks. I'm all named out.

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