Friday, 29 April 2011

Oh those chickens!!!!

Being erstwhile smallholders, or petite fermiers, or idiots, we have a need for manure. Up until we got our sheep this had been a problem, despite having had a brief flirtation with donkey manure.

However: Once the sheep arrived and we started bedding them down in their own barn, the recycling process began, of grass to sheep tummies then up again for rumination then down into the tum again then wayhey out the t'other end to end up as piles of poo. Mixed with the straw this turned out to be the answer to our manure prob. The sheep do a lot of recycling. Especially when able to travel betwixt field and barn at their leisure throughout the day.

It goes like this: Out for eats, back to the barn for rest and recovery and chewing, then back on the feet in preparation for a wander back out into the field for some more eating, but first must find space in the internal plumbing system, so must go to wee and poos before we start on the move, so they leave this unwanted provender in the sheep barn or just outside it. This has resulted in a huge amount of manure, far more than if they were out in the Side Field all day and only brought back in for the night.

So it is a good thing that they are productive in this way, although there is more work involved for me because of the piles of manure they are making.

Anyways, not complaining! Can fill two barrowloads alone of poos per day, and that is without sorting out the wet straw. Impressive don't you think and a good production line in place. I pick up the poo in the barrow and walk it down to Hubs' veg plot in preparation for the next bit of digging.


These hooligans have taken it into their heads to get to it first. This pile was twice the size. It will be reduced to nothingness if I don't protect this precious pile. And I must admit to thinking that there is a decided lack of teamwork by the chickens. They used to go into the sheep barn and ruffle up the straw so I didn't have to do it. As payment they had the poo. I thought this was fair. There was still poo out in the Paddock sufficient to provide a smaller manure heap, I was saved the job of cleaning out the barn, so all were mutually benefitted.

Then they stopped doing the barn and now just raid the manure heap. So I have decided to cover up the heap with a tarp to keep them off it. If they want the delicacy of sheep poo, then they will have to go get it themselves!

And as for the hens sitting in a huddle beneath the rabbit hutch, three in total:

Once a day, with squawking tempers, two will poiyoing out of the 'nest' as if shot by a gun. They will be irritable, have a shout at all around, grab some food, then somehow get themselves back in that squeeze of a 'nest box'. Only the black hen, which you can see in the photo, stoically remains in situ. There is absolutely no chance that any chicks will survive this behaviour from the three of them, but I have given up with the situation, and leave them be. Shop bought eggs it is until they sort themselves out.

Somehow the earlier comradeship of the flock, whereby they laid their eggs in turn normally in the same nesting place, and it seemed to be all for one and one for all, well that has disappeared. They have become very individualized.

And the new cockerel, who was so mild mannered, has become kingly and strutty now, and even took it upon himself to defend his girls against a possible new king, which was my three year old grandson. Somehow that cockerel thinks that Joshua is going to steal, and mate, with his girls. (Joshua is the one on the left. His Dad is on the right)

Perhaps it is Joshua's peaked cap. Or that he is not much bigger than the cockerel. But the cockerel really does see J as a threat, and keeps trying to square up to him.

So I chucked him out of the Courtyard, the cockerel I mean, and he went and had a sulk under the tractor, which made Hubs feel sorry for him and me feel guilty. I tell you, this smallholding lark really stretches one's patience sometimes!

And here is me in my pinny. I love my pinny. I made it from a skirt which had seen better days. My pinny is patched where holes have appeared in it through its constant washing and usage. My pinny is wide and long, as a pinny should be. No fangly dangly tiny frilly noncy pinnies here. A pinny should cover properly, and should have sufficient material in it so it can be useful. It should not be a tiny handkerchief of a pinny, hardly bigger than a fig leaf. And please note the footwear. Boots. These match my pinafore very well, don't you think! But please ignore the hat, and the fact that I am wearing an old bosom upholder with straps which have become so tired that they are constantly slipping down my arms rather than staying up on my shoulders, which makes my bosomy figure even more bosomy. But Hubs and my son love me anyway!


John Gray said...


DUTA said...

Hi Vera,

Your son and grandson are adorable.
The idea that the cockerel sees sweet, little Joshua as a threat to his supremacy is very funny.

I always learn something from your posts - this time, about the pinnie. Thanks for the detailed info on this item.
And, please don't ask us to ignore your hat; it could have competed well with the hats seen at the royal wedding.

Roz said...

You are truly a french farmer lady. You need some nora batty stylee baggy tights though!! Glad to see you enjoying their visit xx

Vera said...

John: It's a pinny, but glad you like it!

Duta: Thanks for liking my hat, and when it was newer I did wear it on posher occasions. But after going through the washing machine it has never been the same since!

Roz: Would socks do instead of those fally down tights, only I haven't worn a pair of tights since I got here three years ago! But I am happy to think I look like a french farmer-ess. Means I fit in to the place!

Food, Fun and Life in the Charente said...

I have to agree with Roz, a truly French farming lady. Love the pinny :-) Diane

Jean said...

Now that's what I call a proper pinny !! Your attire may not be terribly "à la mode" but your sunny smile betrays a happiness that will never go out of fashion.

Vera said...

Diane: I seem to be metamorphosizing into a French farming lady don't I!

Jean: Smiling is what gets us through don't you think!

Horst in Edmonton said...

Vera, I think the Rooster went after your son because he wore Red. I have a blog friend in the USA that has chickens and a couple of Roosters, The alfa Rooster went after her because she wore red pants. When she wore other colors he ignored her.

Vera said...

Horst in Ed: I think you are right. I hadn't realised that he was wearing red until you mentioned it, and funnily enough I read your friend's blog from where I found you, and made a comment that he wasn't wearing red!!! Must apologise to her about that! And thanks for visiting. I really did love what you do with your photos, and that is not 'buttering' you up either!