Friday, 26 August 2011

The five have become eight!

So the five little chicks, who have become hooligans, were supposed to spend several weeks in the evacuated chicken run while they put on body weight and gained height so that they could then be let out to run free without the bother of being got at by anything which would want to eat them because they were bite sized morsels of little beings.

Well that didn't happen. They just could not see any point whatsoever in  being kept in that environment when there was a big world outside to investigate. Not only that, but they wouldn't eat the food I put in for them but preferred the vegetation which was already growing in that space, the rest of the flock not having been in it for some time, them preferring to go to bed in the fig tree above the run, thereby letting sundry plants populate, and thrive, in the rich dungyness of that space.

And inside the run there grew Deadly Nightshade, for which the chicks seemed to develop a passion such that they demolished most of the plants by jumping up and eating the leaves. Was worried when first I saw them do this thinking that they might be poisoning themselves, but they didn't. They just seemed to get more energy to jump. I think perhaps that they found it more fun to jump up and try to grab bits of leaf. I think that those five are bright little beings and were find it boring to be stuck in the run. I think that it was driving them nuts!

So, with Hubs in agreement, I let them out despite being worried that they might get eaten by anything passing which was of a mind to eat them. Like the crows, buzzards, or magpies. So far, however, we still have the five.

Oh and by the way, every day the swifts are gathering. A few days ago, just a few. Each day a few more. And so they are building up a gathering, getting ready to depart this land for the coming winter. Down to South Africa they will go. A fearsome journey indeed. Always I am in awe of their efforts. Always I am made to feel insignificant in the face of such a task. Always I am enthused with energy to keep going on when I watch those birds.

Anyway, back to our five. I think that they are mostly cockerels. Therefore they will be in the freezer in four or five months time, when they start feeling the need to mate with others which will upset the energy of the flock. Meanwhile I enjoy them. I am the chicken-shepherd for them, making sure that they get enough to eat at feeding time when  all the rest will try and steal away their food. It is not to fatten them up that I do this, it is because I want them to get past this vulnerable stage when they can be up taken by the bigger birds of the sky. Yesterday there were five buzzards circling, but think that they were keeping an eye on what was happening in the sunflower fields nearby which are now being harvested.

Back indoors, and there are another three little chicks coming along. These came from four eggs that were going to be boiled up for the pigs after I found six underneath the hen in the Tall Barn who is now sitting on onions. She is a bantam and will not manage a large family, so we thought to leave her two eggs, the rest were, as I say, going to go to the pigs but since the incubator was now vacated I thought it a good idea to put the eggs in there. Give them a chance was my thinking. And so we have three hatchlings. As for the hen in the Tall Barn...... I wrote about her in a previous blog, and there is still no change since then. Will have to remove the onions I think.

A few hours later: A sad thing. It is raining. Fed the chickens late. Noticed that I had not shut the chicken run to protect the chicks as they slept. Too late to worry about that. Umbrella up, sat on the step of the Tall Barn to feed all. All came flying over to me. Hungry. Damp. Did my usual count of heads. All were present. One, two, three, four. But where was the fifth little chick. No where. Four only. Stupid, stupid me for forgetting to shut the pen down. Must have been got by a feral cat, or stoat, or owl, or something or other. With heart in my boots I carried on with the day.

A few hours later: Still raining, which is good. We are rather parched here and could do with a damping of rain. Had been keeping an eye on the four chicks throughout the morning. They were OK. But I put them back in the run and shut them in. Didn't want them running around in case I lost another. It was wet anyway. They didn't look like they thought much of the water being tossed down on them. Their faces looked glum, and they kept wanting to get into a huddle with each other. So best to put them back in the run.

Hubs went on an egg hunt. "It's here", he yelled, gesturing towards the floor of the going-to-be-pond.
"What's here, another egg? What down in the pond? That's odd" I said, although wasn't really surprised, the hen's, after all, being crafty b**********s when it comes to hiding their eggs away from us.
"Noooooooo! The chick!!"
And there it was. Almost swimming in the couple of inches of rainfall water on the floor of the pond.

Nothing to do but put it on a warm bosom, towel dry it off, feed it some mashed boiled egg, during which it tweeted its dislike of such manhandling, then off into the hen run again to be with its mates. Five! We still have the five!

Ah the joys, the ups and downs. And now I am off to have a  lie down. What I am supposed to be doing is washing the floor tiles in the Half Barn, but it is a huge space and all I seem to be managing is to wash, with my newly bought floor mop, a couple of rows of tiles, dry them off with a towel wrapped around a broom head, then I seem to feel the need to go lie down and read my book for an hour or so on my newly assembled bed before washing a couple of more rows of tiles and repeating the process over and over again. It is taking a while to wash that floor! The book is a good read. I haven't read a novel-type book in years, mostly focussing on writing my own books, blogs, website, etc, and reading non-fiction but avoiding, always avoiding, the French books which I am supposed to be studying. 

And hooray! I have a new floor mop which I shall eventually manage to introduce to all of the floor, and the little chick who went for an unintentional swim is not floating upside down in the water, done unto death by its desire to have an adventure.

I might let the gang of five out for a romp now the rain has ceased. Hope the word has got out amongst them that the pond is a place that little chicks do not need to investigate.


John Gray said...

wet chicks
nothing more pathetic!

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

Oh I am so glad you found the fifth one, what on earth did it think it was a duck LOL.
We have almost more rain today than we have had since March, so a bit wet I would think for chicks. Bet you are glad you are out of the caravan. Keep well Diane

Vera said...

Indeed John, indeed! Hope you had a good weekend and that this week is kinder to you.

Diane, it probably did think it was a duck! Gosh, but you must have had a very dry Spring and Summer. We've had quite a bit of rain on and off, so haven't needed to water too much. And yes, hearing that rain tumbling down on the roof today and knowing that I did not have to traipse across the Courtyard was indeed a joyful feeling!

Roz said...

I know that feeling. there is nothing worse than thinking one of your flock has been 'got at' hurrah for that!!xx

Vera said...

Hi Roz. I remember what you felt like when your flock was got at by foxes!

Duta said...

The picture with the wet chick on "a warm blossom" is so sweet!

Enjoy your new floor mop! A good, new tool is half of the work. Last but not least, please don't avoid the French books if you wish to fully integrate in the surrounding french society.

Ken Devine said...

Is it okay to feed chicks with egg? I'm glad it wasn't itself devoured:)

Vera said...

Duta, floor mop good, French I am now tackling with more enthusiasm now choir practice has started again after the Summer break.

Ken: I was given the boiled egg hint by a fellow blogger whose mum used to give all her young chicks mashed up boiled egg. And it works! The one chick who did not have any because it was hatched under a hen has not grown anywhere near as fast!

Jean said...

Keeping animals is such a roller-coaster of joy and tragedy ~ what a responsibility.