Friday, 3 February 2012

Do chickens dream?

Twice during the night of late a chicken up in the branches of the fig tree wherein the flock have chosen to roost instead of being in the temporary tin hut which they seem to think is beneath them to sleep in unless it is so windy that they keep getting blown off the branches or is too cold (as it was last night) such that their feathers risk being frozen, well one of the chickens has emitted a series of clucking sounds which in daytime would signify that she has laid an egg.

To hear such a sound in the middle of the night is quite a freaky experience. To know that that chicken is in egg laying mode sitting in the dark up a fig tree is equally as freaky. Not sure why I feel freaked out, but it just seems that something in the world is not quite right, that certain things should happen during the day, and other things should happen at night, that's all.

I mean, what is that chicken doing? Practising her clucking sounds ready for the time when she can get down to egg laying because she can't get to sleep? Or is she dreaming about laying an egg? Or is her body system prepping her to lay an egg even though chickens can't see in the dark and should be on a flatter surface rather than balancing on the rather thin branches of the fig tree to lay an egg? Such thoughts, then, have been going through my head this day.

It is very cold now. Minus 2 during the day, even though the sun is shining. Out in the Courtyard it is warm enough to sit, albeit still having to maintain the winter layers of clothing, but the wind chill is high.

I have just given the sheep, who are out in the Front Field today, some hay, and also broken the ice in their water trough. They are thirsty girls now they have more hay and alfalfa in their diet. In an hour's time I will have to go out into the Sheep Barn and Paddock, and fill the hay and water containers. I am not going to pick up the sheep poo on the ground and transfer it to the veg plot today. For one, the poo will probably be frozen to the ground and so will prove to be unmoveable anyway. And two: it is too cold!
I have also picked some mangel (sugar beets) for the pigs supper, and donated a stalk of brussel sprouts and some handfuls of last autumn's harvest of acorns to keep them going meanwhile. I can't do anything much indoors because the place is full of sawdust and brick dust from the building work. Can't do any laundry because the water hose to the washing machine is frozen up. Might not even be able to wash up (hooray) because Hubs has just said the tap in the kitchen looks like it is starting to freeze as well. Can't do any veg plot work as ground is frozen. Could do bramble cutting but am not.

So what am I doing? Sitting at my PC obviously because I am writing a blog, .....

......but previous to that I had been plugged into the BBC Radion 4 via the Internet. And I was listening to a play......

.....and this is my desk. To the left is a pile of notebooks which hold my writing work plans and reminders. All remain closed today, and have been since January really. Should get back in the saddle with writing, but I hit a wall with it all and am at the moment of the opinion that writing it a waste of time. No doubt that mode will pass soon. It always has done in the past. Sooner or later I will receive a flash of inspiration, words will tumble into my head, and off I will go on another book.

To the right of the PC is my bottle of water which has cider vinegar added. Am quite hooked on cider vinegar and could be a cider-vinegarholic if ever there was such a thing. I blame it on my mum. She used to swig vinegar, and I have carried on in the same manner.

In front of that, to the right, is a nearly empty bottle of Diatomic Earth, which is excellent for worms and things in dogs and chickens, amongst many other things. It is there to remind me to order some more from over the Internet. it has been there for three months. Must get a move on with ordering it. Bools has an itchy botty which DE seems to cure.

The cup of tea and piece of cake is lunch. Have got some homegrown lamb (from the freezer) in a pot on the stove. Was going to make a roast dinner, but effort for doing so has whittled away, so a lamb stir fry it is going to be.

And the rest of the paraphalia is my patchwork sewing. A recent visit to a new friend inspired me to start off again with my patchwork, but hand sewing. Before I came here to France I used to do machine patchwork, whereby I cut up some of my large stash of material into strips and just went round and round until I had made a big chunk of fabric most of which went into making duvet covers: is on the settee at the moment. Hubs has been having a sleep hence the white cover left at random. This is the room behind me. A tarpaulin is on the ceiling and more are on the floor, but it is cosy.

Bools and Gus are roasting by the fire, although Bools is looking fed up, him being bored with having to stay inside. Hubs is now up and working at his PC. You can just see him to the left of the wall unit.

I have on my feet my less muddy boots, the really muddy ones being left in the hallway. I get fed up with having to take my boots on and off so often will wear a pair indoors until dark, when my indoor shoes go on. I am wearing lacy thermal longjohns. Sexy they are not. Neither is my head gear:

....or my scarf, or my homemade cardi, or my six layers of clothing beneath them. I am still not overly warm.

Hope these littl'uns are warm......

Twins! One black one, one black and white. We now have three sets of twins, and one single lamb making seven new arrivals. The lambs have already made a little gang and often go and visit other mums in the hope that they can cadge a drop or two of milk. They also visit their dad, Jacob, but he either ignores them or gently head butts them away.

Meanwhile, back to doinf a bit of patchwork and maybe a short play on Radio 4....but oops! I have been chatting away for far too long, it is now nearly five o'clock and I must go out and do the Sheep Barn.

Hope you are keeping warm if you are under cold weather conditions, hope you are keeping cool if you are hotter climates!


John Gray said...

I have my woolly hat on in the cottage too!!!!
as for clucking hens at night...I too have heard them..... I suspect it is more a "warning" cluck of potential danger......

keep warm my friend

SueC said...

yep it certainly is cold - just as we were thinking Spring was near - take care - don't mix up your cider vinegar water with Diatomic Earth!!

Leon and Sue Sims said...

Do chicken's dream - yes I'm sure from the clucking that they are very egg-citing dreams.
Sorry, probably my first and last comment.
Leon, not Sue

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

I see no reason why a chicken does not dream, cats and dogs obviously do.
I would love to see your lamb twins they look so cute.
We have cider vinegar every day, not sure if it does anything but....
Love the photo of you all dressed up for outside, it is mighty chilly out there and the cold wind does nothing to improve it.
Keep warm, and all you four and two legged family. What happened to the mild winter?? Diane

Horst in Edmonton said...

Hi Vera, have you thought of putting a fan near the heater or stove and circulate the heat around the room rather than just heat the area around the stove. we did this when we lived on the farm and what a difference it made, felt so much warmer in the house.

Horst in Edmonton said...

Friends of mine live on a large acreage and have a special fan that sits right on the stove and is turning from the heat alone no electricity needed. Circulates the heat beautifully.

Vera said...

John, hadn't thought of the clucking being a warning sign. Still think she was dreaming though, as the geese sitting nearby normally do a shout-about first. Ah, we both belong to the woolly hat bregade! At least our heads stay warm if other bits of us don't! You stay warm as well John.

SueC, will try not to mix the two! Indeed, WInter obviously decided that it had not had a good outing this year so decided to plummet the temperatures!

Leon, I thought your comment was very funny and do please visit and leave comments again, bless you.

Diane, those lambs really are lovely, and shame that you live a distance away as you would be most welcome to come and see them. It is the black ones which look so startling, especially since all the adults in the flock are pure white apart from the dad who is brown and white!

Horst, excellent idea and will mention it to Lester. We have a closed log burner which stands in front of the fireplace so the heat does come from all its surfaces although a lot will still go up the chimney through the pipe. Thanks for the idea.

Jean said...

Vera, your little lambs are so cute - wish I could come and cuddle one.
Like Sue my first thought was - don't mix the bottles up !! Having them both on the same table would be a disaster for me, I seem to have become more pea-brained than ever since I turned 60.
We have snow here in Derbyshire now - it was forecast to start at 3pm yesterday and it arrived half an hour early. It stopped about midnight but it's very cold and this is not the best time to find we have run out of logs unless we delve into the logpile behind the shed.......should have done that when it was 13˚C a couple of weeks ago !!
And I'm not sure whether chickens could dream - don't you need a certain brain capacity and intellectual ability for that? Our dogs certainly always have dreamed - chasing rabbits in their sleep - but poodles are quite intelligent.

Vera said...

we have got caught out with the wood pile as well....didn't put enough under cover so it has got damp, although should just about manage providing the cold snap does not last for too long. Stay warm.... and give your poodle a pat from me! Our spaniels are roasting by the fire after having been out and about with us on the farm and got cold and wet.

DUTA said...

I'm used to very mild winters, and this year, the cold rainy weather came as a big surprise and didn't find me well-equipped for it.
Hope spring is not far away.

Your dogs "roasting by the fire" is a very cute picture. So is the one with the lambs.I'm sure you take good care of your animals in this cold weather.

Vera said...

Duta, the very cold weather has caught us out as well, but it must be worse for you because your climate is so much hotter than ours. Your houses will not be equipped either, as ours aren't either. In the Uk we had fitted carpets, double glazed doors and windows, and central heating. Here we have tiles floors, log burners, and drafts! Ah well. The weather will get warmer soon. We hope!