Thursday, 20 September 2012

The hen in the ditch




"What was that!", said Hubs, as he flung back the duvet, waking me up from that delicious slide into sleep. Gus barked. The hen!

It had been a lovely day, a quiet day, not hot, not cold, not rainy, not anything really, just gently warm, a time to prepare for the winter ahead, but meanwhile to rest, to recuperate from the heat of the last few weeks, but that was for the sheep and goats out in the field, most of whom were lying down and dozing.....


........... and the chickens in their den under the trailer......


....the geese doing their usual waddling to and fro.....



..others of us had things to do...



......wood chopping time....


...yes, but first there was the need to gather the kindling in from the top of the heap of woos which came from the house when it was cleared out before the renovation started. It is a huge pile, mostly big beams, some smaller, then even smaller ones, and these were the ones Lester uses for kindling. I think the effort of hefting the axe was a little too much for him, but at least he had thought about doing the chopping of the wood.

Meanwhile, I was sitting in the Courtyard, peening....




....putting the scythe blade on the anvil and giving it a jolly good wallop with a hammer. I was following the instructions which accompanied the anvil (its that bit of steel thingy sat in the chunk of wood), but couldn't seem to apply them to the hammer, anvil, and scythe blade sufficient to thin the edge of the blade so it could be then sharpened with a 'wet stone'. This thinning of the edge is called peening.

I couldn't do it. A simple task, but it would not engage with any of my brain cells. Hubs to the rescue. Thwack. Thwack. Thwack. "That's how you do it", he said, pointing out to me that I was sitting the wrong side of the anvil, so no wonder I wasn't managing to peen properly. And, so, well, I sort of managed. The scythe is cutting better, not much better, but at least it is not as blunt as it was. We have worked very hard this summer, the scythe and I, and we have both become rather bluntened.

Anyway, Lester was woodying, I was peening (or trying to), and.......
"Vera", Lester yelled, "Come here....." Urgent was his voice. Worried did I become. Something dire had happened. Goats gone missing. Sheep bust loose. Pigs AWOL. Problem with the heifer.

Opening my mouth to demand what problem I was being called to help out with, secretly pleased that I had been called away from my hammering of the blade,....
"Listen", he said, shushing me......  
Sheep I could hear. Elise I could hear. Couldn't hear the goats, but could see them. Pigs quiet, so must be asleep in the wallows.....and then, in the middle of the general noises, was a tiny twittering sound...and there, tucked away in the ditch, (photo at start of blog)  was the little red hen who we thought had been eaten by something or other, because we had not seen her for some time. She is a horror of a bantam. Bullies and pecks all the other hens, mounts them to show dominance, and has attitude with a capital 'A'. She is not friendly. She is a fiend. But, and I don't know how, that little red hen had sat on a big pile of eggs, probably laid by all the other hens because I don't think she lays eggs any more, and had hatched one chick. Awwwww...

The day raced on, busy, hectic, with me eventually off to a choir rehearsal, Lester on to his PC to work for the evening. The little red hen became forgotten.

So I waited for Lester to return to bed, regretting that we had not moved the little red hen to safety. 
"There's no sign of her, or the chick, or the eggs" he said with a sigh as he got back into bed, "Gone, they are all gone."

Ah, but then, come daylight.....



...... not only with one chick, but seven, all sunning themselves (they are tucked in around her in the photo). So task of the day is to catch her and the little ones, which will involve getting into the thicket in the ditch and probably getting scratched to pieces in the process. 

Ah well, at least Elise is settling down.



She is still mooing, but seems to be calling to the sheep, as the wander about the field, rather than for her mum, and they seem to be answering her back, but with a different voice to the one they use for each other. Goats are OK as well. Last seen they were busy pruning one of the young oak trees on the fence perimeter.

And we still don't know who made that scream last night, but no-one seems to be missing.

Rabbit Update: 14 rabbits. 12 now deceased with myxomotosis. Two remain.

Chicken Update: The little red hen has hatched 11 chicks. 

Life goes on.........


7 comments:

rusty duck said...

Hello Vera,

I just saw your comment on John's blog about the Bailey's in the fridge... cracker. I shall try it!

And then to read your post and find that you have Chinese Geese. Such characters, but how are Lester's ankles?!

We have recently moved to South West England, and are similarly renovating. Slowly, surely, painfully. To date my animal count flies or scampers in from the woods that surround us, but as we get settled I shall get some of my own.

Look forward to following your adventures. Jessica.

Vera said...

Hello Jessica, and thanks for visiting. Baileys in the fridge works because it feels vaguely naughty when one is having a quick swig. As for Lester's ankles...not so good, so has retired from clambering over the woodpile temporarily! Am now going to pop over to your blog to see what you are up to.

Leon and Sue Sims said...

Vera - what was life pre-Labartere.
Is it in previous posts. Like to here about the transformation from UK to France out of interest.
L and S

Horst in Edmonton said...

Vera, love your video, nice to here your voice. I hope it doesn't get to cold in the winter so that your wonderful little calf doesn't freeze. The building the calf is in has a lot of venting for the summer but not great for the winter. Your calf sure is cute. Love the old buildings on your property. The geese look great and the rooster looks healthy. You have a great week and weekend and don't dip into the Baileys to often.;-)

John Gray said...

did you catch them all vera?

Zimbabwe said...

Elsie needs a friend!!! Love the story of the bantam and the chicks, I wonder if the babies will be small or large when older!
Peening - that is a new one on Me LOL
Take care Diane

Vera said...

Leon and Sue, well you have planted the seed in my head to put our 'getting here' history onto another blog. I started this blog after we have been here for a few months as a way of letting my family back in the UK know what I was getting up to. Thanks for giving me this nudge. I did start a book about our first year here, got to 70,000 words, was on to first edit, then we had a power cut while the file was open and the whole lot got wiped out. Maybe writing the blog will inspire me to get that book re-written!

Horst, don't worry, the calf will be put in the Middle Barn soon. At the moment she is in the Sheep Paddock, but her and the goats will be shifted soon. It will stay quite warm here for a while yet though. It is January and February when the cold really hits us. The Baileys was delightful!

John, Lester managed to get all eleven chicks, plus mum, rescued. Am watching with interest how you get those two new sheep of yours to come to the hand to be fed. we've got to train the goats and Elise to do the same, without having to do a manic chase around the Paddock first!

Diane, I really think that Elise is going to have to manage with having the goats as her companions! We are thinking the same about the chicks, but two look like they might have come from the smallest hen we have here - I am not sure how our cockerel and her managed that. He is a big boy!