As regular readers will know we’ve gotten quite fond of our poultry. The ducks and chickens have all done well over the winter and the ducks have surprisingly continued to lay throughout most of the darkest days.
We rewarded the ducks with a new, much improved duck house. It took them a few weeks to realise they had moved house, and many an evening was spent trying to convince them the new duck house was much better than the old. Ducks appear to be great creatures of habit, and it takes them a while to learn new ones! Thankfully, our patience has paid off and they now happily hop up into their new home every evening.
The mornings are as entertaining as ever, as they rush out to be the first to the food. They often practice the manoeuvre before the door is opened, and can regularly be heard crashing into the door as we put out the food. They’ve also taken to flying out some mornings, but haven’t quite perfected their landings yet, and often tumble down the hillside before regaining their poise and waddling back up the hill before the breakfast commotion begins! At least this gives the chickens some precious moments to eat before the rabble arrive.
We have one less drake now, as we answered a plea for help on Facebook. Someone locally had recently lost her drake and left a very lonely duck on her own. We’d been thinking of getting rid of the drakes and had even posted on Facebook asking if anyone wanted any, but no one did. Happily, the lady was very grateful for our offer and reassured us he was off to live the dream in a large lake with the lady of his dreams! Since removing the lower ranking drake, Christmas dinner (the remaining drake) has come into his own. He’s such a gentleman and wait for the ladies to get themselves into the duck house in the evening and is generally a jolly nice chap now.
Despite the plethora of duck eggs we’ve been getting, I’ve had a yearning for more chicken eggs. We lost two of our chickens to a mystery illness late last summer which has left us with four. As they free range most of the time, it’s a bit hit and miss as to whether we find any eggs and the magpies like to steal them, so we often only get one or two. We’d also been thinking how nice it would be to have some near the house which could maybe forage in the wood and help maintain the areas we’d cleared.
After much debate we contacted a local breeder whom we’d met before on several occasions at a local poultry car boot sale. It was Easter weekend and the start of the poultry car boot season. We decided to go to the first sale of the year and pick up some chooks. We checked the breeder was going and placed an order to make sure we could get want we wanted. Easter Day came, and the weather was threatening so the organisers decided to cancel the car boot. Undeterred we rang the breeder and asked if we could pick the chickens up anyway. He lives near Aberystwyth and was happy for us to come and pay him a visit. We loaded the dog crate into the van, armed ourselves with raincoats and woolly hats and set off.
As we turned off the main road towards our destination, we commented on how fortunate we’d been not to have much rain, despite the threatening clouds that surrounded us. We drove deeper into the countryside, down narrow lanes and up steep hills before coming to a plateau. There was a wonderful view of the sea. We turned down the farm track and drove west, down the bumpiest track ever! Rain drops started hitting the windscreen and the wind began to blow.
We drove into a farmyard and spotted a particularly black cloud out to sea. As we got out the wind whipped up and The farmer and his wife came out to greet us and show us to the chicken sheds. I looked around, thinking the farm looked rather like one at the beginning of the film ‘the wizard of Oz’. No sooner had this thought popped into my head, the wind started howling, the light rain drops turned into very large hailstones, that really stang your face as they hit. It got really dark, the farmyard floor was white with hailstones, and then there was flash of lightening followed a few seconds later by the piercing sound of thunder very nearby! It was like being in the wizard of Oz! Within about five minutes, the hail had stopped, the cloud had moved on and sun was shining again!
We were shown to the chickens and picked out two light Sussex, two speckledeys, and two black rocks. Rather bedraggled, we loaded them into the car and set off home.
They have all settled in beautifully. As teenagers, they’ve not started to lay yet, but we don’t think it’ll be long.
They spend most of the day under the summerhouse and come out to forage in the afternoon. If we are out and about, they all follow us around and even try and come into the house! They love sitting on Mr bumbleandme’s lap, and generally causing a nuisance.