Which is more than can be said for the birds...or the bird to be precise. It seems that something has had a chunk out of one of our chickens. We came down the garden the other morning to find a pile of black feathers outside the run (yes OUTSIDE). We did a quick count of the chucks in the run - none were missing - and they looked ok (a bit scrawny and hen-pecked as always, but nothing new). Today, however, one of them is definitely limping with a damaged claw and appears to have a chunk of feathers missing from her back (not sure why we didn't notice this before - maybe more feathers have fallen out since we first looked).
Here is the pile of feathers.
And yes, those are my feet.
[Sadly this foot affliction is a well-known side-effect of having more than 2 children:'nice mummy' enters a transitional phase which without adequate sleep and chocolate and a nice holiday in the Caribbean can result in her becoming 'mummy the monster'. The disease affects mothers in a number of ways; most noticeably in the voicebox (loud screeches and interminably long rants) and in prolonged cases - where there is extensive exposure to offspring - the physical development of the feet is affected. There is no known cure.]
The chicken thing is a mystery though. Whatever it was appears to have grabbed the chicken through the bars of the run fencing, been unsuccessful (i.e not eaten it), and left a pile of feathers on the path. But what chicken would be stupid enough to go near the bars when something like a fox was around (and without making much noise). It's more damage than your average rat could do (even if it was ridiculously hungry), so the whole thing is rather puzzling. My only thought (and I've just thunked it while I'm typing this entry) is that it could possibly be a ferret. The next-door neighbour's kids had pet ferrets which escaped months ago and for a while we used to see them running through the chicken run, causing chaos and mahem (big flurry of anxious chickens doing the daft things that chickens do when they're anxious). But I thought ferrets would only usually take eggs or young chucks?
Will have to google that one.
It still leaves us in the dilema of what to do about the injured chicken. She seems to be managing ok, but experience has shown that the other chickens are likely to gang up on her (chickens have 'bully the weakest' /'pecking order' - politics) and cause further harm. I think I'll see how chuck is doing tomorrow and maybe clear out the greenhouse as a temporary shelter.
So, while checking out the chicken situation, I had a quick recky of the garden. My Italian Kale was looking very sad (but has since perked up as it defrosted today).
Sad Kale (look, you can see it shivering)
These mediterranean types are big girl's blouses compared with the rugged British greens. Mind you, the latter often taste like cattle food, so that's probably why I'm growing the former. And I watched Jamie cooking with the Italian stuff in a programme tonight so it must be awwwright mustn't it? Bless his cotton socks; he can come and cook for me any day...
The plastic over one of the raised beds where I planted the garlic (erected to stop the chickens digging them up) has had the added bonus of keeping the parsley frost free and still productive. I still have no idea what I'm going to use the parsley for (does one garnish baked beans on toast in one's house?), but it seems to be indestructible and non-invasive; both good qualities in my neglected veg patch.
Not very exciting picture of parsley
(are you bored yet?)
I've been sorting my seeds out for the next season and had theis year's delivery of heritage seeds from the HDRA (now known publicly as Garden Organic) seed collection. As always, I have far too many seeds, and lots of seeds for things that we probably wont eat even if we successfully grew it, but I've stuffed them into the box, in order of month of planting. It's all very organised with little cardboard separators between the months. Peppers and chillis and tomatos first (Jan-Feb). Then 20,000 packets of seeds for Mar-Apr. Then absolutely nothing until September (one seed pack in that section).
I read somewhere that this date thing was a really good way of organising your planting.
On Friday ds2 mentioned something about electronics and whereas I would usually have made excuses - or pointed him in the direction of dh - I patiently went in the loft and got out an electronics set that I'd got secondhand years ago (probably when he was a toddler!). Ds1 had never wanted to use it (hence why it was collecting dust in the loft), but ds2 spent over an hour making circuits to create 'bird sounds' (we seem to be having a bird theme going here) and then fiddling around making alterations. I was clueless, but both the boys seemed to know alot more than me! When ds2 started telling me what a transistor did, I started glazing over (as I would if dh did the same), but I have to admit I was impressed.
And no, I can't remember what a transistor does. If it could clear up dog poo, sort out the odd-sock drawer or even cook Italian Kale then I might show more interest. I don't need to know what a transistor does to be grateful that an electronic gadget is working. And I don't suppose a florist needs to know the ins and outs of photosynthesis to do their job...
Well either the volcanic mountain of craft materials has finally erupted, or the home-educating Gremlins have been doing some tidying up...
I really shouldn't feed them after 5pm
So...I finish on a photo of dd1 riding her bike (shortly after this was taken she got distracted by looking at the postman coming the other way, tipped to one side and fell off). Funny how I always take photos just before my children damage themselves in some way. Some might say it's inattentive parenting. I prefer to call it sequencial fate. Camera + child = nice photo + minor accident.
Essential clothing for a bike ride in below-freezing weather:
woolly hat, jumper, coat and - oh yes - shorts!