Thursday, 19 November 2009

Thursdays favourite birds (and they're not chickens)

(photo via RSPB)

I've ditched the plant today (but I will be back later with it)
Now I live out deep in the sticks and I'm surrounded by loads of different habitats so I get to see a vast array of different species. The Birds that appear in my garden vary throughout the year in fact if I had no idea of what month or season it was I could tell just by whats hanging off the feeders.

I have my desk by the window looking out onto my huge buddleja globosa where I've hung a massive peanut feeder and right now as I type I can see a gorgeous Nuthatch upside down pecking out a nut and 4 Blue tits waiting on the Branch's for the Nuthatch to vacate, now hes gone and before the blue tits could even blink a great tit and a coal tit have swooped in. I love coal tits when I was little I used to call them badgers because of the little stripe down the back of their heads. Over in the field across the road I can see a small bunch of mallards dabbling in the flooded puddles and a few rooks in the old oak trees. In the back garden I can hear the shrill little call of a marsh tit the amazing huge song of a little tiny Wren(and the dulcet tones of tallulah who I'm guessing is laying an egg). There is my little robin with the white spot on his neck pecking at a fallen apple from the bird table, a couple of dunnocks hopping around in the flower beds. On Monday the Goldfinch's came back to the niger seed feeder telling me they have exhausted all the thistle and teasels in my field. See this is wear the seasonality comes in, I've been watching them all summer in the fields but the only appear in the garden in November and then drift of in June. I haven't seen any long tailed titsyet but they tend to turn up at the beginning of December. I hear their beautiful chattering voices first then suddenly the fat balls are covered in a flock of about 10 or more. I love long tailed tits they look like fat fluffy lollipops.
There are tons of Jays screeching out of the woods and yesterday I saw a green wood pecker sat in my cherry tree. Blackbirds and thrush's are stripping my neighbours rowan tree for all they are worth and then popping into mine for apples. The pheasants are drifting out of the woods and eyeing up my hens again. maybe soon the Canada geese pair might return to the river although they might have to shift up the Teal who have taken up temporary residence.
Over in the field its birdwatching heaven. Every morning when I go to let the chickens out I disturb a gang of field fares feasting on the hawthorns in the hedgerow and in the evening their numbers have multiplied and they've been joined by Blackbirds and Mistle Thrushes. I often catch a Tawney owl leaving her nest high up in the old beech tree and close the gate to the sounds of her and her mate calling to each other to begin the hunt. I then hear them all evening flitting between the woods on the left of my back garden and the fields beyond.

Ohh there is a big fat male sparrow just landed on the buddleja which reminds me I better put out some seed on the hanging table. I swear all the feathered and furred creatures eat better than I do, my husbands even been setting the (humane) mousetraps with my nutella (every autumn we get little wood mice creeping in through the gaps in the bricks and beams to feast on anything they can find, last year hubby hid my chocolate advent calender under the sofa, upon pulling it out on the 1st the cheeky mice had nibbled the 1st, 5th and 24th. Its not an infestation just a few opportunists, but I think the dog invites them in as I've found dropping in his bed!!!!)

When the new year kicks in I've got new vistors to look forward too like the Bullfinchs, linnetsand if I'm lucky a few scant Hawfinchs eating the new buds on the birch trees. Then when summer comes back swallows and swifts gliding over the fields and river, warblers singing in the long grass and if I'm really really lucky I might get a Pied flycatcher nesting in my bird box again.

I really must go and chuck some seed about as I think they are trying to recreate a feathered version of the battle of britain outside my window.

jess x

Thursday, 12 November 2009

Onwards and upwards

I had another sad day again yesterday. My lovely little cuckoo maran pullet Tilly, was put to sleep. Last Thursday when her and her boys out of their coop I noticed she had difficulty using one of her feet, she was stumbling about like she was drunk. I thought I'd give her and hour or so and then go back and check on her. There was no improvement and she hadn't eaten anything. So I bundled her up in my arms and brought her home. I checked her over and could find nothing wrong, she wasn't using her left foot in fact her toes were curled up into a fist (if you know what I mean) I could find no breakage or any wounds. Anyway shes been eating and drinking for the last week, I gave her some antibiotics and have given her the run of the flowerbeds and lawn. But although she wasn't getting any worse, she showed no signs of getting better and yesterday I could see she was in pain. She had given up even trying to stagger around and just lay down and would cry out. So it was a very easy decision to let her go.
Difficult but easy when you know they are suffering.
So although I was sad, her welfare all of the birds welfare is the most important thing to me. If she had showed signs of getting better I would have quite happily have kept her as a little limping pet hen, but I would also have taken into consideration her quality of life, if I thought she wouldn't have been able to do the things like scratching, flapping and dustbbathing that make hens happy, I would have let her go.

So now I only have 1 definite hen left in the field, and a whole gang of young boys and a handful I'm still debating on (although sods law and all that).
Although.... Last night when I put her brothers to bed I noticed one of them has a much smaller paler comb and wattles...........I daren't hope but could he be a she?

Anyway everyone else is thriving despite the rain, including my darling Holly Golighty who along with her little posse have been relocated to the courtyard very close to the kitchen door and are enjoying the benefits of more veg peeling and tinned sweetcorn. She also has the most amazing electric blue ear lobes.

(If anyone says blue earlobes means shes a boy I will cry, lol)

jess x

Thursday, 5 November 2009

And they just keep on coming...........

Don't post for ages now I can't seem to stop.
My poor other neglected blog is a bit sad. So I'm going to give it a bit of a make over. I'm going to start blogging about food and cooking and housey stuff and all the other creative things that I do when I'm not knee deep in mud and surrounded by feathers, because secretly I can be a bit of a domestic goddess when I want to be and maybe if I apply myself a bit more and blog about these things it will have the knock on effect on my creativity. So be sure to go over and have a look at it (I'm sure no one ever has has, but I can't say I blame you I wouldn't either)Hopefully by sunday I'll have a few recipes and stuff posted.

My boys growing up

One year ago today in a farmhouse not too far away, a heavly pregnant abandoned dog gave birth to a litter of pups amid the crashes and bangs of firework night.

Happy birthday Alfie
He really is a little star, I love him to bits. Life is never boring with him around.
Here is 10 random facts about my little under gardener.

1* I swear he thinks he's a chicken, when the garden girls are scratching about outside he goes and sits with them all quietly and if one of them looks at him he wags his little tail.

2* I once made a mistake of giving him a bit of apple core, now when ever I eat an apple he jumps up at me and barks, hasseling me for a bit.

3* He likes to sleep on the sofa amongst the cushions flat on his back with his front legs straight up in the air.

4* Even though he is very naughty sometimes he's never chewed anything in the house or cocked his leg on anything inside.

5* If you open the cupboard where his biscuits are kept he runs into the kitchen sits on the floor, gives his paw, rolls over and barks just incase you were going to give him a biscuit.

6* He has an arch nemisis, There is a dog at a farm further up the valley who goes past in the back of a pick up. Now when alf hears him he comes rushing into the house and standis in the winter barking furiosly for at least 15 minutes.

7* When he hears the opening bars of Tom Jones Deliah, he goes nuts. Its his favourite song

8* Sometimes he likes to sit on the back of the sofa with his paws on my husbands head.

9* He has two main facial expressions, Guilty and cheeky

10* His feet look like a teddy bears.

catching up

Sorry for the long absence, things have been a bit up and down and stressful here at the cottage and I haven't really felt inspired much lately. I had this favourite plant post planned for Halloween but obviously didn't post it I might put it up later. So I've been snuggling down knitting eating biscuits and watching The darling buds of may Which is my ultimate security blanket, I watch my dvd all the time and especially love it when I'm feeling blue, I wish I was one of the larkin kids or better yet my goal is to grow up to be Ma Larkin.

Anyway things are back to normal now, I spent Monday afternoon blitzing my courtyard, My whole garden looks like a bombsite what with the chickens tearing up all the grass, and all the rain we've had it wasn't really inspiring me to go out and do much. But now the courtyard is tidy and the baby silkie x english games have been brought down from the top chicken garden, as its turned into a swamp and are residing by the side of the house. Much better for me and them as they have turned feral in the last few weeks, My Holly Golighty is like a mini Sea Eagle when ever I try and handle her, but now we can spend more time together. Three of the smaller silkie Xs have got scaly leg, so the whole lots been treated. My original garden girls need to be moved as well so I can rest their run but I need to have a think about where to put them. They have all come back to laying again after I discoved they all had lice.
Over in the field I had a bit of drama last week when I let them out and Boo came out looking all sorry for herself wings and tail hanging down and hiding under the shelter so I bundled her up in my arms and brought her home where I feed her yogurt and chick crumb. There was no signs of anything wrong, although I did find one lone louse on her so I gave her a dusting and put her to bed in the spare room for the afternoon. By the morning she was back to her feisty self again so back to the field she went. I think she might have received some unwelcome attention fom all the boys there. The Indian game birds (who will be dispatched next week) have all started crowing and trying to have their way with Boo, and I think poor Boo was overcome by their advances. The two Welsummer boys Hector (previously known as Dean Martin) and his smaller brother are growing into magnificent cockerels. Hector is learning how to be a good chap, he rushes at the Indian game when they rush at Boo, and he's always the first in to the hen house and then darts in and out till everyone is safely inside. Blackberry has turned out to be a Boy (I knew it) but he's so gentle and endearing hopefully with a good few more females to keep them sane I can keep him. The little white leghorns have all grown except the one who looks more male he's tiny, I love these ones, they crowd around my feet peaking at my boots when I been walking through the grass and they're like naughty children, always mucking about at bed time.
My biggest surprise was when I took the three Marans and rogue silkie x's to the nursery pen in the field, They were the ones that fought with Holly, Literally overnight the small grey one grew a wattles and a comb.
I took them over on a day I was feeling particularly grumpy. After letting them out of the box into their new run I turned around to talk to Blackberry when this little tiny grey thing let out this very croaky and strangled cock-a-doddle-do. I haven't laughed so much in ages, all the other boys stopped what they were doing and looked over at him, and he just kept on crowing all afternoon thinking himself magnificent. I've called him Ivan (the terrible) seems to suit him. I think we might keep him just for the comedy value he brings.
So all in all I have (not including the Indian game or the garden girls) 6 definite cockerels, and 6 definite girls. Everyone else I'm still not 100 percent sure of. I have promised my husband no more chicken till the spring now. Spring will also be the time when I start on the ducks but shhhhh don't tell my husband.

jess x

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