Thursday 12 July 2012

Free Ranging

“Shhhhh!” whispered Dad on Wednesday (4th July) morning, “It's doing it again! Early morning sunshine, I mean. It happened yesterday but I didn't like to say anything in case I frightened it”. Today then, is all about LAUNDRY and rattling about 6 loads of back-log through the poor aul' washing machine and via drying on the line in a lovely "breeze" (it's when warm dry air gently riffles your hangy up shirts and sheets, in case you've forgotten). Mum and Dad kept at this all day, patrolling the line impatiently, whipping down anything even vaguely dry and immediately putting something else up. By 5 pm when the clouds started gathering we had a zero pile of dirty and a MOUNTAIN of ironing but, not a bother, Mum assures me that Heaven is the Leveson Inquiry (Phone tapping and the conduct of the newspaper men) and a warm steam iron, so roll on Monday.

We had to have Aoife (Rhymes with Deefer) the Vet out to little Yorkie, Coco for a ticklish cough like he had a frog in his throat. Mum and Dad are still amazed by this lady's prices. The call-out visit, 2 injections, a major clean out of his manky ears while she was passing and some tablets only came to €20. Blimey! We loved our Kent vet to bits but you never used to escape visits to his clinic for much under £70. We invited her to stroll round the menagerie and she loved Rogers and the chooks; well, all our mini beasts really. Even me!

Dad did a batch of soda bread and measured up for the next three carpentering jobs - the car port, a log store and a wee housey for the gas cannisters just outside the kitchen window.

At half 7 and the sun was (shhhhh) still shining. We hope it is where you were.

On Thursday 5th we make good use of the unexpected sunshine, and throw caution to the wind with the Lovely Girls . It is, finally, a warm sunny dry day which has Mum and Dad both feeling the urge to garden but it's way too wet underfoot to get on the 'real' land, so they get the knee pads and kneelers out and take on the burgeoning forest of dandelions, cow-parsley, bramble and grass coming up through the gravel of the front 'terrace' (parts of which were created by spreading gravel over the pre-existing forest, which is never going to work as a weed control method. Some of these weeds were now tickling the backs of human thighs as they sat on the garden chairs! Several barrow loads of greenery later we have a neat, tidy seating area and a clean, swept, concrete apron in front of the house.

Meanwhile the Lovely Girls and Will' ze Conq' have almost annihilated the greenery in their run (as chickens do) and were going to need a bigger area but Mum and Dad were not sure how this'd work with we 2 terriers. In former lives they have had chickens and dogs happily inter-acting, ignoring one another and nobody getting eaten, but former dogs (Megan and Haggis) seemed to them a bit more chilled than us, Deefs and Coco, the current “feisty pair”. Ah well, they decided, we had to bite the bullet sooner or later. After lunch, we got our leads on and Dad got Mum to stand in the 'car-park' bit holding us while he pulled back to corrugated sheet at the gate. The chooks came straight out and having looked around unable to believe their luck, headed for Mum's kitchen garden.

Dad nipped back to where Mum was standing and held me while we watched for a few minutes. Mum and Dad realised that neither of us dogs was pulling to get at the birds so, a bit nervously, they loosed first one dog, then the 2nd. Nothing happened! I trotted past the chooks to go inspect the rabbits, Coco sat watching the birds with fascination.
And that, apart from a couple of quick charges at the birds by one dog or another, seemingly triggered by human 'attacks' trying to ward chooks off the new veg' seedlings in the raised beds, was how it went. We dogs seemed to enjoy one or two charges, sending squawking chooks scattering but then got bored. We are not 100% sure we are safe yet but it's better than we ever dreamed.

The Lovely Girls marshalled and protected by William the Conqueror had a good old explore for 2 hours or so while we supervised. They 'did' the kitchen garden first, and then down into the west field to visit the rabbits and back up through the car-park onto the front drive. They seemed to love the grubs in the spruce-needle litter under the huge trees. From there across the front lawn and then down the east side into the yard and back 'home' to the cattle race. 

A happy event. We now have properly free-ranging chickens!

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