Wednesday, December 20, 2006

When the grass is greener on the other side of the fence

In the mid bleak winter, Frost stood hard as iron.....
Frost descended yesterday, a magical mist of cloud and ice hovered around the valley for the majority of the day, followed by some sunshine in the afternoon. This morning the leaves on the trees that had been holding out have fallen to the ground and the fire in the homestead rears heat.
Outside the chickens, minus cockerill have taken it upon themselves to fly about and explore all the bugs that grow in the garden. I am not adverse to them being out in the garden at this time of the year as a bit of bug clearing by chickens can only enhance soil hygiene, but they are venturing out on the road watched by the beady eyes of the cat population and that cannot be a good thing. The girls have been shut in the shed today for their own protection and tonight we will be giving them a feather cut on one side to stop them flying off that easily. It sounds a cruel thing to do, but in the end I need to protect my salad crop in the polytunnel which has been nibbled on.

Each decision you make has an impact somewhere. When we moved the chickens daily in their ark, pheasants would come and feed on the corn that was left behind. The chickens were safe from the fox but they had limited space to move about in. Moving them to a fenced enclosure stopped the pheasants but the chickens have managed to dig and scratch a patch of grass to mudbath in 3 weeks and are now looking at more grass to eat, which is understandable. The space covered by the chicken ark also houses the winter quarters of a doormouse which has made a neat and sensible warm home underneath with all the pieces of straw that fall through the chickenwire. Its as tight as a ball, safe from the elements and cats, and the chickens covering it at night make it warm from above. I do not like to cut the chicken’s wing feathers but in the end, that seems the most sensible solution at the moment. They receive plenty of green material each day to keep them busy...yet...the grass is obviously greener on the other side of the fence.

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