My book: Mucky Cluckers - Tales from the hen run
A humorous look at chicken keeping - from the hen who hates laying eggs, to the cockerel who would like to, this is a hen run full of quirky personalities. Available at http://amzn.to/xT4DkE
The paperback version is coming later in the year. Get a chapter absolutely free by emailing me at email@example.com
Monday, 30 April 2012
Of pheasants, lambs and leopards
Come summer, I planned to have a wide "curtain" of sweetpeas against the fence. No. 1 Son drilled drainage holes in half a dozen plastic storage containers. You know the sort - you can get them in places like B&Q or Homebase. You use them to put paperwork and stuff in that you want to save "just in case", but never look at ever again.
So, in went the compost and the boxes were placed end to end along the fence. Then in went the bamboo poles all nicely staggered with some towards the back and others further forward. (Any pole dancer will tell you - you can't have your poles in a straight line, it spoils the effect). Finally, we planted lots and lots of sweet pea plantlets and protected them with a long piece of fleece which we removed during a recent 3 minute break in the rain. If it ever stops raining, we plan to disguise the containers by putting some willow fencing along the front. That will also serve to stop the chickens poking their beaks around in the compost, looking for worms.
Unfortunately, the pheasants discovered them before we had time to protect the young plants with netting. They decided that our sweet peas were meant as snacks for passing wildlife and have been tucking in.
Which leads me to the point of this story. One of this year's young male pheasants decided that a visit to the snack bar was called for. So he flew up, intending to land on the dry stone wall which marks our garden's boundary. However, before landing he spotted that not only were the chickens loose in the garden, so were we. So instead of landing, he closed his wings and dropped straight back down. All I saw was a pheasant's head for a moment, before it disappeared again. It was just as if he was on a trampoline.
His acrobatics drew the attention of some nearby lambs who thought it would be fun to chase him. Which they did. So he legged it off down the field, and that drew him to the attention of his dad.
Dad had already made it crystal clear that it was time the lad found his own territory. So he came thundering over to chase his son off. The youngster turned tail and headed back up the field ........... doing a leopard crawl! You know what I mean? Belly to the ground!
It's bad enough having chickens whose behaviour is far from normal. Now it appears they've infected the wildlife!