This blog is mainly a rambling kind of diary of the transition from smallholderwannabe to smallholder.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

We've been away on our holiday.  We had to go while the chicks were at this stage of being confined in the house so that it was easy for people to look after them for us.  Since we've been back, they have spent increasing time out of doors each day and hopefully it won't be long before they live outside permanently.  I didn't want other people who are not so used to hens to have to pick them up and move them between their home inside and the run outside. I also read about how much dust they create while they were in the house but I I really did not believe just how much that would be.  I'm really looking forward to them living outside now.  They like it out there too.  They have all put on twice their hatch weight in the last week so you can imagine how much food they get through.  They are beautiful and quite fascinating to watch.  Last night they managed to get the top off their food hopper and scattered the contents on the floor of the brooder and then took dust baths in it.  I'm amazed at just how much chicken behaviour is innate and not taught.

While we were away we had happen what every animal sitter dreads.  I had a phone call one evening to say that a hen was lying on its side in the run and unable to move.  What should be done?  If we had been home, then we would have put the hen out of its misery.  As it was, it had to get taken out of the hen run (not an easy job due to the low height of the run) and put in the spare rabbit run and hutch with some water.  The poor thing took two days to finally die and never got up again as far as we can judge.  It turned out to be the one that the fox had traumatised but if it had hung on that long before succumbing to its last illness, could it not have hung on a bit longer until we came home?  That particular animal sitter will take a lot of persuading to take on the job again.

We went down to the southwest to visit my mother-in-law and were able to stay with my brother-in-law.  It was good to see them all and catch up a bit.  We also went up for a walk on Dartmoor each day which was brilliant.  I do need a hill fix on a regular basis.  Where I grew up, the sea was in front of us and the hills behind and I find I get twitchy if I don't see some hills regularly.  My husband is just the same.  So we have had a week to chill out a bit and unwind with a few jobs done, then five days away and now three weeks to do as many as possible of those jobs which were left for the long holiday - preferably without running ourselves ragged again.


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