The girls are coming

( from the 3rd March)

My chicken pen is nearly ready. Only a few bits and bobs left to do to protect them from the fox and the pine marten.

I met the pine marten by the pond one evening at dusk. Jean-Cri has asked me to record our tree frogs so that he could decide on exactly who they were as we have 2 different ones here, looking very similar but with a different call. I sat there for ages in complete silence, ready to push the record button on my mobile, but nothing. They weren’t in the mood for singing. So after a while I gave up. But as I was getting up from my tree stump I heard some ruffle behind me and with the corner of my eye I just had a few seconds to see what I thought was a squirrel darting to the top of the ash tree right where there was a nest.

That’s a pine marten Jean-Cri confirmed. Well I never! A pine marten? I am thrilled. All this night life right under my nose and I have no idea about it at all. So now that I know we have one of these little guys here you can be sure that I am not going to make it easy for it to eat my chickens.

As for the fox I see it often in the moonlight when I get back from teaching in town. It is really plump and healthy and has made a path under the donkey’s fence to get to the quails’ eggs in the brambles’ patch down below. I don’t know what it finds at this season but it is still doing its round regularly nevertheless. I had put a large stone where I could clearly see its trail, as I was with the illusion that I might be able to protect our quails, but it has many of these trails along the fence and I have let go of trying to stop them as he has his own life to live too. Its life is tough enough as it is with those illegal traps still used by some local hunters.

A couple of years ago  Couscous disappeared for a few days and came back in a very sorry state. He had been caught in one of those traps and was limping miserably as he was making its way up to the house.  Geoff had been so distraught by his disappearance that I had prayed and asked the universe to send our friend back even in a bad shape. The universe had obviously heard me.

The X-ray showed a dislocation of the left hip. Too late to do anything about that said the vet but don’t worry, he will be fine on 3 legs and within a month or two you won’t even notice. And it was true. When I watched Couscous jump on the office window sill it did it effortlessly.

The vet gave him a jab of antibiotics and sew his gammy leg together. These medieval fox traps are so bloody deadly.

So our hens will be here on the 23rd March. I feel like a ten year old with Christmas coming. I am so excited. I redesigned a space at the back of the ewes’ shed from where I made a little door that gives me access to cleaning and collecting the eggs. I saw on the net, some really ingenious ways to bring them water, some kind of little tits that ensure cleanliness of the drinking water at all times. At $2.20 for 5 of them, I am interested.

For dispensing the grain, same thing. It’s great to see what other people like me have invented for the comfort and safety of their little mates as well as peace of mind for the keepers.

Geoff is not sure he’ll be able to keep on eating chicken. He has already given up beef and lamb and for someone like him, a meat eater through and through, that’s a rather dramatic change….

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