Compassion in World Farming

Sunday, 7 June 2009

Life's cycle

It has been a funny old week.....

Last weekend the weather was glorious. Eldest son was home from University for the weekend - yippee! The ducklings had been released into the back garden & it was time to give them their first swimming lesson. I had bought a child's paddling pool for them, not the inflatable type but the type that has quite rigid sides that are held up with the weight of the water as you fill it. It was a very exciting moment as we carried them towards the filled pool & placed them into the water. Oh dear! That was obviously not a good idea. Chalk & Cheese were both quite shocked by this mass of cold water & couldn't get out of the pool fast enough. Not what we were expecting at all! We thought that they would take to it.. well, like ducks to water. However, after a bit of reassurance the intrepid twosome decided the pool was worth a second investigation.

Chalk & Cheese give the pool a second look

First of all it was Chalk (the duckling we believe is female) who first dabbled in the water, then bravely clambered in to give this new experience another chance.

Well, it wouldn't do for a boy duckling to be out done by his sister, so it wasn't much longer before Cheese gingerly climbed in too. Perhaps he was more hesitant because he has more of his downy baby feathers left.

Chalk took a little longer to be persuaded into the water

After that there was no stopping them & they had lots of fun splashing us as we watched & laughed as the two of them had a thoroughly good time behaving just as ducks should do.

Watching our bird table it is clear that the ducklings aren't the only birds who are growing up fast. We have been treated to the sight of starling fledglings, looking bigger than their parents due to still being quite fluffy, being fed bits of suet from the table by very harassed looking adults. Gradually the parents have begun refusing to feed the fledglings & they have had to work out for themselves how best to tackle each of the different types of feeder on the table. One of the fledglings has a deformed leg. It seems to be at right angles to his body & he can't hang from the suet ball feeders like the other starlings can. Of course, my mothering instinct has kicked in & he has instantly become my favourite & I anxiously watch out for him each day. It is costing quite a lot to keep the table stocked at the moment what with hungry parents & even hungrier fledglings visiting, but we have been rewarded with quite a variety of visitors. Our regulars include green finches, chaffinches, gold finches, blue tits, great tits, robins, sparrows, dunnocks, ring necked doves, a magpie, a rather handsome wood pigeon (Sargent Major) & a lesser spotted woodpecker (Woody). Oh, & if you were wondering how the baby blue tits in our next box are getting on, they have successfully fledged, although unfortunately I didn't get to see them go. Hubby & I are sure we have seen a flash of another bird visiting the box. We are sure it isn't another blue tit, so we are trying to catch a proper glimpse of what may be a new occupant.

Family routine has been a bit upside down this week as middle son (16 yrs old) is on study leave as he is taking his GCSE exams. Eldest son (19 yrs old) has just finished his first year University exams. Youngest son (14 yrs old) is currently undertaking the Duke of Edinburgh bronze award. On a Wednesday after school he helps out with a scheme called Play Rangers to fulfil the volunteering section of the award. This is a scheme aimed at encouraging kids to take part in outdoor play, by setting up games & crafts activities in a local park. He also had a practise camp this weekend to give him a taste of what the expedition part of the award will be like. So I have been reflecting on how quickly my own 'babies' are growing up. I have to say I am a very lucky mummy & I watch with incredible pride as they each grow up into amazing individuals & with interest as they each start to grow into adults & begin to make their own decisions & find their own place in this big wide world.

The week has finished off with chilly downpours of rain & with a bit of sadness. Rodney, our lovely bantam cockerel who has diligently looked after our hens for 5 years or so, passed away peacefully yesterday. We thought he was coming to the end because, although he appeared perfectly healthy, he was spending more & more time sleeping. In the end it seems he went off to sleep for good & as his life's journey reached an end. We think he must have been seven or eight because he was 2 or 3 years old when he came to live with us, so I hope that counts as a good innings. Hubby buried him for me today so he can be forever amongst his hens.

And so the circle of life turns & as we enjoy the zest of the ducklings as they begin their life's adventure, & our pullets grow up, little Rodney's life ends. It's the way of things & we shouldn't dwell & be sad for long. We should all rejoice in each day, take time to appreciate the wonder of Nature around us & make the most of our own life journeys. For some reason the first few words of a hymn that I used to love as a child came back to me today, & although my own beliefs are far removed from my Sunday School days now, I looked up the hymn to share with you:

'Daisies are our silver,

Buttercups our gold,

This is all the treasure

we can have or hold.

Raindrops are our diamonds

and the morning dew;

While for shining sapphires

we’ve the speedwell blue.

These shall be our emeralds-

leaves so new and green;

Roses make the reddest rubies ever seen.

God, who gave these treasures

to your children small,

teach us how to love them

and grow like them all.

Make us bright as silver:

Make us good as gold;

Warm as summer roses

let our hearts unfold.

Gay as leaves in April,

Clear as drops of dew-

God, who made the speedwell,

Keep us true to you.'

Beautiful words don't you think, no matter what 'god' you believe in.

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