Remarkably Jess fully recovered from the very nasty neck wound inflicted on her by some of her fellow ex battery hens. She just willed herself to get better I think because she so loved her new free life! So it was time to introduce her & mild mannered Lottie to the rest of the flock. As usual we used the trusted stealth technique of popping them into the hen house under cover of dark. This has never failed for me so I was expecting all to go well. However, when I let the hens out the following morning after just a couple of minutes ex-batt Norah flew at Jess. I left them to it for a moment, thinking it may be just a bit of harmless bickering, but the attack grew in ferocity & it was clear that Jess was in serious trouble. I had to quickly wade in & rescue her. Not a moment too soon either as Norah had partially reopened her neck wound! Poor Jess! I don't understand it! She is a very sweet hen & not the least bit aggressive herself. She's not the obvious bottom of the pecking order of the 6 ex-battery hens either, being larger & more feathered than some of the others. I hugged Jess to me & she quickly calmed & looked up at me with that oh so trusting look. I must admit to shedding a tear for my little girl.
So it was a case of more antiseptic spray & a return to the back garden for Jess. There were no such problems for Lottie so I have left her with the rest of the hens. I've been given a couple of ideas by fellow seasoned poultry keepers - one is to coat Jess in a special tar & the other to spray her with a foul smelling liquid called Ukadex to deter further pecking. So I'll let her heal again & persevere. If not it looks as though she is destined to be the garden hen that none of the others loved. Good job she's got big soft me!
My ducks are all confused! Apologies for this rather indelicate subject, but although each of the drakes has a mate of his own kind it would appear that none of them aside for Harold the Crested duck fancies his own mate. Donald the Khaki Campbell is besotted with Daisy the Aylesbury & regularly 'services' her without a single protest from her mate Seymour. Donald also has a thing for Little Wing the Indian Runner, however she is far too fast for him to catch!. Big Chief the Indian Runner drake keeps going after Jemima the Khaki Campbell. Donald rigorously defends Jemima though, so her honour is intact. The biggest problem in every sense is Seymour the Aylesbury drake. He is a handsome but cumbersome duck & he only has eyes for Puddles, our other Khaki Campbell. When I was in our little field at the weekend I noticed that Puddles was looking a bit sorry for herself & closer inspection revealed the damage that Seymour's advances had done to her.
The feathers on her back were raggedy & slightly blood stained. She also seemed to be limping. So I gently caught her & checked her over more thoroughly. Under her wings her back was red raw. Her legs both seemed OK though, definitely no serious damage. So it was down to the garden for Puddles! Our back garden seems to be becoming the sick ward for our rescued & injured birds. I sprayed Puddle's raw skin with antiseptic spray & put her in the penned off area with the little rescued Mallard ducklings. They are funny when faced with anything they are not sure about. The all run for cover under the old hutch. Then because they are ducks & ducks are naturally inquisitive, their curiosity gets the better of them so they choose a 'volunteer' among them & unceremoniously push this fellow out into the danger zone! If no horrors become this duckling the others will cautiously venture out.
After going through this funny routine they decided that Puddles was friend rather than foe & carried on with their dabbling & preening.
I'm very happy to report that Puddles is looking much better & that because she & the growing ducklings needed rather more space than the enclosure would allow, today they were given the freedom of the garden.
Injured Jess seemed happy to be joined by her ducky friends & they all enjoyed foraging in the wet grass together. It was such a heart warming sight.
Unless any readers of my blog can suggest a solution to this muddle, Hubby is going to pen a section of the field off for Daisy & Seymour with their own house & pond to prevent any further rough love!
I received my own dose of Mother love when we dropped Mum & Dad's dog back to them on Sunday. It's something I need on a regular basis! Today & tomorrow I have days off work so I can shower my lovely lads with big doses of my Motherly love. Even though they are teenagers now I can still get away with hugging them & loving them & squeezing them, so long as I don't do it in public & definitely not in front of their friends!! Unfortunately the rain was back so our plans for a picnic went out of the window. Instead we had a bake in. Youngest made Chocolate Mousse with Honeycomb Topping, middle son made Victoria Sponge, eldest son made Chocolate Chip Cookies & I made Fruit & Nut Flapjacks. The kitchen was filled with the most delicious smells!
If we get to go on our picnic tomorrow at least we'll have plenty of goodies to take with us. I was reading one of my favourite blogs A Life Full of Blessings & how amazed the author is at the way her love for her young daughters just keeps growing & thought how true that is. I can remember at each birthday & milestone wishing I could freeze that perfect moment in time because I could not possibly love them more. But there have been many precious moments since. More reasons to feel proud. More times when they have amazed me. More times when my heart has been so full it could burst.
Sometimes Mother loves pops up in unexpected places. This evening I was kind of dreading trying to round up the rescued Mallard ducklings for bed time now that they have the whole garden to hide in, but my sons & I found them with Puddles & as we quietly guided her into the garden shed to join Jess the injured hen they followed along behind her & popped into the shed with no problems at all. I recognised the look in Puddles bright eyes - it was Mother love towards those little ducklings! What a sweet duck she is.