Compassion in World Farming

Monday, 28 December 2009

Some pictures to end the year with

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I spent such a chilly but happy half an hour with my lovely critters today. Friends old & new. What a wonderful year I've had with them, full of treasured memories to keep forever.

As this year closes I'd just like to send HAPPY NEW YEAR wishes to you all. I hope 2010 will be full of love, harmony & happiness & I look forward to sharing new adventures with you.

........... Oooo, and don’t forgot to make a wish on the full BLUE MOON on New Year’s Eve. It's magical you know.

Saturday, 19 December 2009

Mother hen's journey

I was talking to my Mum recently about how wonderfully tame & cuddly my little chicklets are. She said it's hardly surprising since they've seen me every single day since they hatched! I realised that's absolutely true. Each & every day for the last 11/12 weeks I have nurtured, watched over & cared for them. I have fed them & watered them, but much more than that I have been surrogate Mother Hen to them. As well as time spent with them during the day, I have sat out with them each & every evening & they have come & cuddled up to me. I have learned their moods & their little personalities. I have a synergy with them. It's hard to explain. I can pick any one of them up & within a moment of holding them I sense how they feel, my grip adjusts accordingly & my fingers know how fast or slow to stroke their feathers. I can sense if they're playful & just want to climb on me. I can sense when they need some comfort & want to be held close. They are far more than just little chicks to me - they are little souls.

From the day they hatched to today I have loved them fiercely every step of the way.

It's been an amazing journey & those little chicklets have given me a very special gift in return. I've learned a lot about myself. This closeness to this miracle of Nature, this very beginning of the Cycle of Life, has reinforced all my personal beliefs & it's helped me understand my spirituality. Being in touch with new Pagan friends has also helped me work out my place in this Universe. Last night I looked up at the sliver of Moon in the sky & knew who I was.

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

It's wet & muddy outside....but it's dry inside at last!

Tonight our barn is resounding with the sound of ....... SILENCE. Blissful silence! No more fans blowing noisily away, no more dehumidifiers with their incessant, annoying humming! We're officially dry enough for the machines to be taken away. Which means that the insurance company should be in touch tomorrow to explain what happens with the repairs now.

There should be a shower here.

The bathroom needs putting back together.

New carpets & skirtings need to be fitted.

Walls need to be reconstructed & decorated.

It's amazing how much damage a water leak can do! But I'm very hopeful now that the place will be in a fit enough state for Mum & Dad to come & share the festive season with us, even if things are going to still be higgledy piggledy when Eldest Son comes home from Uni for his Xmas hols this Sunday.

It was also fairly dry last weekend, which meant that I got to spend some time with the new cockerels in our little field. They are coming on really well. Their plumage is getting more & more impressive as they grow bigger by the day. They are still young enough to be fairly meek, but grown up enough to hold their own with the hens now & strut their stuff about the field! What I'm most pleased about is how friendly & gentle they are. This, of course, I can't take the credit for. It's down to the way my friend Andy reared them - with love & kindness. They are hand tame & it's lovely to feed them corn from my hands (youngest son loves it too!). They are certainly more gentle than some of the hens, who shall remain nameless, who fair take your skin off when they come to enjoy a treat (ok it's the ex-battery girls, but it's not their fault. They're not so used to being fed from a caring human hand!).

Here's the gorgeous Merlin, the Copper Blue Maran cockerel, strutting his stuff! His colouring is stunning, shades of grey perfectly offsetting dramatic flashes of copper & gold. Of the four he seems to enjoy my company the most for some reason & is usually to be found close by me.

And here is mild mannered Mr Dorking, a Silver Dorking cockerel. He's a delightful, charming soul. He fixes me with calm eyes that seem filled with wisdom & knowledge - of what I'm not quite sure. I'm sure he will sit down & tell me one day!

This is handsome Snapdragon, showing off the beautiful green sheen in his feathers. He is a Welsummer cockerel. He's a very busy chap, always on the move, running about the place like some kind of action hero. Super Cockerel maybe? He's going to be quite the dandy.

And last, but by no means least, is Spicy, also a Welsummer. His nickname is Baby Spice at the moment, because he seems to be the 'baby' of the boys and therefore, it follows, the one I feel most clucky over. I'm sure he doesn't thank me for it, but I keep telling him that one day he is going to be so magnificent that it his nickname will seem ridiculous & we will laugh about it!

It is so lovely to have them as part of our flock and to be able to endlessly chat & share pictures of them with Andy, knowing he won't get fed up with me! Hubby & sons often look at me with that 'yeah, so it's yet another picture of one of the chickens' look.

Of course, certain of our feathered friends have enjoyed all this wet weather and are having trouble understanding why I am not quite so pleased with all the mud they have created!

Daisy & Seymour the Aylesbury ducks have made what they think is a stonkingly good mud slide into their pond! Hmmmm!

Its no good looking so innocent - I know which one of you has been dabbling again!

Something exciting happened at the weekend. Dear Izzy Whizzy, my Cream Legbar hen finally, at nine months old, stayed still long enough to lay me a beautiful blue egg! Hurray! I can now fill an egg box with pretty coloured eggs for my friends.

Every time I write about my critters it makes me beam from ear to ear & reminds me of just how much happiness they bring to my heart. True blessings from Mother Nature, each & every one of them & treasured beyond measure.

Thursday, 3 December 2009

A close relationship.

My youngest son was asked to describe me in his German lesson. He said that we had a very good relationship & that I was funny & generous. Now I was quite chuffed with that! I do have a close relation ship with my sons, but they are all now teenagers & one is away at University. Of an evening Middle & Youngest Son are busy with homework, 'e-chatting' to friends or chilling out with their computer games. Hubby works way too hard, often long into the evening. I'm a very affectionate, maternal creature by nature so a lot of love gets lavished on my animals when family aren't available to hug & squeeze!

Of course, the biggest outlet for my motherly love at the moment is my chicklets. Each & every evening I spend at least half an hour just sitting with them (sometimes considerably longer I have to confess - am I weird?). I definitely have a close relationship with them. They enjoy my company & climb up onto my legs to be close to me. They aren't one bit nervous & have enormous trust in me. Which is all very lovely & sweet - until it comes to cleaning out time! It's an impossible task. They get everywhere. In the dustpan. On the rubbish bag. Under my feet. Inside the sawdust bag. It is both exasperating & comical. I don't know whether to scream or giggle!

After they're all clean I usually take some pics of them to post here or on Twitter. Well, of course, this takes a little concentration & it means I'm not chatting to them. So the little monkeys took exception to my photography efforts this week & did everything in their power to get my full attention! They tugged at my trouser bottoms, they pulled on my camera strap, they perched on my arms & they got up so close and personal that it was impossible to take their picture anyway! Naughty they were, like spoilt kiddies! However, I did manage a few shots:

'Bonkers' my Chamois Polish Frizzle cockerel enjoying a snooze on my knee

Chicklets enjoying some mixed corn

Back of this photo is 'Teddy' who I'm positive is a Blue Silkie cockerel - he's so cute!

The Blue Silkies & the Polish bantams are all happy to be held & cuddled. They love it if I cup them in my hands. They visibly relax & snuggle into the warmth. They gaze up into my face with looks of wonderment - what kind of creature are you mummy? You don't have feathers like us? It's especially moving when the Silkies gaze up with their big, soulful, black puddles of eyes. They completely melt my heart. The pretty Porcelain D'Uccles are happy to be close to me & hop on & off my knee, but they don't enjoy being touched so much. All 3 breeds are totally engaging.

Spending time with the chicklets has meant that I have an incredibly special bond with them that I hope won't diminish as they grow. Spending time with birds when they are youngsters strengthens the relationship you have with them for sure. My Muscovy & Cherry Valley ducks that we've had since ducklings are far tamer than the rest of the ducks who were older when we got them. These are the first chickens we have reared ourselves so it will be fascinating to see the difference in the way they behave around us when they are older compared to the rest of the birds.

Not all of the chicklets will be staying with me. My friend Andy is having a couple of the Blue Silkies if enough turn out to be pullets (young hens). They'll have a fantastic home with him. But I know already that when the day comes it will be a wrench. Just as it was for him when I collected the 4 cockerels he had raised. At the moment only 1 of the 6 Silkies is obviously a cockerel (Teddy), so I'm hoping things will work out perfectly.

Until then, I'll carry on being Mother Hen to all of my babies & enjoy every single second of it!