Birds, Bees and Beasts

Late this morning, I walked down to the allotment. By the time I arrived, I was dripping. The heat was unbearable! I grabbed Pop and put her in the tree pot to have a scratch around. Cliff was down and I showed him the chicken wheelchair. To show him how it worked, I grabbed Pop and put her into it. Her toes are getting better at turning out although she definitely is weaker in one leg. An added difficulty for Pop is that her legs have scaly mite. This is a condition where a tiny mite burrows under the leg scales, raising them up and causing irritation. Luckily, there is a quick and easy cure. Most chicken enthusiasts use a thick layer of Vaseline to smother the mites and soothe the irritation. One of the guys on site has discovered a much more effective treatment which we now all use – Sudacrem. Cliff kindly helped me put a thick layer on Pop’s legs, rubbing it in between the scales to get rid of the mites. Over the next couple of days, the raised scales will fall off and the skin will be revealed below. Two applications over a week should see her legs all shiny and new.

Geoff dropped by to ask whether anyone had seen a PET Hire van as he was expecting a delivery of scaffolding planks to build some raised beds. Unfortunately, no one had seen it and Geoff tried calling the shop to ask where it was. Eventually, I spotted a PET Hire van drive past the allotment and disappear. By now, several people had offered to help Geoff out and we all loitered by the main gate to keep a look out. Typically, a few minutes later, the van arrived and we all helped get the boards down to Geoff’s plot. I love how everyone is always happy to help others, even if it’s something small.

Down in the main coop, I threw out the sunflower seeds and porridge oats to the chickens. Polly had laid a massive egg late yesterday. At the moment, the weather isn’t particularly ideal for laying so getting a few eggs is a good result. I pottered back up to the main path, checked on Pop and chatted with the gang. I know that Pop has a soft spot for dandelion leaves, so I went looking for some. It didn’t take too long and I also brought back some mare’s tail for Leia. Pop really is eating really well, still preferring corn to layers pellets but also now adding greens to her diet. The amount she is eating is increasing and her depth perception is fractionally better.

Over by the main path, I heard someone shout my name. I dashed across to find Andy and Cliff pointing out a rather strange looking insect crawling along the floor. It was several inches long, brown with lots of legs. Dave the Plod swung by to have a look and recognised it as a Hawk Moth Caterpillar. This one was apparently a younger one as they can get much bigger!

Next Cliff and I ambled across to have a look at the bee hotel on Neil’s plot. As we were looking, out came a bee! It has crawled into one of the holes and was cleaning it out. Hopefully it will come back and lay it’s egg in the next couple of days. It was so exciting to see a leaf cutter bee in action!

By now I was melting, so I ambled back to the patio to sit in the shade for a while. Pop was busy scoffing food and spent some time preening her feathers. Keeping her feathers clean and tidy is another good sign that she is happy. After a while, Cliff swung by and encouraged me to dig up some of my potatoes.

We made a start and collected a rather impressive amount of potatoes quite quickly. I was astonished. We haven’t had any success with potatoes for the last four years. Each year the flooding has meant they have rotted in the ground before they were anywhere near ready to harvest. I dug up about 5 plants and put all the potatoes in a plant pot to lug them home. With my massive haul of potatoes, I walked home to cool off.

After my husband finished work, we drove across to pick up some supplies for the chickens. Whilst I was in the shop, I spotted a chicken tonic in seed form. Deciding it might do Pop some good, I bought it on impulse. Back on site, my husband lugged the food down to the main coop. I topped up their food bowl with the ends of the old bags to make room in the storage bins. The girls were happy to peck around for any stray food and we left them to it.

Back up on the patio I put Pop into the pot and tried feeding her the new seed. She was quite enthusiastic about it, making good inroads. My husband was quite impressed with how bright and alert she was. Putting her special food into the coop with her, we headed home for dinner.

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