I got down to the allotment at lunchtime after waiting in all morning for a parcel. Upon arrival, I was greeted by Cliff and Andy. Both were about to leave but before Cliff left he said he had something exciting to show me. Intrigued, I followed him across to his plot and to his chicken coop. Early though it is, I wondered if his favourite hen, an ancient white leghorn, had gone broody. What greeted me in the small nest box beside his coop were three new hens! Apparently someone had abandoned a large cardboard box containing two Warrens and a small bantam by the allotment gate this morning. Fortunately, Cliff had managed to get to the birds quickly, discovering that someone on Henry Street had dumped them. There were several people watching as Cliff brought the birds onto site including several who rather nastily suggested to cull them. Yes there is a risk of avian flu, and yes there are various sanctions in place to stop the spread currently. But rescuing hens from abandonment and culling is vital, no matter what illnesses are floating about. By keeping the hens quarantined, we can ensure the rest of the birds on site are kept safe. It’s so dreadful that people view chickens lives as worthless – yes they are farm animals but they have wonderful curious and cheeky personalities if you just take the time to care for them. The small bantam was very tame and was happy enough to be picked up and cuddled. Quickly, she discovered my shoulder and spent several minutes clucking contentedly before pecking at my head.
Gently I put her back and looked at the other two Warrens. They seem to be quite young and in good health. Cliff and I love Warrens – they aren’t the most exciting birds to look at but are always gentle and friendly. As an added bonus, they lay lots of eggs. After topping up their food, we chatted about the birds and the end result was Cliff offering the bantam to us which of course made my day! The only question left is what to name her?
Once everyone else had left, I made a start on painting the compost frame. I wanted a paler colour so that the shed still stands out and opted for white and pale blue in vertical stripes. The rough pallet wood soaked up the paint almost instantly and I decided not to bother with a second coat. Leaving it to dry, I wondered about starting on the last coat of the navy paint on the shed but thought better of it. Instead, I used the handle I had borrowed from Sarah and used the hoe to level out and weed the first five beds. It looked much better for it!
Deciding to leave the rest of the weeding for another day, I spent the next hour tidying the veranda and sweeping the patio. The main plan with the patio this season is to have a container garden around the seating area. It didn’t take long to move the plant pots to the patio and for good measure, I sanded down the deckchairs. The fabric needs replacing urgently before anyone sits on them but it’s a relatively quick job. Still undecided about painting the deckchair frames, I went back to the veranda and had a late lunch.
Once full, I walked across to have another cuddle with the little bantam. Despite my best efforts searching online, I hadn’t found out what breed she is. Instead, I posted on a chicken forum in the hopes someone somewhere will recognise her. After several curious pecks at my hair, and painfully, my ear, I put her back. Over on our plot I fed and cleaned out the trio in the greenhouse who had been unhappy at my apparently ignoring them all afternoon. Telling them not to be so ridiculous, I topped up their food and collected three eggs.
It was as I was coming out of the greenhouse, that I spotted a movement out of the corner of my eye. Bertie had set up residence outside the greenhouse and was staring fixatedly at a point near the ground. Slowly, I crept towards him, trying to see what he was looking at. We do have an issue with mice in the greenhouse and I suspected that was what he was oggling at. Close enough to touch him, I managed to get a few strokes of his fluffy fur before he dashed to the front of the greenhouse following his prey. Trying to help him, I moved the wood by the base of the greenhouse, he ran away from the movement but I spotted hidden behind the wood was a tiny mouse. A split second later, it had run towards the front of the greenhouse, right into the waiting claws of Bertie. He grabbed it and legged it away, the mouse swinging from his jaws.
Down in the main coop, I was greeted enthusiastically by a volley of approving clucking as the treats were given out. This rather pleasant greeting was somewhat spoiled by Aggie trying to take a chunk out of my leg. Picking her up, I stroked her comb to show her who is Big Chicken. Tommy did nothing. He really is useless! I collected another three eggs and walked back up to the shed to pack up. My husband joined me as I was about to leave and I dragged him across to meet our new arrival. After years of chicken rescuing, all he did was roll his eyes exasperatedly and ask where it had come from. I love that man, he knows when it’s pointless to argue!
Tomorrow’s plan is to do some more digging over the plot and put the finishing coat of navy paint to the shed. Oh, and lots of new cuddles with our newest arrival!