Playing in the Puddles

The rain this morning was torrential. One look outside and I decided to go down to the allotment later. The chickens in the garden still needed feeding but it was much quicker to dash from the kitchen to the garden and back to get their food and water sorted. Maude and Mavis were sitting in the nest box, hiding from the worst of the rain whilst the silkies greeted me with punk hairdos at the front of their run.

By lunchtime the rain had stopped and I ambled down to the allotment. I stopped at the greenhouse to give Cliff’s black leghorn some medicated water. She drank quite well and there was some food in her crop which is good. Her breathing is quieter than yesterday with less of a rasp. Whether it’s because the antibiotics are working or that the infection is worsening, I have no idea. I am desperately hoping it’s the former!

Upon opening the shed, I was greeted by a strong waft of mouse droppings. I loathe this smell. As cute as they appear, they cause huge amounts of damage and my previous attempts to evict them had failed. Carefully, I pulled open the table drawer they had been in, half expecting to see several bald tails disappear. Nothing. No movement whatsoever. Expecting the mice to have simply moved into another drawer, I removed each one carefully. Still nothing! What a relief! Leaving a stack of drawers on the veranda, I grabbed the brush and set about sweeping out the carpet. The mice had managed to nibble into a bag of sunflower seeds and their casings were strewn all over the shed floor. Between the casings were deposits of a different nature which strongly smelt of ammonia. Once the shed was swept out, all the mice droppings and rubbish roved, I stopped to plan how to make my shed less appealing to those persistent furry mammals.

By removing the drawers in the table, taking out the rubbish bag and taking home the table cover and door mat, I thought would make a difference. I cleaned out the drawers and left them on top of the table. The meant there were no nice little nooks under the table for the mice to best in. The plastic storage boxes have worked really well and protected their contents from the furry hoard. I had a sudden flash of inspiration. If I could find long thin plastic storage boxes, I could fill the table drawers and make them utterly inaccessible to the mice! I would measure up tomorrow the exact sizing but I was sure I could find something that would fit.

Next, I moved on to feeding the feathery army. The Weed Destroyers were mollified with a handful of kale, some sunflower seeds and a full food bowl of mixed corn and layers pellets. I really don’t know why we feed them layers pellets, it’s not like they have laid in months…As I walked on the veranda I happened to look down. There was surface water, the water table had risen again.

Down in the main coop, I got attacked by Tommy. He really does seem to dislike wellies. Fortunately, his beak can do absolutely no damage to my feet when encased in my wellies. It’s hilarious to see how disappointed he is when his beak bounces off the boots! I discovered Leia was still cowering in the nest box. Honestly, that bird is useless! I picked her up and put her on the perch in the Nest House. Grabbing a small food bowl, I filled it and put it up high next to her. Leia immediately began to fill her beak which suggests that she hasn’t left the Nest House much over the last two days. On the other hand, Lilja and Sadie were out and about in the run. as I turned around to leave, I discovered Alba helping herself to the corn from the food bin. Sheer cheek! Turfing her off, I filled up a cup with sunflower seeds, I headed off to the new coop to check on Gordon and his girls.

Gordon was sitting proudly on the lump of breeze block in his run with the girls around him. If any chicken has Napoleon Complex, it’s him. I think he believes he is as big and scary as Tommy. He’d have a shock if he saw Tommy up close! The chicks food had got wet so I threw the old stuff away and refilled their food bowl with fresh growers pellets sprinkled with some sunflower seeds. They didn’t seem particularly impressed and it got worse when I tried to empty the puddles that had formed on the roof tarpaulin. A waterfall came crashing down, terrorising the chicks who sprinted across to the other side of the run. Personally, I would have gone into the nest box, but then I am not a chicken.

Back at the shed, I paused to enjoy the temporary appearance of the sun. Over the next few months, we will see little of it as the overcast clouds cover the sun from our sight. With the shed all tidy, hopefully it will remain mouse free for the rest of the winter. I suspect this may be wishful thinking… On my way to the gate, I indulged my inner child and jumped into several puddles.

So the plan for the next few days is to clean out the chickens, dig over the soil in the runs and disinfect the ground. Oh and keep a close eye on the mouse situation in the shed!

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