Braving the Cold

The temperature has significantly dropped over the past two days. Going out to the allotment now requires some serious thought about how many layers of clothing are needed to keep warm. As I was only popping out to feed the chickens, I opted for my fleece lined walking trousers a thick fleece top and walking socks. Cold feet are lethal and wellies are hardly known for keeping feet warm at the best of times! Trudging down to the allotment, I realised I had forgotten my gloves. Oh well, my hands would just have to freeze.

I bumped into Cliff and Geoff and sat chatting with them for a while. Cliff had been hard at work trying to sort out the rat run and holes he has found. He thinks after a week of putting down poison, we are getting there. A lot of people don’t want chickens as there is a perception that they attract rats. Whilst it’s true that rats are often found near chickens, it isn’t the chickens but the food that the rats come for. Chickens are very messy eaters, often tipping over their food bowls and flicking the food everywhere. Most chicken keepers limit throwing food out onto the ground and hang their feeders and water containers up to deter rodents. As an added precaution, Cliff is our site ‘Rat Man’ who is in charge of keeping the rats at bay. He does a fantastic job and the numbers caught have dramatically dropped since he started. I had noticed a hole at the edge of my coop a couple of days ago and Cliff is busy trying to get rid of the rat who made it.

In the greenhouse, Leia and Flora seem to be getting on a bit better. Leia, who at first was in charge, has been superceded by Flora who puts Leia in her place. I watched the girls enjoy scratching in the raised bed, pleased that Flora’s leg seems to be much better. She was still using the other leg more, but was walking around normally and using it for the odd scratch. My suspicion that she had sprained or twisted her leg seemed to be correct as her leg has no swelling or is hot to the touch.

Over in the Omlet, I was greeted by the Little Weed Destroyers who demanded their daily greens with impatience. I threw in some kale and went off to fill up their food bowl. As I stepped into the main coop to collect the food, I received a sharp peck on the wellies by an angry Tommy. Fortunately, he can’t do any damage to the wellies as he bounces off them but I told him off anyway. Once the Weed Destroyers had their food, I opened up their nest box and discovered that they didn’t have any bedding. Pausing to wonder why, I half remembered that we had run out of time and light when cleaning them out. Also we spent quite a lot of time trying to find Trixy that night too. Apologising to the girls, I filled their nest right up to the top with fresh bedding. Foxy came and had a cautious peek at it before disappearing off to tell the others what was happening.

Leaving them to it, I walked down to the main coop and began to clean the perches. As usual, no one bar Lilja and Sadie had slept in the Nest House. I removed some of the old perches that were very precarious and dug over the soil around the far side of the coop. Alba was especially interested in the worms that magically appeared as I turned the soil over.

After collecting two eggs, I ambled home to warm up. Tomorrow’s main job is to lug  lots of water down to the allotment for the chickens. I have some vague idea of using a trolley or wagon but more thought is required!

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