The phone rang at 7.15 and a child was crying in the background. Hadrian wasn’t feeling well and Dilly couldn’t leave him at nursery school. Of course, I said she was welcome to bring him here and I scuttled around to feed the dog and the chickens, walk Ben and light the drawing room fire. Dilly had time for a cup of tea, so I sat them down and went to fetch a duvet too.
Poor little Hay was very subdued, didn’t want any breakfast and just snuggled down and dozed a lot of the time. Just before 11, I noticed his mouth was turned right down and then two big tears rolled down his cheeks. I was so sorry for him. I gave him a spoonful of Calpol and the effect was prompt. Within ten or fifteen minutes, his temperature was lower and he accepted a glass of Ribena and nibbled a little biscuit.
Al picked him up in the afternoon and later texted me to say that he was feeling rather better and happily went to pick up Squiffany and Pugsley from school. Dilly doesn’t teach tomorrow, so she can look after him. I sent my apologies for my morning meeting, but the auditor who was due to attend was stuck in traffic, so it was cancelled at the last minute, I discovered later. Unfortunately, that means it’ll be rescheduled, of course.
A few days ago, when I counted the chickens in at the end of their day free-ranging, one was missing. This wasn’t significant, they sometimes roost in a tree and come back the next day. But she didn’t and, when I had let them out, I’d noticed that one chicken was looking extremely scruffy. I assumed she had been picked on by the others (which isn’t something that normally happens) and was concerned, just hoping a day out would relax them. But since then, I’d seen no sign of henpacking and I wondered if she’d been caught by a young fox and managed to get away, and if the second one hadn’t been so lucky. I didn’t let them out at all over the weekend. But a black one slipped past me this morning and I relented and let them all out.
When Al came to fetch Hay, I went to let them back – it was only about 1.30, but they don’t stay out long at this time of the year and they were all clustered around the hen run. I fed them and counted them – and again. Four times. Definitely 28. The missing chicken must have started sitting on eggs,, but when her cousins came out today, she decided to come home after all. I’m so pleased. It was one of the nice brown ones, I’m not sure which, and they’re among the better layers, apart from the sadness of losing one of them.
Which reminds me, I haven’t seen Anastasia since I got home. Edweena is firmly preparing for hibernation, Natasha is out and about daily but little A must have burrowed down somewhere, she can’t have got out. I wish I could find her, though. I’ve dug out three of the trays of earth, but there are several more to go. I can’t help worrying.