I felt very rough in the night, even got up to find some paracetamol, or whatever I might have in the bathroom. Sadly, I had nothing, so slunk back to bed and felt miserable for a while. When I got up this morning, I cooked R his breakfast, took pills (not only did my head ache, but so did my face and my teeth, so congested were my sinuses) and said I’d go and feed the chickens and then go back to bed – and fell asleep in the armchair. I slept for two hours. So let’s hope I’m over the worst.
The nasturtiums I grew for the tortoises are in flower now, so I gave Edweena a flower and, after a cautious sniff, she munched it happily, followed by some rose petals. There are enough plants in her enclosure for her to graze on, so I supplement that with treats – current favourites are mallow, clover, rose and sedum. I haven’t weighed them recently, so will do that the next time a grandchild is here to help.
The current names of the Tots has changed again. Once I found they are Horsfield, or Russian tortoises, it seemed only right to give a nod to their heritage. So they’re Anastasia and Natasha at present, known as Starsky and Hutch for short. But since I am not at all sure which is which, it doesn’t really matter. I suspect that I’ll become closer to them in the winter, when they’re kept indoors. If they’re the right weight, I’ll hibernate them for a few weeks, but not for long – Edweena can hibernate for several months.
The bantams have always been under Russell’s care, fond of them though I am. But now I’ve had to take them over and I need to find out a bit more – it’s not that hard, on the whole, but I haven’t learned to think like a chicken yet. Russell has always had dishes of water for them, which have to be washed and refilled several times a day and I really don’t have time for that, so I’ve bought them a couple of dispensers, which has helped. He also has always scattered their food for them, taking the view that scratching around gives them something to do and is more natural. And so it is, but it seems quite wasteful – when i clear out the run, there always seems to be quite a lot of corn swept up. So I’ve bought a feed dispenser too. They loved that and clustered round straight away.
R had set four eggs under a broody hen a few weeks ago, but it seemed unlikely they were going to hatch. I’ve been very puzzled because one of those eggs went missing last week. Several chickens were sharing the same nesting area, and they’d shared the eggs between them. I hated having to feel underneath them for eggs, it was all a bit stinky. A couple of days ago, I could only find two of the marked eggs. So this morning, I turfed them all out – there were seven of them – and picked up twelve eggs, plus two very dirty marked eggs, which obviously were not going to hatch, they should have at least a week ago. I bobbed them in water to check and then threw them out. But what happened to the others? Did they explode, and in that case did the chickens eat the shell? I have much to learn.
They’re out of grit. I have to go and buy some more for them. It would be much easier if they were completely free range, but there are too many disadvantages – for one thing, their present run is topped by wire so they can’t get out. It’s too much of a worry with Ben around. For another, they hide their eggs and I don’t have time or the feeling for how a chicken’s mind works that R does – he would keep an eye on them and watch where one was coming from, then search for the nest and take away the eggs, just leaving one to keep her coming back. All the same, a more wily chicken would manage to hide and sit, coming out a few weeks later with a string of babies behind her. I can’t have it – we’ve got too many chickens already. Russell doesn’t mind, he loves baby chicks – well of course, who doesn’t – but I’ve had more eggs to dispose of than was reasonable.
Later, I’ll make cakes.