We went out to lunch today, at the lovely farm with a shop and a cafe, that has Jersey cows that are allowed to keep their calves, peacocks and guinea fowl that amble across the drive and pet goats.
We just had a chicken Caesar salad and I had a glass of wine and Tim had a bottle of beer. We didn’t overeat and it was a light meal. All the same, we haven’t been able to manage dinner; not a proper dinner, anyway. We had a small amount of cheese and an oatcake each and we shared a peach. It seems that the excitement was too much for us.
However, we will certainly do it again. Seeing that they have half the number of tables indoors – although, luckily, the weather was pleasant enough for people to eat out too – and there is more work to do for the staff, it’s clear that profit margins are being squeezed. We were on a table that would normally seat six, there were two parties of four and one of two; though others were arriving as we left. All the same, there used to be space for fifty and most tables were filled two or three times over lunchtime. If they can manage a third of that overall now, they’ll be doing well.
Yesterday evening, I looked in the coop where several of the chickens have been laying and there were seven eggs. I intended to fetch most of them this morning, just leaving enough not to discourage the chooks. However, when I looked before letting the bantams out, I discovered that some other animal had beaten me to it. There were some broken eggshells and one nearly whole, sucked-out egg and just three eggs left. I guess it was a hedgehog. I’ve taken the three eggs and replaced them with two ten-day-old ones and added a plate of cat food. If it is a hedgehog, I don’t want it to go hungry. But cheeky, all the same.
At least it left some shells. Those of you who are more expert than I am, what takes eggs away altogether? It’s happened a few times. Once there were about eight eggs, all laid in a couple of days, and they vanished overnight and once there were three. No shells or signs of the eggs having being eaten.
One bantam is sitting hopefully in the coop. That’s Rietta, who had laid away but was discouraged by the downpour the other night and came back, looking upset and bedraggled. Her sister Lee has vanished, however, since then. I suspect she’ll come back in a few weeks with another brood. It’s all my fault, I should never have let Rose’s bantams hatch eggs. They are just so maternal. I love having free range chickens but I can’t trace them when they leave to sit. And coops full of chicks are so much more work than I want to bother with. I do let them out sooner now than I used to, however and it’s quite amusing to watch them fearlessly darting between the legs of the older chickens. Mary, the solitary chick of Polly Garter, is much more cautious than the groups of siblings and is easily bullied. I make sure she gets treats but it’s not easy. I throw her a few morsels and another hen runs for them, even if there were more treats where she had been. The pecking order is relentless.