Friday, 21 September 2007

Chicken and egg

Listening to: the clap of thunder
Eating: omelette (very small one)
Drinking: Orkney Red McGregor

It's a very small start, but it's a start nonetheless. The croft has produced it's first err. . . produce.

We have an egg, just the one, but we've got it. The hens arrived yesterday and the early signs were not good. We went to pick them up, threw them into a box and set off for the two-mile journey home.

The box thing was probably ill-advised, in hindsight, as we put the box in the middle of the henhouse and only five out of six hens popped out. One had snuffed it on the way over. It does happen - panic, confined spaces and all that - but it never makes it any easier.

The survivors were fed, watered and shut up for the night to investigate their new surroundings. They were found this morning, gathered underneath the shelf I had made for them to roost on. I scattered some food on the floor to encourage them to peck around and opened the little door into the hen run.

I went off to break things and dig, keeping an occasional eye on the run. No sign of any hens. On closer inspection, four were still in the huddle, presumably muttering to each other about the quality of the room service.

The other was showing good signs, strutting about on the straw, having a bloody good nose (or should that be 'beak'?) around.

This brave adventurer was later seen emerging from the hatch into the run, pecking at some of the nettles growing there before going back in.

Confidence had obviously soared as I did a quick head count and found only four hens, still pecking tentatively at the henhouse floor. A deep sigh and a look to the heavens was followed by a scout around the barn and 'Fletch' as I can't help thinking of her, was strolling off in the general direction of the beach at Valdigarth.

I skirted around the edge of the field, trying to whistle in a nonchalant manner, imagining that, even at 46, I could outpace a two-foot hen. Tell you what, hens can bloody shift when the fancy takes them.

Somewhat out of breath, I headed her off and chased her back towards the veg garden where we became involved in a poultry stand-off, eyeing each other like western gunslingers waiting for the Milky Bar Kid to arrive and break the whole thing up.

She cracked first, dashing off down past the pig shed and towards the front of the house, only for a sharp, icy shower to lead to second thoughts and she headed back towards the hen run, giving me just enough time to clip the gate shut.

The exercise did me a power of good, and must had done something for Fletch because when Dangerous checked the hens at tea-time, there was a lovely brown egg there - I may have it framed.

Elsewhere on the croft, I did some digging and found that we have a moat. It's actually a storm drain that goes right the way around the north and east side of the house, but I'm calling it a moat, so there. I've been on the phone to Jewsons, but they don't do drawbridges.

On the very down side, the news of Milly isn't good. The poor love has gone blind, her kidneys have failed and she has high blood pressure. We are going over to Kirkwall tomorrow on the ferry to say our goodbyes. She's been a lovely little dog, a real pal and we'll miss her.

1 comment:

Fish said...

Who runs this farm, you or the animals? Eat the egg out of revenge.

It breaks my hart to hear about Milly. She will have fun in dog heaven, and that is a consolation somehow.