Tag Archives: free range

A Ride in the Country

In the middle of the day I first dropped Julia off at work (she is going in to familiarise herself with the garden) and then went for a drive.

I saw an Orange-tip on the verge and a Buzzard perching in a roadside tree, which was a good start.

It was a good day for free range pigs, warm but not too sunny. I always worry about them getting sunburn when it’s too hot. Obviously it’s nothing like as painful as being grilled, but it must be fairly unpleasant , particularly as they have short legs and no way of getting suncream on their backs.

When I have stopped and looked at them before there have been hundreds of birds abou (Jackdaws, Carrion Crows, Rooks and Black Headed Gulls), but apart from a few gulls there were none about today. I must start looking on a regular basis to see if it’s seasonal or if today was just a one-off.

Further down the road I stopped in a lay-by for a look round. I tried a few flowers and some still life shots but the butterflies wouldn’t stop to pose and all the birds were hiding in trees, though they were singing their hearts out. If only I could recognise more birdsong, or more flowers.

The only bird I actually saw was a Buzzard, and that was too far away to get a decent shot.

It was good to get outside for a spot of nature therapy. I hadn’t realised how much I’d missed it the fresh air and actually having to think about things. Sitting at home watching daytime TV is not something I’m keen to keep doing.

 

Bollywood and black skies

Today we had Bollywood dancing, chickens and black storm clouds, just to name a few things. And pom-poms. They are becoming the bane of my life. Julia says we need 20 per wreath and as everyone will want to make a wreath that’s 140 pom-poms. While Julia and some of the team were out measuring climate data (our penultimate session) I was left in charge of the pom-pom squad. I made six. The other three broke the plastic rings several times, failed to achieve pom-pomness in  a number of different ways and, finally, managed to break the only one they actually made.

Yes, they broke a pom-pom. Not the plastic ring, an actual woolly pom-pom.

That sound you can hear is my spirit breaking.

In the afternoon, with a squad of three, Julia managed four pom-poms.

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Proper free range chickens

The chickens are looking good – we finally have a distinct farmyard flock – feathered in a variety of blacks (from their Minorca fathers) and with a selection of head feathering from their Polish ancestors. They are looking quite distinctive, though they could probably do with a bit of new blood in the coming year as they are all the offspring of one hen and (possibly) two cockerels.

Weather has been iffy, as you can see from the photos, though it hasn’t broken yet, there are still a few autumnal leaves about and our Albanian taxi driver brought us some lemons picked from his father’s orchard when he visited last week. They always look much nicer than shop lemons, which I suspect are selected for thick skin and travelling qualities.  The Albanian lemons always seem thinner skinned and better-flavoured.

Finally, dancing. The whole group is practising for the dance at the Christmas Party. They are full of determination and have been watching instructional videos to get more moves. You have to admire their perseverance and work ethic. Originally just two of them were going to dance, after doing some belly-dancing at a project they attend on Fridays, but it has now spread so we have five dancers.

What with dancing and our rendition of I’ve got a lovely bunch of Coconuts this is going to be a party to remember, even before we get to the song about the coat of many colours.

As you look at the dance photos hum the tune of Jai Ho.

Now try to get it out of your head.

I think my work here is done…

Six more chicks!

The group was walking across the yard for a final look at the bantams tonight when Alasdair spotted a mouse. He’s not fond of mice and he’s very good at spotting small scurrying things.

However, it wasn’t a mouse, it was a chick. There were six of them altogether, four black, one yellow and one stripy.

They took some counting because Mother Hen wasn’t happy at the idea of us having a look. She was protective to the point of being aggressive and a number of the photos show a black blur attacking the photographer.

Amazing. I’m still waiting for the first signs of hatching but another hen, with no electronics, has just hatched six. That’s Hens 25 – Incubator Nil at the moment.