Up on the field, in the New-and-Improved-Hen-Pens, my small flock of poultry have settled down well on their new ground; clean land divided into 4 closely mown enclosures and surrounded by an electric fence. At present it is so neat and new it looks like an illustration from a poultry keeping book.
The loss of 5 birds earlier in the summer - and of an old Wynadotte bantam in particular - must have caused ructions in the various pecking orders because there was much sulking and moping until new regimes were established. However, as far as I can see things are now harmonious. There have been no more mysterious fatalities, the mites (touch wood) are in abeyance and egg production is reasonable for the time of year.
The chickens which hatched on June 5th are now 12 weeks old. The cockerels went elsewhere and the six pullets (3 Marrans and 3 Rhode Island Reds) are now living up on the field too. Pretty soon I hope to put them in their breed groups but for the time being they are living a happy chickeny life in their own pen. They are happy little things (if indeed a hen can be a happy little thing....) and so far life is one blissful, innocent adventure. Food, drink, scratching, sunshine. Tra-la!
......Ah, but lurking in the adjacent pen is the Rhode Island Red cockerel. An enormous randy bruiser who today took advantage of an open gate to go visiting and to erm, check out the girls next door.
His own dear wives live in fear and dread of his persistent attentions and I had visions of these chickens being trampled underfoot while he had his wicked way. He strutted his stuff, clucked alluringly, winked a wicked beady come-hither eye at these little virgins and moved in with the finesse of Cassanova.
'Oi!' A shout from me and he was put off his stroke, smoothed his feathers and bustled back home - reluctantly.