Sunday, March 13, 2011

Spring Can be Cruel

We started the month with two lovely sunny days.  The daffodil spikes have started to show the lumps that will eventually become buds and then flowers. 

There is one hen that needs to have her wings clipped.  She flies out of the chicken run every day, lays her egg in the big plastic tunnel and then flies back into the chicken run.   From time to time she'll have a wander around before going back.  If she is out and needs some company or is bored, she'll peck at the back door.  I'll hear a faint tapping at the kitchen door. . . . when I open the door.  This is what I see:

Hello nice lady!
I have a strict no-chickens-in-the-house policy so this one is wasting her time.

I was outside this morning in my pajamas and wellies dealing with the aftermath of a visit from a fox.  Polly, our dog had been barking.  Instead of going to see what she was barking about, and Polly is not normally a barky sort of dog I told her to be quiet.   When I finally got off my backside and looked out the window, I let the dog out immediately.  The biggest fox I have ever seen was bounding away from the place.  There were feathers all over the inside my chicken run.   I thought that run was fairly fox proof.  It turns out that the run is merely fox resistant!  We lost one good laying hen and another has been bitten but not badly.  The bitten one has just lost some feathers and didn't want to come out of the chicken coop for a couple of hours.  
This is the remainder of my hens - the bitten one is the one at the top, all muddy and upset.  Six chickens is still plenty to be getting on with.  I'll not replace any just yet.  To cheer myself up after all this fox trauma, I filled the bird feeders and checked the pond.  There is a big new clump of frog spawn in the pond.  As I was hunkered down to see the state of things, I saw the BIGGEST great diving beetle I have ever seen.  He really is The Daddy of all diving beetles.  It sort of figures.  Do you know what great diving beetle larvae like to eat best of all?   Tadpoles.

There are new catkins dangling off the corkscrew hazel.  I think they look lovely.  Smaller and far less showy are the little red female parts of the plant, the part that will eventually be edible hazelnuts. 

The plump and delicate little flowers can be seen dotted around the hazel. (In the centre of the photo) They are so small that they run the risk of being covered by the lichen.   

The moles are renewing their efforts in the front and back gardens.  With the fox and increased mole activity, it is time to make a call to my friend Mike the Gamekeeper.

So, that's the news around the garden.  In other arenas, I have completed my 100th dive.

It was cold, murky and almost devoid of underwater life but I had a great day out. 


dogbait said...

Our nature reserve has a fox who manages to breech a cyclone fence buried into the ground and get at the goats in an adjacent farm. It has me baffled how he can get through that fence as you can't see it breeched anywhere.

Sarah said...

Nice post and nice pictures!

AZ said...

Poor hen nothing like getting chased by a fox and seeing a fellow hen bite the big one to make her lose interest in laying eggs. We used to lose hens to rattle snakes, the chickens were curious about the rattling noise in the brush and curiosity usually got them killed.

Davey C. said...

Nice Pest Control Lady once told us to save a few balls of clumped-up cat litter and introduce them to molehills in exciting experimental ways (just drop on top? dig out and insert? WHATEVER WORKS!). She said the whole Urine Of Things That Could Eat Moles concept repels them EVER so. I won't say it worked perfectly, but I do believe it helped a lot.

Joy Des Jardins said...

Oh, I'm so sorry about your chicken Peggy....damn fox. I hope he doesn't come back and traumatize the rest of your hens. I love the pic of you....

Xtreme English said...

Nature red in tooth and claw.....Love the photos--especially of you!

Anonymous said...

So many interesting ways to see Spring coming around Whitelees! The only things I notice here are that the birds are really singing in the morning, and the daffs are up about an inch or two. I'm thinking of putting away my big down jacket and Yaktrax, but I know I'll have to get them out again. --Cousin Susan