Just Another Day in Barbara’s Back Yard
I was standing at the kitchen sink this morning (as I very often do!) and a sparrowhawk landed on the little table in front of the kitchen window. Amazing, it was so close. Usually you struggle to identify birds of prey circling high in the sky above you but this was so easy to identify – it was so close. Even though I stood perfectly still, I must have blinked because he was off in a flash – but the picture in my mind remains.
Daisy laid her very first egg this morning. Dorking eggs are pale – not brown – and this is probably one of the reasons that Dorkings are now a rare breed. Although the nutritional content of white and brown eggs is exactly the same – the perception is different – and consequently supermarkets only seem to sell brown eggs now.
Once Dillon learned to crow, he quickly realised he could do other things too – much to Doris’s consternation (she had obviously forgotten about Dillon the First). The Spice Girls seemed to accept it as par for the course. I can never quite figure out whether hens like to be jumped on – the ducks however do seem to enjoy it. When we first had ducks (and geese) I was told we would need a pond if we wanted fertile eggs, so we spent ages digging out a pond deep enough for the geese to swim in. The ducks and geese did love the pond – but they managed equally well on dry land.
Before I started this blog, I used to let the hens out then rush off to start work. Now I am writing a blog, I sit and watch them for a while each morning and it’s amazing how much more you notice. Doris (the oldest hen)) always comes to stand by my feet, waiting for some sunflower seeds. The Spice Girls are quite adventurous now – and less timid that the other hens. I use black plastic sheets on the vegetable patch to supress weeds – slimy creatures love to hide under it – so every so often I spread it out for the hens and ducks – the spice Girls are always the first on there picking off slugs and snails.
Dillon (cockerel) and Desmond (drake) have had a few scraps but they seem to have come to a sort of truce and, provided they keep out of each other’s way, everything’s fine. I have learned that you do need at least 2 ducks with a drake, especially if you are keeping ducks and hens together – the previous drake insisted on mating with one of the hens and I had to separate them. (Several reasons I won’t go into here – their anatomy is different and therefore damaging to the hen.)