Phillip the Pheasant is developing more and more fiery colour, confirming his sex. I realised we ought to be kitting out his run to resemble a woodland habitat as much as possible – otherwise, his introduction to the outside world once he’s reached the right size, may not go to plan. Pheasants roost in trees to protect themselves from predators and until now Phillip’s been perching low down in his henhouse. So using the chicken wire as a support for the ends, James arranged a number of sticks to mimic the branches of a tree, binding them together with gardening wire. We’ve done something similar in the chicken run – the girls like a climbing frame.
Phillip’s taken to his new roosting place like a duck to water, so he’ll hopefully adapt nicely when he’s finally released and is at large in the willow beds at the bottom of the garden. I don’t think this will be too much longer – he’s a good size and while we’re glad to have been able to ensure the little fella’s survival, he doesn’t look overly happy in his henhouse and enclosed run. I can’t help feeling we’ve rather meddled with nature. But then how can you not take in a day-old stripey chick?
Elsewhere on the Smallholdings, we still have a broody Rhode Island Red and the two Araucanas are moulting furiously, resulting in a decided lack of pastel-blue and pale-green tinted eggs. How I miss them – their pretty shades cheered up the kitchen worksurface and brightening every box I sold in the Country Living offices (and the masthead of this blog). It’s been a fortnight or so now – hopefully they’ll be over the moult in a few weeks, when they’ll be looking even more beautiful in their brand-new plumage.
I think even they are getting fed up with their feather-bare state – last night James couldn’t see them in their run when he returned home in broad daylight at around 6 o’clock. He went in to investigate all their favourite hiding places and still no sign. He opened up the lid of the nesting box and there they were, side by side. They’d taken themselves off to bed a good three hours earlier than normal.
Anyway, the Terrible Twins, the 14 hybrids, three dogs and Beau the Bengal are in James’s more than capable paws for the next few days as I’m off to see my excellent friend and fellow poultry enthusiast, Katherine, in Edinburgh. It’ll be interesting to get an insight into city-style henkeeping and my visit is long overdue – no doubt we’ll spend a good chunk of the weekend nattering away like old mother hens.