Now is the time to plan holidays and long weekends away and it can take some extra organisation when you have animals. We’ve found a wonderful woman who takes the two Labs and German Shepherd into her own home and (extremely well-fenced) garden and looks after them beautifully. The Bengal and the hens aren’t as portable, however. We’ve never attempted to take Beau to a cattery – he’d become super-stressed and scream the place down the minute he was shut inside on of those pods (and he has one hell of a voice) – you can’t even lock the cat-flap in the evening to keep him in without ear-piercing protests throughout the night. So James’s sister has come recently to look after our very own wildcat and the hens, though last time Beau attacked her mid-stroke with no warning so she won’t be cuddling up with him on the sofa during future stays, unfortunately. To ease her routine, we’ve bought a treadle feeder which James introduced the hens to at the weekend.
It operates as the name suggests: the hens tread on the lower part and that dispenses a small number of pellets at a time from the filled container. The beauty of this is that you don’t have food hanging around attracting vermin and rats and mice aren’t heavy enough to operate it, so the feeder can be left in place 24 hours a day, while our usual hopper needs putting on a hook out of reach. We’ve invested in a solar-powered pop-hole arrangement, which means in the middle of summer, when it’s light in the early morning (looking forward to that!) she needn’t be up at the crack of dawn because the hens will automatically be let out at whatever hour we’ve set the timer to. It can also be set to close after dark, once the flock has retired for the night. So now the animals are geared up for the holidays – we just need to sort ourselves out.