Had a lovely few days on holiday at home this week to look after our three dogs who usually go to work with James, while he took his parents to see relatives up in Lincolnshire. It was also, of course, a chance to spend some proper time mingling with our newly acquainted chickens. The three glamorous black Araucanas, who I can’t help comparing to a group of Sicilian beauties in black lace dresses and high-maintenance, back-combed coiffures (along the lines of a Dolce & Gabbana shoot), still do everything as a trio but are part of the main flock and subject to fewer instances of bullying from their fellow hens. The one we fitted with a pink leg ring (because she could have white chicks if we put her with the lavender cockerel) is especially friendly and loves a stroke whenever we pass.
Meanwhile, the Ixworth cockerels have been flying up onto the roof of their coop, surveying the garden and peering into our next door neighbour’s place. To put an end to their peeping Tom antics and stop any escapades too far afield, James and I clipped their flight feathers when he returned home. Verging on the wild side is the theme of the week as the dogs and I became a little feral ourselves! The highlight of our days spent on the Smallholdings was messing about in the river that runs past the willow land at the bottom of our land – them swimming and cashing after the sticks I threw, me just about keeping dry feet in wellies.
It was great to live the simple life for a while: reading, gardening, walking, wading and cooking (pulled pork with our own Gloucestershire Old Spot meat, and hazelnut ice cream from a Sarah Raven recipe). Of course, I couldn’t also help plotting more smallholding activities and, in particular, pigkeeping. We’ve missed having porcine characters about the place and so have reserved two Oxford Sandy and Black gilts from a farm in nearby Wethersfield. They’ll be ready to pick up at the beginning of August and we’ll be visiting them soon, but, in the meantime, here’s a picture the breeder sent me the other day. I just love their gingery coats, black splotches, excellent reputation for bacon and very fitting nickname: the plum pudding pig.