These grubby little urchins are our formerly immaculately pure-white Ixworth pullets. The brown patches on their plumage are partly down to what seems to be endless muddy conditions in their run, but also the droppings from their fellow hens as the pair have, oddly, taken to sitting on the floor of the henhouse. So, for some reason they seem to be off their perches. James and I have been scratching our heads over this one as, until now, they’ve been perfectly happy to do the honours each evening. If it were summer, we might assume that they were trying to get away from red mite (which we keep on top of with Diatom powder anyway), but there’s no sign of these nasty little parasites. And the chickens are behaving perfectly normally in every other way. Curiouser and curiouser.
What’s particularly odd is that it comes at a time when one of our black Araucanas has, unfortunately and suddenly, acquired a bad limp. We’ve moved her and her
two glamorous friends into a run and coop with a straw-strewn floor so she can rest herself and is near our house so we’re able to keep an eye on her. I can’t help feeling that these two developments must be related, as we haven’t had either complaint before and it seems like too much of a coincidence for the leg-related ailments not to be linked. None of our books help on the matter – can anyone offer any wisdom on the subject, please?
In other news, the Oxford Sandy & Blacks have done even more damage to the elder tree in their pen, digging deeper and deeper into the ground to perform a full excavation of the roots. James and I will be making a structure to protect the increasingly vulnerable arboreal specimen. So, all in all, a few niggling smallholding issues to deal with tomorrow, but I’m sure a little thought – and, in the case of our pigs, fencing – will solve the various problems.
We’ll also be ordering more fertile eggs to hatch out from South Yeo Farm East in Devon. As well as more Ixworths, we’re keen on raising some Welsummers, too. Nothing like a few chicks to cheer up a winter’s day!