Spending my days mostly in the garden during these past few weeks of maternity leave, I’ve relished the opportunity to stand and stare. Having the leisure to stop whatever I’m doing and observe all our animals has been among the highlights of what feels, at the moment, like an extended holiday – and being a week overdue, there’s even been some borrowed time, too.
Every time James or I head down the lawn, our trusty flock of chickens begin to run after us in a highly comical fashion. They’re after a helping of corn and who could resist their imploring expressions? I rather like the way they form a drift that follows us all the way down to their house and run.
The hens have also taken a leaf out of the Labradors’ book and enjoy hovering around while we eat our lunch outside. In fact, one particularly bold brown hen has taken to hopping onto a chair and then onto the table to see what she can nibble on. Suffice to say I encourage her back down to the ground, but she’s just as persistent as her canine counterparts and returns to try her luck within minutes. Naturally, German Shepherd Darcy doesn’t wholeheartedly approve (he’s just as greedy as his sisters) and the other day more or less let her know his thoughts on the subject (pictured below).
Patterns of behaviour continue to shift as we prepare for our baby’s arrival. Beau the Bengal has, until recently, been entirely free-range – able to come and go whenever and wherever he chooses but, bearing in mind the fact that he would enjoy shredding our lovely wicker crib to pieces and the cautions about the appeal that sleeping infants hold for cats, we’re now having to keep our bedroom off limits to him. Naturally, being a contrary creature, he sees entering this forbidden part of the house as the holy grail and takes advantage of any chink in the new security system, runs in and immediately falls asleep – with a virtual ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign above his head – at the end of our bed.
Back to hens… The flock’s eggs have been abundant recently and are keeping us well-fed – not only in cooked breakfasts and omelettes, but as ingredients in some homemade meals, including Delia’s fisherman’s pie (which includes hardboiled ones and is all the better for it), that have been squirrelled away in our freezer – all ready for when the little chap decides to make his appearance.
I’m finding that watching these productive, amusing creatures is particularly helpful while waiting for this life event to occur – yet again the simple truth that their soft cooing and chirruping, pecking and scratching, preening and dust-bathing is so thoroughly absorbing to observe and can take your mind off all manner of subjects is confirmed.
Happy henkeeping all!