The teenage hens, our five wild ones, are growing up. They are not getting any more lady-like, just bigger. The famous five still live a life of carefree meandering, berry picking and short flying sessions. We chose names for them when they arrived but it turned out that their personalities did not fit in with our choices. Only little Emma has a name, the others have to wait a tad longer. Dimi-two sounded too oriental and the other names were just wrong for our gang. So they move about in a nameless state of happiness.
It's fun to see how easy life is for a young hen that still does not lay eggs. The cockerel takes no interest in her and the older hens ignore all younger ones. They just get to play, eat and live the Life of Riley. It all changes when they mature in to egg laying members of society. All of a sudden they need to have timetables in their heads and fight their way to the best egg-laying nest. As all five hens will have their own time of day for this, they won't head off for long forest walks anymore. Hopefully they will get a working system going, so that most of the day will free up for fun stuff. At least all our hens can do what they want and be free to roam.
How Monty will cope with five young hens, five older ladies and then our two toddlers are still a mystery. Time will tell and we don't know if the toddlers are boys or girls. All we know is that at the moment there are thirteen beaks in our hen house and that is quite a bundle of tempers in one house. Pippi, Eric's mother, is broody but we are hoping that feeling will pass. Pippi is a demanding hen when mothering so hopefully she'll remember that and skip the idea. But if she chooses to build a nest we will not stop her. We will mark her eggs, though, as we were taught, to avoid six hundred and fifty eggs ending up under her. (Small exaggeration....). We are constantly learning new things all the time, which is great.
Two days after writing this Pippi settled in and is now working hard on a second bundle of joy. She screams long and hard if we as much as enter the henhouse, so there is no need to worry about her. Pippi knows how to do things, although her volume button is faulty. She left the nest for a while today and to my great relief I only found one egg in her nest. And the stone one...
The famous five has started hanging out with Monty and the older hens but only in the mornings. This is still an improvement as such. The whole gang takes a stroll around the lawns in the mornings. "On the lookout for bears and foxes", they tell me. Then our teenage hens get bored and half run, half fly into the forest. In the afternoon they might meet up with the older gang again, when they take part in the turning of the compost. This is such a popular event that even the - now five weeks old - toddlers join in. Lotta digs and the small ones copy and they all end up looking like heaps of soil. Yesterday I heard loud, slightly alarmed baby beeps so I ran to check but it was just that they had found a huge worm. After the initial chock they continued to scoff the lot. They are not suffering from lack of protein, at least...
The famous five learned early on that I come baring food. They come running when they see me, beeping and honking like old cars. Why they have such deep voices is beyond me but they all do the car sound. It is most peculiar but very sweet. Bilberries are their passion at the moment and from the mess in the stable each morning I think every single hen is out there picking berries.
It's interesting to see how all the young hens that have come to live with us have had the same pattern of growing up. First they stay around the stable, then they play in the outside cage where the climbing sticks and the playhouse is. Then they move to the little cluster of young spruces that makes a lovely tree hut. There they eat every poor ant that pops in and spy on passers by. After that, it's the forest, fields and then away to the compost. By then they are old enough to start their long treks around the place and we don't see them for dust. Only tiny chicks with a mother can break this pattern and jump straight to compost world. It's like a game of Monopoly for hens.
We have seen foxes early in the mornings and late at night so I let the hens out as late as at 7 am. This is not a popular decision amongst the hens but we have to at least to try and keep them safe. This gives the toddler chicks’ time to eat a proper breakfast and they are growing in size. Of course the worms help... The evening is easier as Monty goes to bed at 7pm - bless him.
Mr. Chip seems to be a happy-chappy, not really remembering his operation. His stitches are to melt away any day now and after ten days of showering his tail is the cleanest one in town. He actually started enjoying it all and will probably start a morning regime of shower, most days. We really hope not...
It's been a lovely week, here with the animals. Nothing to write home about but no sad story either so we count our blessings. It's all you can do really, the way the world is going. How to bring back Goodness into the world, at large, is the question. It's all so sad.
The common toad can live up to 40 years, if not crossing the road or meeting up with other predators. I met a toad the other evening and they are not fast, crawling over the road, but we got there in the end. It was an absolutely beautiful toad and did not pee during our walk. The toad urinates if stressed, so as to loose weight and gain speed. I took that as a compliment and we parted as friends.
A blog about a small holding in Southern Finland. Each original story is accompanied by a stunning watercolour illustration or resplendent photographs.