I must say that the summer months feel like a complete luxury life to us all. The hens have turned into a pack of wild birds and are taking over their world. They spend their time out in the forest, playing in streams and jumping around on large stones in the water. It is a joy to see them so happy and the young hens move around together. Ten, loudly beeping birds that play games in the trees and fly like odd looking doves.
Our dear sheep are roaming the countryside, napping under some blossoming tree and then continuing with their munching. They do pop over to greet me now and again, but they don't have time to chat, much.
Our lovely dog is doing her own sort of blossoming. Ebba has started to interact more with people she does not know very well. She has also fallen head over heals for the smallest dog in the village. I told you about him earlier - a mix of Chihuahua and terrier of some sort and very small and feisty. Now that dear Ebba finally got to meet him nose to nose she fell like a ton of bricks for the little fellow. He on the other hand must feel like hanging out with a giant, so he growls at our funny dog and struts around like Napoleon. Love is not easy, but it did lead to Ebba now finding the confidence to chat with Napoleon's people as well. She even kissed one of the owners on her nose.
The hare that's placing out her young ones around our home is sticking to her guns. She has clearly told the baby hares that big dogs are better and safer than foxes, so here they are. When Ebba spends time in her outdoor pen, there are always small ears sticking out from the grass on the other side of the fence. It's like our dog is moving around with her own entertainment unit and we just have to keep everyone alive and safe.
One morning when I let the animals out for the day, dear husband returned from the morning walk with Ebba. I joked about the whole gang gathering and at the same time one small hare rushed over, sat down next to us, watching all its new friends. Our dog is going to soon get a headache.
I sat outside on the step one day, finishing a sowing project. It was a sunny, warm afternoon and Ebba was outside too. As I had my hands full, Trisha the hen saw her chance and boldly walked past me into the house. I could hear her plodding about and the clinking of food bowls as Trisha served herself and ate the rest of Ebba's lunch. Trisha stayed in the house for some time, clearly appreciating her "me time", away from the rest of the hens. When the visit was over she just passed me on the step, gave me a nod of greeting and carried on. Hens are funny birds.
We now know that our dear friend Ebba will not join any passing theatre companies, any time soon.
Her day out with dear husband went calmly but that was mainly because the dear dog was slightly startled by the whole thing. People in costumes and loud voices made Ebba hang around the safety of her car a lot. She was very relieved when I turned up to fetch her home. Dear husband, did not look sad, either.
The party we put together for our friend turned out to be a lovely affair. It was open invitation so people came and much laughter was heard. Some tears were also shed as it was an ending of an era, but that was expected. Our friend is loved by many and it was fun to be one of the caterers, hanging in the background, while she shone like the sun in the midst of friends and family.
My shining moment came when the clearing up started and I proudly took charge of the industrial dishwashing machine. I had an instruction manual and switched on anything and everything. Dishes gathered and sorted, all buttons pressed and swoosh, the machine started washing. The only problem was that I was so concentrated on getting everything right that I forgot to put the dirty dishes into the machine. So there I stood, giggling to myself while I pre washed an already very clean piece of machinery. Not my proudest moment, but then again, opening it mid washing to check was not clever, either. I was a little damp around the edges on my way home.
We have a family of grey wagtails nesting in our ventilation pipe above the shower room. They must have a warm and snug life. We also get an additional chirpy sound in the house that makes me think of those meditation cds. No whale soundtracks for us, we do the homespun version of calming down.
Dear Darya is feeling poorly so we have to make do with photos for the moment. We want to send her " Get well soon! " greetings from all of us here at Stoneback farm and hope for a speedy recovery. There is nothing worse than being ill in warm weather. Well there is, but you know what I mean.
Take care and hope the sun is warming all and everyone. Chirpy Chirp say our new neighbours.
Our summer seems to have been very short, as we are now back down to only plus 4 degrees C in the mornings. Slightly stormy days have not helped the matter one small bit. Mumble, mumble...
We have an overly optimistic hare mother who places her young ones around our little house. I'm quite convinced that it's as much for shelter from the wind as for safety from predators. What the caring mother has not really counted for, is the fact that one of the biggest safety issues lives in the house. Our dear Ebba dog thinks hares are toys or entertainment. This she informs us by sitting by the windows in the evenings, bolt upright, following their every move. When it all gets too exiting, dear Ebba comes and either bites me playfully (she takes my hand in her mouth like the big puppy she still seems to be. It hurts!) or tries to climb up in dear husband’s lap. This is not the best idea, as it's like sitting with an elk on your knee when she scrambles up.
Speaking of elks - Ebba met her first elk family. Now as I write this, it hit me that it was not a complete family of elks for I saw no bull. Anyway, we had an evening walk, dear dog and I (It sounds better than having a mad dash through thick foliage and closely growing trees). Anyway, we were bobbing about and suddenly Ebba tried to dive into a large patch of raspberry bushes and there stood two small, identically sized, chocolate brown young elks. They are about as sweet looking as any baby animal can be. Apart from hares, dogs, birds.
I stopped Ebba from that encounter when I heard their mother huffing and puffing behind me. The problem was that we were in the middle of the elks and the poor mother just wanted to get to her young ones. She was very agitated, and rightly so, the hairs on her neck all standing up. We all walked together for a while, the calves following us on one side of a small forest path and the mother on the other side. In the middle dear Ebba jumped on two legs, straining to get to meet at least one new neighbour? I felt very small but, I do so like elks.
In the end, we arrived to a mini clearing and the poor elk got to walk over to her babies who by then thought our funny dog must have been their daily entertainment. A bit like a clown at a birthday party. I had started wondering by then if dear Ebba is not altogether there as they say in the Durrell books.
Our happy hens are roaming the countryside, chicks and all. They are once again legally free and happy and as there are 21 of them, it looks impressive when they all head off for their adventures. Poor Monty has given up trying to keep them all together so instead he just runs around, visiting everyone. He looks a tad stressed and when the evening is upon us, he's the first one to fall asleep.
I finally had time and a sunny day for it, so I cleaned out the stable after a long winter. I emptied the sheep pen, although that's cleaned twice a day, and then took everything out from the hen's two loose boxes. It took me eight hours to clean, dust and refill with clean stuff. Eight hours!! All this because clever old me had thought peat and linseed straw would be better for the animals to sleep on, during the winter.
All I can say in hindsight is that peat might be better for the hen lungs but it nearly had mine. Every surface in the stable was covered in brown dust when I had ferried out the peat. I washed and muttered all day and I would still be going if dear husband had not stepped in to help with filling up with new, wonderful sawdust.
The linseed straw (chopped up like slippery sticks) was probably not a bad idea. However, we now know that peat belongs in the bog, full stop.
The stable is now very clean, very fresh and I do love the feeling of four happy sheep going to bed in a dust free home. The hens don't seem to notice and when they finally do, they quickly make everything messy again. Hens are funny that way.
The summer theater season is fast approaching and today our dog is joining dear husband for a day out. Ebba is going along for the rehearsals and this will probably be a day to remember. I have a party to put together for a lovely friend so sweet Ebba is turning thespian. Fingers crossed and I'll let you know how it all turned out.
Must dash, cakes to ferry, dress to find and flowers to be gathered. You would not want me as your party organiser, trust me. At least the sun is out. Will get back to this one, next week as well.
Enjoy and be happy, as our hens would say. Just looked outside and the mother hare is sitting munching away outside our house, baby at her side. So sweet.
It's been one of those perfect weeks of May, weather wise. Sunny and warm days that brought out all the colours and all the smells of the summer to come. Ebba the dog stood listening intently this morning and it hit me that we can once again hear the wind play in among the leaves of the trees.
Sadly, we lost a cockerel chick this week. It must have been a bird of prey as they are the only ones that get so close to the stable, without a sound. It's worrying, how they can squeeze themselves in to small spaces and still manage to kill. We had a sad day and Trisha is now tending to four round young ones. They are turning six weeks of age tomorrow and Pippi's little one is right behind them. Jane's chicks are only a few weeks old and are still sporting yellow fluff combined with long feathery wings.
Trisha and Pippi have started teaching their lot to climb trees and to fly longer distances. The taking off bit is quite under control and the flying looks good but the landing can still be a bit tricky. We must duck for fast approaching feather dusters at times, but it's all very sweet. Our dear sheep are getting used to being the landing place for flustered chicks and the mother hens are not so protective, to the point of hysteria, anymore. This leaves the field open for us to start interacting with the funny bunch without being pecked by anxious hens.
It's about time too, as we should start picking the chicks up and making them feel safe with us. This is just one way of making sure that the hen house stays a calm and happy place. Half wild hens make the winter months feel even longer as everyone gets restless if some of their friends are going hundred and ten around the stable.
Mindy, Mandy, Molly and My are already putting in their hours on this project and they are doing a good job of it. I keep having to wipe goo of their beautiful faces as small birds have been landing on them, first thing in the mornings. It seems that visiting the sheep is part of the morning routine for the young ones and sometimes the landing.
Our kind sheep have started their nomad life, once again. They wake up early and head off, munching away until midday. That's when they have introduced taking their siesta indoors and we are kind enough to oblige. After a few hours nap they head off again and if the evening is nice and dry, they can stay out for a long time.
This all sounds a bit over the top, but they are already four middle aged ladies so why not indulge them a bit? They feel safer sleeping in the stable and it's cooler for them, in there. This, of course means that we still end up cleaning their pen twice a day, but there are worse things in life. Plus, our guest hen that stayed on, loves to help with the mucking out and finds this system to be highly recommendable. She hurries over to assist when she hears that the wheel barrow is moving about in the stable.
This is fine, but when we had a rainy morning and all the chicks decided to help out, I could hardly move for small feet everywhere. Small birds beeping and milling around your feet can make you a tad sea sick, I've noticed. That and the fact that hardly anything gets done briskly makes you wish for a very dry and warm summer to come. Or hoping that our young hens will soon start to enjoy a spot of rain.
The month of June is just around the corner and I must start digging and sorting out the vegetable patch. It should all be done by now, but time flies and we will get there, just with a later time table. A friend of mine commented about the same problem at their end and said that things do not always have to be done the same way, every year. That's a very healthy way to look at things, when you think about it. The hens will help me turn the soil and our dear dog can dig holes for me.
I pruned the grapevine last year to the brink of extinction so that's done, at least. It really peaked from that harsh treatment so I was very lucky. It's an old and dear wine, just neglected at times. This year it's getting a new bed of horse manure and lots of love and care from our hens. They pop by to check about the worm situation and once the manure has been spread out, the hens will think Christmas has arrived early. Our dear sheep will not be interested in this project until there is growing evidence of tasty times to come.
My week was one of those where time ran away from me and things did not get done. This was a good thing, in some ways, as dear husband stepped in to help (with this as with everything else.) and made us a wonderful gluten free rhubarb pie. Almond flour, cinnamon and not too much sugar made the rhubarb taste fresh and light. If I did not love bread so much I think I would turn down gluten altogether. I'm sure it would be a healthier way to be, but as we are the country of rye bread and butter. Did you make a gluten free treat?
Ebba the dog is now informing me that it's time to go to bed. She is a whimsical and a full-on dog in many ways, but her sleeping patterns are very organised and strict. So off to bed I will have to go, as I'm very well trained.
Be well and let's try to have a Happy June, everyone!
Finally, the weather turned from the Antarctica to something resembling the Mediterranean. It really feels like spring is here when I can let the animals out early in the morning, dressed in my pajamas. It's faster too, not bundling up in down jackets and winter boots, just to walk over the yard.
It seemed like the lawns and fields turned green overnight and now the trees are also joining in the fun. The gardening season can now start in all earnest and it feels like summer is just around the corner.
Our dear animals are in a brilliant mood and eating themselves into a stupor. Mindy, Mandy, Molly and My are the size of large barrels, all of them happily rolling around and enjoying life to the full. Ebba the dog runs around trying to catch anything and everything that flies, crawls and hops about. Bumble bees and snakes are going to be our problem this summer as our dear dog is very quick off the mark. Shielding her from stings and bites will be a full-time job, we fear.
The hens are finding worms again and the whole village can hear our dear Monty. Can it be that him being a father of eleven chicks has made him an extra vocal cockerel? It can't be the light as that's been around for a while, but of course the warm weather might have something to do with it. Maybe he has extremely warmed up vocal cords this week and has decided to do an endurance test on them. Whatever the reason, all we know is that he is loud.
Our older hens don't seem to mind that, but keep running away from him as green grass, bugs and slugs have sent Monty far down on the list of interesting things in their life. Maybe his pride is hurt and that's what he's tooting about? Who knows....
The dry, beige tinted grass, left from last summer around the stable looks like it's alive and moving in waves. That's where eleven chicks and their mothers spend their days. As I've told before, we leave it on purpose as it's such good camouflage for our beige, brown hens to move in. We do have a lot of pray around, waiting to get at our animals.
The two groups of five small chicks move side by side with their edgy mothers muttering threats to each other. Trisha's five, who arrived first, have already changed into their first set of coloured feathers. It seems we have three of her own and two borrowed young ones in that group, as they have Trisha's very distinct colouring. At least two birds in that group look like cockerels so joy, oh joy when we have young ones with their mother's feisty temperament and their father's dizzy look on life. We will have to move.
Pippi does what Pippi does best in life: - she tends to her one chick, feeding and fending for it with such concentration that nothing else matters, for the moment. If anyone comes too close, she sends them away and this year our dear sheep aren't even allowed to help her look out for the little one. We are keeping fingers, toes, eyes and everything else crossed for it to finally being a little hen that she is nursing. So far, she has brought up two cockerels and it would be nice for her to get a daughter for a change. Feeding a little cockerel is demanding work and as she likes to do everything herself, she does get tired out. Hopefully her almost over the top care is a sign that it's a small girl that she is fending for.
Jane still sleeps with her five fluffy chicks in the maternity ward at nights. We must keep them separate as the youngest one is still very small. Still, she got wings in record time, probably due to the wintry weather, but that affected her balance a bit. She eats, beeps loudly and runs almost as fast as the others, but I fear she might get trampled by the older hens by mistake. So, Jane lives like royalty for the moment. Our young mother is not complaining but I do hope it does not make her very "high and mighty" towards the other hens. Time will tell.
I had plans to name all the young ones this week but that will have to wait. They change every day so as soon as we know who's what we will have the name giving ceremony. For the moment it's more about food, water and love.
Our neighbor, the friendly squirrel that has lived all winter in the hay barn had her first litter of babies. I met her one morning this week, carrying small brown bundles out on to the road. There they sat, long spindly tails and big eyes, blinking in the sunlight. One small one looked hopefully at my leg but I steered it to the closest tree, where it started it's climbing career. Having a tame squirrel in the house would not be ideal as we already have Ebba, the world’s best fixer dog. What a small climber friend and a large jumping dog could get up to, is more than we could cope with.
(Dear Monty just ventured into Ebba's empty paddock and is now trying to remember how to get out again. I know that one of the hens will soon show him the way as this happens on a very regular basis. Dizzy....)
The sun is up, the animals are grazing and it's time to start the day. Let's hope it's a good one, for all and everyone.
My aim this week is to learn how to make a gluten free rhubarb crumble. It does not sound like much, but as I'm a disaster in the kitchen, it will be a bit of a project. At least the hens can eat my failed attempts and I do have written instructions. Let's make it a gluten free week-everyone should try to make something and then we can compare notes. Good luck, for I know I will need it.
Spring, as we know it, has not been kind to anyone this year.
At first, we had some nice, warm weeks but then the weather turned on us. Snow, sun, hailstorms, rain plus minus degrees during the nights. The poor birds that migrated here must not have known what to make of it all.
In the middle of all this ten little chicks arrived. Ten very surprised small birds that bob about in their mother's wake, thinking that they should have stayed in their warm cocoons just a tad longer. They started visiting their friendly neighbours the sheep as soon as their little wings carried their small, plump bodies, just for some extra warmth. The radiator is a popular spot for small gatherings, too.
Our four sheep were sheared very early this year, already at the beginning of May. This was for practical reasons, as our friendly sheep farmers had time to come out and help us. The other reason is, that with this odd weather we are forced to keep the stable warm and snug for the hens which can get too warm for the sheep. Their woolly jumpers are thick and probably slightly itchy after a long winter, so the "spring look" arrived early and they love it. So now everyone is ready for summer to arrive and we have minus four degrees in the nights.
This is not a normal springtime for plants, either. We have perennials growing in the flower beds that look like they have been kept in the refrigerator. They have slimy, limp leaves and seem to have stopped growing all together. They have not frozen their roots but from an esthetic point of view they have looked better. It took the grass forever to start growing but now there is enough greenery outside for the sheep to have got the spring back into their little, older legs. Mindy, Mandy, Molly and My are ready to burst through the door, each morning, for some fresh, cold breakfast and they don't seem to mind the Arctic conditions at all. It must also feel so nice, being all light and bouncy after all that wool.
We decided that the shearing should be done from the ground, this time. No more climbing up on the shearing table and then secured. It was mostly me saying this as I don't like the impact the jumping down does to their knees. Or the fact that when they start messing about, they can seriously injure someone by knocking them over.
As I don't actually do much during the whole shearing process, it felt a bit wrong to change things, but it went well. The poor farmer had to spend a lot of the time kneeling on a cold stable floor but our dear sheep were as good as gold and very calm. I guess they felt safer on the ground and just stood enjoying it all. You really have to look hard, to find nicer animals than these four sheep. And, for that matter, funnier looking ones with their round tummies and large heads on top of spindly legs.
This was the year that we were supposed to look over the number of hens in the stable. The winter is long and with quite a few hens to feed and clean up after, it takes up a fair amount of time, each morning. All good intentions and all that. We now have eleven grown up hens, ten small chicks and Monty the cockerel, running around in the stable. That's a lot of feathery friends to look after, but what can we do? Monty still bobs about with a startled look on his little face, not knowing what's going on. Our dear sheep are happy though, "the more, the merrier" seems to be their motto, when it comes to hens. They stand stock still when they have tiny chicks visiting with a smile on their proud, beautiful faces which I find makes up for a lot of the cleaning.
Gardening will have to wait a bit but with everything else going on, it's fine by us. Ebba the dog finds that a brisk morning walk is even nicer in cool weather. She is also helping dear husband to build. Ebba's little house for her play pen is currently on the agenda. It will have a flat roof so that she can sit up there and keep a look out for bandits. The fact that she is such a buzzy bee, never in one place for very long, is neither here nor there. When the summer gets on its way, it will be nice for Ebba to have her little house to retreat into for a little nap and some shade. The flat roof is for comfort as I never have understood how Snoopy can cope - and yes I know he is a cartoon character. The building team will make a lovely addition to all small and larger shelters already scattered around the place. Thank goodness that dear husband makes such charming wood work that they are a pleasure to have around.
We have a sun and rain shelter for the sheep, where the hares ate their hay, during the cold months. Our dear sheep never ever go near it as they might miss some of the goings on, in the yard. We have a playhouse for the chicks, where the oldest hens lay their eggs. We have small wooden houses for the new hen families to sleep in. They are now egg laying places as the new families live nomad lives. The funny thing is that if we removed any of these constructions, the complaints would be heard far and wide. So, we know how this new project will turn out. Some extremely rare bird will find Ebba's new house to be the only place to nest in and our kind dog will have to do her own production of "The fiddler on the roof." At least the roof is flat.
Thank you for charming name suggestions-next week we will introduce the full list and character features of the fluffy team. Some boy's names would be helpful as we are being realistic.
Have a lovely Mother's Day, where it's celebrated today and just a lovely week in general. All the best, beep, beep.
I have the perfect spot to drink my perfect cup of coffee. The spot is not a café in Helsinki where the sun always shines, nor is it the café in town where the cakes are to die for. My perfect place is on the old step, by the front door, looking out at Ebba's play paddock.
The step has been brown, the paddock was once new and had a straight and shiny fence and we also had a nice flowerbed nearby. Our dear sheep ate the flowers. Paint tends to wear off, but I could not care less as it's worn off evenly. I sit, leaning against the house on two very old, worn cushions and just feel a little bit happy.
The reason for my carefree disposition is our animals. Oh yes, dear husband too!
No, really. When you skip the nice garden chair and the practical garden table the animals feel that you are more approachable, or so I find it, anyway. Ebba has her dog run next to me, the hens come right up to my feet, checking if I have any treats for them and our lovely sheep stand around the corner, sneak peaking to see if Ebba is loose. They will soon be brave enough to just step right up to the door, loudly demanding their share of the goodies.
Mosquitoes have started to fly around our heads, but Ebba catches them for us. That's her treat dealt with. She does have a new bone to chew on, the bugs are just something a little extra.
It's early evening and the two hens and their chicks have gone to bed for the night. Soon Monty will begin to droop and when he starts to look like a completely wilted flower, it's time to put the rest of the henhouse to bed. Mindy, Mandy, Molly and My wanted to go in ages ago, but as this is one of the first nice evenings, in a long time, we should all be outside for a while.
Ebba's friend's, the cranes, are serenading the evening sun or maybe celebrating the day's frog hunting. Perhaps they just had a moment of happiness to and wanted the village to know? It's hard to know with cranes.
Dear husband is returning home in the tractor so Ebba is now wanting to stretch her legs. This means that I will soon be sprinting behind a rested dog, wishing I had four legs, too. With my brilliant brain, I would never figure out how to handle that, so two it is.
Speaking of rested. Both mother hens have realised that by hanging out with me, they can use the outdoor pen and finally get some sand baths. My input is to babysit the chicks and look out for gangsters. As they can't spend any time together, the two mothers, they must take turns being outside. My life as a chick minder! I do have help though, as four woolly heads follow our every move. It must be a very brave gangster to approach us!
Edit: After two days, the mothers realised that by being nice to each other, they got rid of the chick minder so I'm off duty again. Clever birds.
Gardening season is upon us and this year we will plant more blueberry bushes. We have the forest full of bilberries, I know, but there is something so charming about the shape of a blueberry bush in their midst. I will also try my hand at growing some asparagus, but the outcome of that will be next year’s news. Beans and peas will be the main crops. Perhaps Ebba will be a pea loving dog too, we will see. Dear husband says he'll grow mostly weeds, this year. We can only hope that he's joking.
Thank you for brilliant name suggestions! We now have a chick called Puffball and one called Thistledown. I can only imagine Puffball growing up to become a very handsome cockerel. Do send in more names or the rest will end up called Sprinter, Digger and Squeaker and that would not do, as they seem to be a charming lot. Sunny is the tiny chick and beeps a lot.
Ebba fell asleep on her kitchen sofa. Too much fresh air can do that to you. She has been exercising dear husband all day too, she told me. It is nice, the way the days get longer and when the cold nights go away, we can start celebrating springtime properly. We might just join the cranes, down on the field and sing our little hearts out. Or not, said dear husband!
Take care, be well and what about Willow for a name?
My mornings are spent chopping, mixing and cooking hen food. Not only am I making the normal amount of breakfast for hens and sheep, but now I'm also catering for small beeping and very hungry chicks.
I stick to a base of cottage cheese, finely chopped and then with added various ingredients, according to mood and availability. Apples and carrots are very popular, as is sweet corn and peas. I add some water to the mix, just to be certain that the chicks don't choke on their food. They also get dry chick feed and various seeds, also chopped up into smaller bits. I never really learned what food chicks should eat so I follow the " tried and tested" principal. With our first small, funny looking bunch I read up on what and when, but they never ate any of it. Then the experts told me about the magic of cottage cheese and we were off.
The chicks can now drink from the hen's water dispenser. The mother hen stands primly by while they drink, but the little chick-gang quickly jumps into the water and ends up standing knee deep in their drink. This means that the water must be changed a few times each day. They do seem to have a lot of fun, while fighting dehydration.
As I think I told you, the second nest of eggs was tended to by three hens and as I have not had time to monitor the comings and goings of the care unit, I completely missed the fact that the hen who finally claimed the nest was Pippi, Eric's, mother. As two times before, Pippi left the nest and its eggs, after the first, tiny chick was born.
I worried about two mothers in the henhouse at the same time, but once I realised that our old pro was tending to the baby, all worries vanished. Pippi can stand her ground and we can all hear her doing so. By her command, we all stand quietly in a row when Queen Pippi walks past, tiny toddler in tow. She is one of our oldest hens and knows her place in the pecking order. The first thing she told me when she became a mother for little Eric was that I was now to give way and behave myself. It’s only possible that I call the shots because I know the location of the fridge. Pippi is a practical hen but not really a barrel of laughs, when she is tending to a small chick. I think this baby will be called Sunny and we must hope that it's finally a small hen.
Trisha the hen, runs around like a grouse version of the Queen of Sheba, with five small minions in tow. As her five are almost a week older than Sunny they are much braver, wilder and very keen on visiting our dear sheep. Molly greeted them yesterday, but I stayed close by just to stop Trisha from pecking Molly on the nose. All went well and I think the chicks agreed that our small flock of sheep are a fun lot. Trisha had to have a rest after all the excitement as she stresses a lot!
The month of April is leaving us with snow, slush and still slightly wintry weather. Never have I been so cold, as these last few weeks! Last night's snowstorm felt like winter is never planning to leave us, but it was a warm, snug feel in the stable. Mindy, Mandy, Molly and My stayed indoors as they find getting wet to be highly irritating. As the radiator is still on in the stable, even I warmed up a degree or two.
The only one enjoying the weather is happy, funny Ebba, our very kind dog. Dear husband introduced Ebba to the idea of grilling meat outside and our dog is now the newest member of the BBQ-fun club. Apparently, it's the only way forward when it comes to cooking food. As a vegetarian, I can't really agree but they are happy and at least the smell of burned meat stayed outside. Ebba thinks vegetarians are a silly lot but it means more meat for the club members.
The rain has set in so maybe we can celebrate the first of May, tomorrow, without snow. Ebba can work on digging her mud bath in the paddock and that way keep her coat glossy and healthy. Ebba is a Spa kind of dog. Mud baths and paddling around in cold water. She will soon ask for healthy smoothies too! As long as she is happy, we'll just keep on drying her after her sessions in the paddock and hope for summer to arrive soon.
Happy month of May to everyone and please send us suggestions of names for five fluffy chicks. I'm all named out.
Easter Monday was a happy but slightly stressful day for our hen Trisha. The first two of her eggs hatched and she became a mother. A very protective hen mother, at that. Two days later there were four beeping, fluffy chicks and on Saturday the total became five.
Trisha has always been prone to taking any new situation with the maximum amount of emotions, so motherhood is making her crackle from stress and worry. The small, fluffy bundles of joy take her in their stride and are busy eating to stay warm and alive. We still have a very cold spring, so poor chicks. (Trisha does her best to warm them, bless her).
Jill and Jane are still waiting for their chicks to hatch so when that happens, we'll be in trouble. Where to place all these young, angry mothers, so they don't meet up?!
Mindy, Mandy, Molly and My are four very happy sheep, as they love their hens and find small chicks to be the icing on the cake. They can already hear the constant beeping coming from next door but have not met the new arrivals yet. Molly knows that if you step too close to the chicks, the mother hen will attack you, so we are pushing the "meet and greet" forward. We’ll wait for a while, as a safety precaution.
Monty seems to have forgotten that he is, once again, a proud father and just carries on with his days as normal as he can. Maybe he will notice that something has changed, when we stand knee deep in small bundles of fluff?
The chilly weather is a challenge for everyone that finds freezing temperatures to be a slight irritation. It is also proving to be a setback for our sheep. The grass on the fields does not seem to grow at all. Our lovely sheep still live on hay and on last year's dry grass that they find in the fields. When let out in the mornings, they rush off to look closely for some fresh grass, but so far all they find is green moss. Then, when called in again, they settle in nicely in their pen with their big heap of hay, and all thoughts of green pastures vanish.
Ebba, the dog, found out that she quite likes sitting outside, in a smallish pen. Dear husband and a good friend of ours built Ebba an outdoor area where (hopefully) she'll be able to spend some time on her own, this summer. Ebba can sit stock still for a surprisingly long time if she has something to watch or listen to. By having a pen for our dear dog, we can work outside and still have Ebba with us. It's not a substitute for exercise or playing in the paddock as it is about 4 x 2.5 metres, so it's more of an extra bedroom than a play area for sweet Ebba.
I called to check in with my sister's friends, the orphaned otters, last week. They are both doing very well and being wild and happy, at the animal sanctuary where they have spent their winter. Now they will head off to their fishing course and hopefully return to us, in the autumn.
Otters stay with their mother for 15 months so we will not see them for a while, yet. I had somehow got the thought of them returning to the village this spring rather than the autumn. Firstly, they must become expert fishermen and all round super brave otters. I am now stressing about the two stars meeting up with predators, fishing nets, stupid people - you name it, on their return, but that's just me.
We are so happy that the otters have made it this far and now wish them a happy summer at school. We are also very impressed and grateful for all the work the nice people at the animal sanctuary have put in. It can't be easy!
This week’s lovely artwork made me laugh out loud. We are lucky to have dear Darya making this blog what it is!
Have a nice week and give our love to all your animals, small and large. And if you have a clean, tidy animal free house, enjoy that, too. We have a lot of sand everywhere, just know, although Ebba does claim to wipe her paws when she enters the house. Maybe it's the magic of spring.
We were blessed with these little darlings on Easter Monday. There are still eggs being cared for so we may still get a few more chicks.
The world outside our window has frozen, once again. This week has been cold and the weather forecast is telling us that next week is going to be the same. Waking up to minus six in the middle of April feels wrong, somehow.
Ebba thinks nothing of it and just carries on being young and bouncy. As far as she's concerned, you get less muddy in freezing conditions so she races around in her paddock, even faster than before. Her speed is impressive and she is getting more confident, when out walking.
Ebba still believes that it's possible to catch a passing bird even though it flies by, high in the sky. This makes for odd moments as she throws herself wholeheartedly into the chase, while forgetting about the person at the other end of the lead. I make a good impression of a rag doll, when this happens. So now we must look out for hare babies, deer, the odd car, blackbirds bobbing about, and all this while staring into the sky. Ebba is a very charming dog, though.
While on the subject of deer, we had a funny moment one evening, Ebba and I. Returning home from an evening walk, this cold week, Ebba went over to her favorite chair to watch the fields for foxes. At first, she just glanced in a sort of casual way and then she did a little jolt of a jump and quickly came to fetch me. When we returned together to her lookout point, the field below the house was filled with action. It looked like a convention for long legged animals as eight nice looking white-tailed deer, three small roe deer (one not so small, more circular) and three more white-tailed deer wandering up along the field, had a meeting out there. Ebba just stood stock still, taking it all in and did not move from her spot until the last animal had left. This took ages, as they found grass to eat and probably had a lot to talk about. It was an impressive sight and our dear dog fell asleep exhausted, after all that excitement. They say that it's important to exercise both body and mind of a young dog. I think we are doing just that. It's lovely that Ebba does not bark madly, in a situation like this, but takes time to observe and enjoy. Maybe other animals don't scare her as much as people?
Our hens had enough of being locked up, caged in and looked after. We still have a whole month of outside cage life to get through but our feisty, small hens staged a "Chicken run" scenario and legged it. Monty, our kind but slightly dizzy cockerel did not see it coming and was left behind. I helped him escape, I must admit.
Opening the stable door, one sunny but chilly morning gave me a bit of a shock, when Lina flew straight at me, followed by the rest of the hens. They did not stop until they were safely in the forest, in a deeply banked stream, where it's difficult to catch them. When Monty caught up with them (it took a while) they hurried upstream and played by a small spring, for a long time. Icy water is no problem for our lot and even Violet, one of our guest hens, had a small venture out into the stream. It was one of those perfect moments in life and we did understand their need to get out and get going. Lina, our oldest hen, was very proud of herself, that evening.
Our three guest hens left, not as we planned but that's life. One hen got ill and old, one old lady just slowed down and came to her end and Violet perked up no end. We decided, together with her owner's that as her companions went to heaven and she really likes Lina and Henrika, not to mention odd Monty, Violet should retire at Stoneback farm. Mindy, Mandy, Molly and My agreed, so there we are. Our charming sheep are liking the colder weather, as they are snug as bugs in their woolly jumpers. Mindy was tickled pink, when the hens joined them for the outing.
The Easter bunny visited us and we can now spend time eating chocolates and I guess that keeps us warm and happy. Ebba got a new chewy bone from the bunny and it's now hidden in my bed. She is still playing with the wrapping paper, though.
Have a lovely Easter holiday and remember to eat lots of chocolate eggs. We don't want to offend the Easter bunny, do we?
A blog about a small holding in Southern Finland. Each original story is accompanied by a stunning watercolour illustration or resplendent photographs.