I let the girls out this afternoon. We try to give them "garden time" whenever possible- they love scratching about in the grass (and non-existent flower beds) and I think it makes them happier. Friends ask how we get them back into their run when they've been "free-ranging." The answer is simple: I have a call that they all come running too. I taught them when they were babies and now they come hurtling from whichever bit of the garden they happen to be whenever they hear it, wings flapping, legs pumping. M tried to replicate the call (a kind of high-pitched "chuck chuck chuck") once and rather deliciously they all ignored him. It was a moment worthy of a video but he's refused point blank to repeat it since (he relies on a bucket of bird seed instead, which gets results but in a much less impressive I-can-talk-to-the-animals way).
This afternoon the sun was shining, the birds were singing, Teddy was by me on the wall licking my nose in his version of a kiss while the girls roamed about chatting softly and eating grass. All was peaceful. I had the camera and the video camera to hand (ten points for organisation). Here are the results... (you should be able to hear the blackbird in the background and at some point the robin sings in the hedge. I was as still as a statue - I think he and the blue tit forgot I was there. Magical!).
I'm a bit concerned about Ren, our Cuckoo Maran. All the girls are getting on and although she's still laying she spends much of her day sitting down. Her breathing is heavy but I don't think she's in any pain. I suspect she is just getting old and is more comfortable taking the weight off. I know you shouldn't have favourites and I do love all our girls, but there is something special about Ren.
I always love collecting fresh eggs from the hen house, particularly once Mavis is laying- her blue eggs contrast nicely with the paler ones. We've more than we need now so I will start selling them at the gate again soon. This usually pays for the feed and we have a loyal circle of egg-buyers who enjoy the chicken's names being written on the egg so they know who to thank! I have to master my fear of spiders every time I go in the hen house. There is a copious quantity of webs growing there...