Saturday, April 9, 2011

Feathered friends / fiends

I haven't updated for ages. To those admirable folk who care enough to read my ramblings, I do apologise. In the craziness of the post-quake world hereabouts, I've been pretty distracted, though to be fair, visiting family and my old friend Workoholism have played a part too. I forgot how much I actually love my job, when I'm not stressing over childcare and functioning on minimal sleep. I'm enjoying seeing some fairly massive academic gains take place in my class, though teaching a very boy-heavy bunch is certain to lead me to the brink of insanity sometime very soon.

Anyway, I digress...

A few months ago, we got some chooks. They were promptly named Cinderella, Ariel, and Fizz. We can mostly tell them apart, though when Fizz grows the feathers back around her nether regions, it may become difficult.

We had always intended to get chooks, but Steve had grandiose plans for the Taj Mahal of hen houses, so there was quite a building process before we were ready. To his credit, the finished product didn't cost us a cent, and was made entirely from salvaged or recycled building materials. It even has a fancy wee flap to access the laying boxes, though we had to do a bit of work convincing them that they were suitable boxes, as they preferred the floor for a while. I would perhaps like a gate on the run, as we've shredded two favourite clothing items whilst climbing the 'we'll-never-need-to-actually-climb-that' fence already. Am also becoming adept at clipping feathered wings, but more about that later...

Pretty flash, aye?

The first bunch are common old brown shavers. They lay very reliably, and are incredibly tame. The kids spend a lot of time playing with them, picking them up, feeding them, and generally having a merry old time.

Today we acquired a pair of banty / shaver crosses - one old lady, prone to broodiness, and a young cockerel (okay, I just wanted to type that word!) that will end up in my lovely new casserole dish the day he learns to crow. We are very fond of the theory of wee chickens running about, but the idea of an early wake up call is a little unsettling when we are this close to restoring our child-induced sleep deficit.

So against our better judgement, and following the advice of the fair folk who gave us the chooks, we just bunged them in with the others straight off. I built a funky wee teepee of branches as an alternative roost if they were made unwelcome in the Taj Mahal, and left them to fight out the pecking order.

A few hours (or was it minutes?) later, I was seen dashing off up the hill, wielding Steve's precious trout net (which to be fair hasn't had a LOT of use for its intended purpose for a variety of reasons **winks and waits for backlash later**) and swiping at two amazingly quick chooks.

There were howls of mirth from the deck, as Steve (recovering from knee surgery) watched and attempted to video my gallant efforts at catching both rascals in the net. Some foul (fowl? **groans at own humour**) words may have been uttered at this point, and he limped and grimaced his way down to give me a hand.

Eventually we caught both, though not without some drama. Minty attempted to help and ended up chained up for her efforts. If it wasn't for her prize-winning efforts at the local A&P show recently, she'd be heading for a long slow stint in my casserole dish too!

Speaking of which...

She went on to win 4th (**ahem** last) in the champion all age round, but we shan't dwell on that. Minty and Sophie are the reigning champions of the Oxford A&P Association Preschool Pet Lamb class, and nothing shall deter our pride in such an achievement, even the tantrum that ensued during said championship round.

We've also been having a great deal of fun with the tops sawn of a friend's retaining wall posts. My intention is to concrete them in as a meandering climbing feature for the kids, but in the meantime, they make great building materials! I love watching their wee minds work as they build, balance, and play around with the laws of physics. Trying not to twitch about that treated timber...

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