Thursday, April 3 – Chicken feed
I woke to mist with the sun just starting to melt through and heard the cockerel’s fractured cry. His call is louder when he is boasting out in the run, but muffled when he is shut in the henhouse overnight. I let them all out before breakfast as they are so keen to enjoy the open air and scratch in the earth of the run for worms.
Jane and Anna are busy every day searching for the new leaves of ground elder and bitter cress for us to have as salads and to serve wilted with warm food. Anna is still able to bend down to pick, but soon, as her baby bump grows bigger, she will have to use a hoe and let Jane do all the bending.
I used to throw all these weeds to the hens, but we need them for ourselves now. However, there are plenty of other weeds growing vigorously this spring and as I cannot bear for my herbaceous borders to deteriorate completely, we are gathering dandelions, milk thistle and groundsel for the hens. They would like to come and find food in my flowerbeds for themselves, but from past experience I know that they would eventually start scratching at the plants they’re not allowed to eat and then create great dust baths in amongst my precious plants. Having given over half the garden to vegetables, I am reluctant to lose the last of my flowers.
Several pairs of ducks have been investigating our ponds this week. I am sure one pair has already made a nest in the ivy above Anna and Stephen’s bedroom window, as I saw a cluster of speckled feathers below yesterday. But the other ducks seems to be courting and making up their minds about where to settle. Martin suggested getting some for the pot, but the pheasants are easier targets and we shall have one for supper in a casserole with onions and herbs.
The new hens have settled and there were eggs from everyone today. Five in all.