Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Smallholding in the snow

The animals have been coping with the snow in different ways. While the pigs enjoy the luxury of a straw-filled stable, the various fowl endure harsher conditions.

The geese are unable to graze easily but have been on a ration of extra potatoes, which they greatly appreciate. Unfortunately one of the females is not faring too well at the moment, being picked on when shut away at night. She has a rather nasty wound on her side.
So today we let her in the chicken pen, but this just encouraged the males to search out the weak spots in the fence. Mind you, they pretty much left her alone during the day. There are absolutely no spare rooms left in the stables at the moment, so tonight we segregated an area off with sheep hurdles. Hopefully this will afford her enough protection, but yet again we are forced to think about what to do with the over-aggressive ganders. At this time of year their hormones take over as the urge to breed takes over. Unfortunatley, they are not too gentle about wooing the females.
It may be that we need to go down to just the one gander.
Snow geese?

The chickens don't seem to mind the snow at all. They seem to prefer it to the mud at any rate. Egg production takes a small dip when temperatures dip below zero, but at least the eggs are cleaner. One of the cockerels has even developed a special walk, lifting its feet well clear of the snowy ground. 

A special walk for snowy conditions

A pair of Indian Games

The cockerels seem to know that their feathers look particularly fine against the snow. But a gang of them are still coming inside the stables every day, only sauntering back toward the chicken pen at afternoon feed time.

Meanwhile, this character (the four-legged one) decided that a whole field was not big enough. Presumably it required hay as the grass was hidden. This is not the first time that the bullocks who live in the Settlement Field have decided to go wandering. They often end up on the road, causing mayhem. The Settlement Field, by the way, covers the ancient remains of Iron Age and Roman salt workings, so is one of the few pieces of fenland not put to the plough.

Back on the farm and the guinea fowl prove the most obstinate of birds. They are still roosting right out in the open on top of the fence, despite the ice on their backs in the morning! They occasionally prospect one of the chicken houses, to the great consternation of the inhabitants, but always end up back on the fence.

Guinea fowl ski jump

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