Tag Archives: poultry

Gypsy Caravans

25 Jun

A shadow passed the window, and I looked up to see a gypsy caravan moving slowly up the lane toward the manor. It was the horse-drawn kind, and I could hear cheerful voices coming from the front as it receded from view.

“I hope they don’t come and knock on the door,” said Bunty. “I’ll have to buy pegs.”

“You could always say no thanks,” I pointed out.

“Have you met me?” asked Bunty.

And it is true that the gatehouse is awash with clothes pegs and trinkets and Watchtower magazines which Bunty has obediently accepted from every passing touter who has knocked on the gatehouse door.

As it turned out, the gypsy caravan wasn’t occupied – yet. Our neighbours at the manor are setting up a Bed & Breakfast, in the form of three gypsy caravans in a meadow. The one I saw moving up the lane was being delivered.

The caravans will overlook this field where the manor people keep their sheep. Had I arrived here earlier, I might have photographed the shearing process. These fleeces felt downy-soft, and warm from the unexpected sunshine.

I had come up the lane to photograph what was inside the stable near this field. Our neighbours had earlier invited me to open the top half of the door and take a look, so I did. A hen peered up at me quizzically. She was sitting in what will be a shower room, once the stable is converted into day rooms for the caravaners

As I watched, two chicks sprouted, as if by magic, from the hen’s plumage. They eyed me and cheeped several times, before returning to their sanctuary beneath her wings.

Cycling home with my cache of photographs, I  pondered how little space such treasures take up – and yet they contain so many memories. I knew Bunty would be relieved that I had bought no more pegs. I had bought half a dozen eggs, though.

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His Own Private Balcony

15 Feb

Meet Nibbles, the giant lop. His favourite hobbies are frolicking in the snow and lolling on the sofa to watch TV. Nibbles lives up the lane, at the manor to which our cottage is the gatehouse. Like our own furry companions, Nibbles lives the life of Riley, but unlike our lot, he has his own private balcony.

“Nibbles is in the dog’ouse today,” said his owner, who always reminds me of Richard Briers. “Well… rabbit’ouse.”

Richard Briers had settled down on Nibbles’s sofa to watch television, and Nibbles had taken umbrage at this invasion of territory and had peed all over him. The indignant rabbit was promptly shoved out to his balcony to think about what he had done. He doesn’t look very repentant.

I have been gathering the impression that Richard Briers is the one who keeps pets and builds wildlife habitats, and his brother is the one who keeps livestock and goes hunting. I asked if the turkeys I’d seen recently were his brother’s.

“The turkeys are gawn,” stated Richard, with a Significant Eyebrow that suggested it was best not to ask where. “But, yes. They were my brother’s.”

“Still,” he added brightly, “there’ll be some new pigs soon.”

Not Tamworths, apparently. This time, his brother is getting a breed less known for its intelligence and propensity to wander.

Richard Briers

Cockatrice

30 Jan

One evening last week, when the mist was drifting around in a state of indecision about whether to stay or go, I  took a walk through the old grove, where the lane forms a tunnel of arching branches. Out of the corner of my eye, living shadows were flitting between the trees, but whenever I looked directly at them, they were gone. They were almost silent, making  little flurries at the edge of my hearing. I crept into the undergrowth to investigate.

Small black forms, the size of my booted feet, were darting across the leaf litter from thicket to thicket. Dusk was drawing in and it was dark under the trees, so it was some minutes before I realised that I was looking at blackbirds carrying out their end-of-day back-and-forthing before settling onto their roosts for the night. Why do they do that, I wonder?

A flash of colour drew me towards the far edge of the grove. I would be  easy pickings for a will o’ the wisp, I am sure. Bending under some low-hanging branches, I came face to face with this chap, who eyed me balefully through the gloom.

Immobile, we held each other’s gaze, and I was reminded of the story of the Cockatrice, half cockerel and half serpent, who can turn people to stone with a stare. Then suddenly, he broke the trance, releasing a full-blooded cock-a-doodle-do into the air. It was answered by three other cockerels, who shared his enclosure. That’s a lot of cockerels for one small flock of hens.

I retraced my steps toward our cottage, and the mist made up its mind to stay.