Animal Update

Things are getting exciting in the garden! The broody hen is still sitting, and her eggs could hatch any time now, though are due in a few days. (I’m not sure if the warm weather we’re having will speed things up, or if it takes 3 weeks to hatch a chick, whatever the weather.) The cockerel is very bored, and tries to escape every time I go up to see them. I’m trying to give him cabbages and pots of mud to play with. But he’s still bored. Poor chap. He’ll have to stay caged at least until September, because the fox is still visiting.

The ducks are less bored, as there are more of them, though I don’t think they’re very keen on being caged. The ‘duckling which hen hatched’ is now fully integrated as a duck, and although s/he hangs back a bit, is definitely part of the flock. They are quite hard work, as their main pastime is to fill the water bowls with mud. They need to do this to some extent, as the mud then dissolves, and when they drink the water they also absorb grit, which they need for their egg shells. Except, all my ducks are male, so they don’t lay eggs, which means it is mostly just annoying. They splash the water everywhere, and it’s fun to watch happy ducks playing, but it does mean that their cage is a mess, covered in wet mud at all times. I cannot imagine how much worse keeping a pig must be.

The pond is almost ready for them. It was rather scary when it was first done, as we were basically left with this big, clay lined hole. As we have never lived here during such a long dry season, we didn’t know how low the old pond would have been (it’s a water-table pond, so tends to fill and empty with the weather). However, looking at this huge dry hole was a worry. Then the storms came, and the pond began to fill, and—more importantly—stay full. Phew! We went and bought some plants in our excitement. This was a bit daft, as I know when the ducks are put in, they will eat them all, but I couldn’t resist. My favourite (which unfortunately also looks rather tasty) is a floating plant. It has roots which dangle under the surface, and the plant drifts across the pond. It will be killed as soon as we have a frost (unless I bring it in, I guess; perhaps we’ll have a bowl of water in a shed and try to keep it alive). But I am pretty sure the ducks will eat it. Ducks eat everything. Except, they did not eat the water irises that Grandpa gave us last year. They were yellow, and I rather fell in love with the purple and white water irises we saw in Japan; so I bought some when I saw them in the shop. They are tiny, and were quite expensive, so I have one of each colour. Am hoping they will spread.

The ‘outside cats’ are now free, as all the diggers have gone. They had fun exploring the pond before it filled. The old grumpy cat is now confined to the house, as every summer she gets an allergy, which makes her scratch her fur out. I didn’t catch it in time this year, as it started early (I guess due to the warm weather) so by the time I trapped her inside, she was already very itchy. She then began sleeping in her dirt tray; and using her dirt tray; which was completely revolting. I could not bring myself to stroke her (not that I do much anyway, because she bites me). I looked online, in case I needed to take her to the vets, and learned that cats will sleep in their dirt tray if they are distressed. I guessed being itchy was distressing her, so we waited, I tried to bath her (have the torn skin on my arms to prove it) and we tried to be kind to her. After a few days, she started to sleep in her bed. Happy days! It’s remarkable how low your animal-contentment levels can go.

I feel bad that she’s stuck in a single room, it feels like a prison (but she’s old and will poop in my house if I let her roam free). I therefore put the dog and Milly (one of the outside cats) in with her every so often, as she will tolerate both of them. (I cannot say she ‘likes’ them, as I don’t believe she likes any of us.) The dog takes her gifts. She is unappreciative.

Hope you have a good week.


Anne E. Thompson is an author of several novels and one non-fiction book. You can find her work in bookshops and on Amazon.
Thank you for reading.


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