Meet Goose

If you follow my blog, you may remember that last month, when we were staying in the Peak District, the farmer kindly gave me three goose eggs. Each one was the size of four chicken eggs. I wrapped them up in toilet paper (I didn’t have anything better) and we drove them home. After letting them rest for 24 hours, I put them into the incubator, and searched online to find out how to hatch geese eggs.

My incubator automatically turns chicken eggs, but these were much too large. Every day I turned them 180˚ an odd number of times (thus ensuring that they were never the same way up for two nights in a row). This is because the embryo can get stuck, and won’t develop properly. I kept them at 37.5˚C, and 50% humidity.

Different birds incubate for different periods. A duck is 4 weeks—though often hatch a few days early. A chicken is pretty much always exactly 21 days. A goose is anything from 28 to 35 days. After a week, I sat in a dark room, and shone a bright torch through the shell. Two eggs had the clear shadow of the yolk, turning as I moved the egg. One egg had tiny threads of veins, and when I turned the egg, the shadow of the yolk stayed still—fasten in position. Which meant I had one fertile egg.

Birds need a flock, so one goose would be lonely. Goose eggs are expensive, and I wasn’t certain that I would manage to hatch them anyway, so was loath to buy more. Instead I went on Ebay and bought some Buff Orpington chicken eggs. They should have arrived the following day, meaning they would hatch potentially at the same time. Unfortunately the annoying seller didn’t post them immediately, so they were about two weeks later than the goose egg going into the incubator (and therefore one week later hatching). But it was the best I could do.

After a couple of weeks, I started to spray the goose egg with cold water—mimicking the mother goose returning to the nest after a swim (not sure what the chicken eggs thought about that, as chickens are not known for their swimming). Only one chicken egg was fertile, so now I had two eggs, and hoped the hatchlings would be friends. After 28 days, I stopped turning the goose egg, and raised the humidity to 70% (which is not great for the chicken egg, but humidity is unlikely to kill it—they are only vulnerable to temperature change, and that remained at 37.5˚C).

After 29 days, nothing. After 30 days, nothing. After 31 days, I decided I would wait until the 35-day mark, and then chuck it away. After 32 days, I could hear very loud cheeping from inside the egg. After 33 days, a crack appeared down one side. After 34 days, the crack was a ‘zipper’ around the egg, and the gosling managed to push off the end and wriggle out. It was a poor little thing, very weak, and a chunk of fluff must have stuck to the shell, because it had a bald spot. It was also enormous!

Not a looker! Poor thing was exhausted after hatching.

I left it in the incubator to dry off, but when it started playing football with the chicken egg, I decided it was best to move it to the brooder. (Fancy name for a plastic box in the garage stuffed with hay, with a heat lamp hanging above it.) It had pots of water and chick crumb, and a mirror for company. It spent a lot of time chatting to the mirror. The following day was sunny, so I decided to put it in with the ducklings for a little while. As a social experiment, it was a failure. Even though they were separated by netting, the ducklings (almost fully grown) tried to push their heads through the bars to peck it. The gosling stood up, and raised its little stubby wings in a cute imitation of the scary pre-fight warning that adult geese do. I worried it might decide to go near enough to be pecked/killed, so put it back under the heat lamp with its mirror-friend. I will try again when it’s bigger.

Sometimes a friend in a mirror is safer than real life.

Hoping the chick hatches on time, and grows big fast so they can roam the garden together. I will keep you posted.

Hope you see some friends this week, and that no one makes aggressive gestures towards you. Thanks for reading.
Take care.
Love, Anne x

Thank you for reading.
Sign up below to follow my blog.


Springtime Jobs

It’s time to do all those jobs that happen every year at this time. It doesn’t feel much like spring here at the moment, as we’ve had snow and frosts all week. But the mornings are lighter, and the animals know, even if we’re not sure. Depending on where you live, you will either have put your clocks forward an hour, or be preparing to do so. We move our clocks on the 26th March this year, so the US and Canada are ahead of us.

One Christmas gift (which feels like yesterday) was a pot and a packet of beans. We’re having a family competition, to see who can grow the tallest bean. It has to be in the pot provided, which wasn’t very deep. Mine grew to 67cm, then it decided the kitchen was too warm and the pot too small, and died. I planted the remaining seeds outside, and they don’t seem to mind the cold and are looking healthy. I expect the slugs will eat them, but here’s hoping.

My bean, growing next to a lemon pip (which is slower but less fussy).

The birds know it’s spring. The ducks have started laying, even though it’s cold, so April will be busy with ducklings again. There are already lambs in the fields. The cycle of life begins again.

We also have a wren in the garden. Male wrens are busy at this time of year, collecting things to build nests. Nests plural. A male wren builds several nests. When he manages to attract a female, he takes her on a tour of the nests, she chooses the best one, and lays her eggs. He then goes off and finds another female, and repeats the tour with the remaining nests. He’ll do this until all the nests have females, sitting on his offspring. Not the sort of male you want to introduce to your daughter. He’s a tiny brown bird, but has something (which I cannot remember the name of) in his lungs, which amplifies his voice. A tiny bird with a loud song. I’m rather fond of him, so I hope the cats don’t catch him.

Spring this year will be busy for me too. I need to sort out the house, because my daughter is moving home for a few months between selling her flat and buying a new property. This will be fun, but I need to make space for her. Though once I have emptied some cupboards, the job will be finished. I also need to write the proposal for my dissertation, which is less fun. I have to submit the title of my thesis, explaining what I plan to research and why, with a list of all the literature I plan to read and why it will be relevant. I am going to explore the dragon in the book of Job (chapter 41) which will be interesting, but being assessed makes it more stressful. But at least I only have to produce one, and I can submit that to the university and they will either love it or not. Being a wren and having to repeat that many times over each year must be a whole different game.

Hoping that all you attempt this week grows well and is completed on time. Thanks for reading. Take care.
Love, Anne x

Thank you for reading.
Sign up below to follow my blog.

A Sad Day

Today is a sad day. I know that I said I would continue to tell you about the best two papers at SOTS, but Kia died yesterday. Kia, my German Shepherd Dog, was my friend for 16 years. Although she had become old, and mostly lay on her big bed in the kitchen, she seemed very happy. A couple of times a day, she would come up the garden when I fed the poultry, and occasionally she would even start towards a stick—until she remembered how much effort it would be to bend down and pick it up. But yesterday, she suddenly took a turn for the worse, and her wobbly back legs were practically useless, and she gave me ‘that look’ which said she was tired, and had had enough, and it was time to say goodbye.

I worried that if she tried to get up during the night and couldn’t, or if she toileted and couldn’t move out of it, she would be very distressed. So I kissed her head, and whispered that we would meet again (because I firmly believe that God will take care of that) and we took her to the vet, and let her go peacefully.

Now I am clearing away the remains of her presence: washing her bed, finding a cupboard for the dog bowls, wondering why I bought quite so many poop bags. I have food to give away, and old towels to wash and fold. I cry a lot, and remember, and feel loss, but there is something therapeutic about the sorting of it all, something healing in the clearing up. Perhaps that’s why we need rituals when people die, we need something to do while we mourn.

Today is difficult. There is so much to miss, even of a dog who had limited her world to the kitchen and garden. The kitchen is horribly empty. When I picked up the compost bin, there was no head turned towards me, waiting to see if I was going into the garden. Kia would watch, waiting until I actually put on my coat—so she could be sure I wasn’t going to trick her and shut her into the utility room—and then she would heave herself up, and totter to the door. We would walk up the garden together, the cats coming to greet her, and she would watch me as I fed the ducks and chickens. In the past, she would bark in warning if the chickens made a fuss and tried to fly near me (she hated them flying) but recently that was too much effort, so she just watched, checking.

I realise today how often I touched her—scratching her neck every time I passed that big bed on the kitchen floor. As I use the sink, I wait for the shove of her nose in the back of my legs, reminding me to fill her water bowl. No one watches when I go to the fridge, waiting to see if something tasty is coming out, something like cold turkey, which would make it worth the effort of getting up, just in case I passed her a piece. She was very polite, and after a few attempts at stealing food as a puppy, she never stole, and never watched us eat (because I never fed her from the table).

But she knew that when we had steak, I would cut off the fat and put it in her bowl, and without fail, her nose would appear at the table just as we finished eating. I don’t know how she knew that we had finished, I guess she recognised the sound of the fat being chopped up. I don’t think we will be eating steak again for a while; it wouldn’t feel right.

German Shepherd’s are dogs with opinions, and Kia had an opinion on everything. I remember it being a surprise when she was young, how I had to learn that German Shepherd’s were different to my previous dogs. Nosier. I would open a cupboard door, and her head would be in front of mine, blocking the view, checking to see what was inside. Most visitors she liked, and would greet with enthusiasm. A few she disliked (not sure why) and she growled when she saw them. A favoured few she adored, and even in the last weeks she would stagger to greet them before returning to her bed.

Kia was always a ‘mouthy’ dog. As a puppy, it took ages to teach her not to nip (I would scream loudly, as if I was in agony, even if she gently touched me with her teeth). When an adult, she never snapped, and was gentle with the cats and chickens, but when we walked, she would sometimes take my hand in her mouth, like a child holding hands.

As a young adult, Kia had boundless energy. We walked for miles, and she would jump over stiles, and chase sticks. She was very good with livestock, and walked quietly next to me, greeting cows through the fence and looking cross when they licked her head (cows are very licky animals). Though she sometimes barked at horses. And if off the lead, I am pretty sure she would have chased sheep, so we never risked that one.

One of my fondest memories is when I came home after surgery, and was lying in bed, when I heard a noise at the door. Kia (who was not allowed upstairs) was standing there, checking. When I noticed, she tiptoed away, as if pretending it wasn’t her.

But most of my thoughts today are of the old Kia. At 16, she was old for several years, and it was a dignified, peaceful old age. It is with a sad, but very grateful heart, that I say goodbye.

Thanks for reading. Next time I will get back to those papers from SOTS (because they really were extremely interesting).

Have a good week, and take care.
Love, Anne x

I will leave you with some photos across the years. (I have grown older too!)


Anne E. Thompson
Thank you for reading
Why not sign up to follow my blog?

A Good Day

Sometimes you just know a day is going to be good, don’t you? Everything seems to work well together, and even unrelated events turn out well. And sometimes, the opposite is true, and we go to bed wishing we had never got out of it because everything we have attempted has gone wrong.

Today, is a good day. I wasn’t sure it would be, because when I got home yesterday, tired from a day at college and a long drive, my back was hurting. I went to check on the animals, and there was lots of movement in the nest on the pond, and definite sounds of cheeping. Mother duck wasn’t moving, and when she saw me looking, she tried to cover herself with dirt—not sure whether she was trying to hide or was securing a hatchling that wanted to escape.

A duck will stay on the nest until the first hatchlings decide to leave the nest, then she’ll abandon any unhatched eggs (even if they’re nearly hatched) and take the ducklings to water. After they have fed, she’ll relocate to a new place and gather her ducklings under her. Any ducklings that haven’t managed to keep up will drown or be eaten by all the predators that swoop in as soon as they hear the cheeping. Of say, 25 eggs she lays, about half will hatch, and of those 13, maybe one will survive to adulthood. It’s a tough world out there.

Anyway, last night I had a choice: 1. I could leave them to their fate. 2. I could risk drowning and try to catch the mother, put her into the chicken coop and then try to catch the ducklings. Mother would then raise the ducklings in safety. 3. I could leave the mother (because she is the hardest to catch) and remove the ducklings. I would then have to raise the ducklings myself in the garage, which is a lot of work and I have an essay to write. What would you have done?

I decided that my back hurt too much, plus I was tired, so I left them. I would reassess the situation in the morning.

Today, I woke about 6:30 and went straight to the pond. A miracle! It looked as if the mother had only just left the nest. She was on the pond with 10 ducklings, but there were no predators, she was very relaxed, and the ducklings were still full of energy. I went to collect Husband (who muttered about ‘Husband-abuse’ and having to wade into pond before 7 a.m.) We knew the drill: First, secure the area (cats locked into workshop while one of us stayed at the pond to deter flying predators). In the few minutes it took to lock up the cats, the trees filled with crows and magpies. Collect big bucket as dumping place for ducklings. Catch mother. (Unless you have ever caught an angry duck on a big pond, you have no idea how miraculous this was.) Put mother into chicken coop, and turf out grumpy chickens (will have to combine the flocks this evening, which will cause them some angst.) Catch remaining ducklings, reunite ducklings and mother. Make coop safe, put down fresh food and water, leave them to settle. Phew! All achieved before my morning coffee. I put my pyjamas into the wash and made a drink.

When the post arrived, there was a little package. It was a painting that I bought online. I have often seen the artist’s work on twitter, and he does some tiny paintings, the size of a coin, and some slightly bigger. This one was of London (I happen to like his London ones best) and it was being sold on a tiny easel. It’s the perfect size to brighten up a dark corner of my study, and only cost £15 including postage, so I followed the link to Etsy and bought it. I wasn’t sure what to expect, it’s hard to assess a painting online. But it really is perfect, and such good value for an acrylic. is worth a peek.

As I said, today is going to be a good day. Hope your day is good too.
Thank you for reading.
Take care.
Love, Anne x

Thanks for reading:
Anne E. Thompson
Thank you for reading Why not sign up to follow my blog?

A Foxy Problem

I decided to let the chickens into the garden. They had been shut in their cage for a few weeks while the local fox had cubs, and again while we were in the Lake District, and again while some plants were being established (because chickens like to dig). But it’s much healthier for them to be roam free, to have dust-baths to clean their feathers, and to fly into the trees. I opened their door, and out they rushed.

It was hours later, as I was cooking dinner, that I realised I had never collected the eggs. I left the potatoes bubbling on the stove, and walked up the garden. As I neared the pond area, I smelt the unmistakeable whiff of fox. I started to hurry, peering into the trees for signs of feathers.

As I reached the chicken coop, I could see all the chickens, peacefully digging in the earth as they searched for tasty bugs. No casualties. But as I rounded the corner, there in the coop, just sneaking through the door, was a fox. Without thinking, I rushed up, slammed shut the door, and locked it.

The fox leapt to the corner of the cage, then turned, eyes flashing, teeth barred, fur raised. It flung itself at the locked door, then leapt for the far corner. It dug at the earth, clawed at the bars, ripped the netting from the sides of the cage. But it was trapped. Now what?

I hadn’t really thought this through. If I released the furious fox, it would almost certainly snatch a chicken or duck as it passed. But I couldn’t keep a wild animal in a cage, and soon it would be dusk and the chickens would want to roost.

I watched the fox as it flung his angry body around the cage, then I went to get reinforcements. Jay happened to be visiting, and Husband was working in his study, so I told them I had caught a fox, and asked if they could help. Both appeared amazingly quickly.

(Later, Jay informed me that this was another instance of my not being normal. Apparently normal mothers do not catch foxes, nor do they ask in very calm ‘please-can-you-empty-the-dishwasher’ type voices if their sons can help with a trapped fox. But I have given up trying to be normal.)

The fox was still angry/upset/terrified. I thought the chances of one of us being bitten was fairly high, and I wondered if foxes, like bats, have rabies. It looked healthy enough. I was impressed with the energy it was expending on trying to rip up my chicken coop, and pleased with how strong the coop was proving to be. I watched the fox as it climbed a vertical wall, traversed the roof upside-down, then dropped to the floor. Agile as a cat, vicious as a hyena.

My animals were not much help. Kia arrived, but I worried she might fight and be hurt, so I took her back to the house. Three cats arrived, and sat staring at the trapped fox. Stupid chickens arrived—it was time to roost—and lined up next to the door, ready to go inside. Did they not recognise a predator? Clearly not.

The problem was: How to remove livid fox from coop in such a way as to ensure no chickens would be hurt? Or ducks. Or cats. Or humans.

We own a couple of metal dog crates. One was inside the coop, used as a nesting box. We got the second one, checked it would fit through the door if the coop, and placed it inside a huge bag used for collecting leaves. This made a dark space, somewhere a scared fox might try to hide. We tied string to the door, so we could shut it from afar. When the fox was at the far end of the coop, we placed this wrapped cage in the coop.

We then used sticks and noise to ‘shoo’ the fox into the wrapped cage. Not as easy as it sounds, but we managed it, pulled the string to close the door, then Husband rushed into coop and closed the latch. Fox was now secure in smaller dog crate.

Jay and Husband carried the dog crate away from the coop, all the chickens went back inside, and I closed the door for the night. Disaster averted.

Note to self: Next time I trap a wild animal, it would be good to have an end-of-plan strategy in place.

Hope you don’t have any disasters this week. Thanks for reading. Take care.

Love, Anne x

P.S. Pleeease don’t feed foxes. They are wild animals, and when they lose their fear of humans, and their gardens, they become a problem.

Anne E. Thompson
Thank you for reading Why not sign up to follow my blog?


All Things Duck

I have just sorted out the ducklings—not that they are ducklings anymore; they are pretty much full-grown after a few weeks. The 8 ducklings in the big cage were being lots of work, and the mother who unexpectedly hatched 3 extras were in a cage right next to the pond, even though they can’t go onto the pond until the new ducklings are big enough to avoid being a tasty snack for crows and cats. So, I decided to switch the cages. So easy to say…so much work involved.

The first job was to catch mother duck. I removed the door to the cage, and noticed I had been joined by 3 cats. Took a break and secured them in the shed—they had different plans for the ducklings. Went back to catch mother duck. Mothers can be scary when they think their offspring are at risk, but she knows me, so apart from crawling into a dirty cage, it was easy enough. I put her into a box while I caught the ducklings, which are as fast as rats when they think they’re going to be caught. Shoved them into the box with the mother.

Cleaned out cage (lots of cobwebs and poo and stinky hay and mouldy food involved in this—caring for animals is not glamorous). Moved big ducklings into the cage. As I said, they are not really ducklings anymore, and one never was as she is a chicken—but she identifies as a duck. While I moved them, I was able to determine their sex by the volume of their quacks. They’re too young for tail feathers (male ducks have curled tail feathers) but their voices are clearly different. The loud quack that you associate with a duck is only made by the females. The males make a sort of feeble grating noise. Out of 8 ‘ducklings’, I have: 1 chicken, 2 females and 5 drakes. Not a good ratio.

Lifted mother and her ducklings out of the box in the big cage and watched them for a while. They instantly went to dig in the wet mud, and now look revolting. But I think they’ll be happier in there. After a few days, I will open the end of the pond cage and let the full-grown ducks onto the pond. They will love that.

Not so cute when they’re muddy!

I am not entirely sure what will happen with the chicken/duck. I am assuming she will simply wander around the bank and the flock will join her in the cage in the evening. But we will see. Hope she doesn’t try and swim. I do have another hen who thinks she’s a duck, and I managed to integrate her into the chicken flock, but she has never been very happy and tries to return to the pond whenever she is released. I might try to combine the two of them, but introducing new chickens to each other is never easy—they are nasty birds compared to ducks, and will fight a bird they don’t recognise.

I am especially keen to see what colour eggs she lays. Her mother is a lovely black hen, and she came from a brown egg. Her father is white—and had he been female I think the eggs would be blue. I am really hoping for green eggs, but we shall see. They should be a good size anyway because the mother lays big eggs. Chicken-Duck is white, though might grow some darker feathers later because my grey/white hybrids have a few grey specks amongst the white.

The cage next to the pond.

Time to go and use some of the eggs to make cakes now. Hope you have a good week (and that it involves less smelly poop than mine generally does!)

Thanks for reading. Take care.
Love, Anne x

Something no one who owns poultry wants to see.

A sad footnote. I decided that enough time had passed for the local fox to have stopped using our garden as his territory, and I let the chickens out of their cage. I was wrong. At about 4pm, I went to check and found a trail of feathers. I locked the hens away quickly, but my lovely cockerel was killed. Not eaten, just killed. I saw the fox a little later, as it came back for more fun. It was still early, not even beginning to get dark.

If you are someone who feeds foxes, please note: You are not providing food for an hungry animal. Foxes kill for fun. If they are fed by humans, they lose all fear of humans and places like gardens become part of their territory. The natural balance of nature is upset, and foxes will breed more cubs than they can find food for in the wild, so they become dependent on humans, and their pets, for providing easy food. A fox will kill birds, and rabbits and an elderly cat if they happen to be within range.

A few years ago, there was lots of crying in the field opposite our house. Every ewe was standing next to a dead lamb. A fox had killed them, for fun. I have nothing against foxes, I like seeing them in the wild, where they belong. But foxes that have no fear of humans are a problem. Please do not feed foxes. If you want a pet, get a goldfish.

Anne E. Thompson
Thank you for reading Why not sign up to follow my blog?


Life After Exams

Life After Exams

Yaay! My exams have finished. I write this the day after my Greek exam, and I have a slight headache. I have had a slight headache for a while now—almost as if my brain is over-stretched by all the facts I have been trying to cram into it. But my languages course is completed and that is such a good feeling. It has been fun, but the exams were scary.

Lots of scribbled notes with silly sentences to help me remember them.

 Friday was busy. The house has been ignored for several weeks, so as soon as my last exam was finished, I cleaned up the kitchen a bit, ready for friends coming for dinner. The dog watched in alarm, especially when she saw her bed going into the washing-machine. She sat guard next to it for a while, then came to give me little nudges in case I hadn’t realised her bed was missing, and finally sat, very pointedly, in the space where her bed should have been.

Reunited with her clean bed.

The animals continued to ignore the fact that I was very busy, and on Wednesday old cat died. It’s always very sad when animals are old and unhappy, and when I went to see her Wednesday morning she gave me that look, letting me know that she had had enough. She was over twenty, and was a good friend to my daughter when she lived at home, so although the cat pretty much hated me, it was still sad to let her go.

Son 2 was working in the kitchen on Wednesday, and had angled his computer so there was a lovely view of the garden behind him during Zoom meetings. We all tiptoed around the kitchen so as not to disturb him, and all was going well—we were being good parents—until Husband forgot and walked past the window behind him carrying the cat. Probably not what Son 2 was hoping for, but we tried…

We had a tree down this week too. Did you have a big storm midweek? We didn’t have much wind, but the excessive rain was obviously enough weight to make half a tree snap off and fall across the garden. Dog went to investigate and was very perturbed that her route to the garden had changed. Two fat cats who live in the garden looked particularly innocent, which makes me wonder whether they had been up the tree when it happened and their combined weight helped the branch to snap—but they deny all knowledge.

This is a short blog because I need to continue cleaning the house. I keep finding all my scribbled revision notes in every room, paradigms to learn while I cooked or put washing in the machine. Not sure what to do with them —feels silly to keep them. I don’t suppose I shall ever look at them again, but they represent hours of my life. They are mostly all in the bin now.

So have a good week, and enjoy everything that you complete. I’m going to find the vacuum cleaner…though I do have ice-creams in the freezer and I can hear Husband and son leaving the house, so possibly I shall change the plan…

Bye for now.

Love, Anne x

Anne E. Thompson
Thank you for reading Why not sign up to follow my blog?
I saw this online, and it made me laugh. I know just how they felt!

Family Chaos

You can’t control animals (or children…or husbands!)

As you know, I am trying to revise for exams. The Hebrew one is finished (I smashed it!) but the more I revise Greek, the more I realise I have forgotten/never understood in the first place. I have a feeling of rising panic growing inside as the exam date moves relentlessly nearer.

Now, I thought that I had at least sorted all the animals so that I could devote my time fully to my studies. I had timed the hatching of the eggs in the incubator so the ducks would be fully-grown and on the pond, I stocked up on supplies of pet food, incorporated cleaning-out times in my schedule. I was prepared. Except I wasn’t.

Firstly, the local fox decided to produce cubs, which meant it began to visit my garden at odd times of the day to snatch a chicken. The only way to keep them safe is to keep them locked inside for a few weeks until my garden is no longer seen as an easy source of food. This means the chickens now need cleaning-out more often, and they kick dirt into their water, and generally make everything more work.

Then mother duck started to sit on another nest. I calculated the date, and sure enough, they hatched this week. Which means they are now in the pond-cage I was planning to put the fully-grown ‘ducklings’ in. Which means they have to stay confined in the big cage (because if I release them on the pond now, they will sleep on the bank, not return to the pond-cage, and greedy fox will eat them—see above.) Ducks mainly spend their day putting mud into their water, which means I have to keep refreshing it. Which takes time. The new ducklings are cute, but add to the workload as I have to keep checking one isn’t stuck somewhere, plus food and clean-up schedule.

Then grumpy-old-cat-who-hates-me has started to walk further afield. She is over 20, and can hardly walk, but has decided that she will visit the outside cats each morning. They hate each other, so I’m not sure why. But she tends to climb into places that she cannot then get out of, so I have to keep remembering to check where she is in case she needs rescuing. Which takes time.

It reminds me of when my children were young, and they didn’t fit neatly into a schedule either. I’m not quite sure how families manage when they both work. I worked fulltime for one year when my children were aged 4, 6, and 8—and I collapsed in a heap at the end of the year and switched to a part-time contract. Children do not save their crises for convenient times. They will be devastated because someone doesn’t want to be their friend, or lose one shoe (only ever one) or start vomiting on those days when you have a deadline and extra stress and really need everything to be calm.

Husbands can also be a challenge (though mine is lovely of course). Yesterday Husband kindly cooked the dinner, which was incredibly kind. We had fishcakes, and rocket (nicely garnished with a tomato) and chips—all of which were lovely. There was also a dressing to go on the salad. It was a new creation, and had a pleasant taste to start with, followed by bit of a kick and then a slow burn. I don’t believe it was from a recipe book. After much discussion, the ingredients were revealed as: oil, garlic, oregano, seasoning, garlic (lots of this I think) and whiskey (which explains the burn!) I will send the recipe on request.

Hope you have an organised week—or ride the chaos with a smile if not.

Thanks for reading.

Love, Anne x

Anne E. Thompson
Thank you for reading Why not sign up to follow my blog?

Why not sign up to follow my blog?


Duck World

Duckling World

We had a mini crisis. I had managed to safely hatch a couple of ducks and one chick, but the rest of the eggs had died (I suspect this was due to being placed over a rather shaky washing-machine—I will rethink the position next time.) Anyway, the hatchlings were safely in a plastic crate under the red heat-lamp, and we were walking the dog when Husband happened to glance through our hedge. There on the pond was a tiny yellow duckling.

Now, I knew that one of the ducks was sitting on a nest in a hutch, and I had in fact been barricading her in with balanced paving stones and old bricks because there were signs of the fox trying to dig her out at night. But I had decided that if she managed to hatch any, I would leave them to take their chances on the pond. I decide this every year. I never do.

We rushed back into the garden, with the dog trailing behind us looking confused and wondering if we had forgotten we were going on a walk.

On the pond, the mother duck was swimming around, followed by four ducklings. All very cute. But I wasn’t sure whether she would protect them when the crows heard and swooped in for a snack. We stood, watching.

Mother Duck and Four Ducklings Struggling to Stay With Her

Mother duck went up onto the island. The ducklings swam round, wanting to join her but not understanding about the ramp. One found it and struggled up, the others cheeped in alarm, all the while getting more tired and water-logged. A duckling has the oils from the mother’s feathers to waterproof it for a while, but as that wears off they get soaked and cold and sink. We decided to intervene and Husband went inside for his waders while I stood guard. As soon as he entered the pond, mother duck jumped off, and he managed to grab the duckling on the island. He also spotted another one, lying on a ramp, cold and still. We thought it was dead, but it managed to lift its head when it heard the mother, so we grabbed that one too and I rushed it to the incubator, which was luckily still warm.

When I returned, mother duck had found a spot on the bank, and two ducklings were underneath her. I realised that she would probably stay there for the night, making easy-pickings for the fox. The only safe place is the island, and the ducklings couldn’t get up there. Ducks never return to the nest once the last egg has hatched (it usually has at least one dead egg in it and a lot of smelly egg shell). I approached the mother, and she jumped into the pond, leaving the ducklings on the bank. I put them in my pocket, and watched to see how she would react. She went on the island, and started to clean her feathers, apparently unperturbed. I took the ducklings inside.

I checked a few times, but the mother seemed happy without her ducklings, and was busy swimming or resting—she certainly wasn’t looking for them. I decided to keep them (well of course I did!)

The nearly-dead duckling continued to look nearly dead for a couple of hours, but then perked up, so I added him to the plastic crate in the garage. Ducks are lovely birds, when you introduce a new one they come to investigate, but I have never known them to be anything other than accepting.

The mother duck was white. I’m not sure if that is the reason, but the new ducklings adopted the chick as their mother, and tried to sit under her. She was rather bemused—especially as they were bigger than her. After a day, she seemed to accept her role, and continues to sit on top of the ducklings. I suppose that when you were curled up in an egg a few hours ago, the whole world seems strange; having fluffy ducklings climbing under you is probably no more strange than everything else. The chick (am really hoping it’s not a cockerel) mainly looks perturbed when the ducklings splash in the water. I have noticed it always drinks after the others have finished.

They adopted the chick as mother.
She accepted her role…
Drinking is a shared experience.

Hope your world is not too weird today. Take care.

Thanks for reading.
Love, Anne x

Building Stonehenge and Disappointments

This week has been a busy garden week. We decided to try and create a vegetable patch in the garden. This is probably unwise, as neither of us are gardeners, and we both think the other person is going to do all the hard work. I suspect we will simply create an eatery for slugs and caterpillars, but perhaps that’s overly negative.

Once we had decided the position of the vegetable patch (which took longer than you might expect) Husband decided to mark it with a border of sleepers—which we have left over from when we moved the pond a couple of years ago. Moving sleepers is very difficult—they are extremely heavy and all our children have inconveniently grown-up and left home. I helped by muttering about hernias, and maybe waiting until the boys next visited, and was it worth the effort when we’d only grow slugs anyway?

Husband was more inventive, and after I had left and gone into the house, he set to work. The first job was to move the old duck house, which had been on the island before we moved the pond but was a nuisance as it was always full of eggs that I couldn’t reach so had since been moved to the compost heap (because that is obviously the ideal place for a duck house). Husband moved it to under the oak tree, using a system of rolling logs. He then created a series of levers and rollers with old logs, and managed to move the sleepers into place. When I went to check he wasn’t lying in agony with a hernia/slipped disc/broken foot, I found him standing next to the frame of our vegetable patch, looking extremely pleased with himself. He explained his method of using old logs and branches to make rollers and levers in great detail (really, I am saving you from a lot of physics here). It was apparently akin to how people built Stonehenge. But better (obviously).

The plan was to remove the weeds from the inside of the excellent frame, and then fill it with compost. However, the chickens had other plans. They were released from their prison a few days ago, when DEFRA announced the bird-flu threat had reduced, and my chickens have been loving the freedom. They clearly decided that Husband had been making a communal bath for them, and have used it ever since as a place to bath. (For the uninformed amongst you, chickens clean themselves by digging into dry earth and kicking it all over themselves. This dust-bath is a very good way to clean feathers.)

I am still not convinced we will ever manage to grow vegetables, but will let you know.

I have also been trying to grow ducks—but not much success there either. I had 20 eggs in the incubator, and they all seemed to be developing well. But then all went quiet. One duck hatched very quickly, and I named him Aleph and put him in the garage. He was lonely, so I gave him a mirror to chat to. He spent long hours in conversation with his reflection.

A day later, Bet hatched. The following day, Gimel emerged from the one chicken egg (because I prefer brown eggs—am hoping the chick isn’t a cockerel). But then…nothing. Very disappointing.

I opened a few eggs, and the birds all seem to have developed to a certain stage and then died. I’m guessing they died a few days before they should have hatched—no idea why. Perhaps something knocked the incubator, or there was something in the air. None had gone bad (which can kill the other eggs) so it must be something external.

It’s especially disappointing because the fox has been visiting again (I think it must have cubs) and I lost two of my female ducks. The remaining female is currently safe because she’s on a nest in the hutch (not the old one Stone-Age-Husband moved). I’m hoping she has more success with hatching her ducklings than I did.

The fox caught two of these ducks. Such a shame.
Having a chat.

Hope your week went better than mine.

Thanks for reading. Take care.

Love, Anne x

Anne E. Thompson
Thank you for reading Why not sign up to follow my blog?