A Flaming Nuisance

A Flaming Nuisance

Sometimes life doesn’t go to plan, does it? In fact, sometimes, quite major things can go wrong, and part of life is deciding what to do next when disaster strikes. This week has been a little like that.

One disaster was due to the hot weather we’ve been having. My mum, having survived a week in Camber with me, then phoned in bit of a panic, as the trees near her house were on fire. I went down to see if it was safe for her to stay there, and found the whole area filled with smoke and the smell of charred wood. There was a fire engine, and a lot of people, mainly neighbours who had come out to watch. The people who lived right next to the fire had been evacuated, and the other neighbours were finding them chairs and cups of tea, holding their hands and being generally helpful. Sometimes people are very nice.

I decided to bring Mum to my house, mainly so she didn’t have to breathe all the fumes, and also so she could recover from the shock somewhere peaceful. Animals are quite calming, and I have lots of animals. Her own house wasn’t damaged, so after a few hours of being climbed on by cats and bounced by the dog and watching the ducks and chickens, I took her home. Mum is fine, but the trees look very sad.

(When I went to collect her, I needed to drive over a fire hose, and I wasn’t sure if I was allowed to. So I asked a fireman, who said: “Where are you parked sweetheart?” I don’t get called sweetheart by beefy firemen very often. So that made my day!)

My other disaster was a chicken massacre. Usually the fox is too scared to come into my garden because it gets chased by the dog. So my chickens roam freely all day, and I shut them in at night. But when I went up to shut them into the cage, only one hen appeared. I shut her in, and went to investigate. The compost heap and orchard were covered with feathers. Not a good sign. While I was searching, the fox came back, presumably for the hen I’d shut away, and the dog chased it away. But I couldn’t find the other chickens.

Later that evening, the cockerel turned up at the kitchen window, looking a bit lost. I picked him up and put him in the cage. Am guessing he hid when the fox came (not exactly the chicken equivalent of beefy fireman, as he let the girls get eaten).

So now I only have one cockerel, and the hen who escaped. What a shame. The fox has visited a few times since, so I’m guessing it’s raising cubs and has become more daring. I will leave the birds in cages for a few weeks. They are not happy.

On a lighter note, the duckling that the hen hatched is still doing well. I am now trying to teach it that it is a duck, not a chicken. I moved it into the big aviary and caught a duck from the pond to keep it company. The duckling spent a whole evening crying for his ‘mum’, which was rather sad. I have now moved the other ducks inside, so he is getting used to being with ducks. I’m hoping that in a couple of weeks, when all the birds are free again, he will want to go on the pond, and not into the chicken coop.

When the egg first hatched, it was hard to see if the hen had hatched a chick or a duckling!

As the duckling grew, mother hen was rather perturbed every time it jumped into the drinking water.



Feathers start to appear after a couple of weeks.

At 4 weeks, fully grown, though not yet fully feathered. Moved into a cage with ducks from the pond, so he can learn how to be a duck.








Hope you have a week that is free of disasters. Thank you for reading.

Take care,
Anne x

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Letter to a Sister – Dentists and Foxes

Hi Ruth,

Thanks for your letter. Yes, I DO remember that dentist, though I can’t remember his name. He raised his hand to me once, and the nurse had to tell him to calm down. I’m sure it’s why I hate going to the dentist too, even for check-ups. It is probably my only real phobia. Completely irrational because even when it hurts, it’s never anything major. As soon as I walk in, the smell of that disinfectant and the sound of the machines is enough to make me rush to the loo! So good luck, and try not to faint (though actually, that would make a good story for the blog….)

It is nice being at home after our travels. I love my home, I could easily become a recluse so I have to force myself to do things and to accept invitations. My children tell me I am nutty enough, refusing to leave the house would be one step too far. Husband has some work in Sri Lanka soon, so I might go there too.

It was lovely to see the animals again. The ducklings and chicks were much bigger, probably twice the size. The two boys who looked after them for me seem to have enjoyed having them, though they did tell me that the amount of poop they have started to produce made it less fun. I am putting them outside now (the birds, not the boys). They go into the chicken aviary during the day, and I bring them back into the garage every evening. When they have more feathers they can stay out all night. This is probably overly fussy of me, as in the wild there is no way they would fit under the mother, but I would feel guilty if we had a cold spell and they died. They are at the scruffy ‘teenager’ stage, with scraggy feathers beginning to show and big feet, though they look tiny in the big cage.

IMG_4399 IMG_4396 IMG_4402

I’m trying to introduce them to the adult chickens. I’ve never done this before, as usually I get one of the hens to go broody and raise them as part of the existing flock. At the moment, I am shutting a couple of hens in with them during the day. Next week I’ll leave the whole flock shut in with them and watch to see what happens. It’s much easier if the flock will accept them because they will show the new chicks how to roost at night and they will all share the same space. If they start to attack them – which is horribly possible as chickens are generally vicious – then they will have to share the duck cage and the chickens will grow up thinking they are ducks – ducks that dislike water……do hope they don’t get a complex.

I lost one of my cockerels – the beautiful black and white one. He didn’t turn up at dusk, which is when they all arrive back at the big cage and I lock them in so they’re safe for the night. I’m not sure whether the two cockerels had a fight and he was injured, they have had a few stand-offs since we’ve been back. The house sitter leaves them in the cage all day, so when I returned and let them in to the garden, it was as if they had new territory to fight over. Either that or a fox did a sneaky raid. I found a pile of feathers next to the hedge.

Maybe as Kia has been away, the foxes have started including our garden in their territory. I have left Kia outside a lot since we got home. She keeps giving me dirty looks through the kitchen window, but I need her outside for a while, so the fox learns to keep away. This time of year is always bad for foxes – the young males go a bit silly looking for a mate and you see them at odd times (really they should only be out from dusk.) The worst is when the vixens start calling, it sounds like someone is being raped. Awful noise. I’m not keen on foxes around houses – I do wish people wouldn’t feed them, they are meant to be wild animals, wary of humans.

The person looking after Kia gave her a haircut. This was unexpected, though actually she looks quite smart and I guess it will be cooler for her now the summer is here (being optimistic weather wise.)

I’m cooking for the oldies for the next few weeks. Am trying a new recipe (a made up one – great potential for disaster). I’ll let you know how it goes.

Take care,
Love, Anne x

You can read my sister’s letter at :



Thank you for reading.

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