Our cockerel is out to impress the ladies...

Our hen run is carpeted with fallen apple blossom. The hen hut is situated in the orchard and at this time of year the fruit trees make it a much prettier place. In the winter when the ground is muddy and bare, it is grim.

Today the hens have been kept in the run as they are just getting too free and easy about where they lay their eggs.

We have also weaned the ducklings and put all of them in one big run in the paddock.

Their bantie Mums have been returned to egg laying duties and currently are having minor strops about being wrenched away from their foster children.

Our big cockerel is thrilled. Two new ladies to impress. He is in full fluff feathers out and flirtatious mode, but they are having none of it. Yet. Plus I have at last understood what the phrase “spitting feathers” means.

The established hens are none too welcoming at these fresh females in their midst and there has been a few fights and confrontations whilst the pecking order is sorted out.

Unfortunately our only other cockerel is destined for tomorrow’s lunch. He and the older cockerel do not get on.

When we weaned the ducklings, we also let the bantam who hatched off her chicks last week, out of her run to let the chicks start to know the lay out of the farmyard.

Young Mr Cockerel was straight in there. He is not allowed near the other hens so clearly fancied his chances with this, as he thought, starved of male company young bantam.

No way. And in the resulting melee and confusion as she saw him off, a couple of the chicks got trampled. Well I’m not having that.

Up till then I was prepared to let the cock fights continue and muse that if anything happened to the older bird, younger blood was on hand.

But not if it means my baby chicks getting squashed whilst he attempts to get his evil way. It is life on the edge around here.

All is not rural utopia down the fields either. A young cow suddenly developed a very swollen looking jaw.

She was clearly unable to eat grass or chew her cud. Her calf looked hungry and was cadging a feed

off other cows in the herd. Actually this often happens as the calves get older as they tend to nip under the nearest cow and grab a drink.

But this cow’s calf is one of the youngest one’s and had not been quite so forward at approaching other cows.. Two visits by the vet, multiple jabs of antibiotics, a diagnosis of an abscess caused by a broken tooth, a big bill in line from the veterinary surgery and the cow lay dead this morning.

The knacker man we called in rang to say it was a heart condition that had killed her. Does not matter who was right now. She’s gone.

Mrs Downs