Defra, tarpaulins and much work to do.Β 

Monday: Cold and frosty again, on my rounds I notice that the orchard lot don’t have any water, John did them yesterday and obviously didn’t top up while the hose was defrosted, the nearest available water is in a water trough by the greenhouse so I break the ice and use that, it’s not the best as it’s been standing a while but the hens seems happy to have any kind of water, I will do fresh when the sun has thawed out the taps and hose. I lit the Rayburn straight away as the house got cold yesterday when we were not here to light it so I want to warm it thoroughly. While I am doing that I hear on the radio that it’s only just over two weeks till Christmas, WHAaaaT! I better get my schizzle on I haven’t even made any mince pies yet, normally I make them the first week of December so I am behind schedule 😜 All the while I am going about my daily stuff I keep looking to the front driveway just to make sure the little toe rags are not there, there is no money in there now mind you but still I will keep an eye out.

Roast shoulder of lamb for dinner tonight as I didn’t do any cooking over the weekend I better make up for it πŸ˜€ 

Peering out the window all the times makes me realise just how much they need a clean 😝

Tuesday: Had Mia for the day so apart from the morning routine not much else got done! 

In the evening whilst catching up with Facebook I was concerned to see lots of posts about avian flu and DEFRA recommendations, I looked into it and it appears that poultry and caged birds are being put on a 30 day lockdown 😫 Sometimes life just keeps flicking bits of shit at you to make sure your getting a bumpy ride.

Wednesday: Guess what I will be doing today! After feeding and letting them out because there is no way I can keep them in this morning, I set about finding and ordering as much netting as possible. It seems we are required to house birds indoors or prevent wild birds from getting into the pens to access water and feed. The threat is serious, I have been monitoring the spread of the avian flu through Europe, mostly carried by migrating Geese and Swans, its spreading rapidly. So this morning I have managed to do the pen with the POL birds in which was easy, then half done the orchard birds but need to wait for netting to arrive before doing the top and after that god knows what I will be doing, I have stables I can use if I have to also a bay in the hay barn could be used, watch this space πŸ€”

The more I think about it, the more complicated it becomes as I have to fox proof everything too! 

By evening, we at least have a bit of a plan although it’s difficult to implement until the weekend as I need some muscle for some things, have to make do with John 😜. My hands hurt form using the staple gun to put up netting and my head is spinning from thinking about what to do and how to do it. Disinfectant is ordered for biosecurity measures and no one is allowed to go in with any poultry unless authorised to do so. We will be culling any ducks that are not necessary and if the enforcement carries on longer than 30 days some of the old ladies as well 😧 I need chocolate 😬and wine 😬 

At least I have Kirsties handmade Christmas to look forward to tonight πŸ˜€

Thursday: Oh my days another day of sorting out birds, Shelley came over first thing and with Josh in the pushchair watching we managed to round up the 20 ducks and herd them into the stable, it was a bit of a fiasco and certainly not something I could do alone due to the multiple escape routes available. Then we moved onto crating up and moving 20 hens from the front laying flock and moved them into the back pen, not easy as I had already let them out albeit into a smaller run. I had made a decision to mix them with the hens for sale and forgo the sales, not that there will be many sales now lol. Then Sam and Mia arrived and we set about making the orchard pen safe for the hens, we have a flimsy piece of wire one side but luckily some 4 ft fence panel, 5 in total, which we turned end up to make them taller and screws them together and fixed them in place. After that we began netting the sides of the run and the inside of the rabbit run which now has 15 hens in there plus Aaron the cockerel who thinks all his birthdays have come at once 😁 

Josh was still watching contentedly, Mia wasn’t lol, in between a sleep she was grizzly, probably wanted to be out helping or indoors playing. We then took up the electric fencing and made a channel between the hut and the orchard which I can hopefully herd the chickens through in the morning to their new abode. We stopped around 2 and Shelley went off for take out Costa while I lit the fire and Sam entertained the children, a good days work with plenty still left to do. 3pm feeding and egg collection time, by this time the disinfectant had arrived so I found enough tubs for foot baths and put those by the pens, put the birds to bed at 4.30 and then off to get a bit of shopping as I have not had time to make bread and visit an in law for his birthday. Tomorrow is another day and there is still much to do to stop the wild birds getting in. 

Friday: I can no longer say ‘the usual routine’ although the new routine will quickly become usual, John had a spare hour this morning to go and get the feed, that will enable us to start early on Saturday getting tarps up over the orchard area, we have a birthday lunch to go to right in the middle of the day so need to get a good start to the weekend. 

First job of the day was to move the front paddock laying flock into the orchard via our channel of fencing, this didn’t go as well as I had imagined it would lol, the chickens were very wary and although I managed to herd around 10 of them, the rest I had to catch, four escaped into the field and I had to leave them until they went to bed and then move them. Then I went round netting up any gaps that had been missed and finally used a replacement poly tunnel cover I had to put up over the small run with the fighting rabbit in as I have two chickens in there with it. The netting for the top of the orchard pen has still not arrived and any way we have decided to tarpaulin it instead although how long that will stay up I don’t know. The hens and ducks don’t seem to mind being moved in fact I think they are enjoying the change of scenery, for the time being at least. 

As everything has been condensed down into three basic pens, the feeding takes much less time than usual and eventually the bedtime routine will be very quick too, just need to sort out something for the geese, I think this will be netted pens attached to their hut until the danger is either over or more threatening. 

Saturday: Another round of trying to make the pens bird proof, this time John is here with power tools and tarps, so we spent a couple of hours sorting the orchard and got it half covered before having to dash of for Birthday lunch with the Mother in Law. Got back home and Shelley came with us to give me a hand doing some cleaning which I haven’t been able to get done all week while John lit the fire and fed the birds and collected the eggs. He reported that the tarps were not holding up to well so we may have to rethink the situation entirely, getting fed up with the whole thing now. Off to babysit Mia for the evening. 

Sunday: Getting bored with the whole thing now, first job for John was to clean out the Rayburn flue, we knew it needed doing as the fire was not burning properly, very lack lustre. Then guess what…………yep, onto the job of tarpaulin, it’s like trying to wrap a giant odd shaped Christmas present. The problem being the only ones the merchant had left were not big enough that coupled with two stinking great trees growing out of the area we are trying to cover, made life very difficult indeed. So in the end we decided to only cover half the area and if it blows down we will have to move them all indoors to the stables as a back up plan. We finished that around lunchtime and John went on to power wash and clean out the hut they are no longer using, at least we can do something positive in all this chaos, I went indoors to light the Rayburn which is now chuffing away well and get some proper dinner sorted for the first time in nearly a week, went the whole hog and did pudding as well, we certainly have earned it. Then after the animals got shut away for the night, off to visit the Mother In Law for her actual birthday.

All this and I have been suffering with a stupid cough and a throat that feels like razor blades, I’m pretty sure we are due some up lifting, good newsy stuff soon, pretty please.

Still have not managed to make any mince pies yet 😝

John went out to let the dogs out for a wee before bed and a fox was stood less than 10ft away, Patch looked at it, then he looked at John, then decided to chase it lol, needless to say he didn’t catch it although the dogs are fast, the fox is faster! 

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