Uphilldowndale

Watching nature take its course, from the top of a hill in northern England


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Cold Feet

Cast you minds back, to November and I’ll tell you the adventure of a bold, but not very bright bird. Primrose the chicken.

Dusk arrived early, and the role call of chickens showed we had a problem.  Primrose was missing.

We called the neighbours, searched their gardens, scoured the lane by touch light, looked in the shrubs and bushes,  all to no avail.  Eventually we had to conclude she might have been picked off by a fox, who, made bold by hunger, made twilight strike, or she had gone broody and gone off somewhere to make a nest.  We called off the search.

It was bonfire night, rockets streaked across the night sky scattering glittering stars in their wake,  Spud the dog shifted uneasily in his bed.  Eventually all fell quiet, and then the rain came by the bucketful pounding on the roof in the small hours.

At first light, Mr Uphilldowndale went out to resume the search, to be honest he was expecting to find a drift of feathers somewhere nearby.

He couldn’t find anything. However, he could hear something.  Cluuuuccckaaaa, Chahhhaaa, Cluck! But where was it coming from?

As befits the start of a pantomime ‘It’s behind you!’ he turned on his heels to find…

Cold feet 2-0942

Can you see in the bulrushes, in the middle of the field pond? Oh you silly bird.

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She’d been standing, up to he knees (do chickens have knees?) in the water, all night.

Mr Uphilldowndale gallantly went in , braving chilly waters and slippery pond liner to get her*.  If you’d like to see how he got on, pop over to the video.

We took her into the kitchen to warm up. She can’t have had much sleep she kept nodding off in Mr Uphilldowndales arms.

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we don’t know why she was there, she will flap and fly a little, especially if startled.  She obviously didn’t have sufficient ‘runway’ to make her way back again.

* I think I’d have built a bridge, I’ve never been fond of cold water.

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Lock Down

Our chickens continue their enforced confinement , due to the risk of them contracting Avian Flu from migrating birds, they have to stay in their run.

They’ve adapted pretty well to this change of circumstances, I’ve tried to give them things to entertain, as well as replace the amount of fresh grass  and vegetation they normally graze.  And  I’ll confess, that without thinking about it, that for a few days, I was taking them an armful of windfall apples each day, which they loved (we’ve had a prolific year for apples).

windfall 2

That was, until it occurred to me, that the migrating birds I was trying to keep away from the chickens had probably been grazing on these apples. So much for bio security!

I hasten to add that these apples are very much more munched  than back at the start of the lock down in mid December , when they were whole apples with unbroken skin

windfall


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The Problem Solved

I’m always curious to peep into a box of mystery items, I came across this on my travels this week.

A book, published in 1900. The Problem Solved, a practical treatise on artificial incubation and chicken rearing. What a title.

 The problem solved_

A quick scoot around the Internet shows me that that the title reprinted many times, and translated into French. According to the box, this particular copy was found in a empty farm house that was about to be demolished to make way for a quarry.

Hearson’s Patent Champion Incubator or not, Rocky our cockerel, will be pleased to note that he can’t be cut out of the process of rearing chick.  He has been growing new feather of late, just to let the girls know he is in peak form.

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I know I’ve blogged about new feathers before, but it’s a process that never fails to interest me. The way the quill grows first, the tip breaks off and the new feather emerges like a fine paint brush

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Here he’s giving them a bit of a ruffle.  Clever isn’t it?

new feathers 4


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The Easter Bunny is Dead

Please don’t tell the children. When Mr Uphilldowndale opened the kitchen door yesterday morning, Jammy  the kitten-cat shot past with a baby rabbit in his mouth, he shot through the hall and jumped up on to the widow ledge where he hissed loudly and defensively over his catch. Sadly it was a very dead rabbit; not the sort of Easter gift we were hoping for.

 

Today the sun has shone, a beautiful spring day, there has been a frog fest going on up at the pond, Spud the dog found it very exciting

Spud frogs

Which wasn’t very helpful to me, trying to take frog photos.

I had to make do with them swimming below the surface.

frog 2

The bees were a bit more ‘up front’

 bee tulip

The chickens were a little too keen on eating my beautiful spring flowers

rocky and roxanne_

However, Roxanne the little black hen has surprised us all this week by laying three eggs. The first since she and Rocky moved in last September. Excellent.

eggs


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Good Friday

Spud the dog thinks it is a very good Friday as he is home from kennels, he’s been simply dizzy with delight. He is now exhausted and crashed out on the sofa, snoring loudly.

 

We came home from York yesterday evening, too late to collect Spud, but an easy journey home, for the eve of a bank holiday.

 

It has been glorious here today. After a cold and frosty start

lambs frost

But the sun and blue skies melted it all away. The spring flowers like the birds are just singing.

 

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I’m not sure next door’s cockerel is too chuffed at the return of Spud, I think he’d been making a move on our chickens in his absence. Spud pointed him off in the right direction, again

public footpath 

Have another flower or two, there are plenty to go round.

snakes head


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Wind Egg

Or maybe, storm egg would be a better title, wind eggs we’ve covered before.

Who knows,  if it was  the 80mph winds we had here last night; but something upset one of the chickens.

 

storm egg 2

Poor girl.

storm egg

I suppose I’m going to have to get used to thinking, ‘I’ll tell Mum about that’ and then feeling the stark realisation that I can’t, tell her anything anymore.

 

In the distracted, absent minded way of the recently bereaved, today I tried to put chocolate sauce on my fried egg, instead of brown sauce. Sigh.

 

Here, is how a shell is formed, and here, how the egg develops