As well as settling in a new town and country, getting the hang of school runs and setting up our business Dan and I have become farmers. We have great mentors (thankfully) and very obliging neighbours but to say it has been a steep learning curve would be an under estimation and we only have a small flock of sheep and hens!
Amongst complying with bird flu restrictions and understanding bio-security in our first week we have also had to get to know our animals and their quirky ways. We are keen to treat our animals as well as we possibly can and administering medicine and handling them on a regular basis is absolutely key to that.
To give you an indication of our naivety when it comes to livestock handling we recently decided to give worming treatment to our chickens. In the long term when they are back to being free range we probably wont need to but whilst they are contained in their run we wanted to ensure we protected them.
The run they currently have is less than waist height so catching 9 chickens and 1 cockerel on muddy uneven ground whilst squatting is pretty tricky work. Luckily I just got to laugh as Dan chased chickens round a small enclosure. It was a pretty long winded task to say the least so when we needed to repeat the process a week later we were most pleased with ourselves when we decided to do it first thing in the morning and just take them from the nesting boxes and releasing them into the run once treated. We finished and went for breakfast with smiles on our faces. That night when Dan went to shut them up we realised that we had forgotten to open the hen houses again after the treatments. Chickens put themselves to bed and when they found the houses closed they decided to ‘roost’ underneath them in rather inaccessible places. I am not sure if any of you has even tried to rouse a chicken from it’s slumber but apparently it is a pretty tricky task. Cue Dan, once again on bended knee, in the pitch black trying to persuade chickens (and ageing slightly unsteady cockerel) to wake up and go up the ramps into the hen houses.
We need to check on them all again in 10 days time…….3rd time lucky??