Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Knowing when something is up

Life on a farm is full of routines. Some come round once a year such as pruning, harvesting or sowing seeds for summer plants. Some come round regularly such as the farrier's visit to trim the ponies hooves or refilling the water troughs. Others happen daily such as feeding the dogs or milking the cow.
Many of these routines are a chance to check that everything is ok - that animals are not sick or missing, fences breached or plants ripe. Sometimes routine tasks can take much longer than planned because some action is required for maintaining or repairing.
This afternoon when I approached one of the chook runs there wasn't a reception party stalking up and down the fence waiting for me. Usually the rooster and two of the older hens almost head out of the gate towards the waiting kelpie in their eagerness to announce their hunger. For the past few days the rooster has been keen to have a piece of me as I enter the run and head for the feed bin in the shed.
Two younger hens - a bantam and a crossbred hen always run clucking and calling, away from this fiercesome stranger bearing food, to the shelter of the regrowth on the far side of the pen.

The Rooster and hens just mooching about
Today was different. No noise and no running away. The chooks were there but simply not interested in my approach. It didn't take long to work out why. The feed bin was on its side in the shed and while there was some feed still inside it, the chooks must have satiated themselves on the fallen feed.

Two Isa Brown hens not bothered by feed
It didn't take long to right it and try to work out a better way of arranging the bricks underneath to ensure it's steadiness. There was enough feed for the Sussex chickens in the next-door run who share the same feed bin but the routine was broken. More feed to purchase.
It wasn't much of a crisis but it reminded me how important it is to notice the subtle changes. Animals and plants may not have the gift of human speech but they can tell you a lot when they don't follow the expected. The more I notice what is happening on Opportunity Farm the better.

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