HEN-ZILLA AND THE MOLLYCODDLED DUCKS

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The children have just started two weeks of spring holidays, which makes me really happy.  Friends coming and going, sleepovers here and there; it’s like Picadilly Circus but I love it.  It also means there are a few extra pairs of hands to help in the garden; there is just so much to do at this time of year and weeds seem to grow overnight.  We have been working so hard in the newly formed vegetable garden, and we spent the afternoon on Sunday planting out tomatoes, aubergines, peppers and hot chillies which are Millie’s project.  We also put in some lettuce, salad greens, cucumbers, watermelons and courgettes.  The children planted because that’s the fun part while I hoed up weeds and raked!  Our beans we sowed a couple of weeks ago are now about 8″ high and the peas are shooting up.  There are rows of tiny carrot tops peeping through the soil, along with the spinach and potatoes – it’s all so exciting.  We have had to fence it to keep our dear feathered friends out, or else they would think we had planted a feast just for them, and we included the row of ten grape-vines inside the fencing because I read that chickens love grapes and we would not have a grape left if they were within their reach.  Next project to hand cut all the grass under the vines!

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Dear Rosie is being a very dutiful hen; she has less than a week to go now and we are all so hopeful we might get at least one chick.  She leaves her nest briefly around 11am each morning:  the routine is always the same as she wanders up the garden, stretches her legs and looks around.  The others are really quite nasty to her as she is no longer “one of them” and they peck at her and chase her away if she comes too close; it’s actually rather sad to watch.  After ten or fifteen minutes she swiftly heads back to her nest and carries on coddling her beloved eggs.

Eleanor is now also broody, sitting on two eggs and a ping-pong ball to make up the numbers!  Our sweet, lovely, docile Eleanor, she of the Mad Hatters’ Tea Party fame, has turned into Hen-Zilla.  Each morning when we open their door, she comes out straightaway clucking that special phrase of cluck we’re now getting used to; “Get out of my way, I’m an important broody hen with eggs to sit on; out of my way, out of my way, I need to eat, no time to waste!” and she is back inside and on her eggs within ten minutes, having made quite sure that we all know exactly how important she is!

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But the real time-wasters are Penny and Adrian, the pair of ducklings we were given at the Farmers Market nine days ago.  Most of the ducks sold that day no doubt were bought to be fattened and intended for the table.  They would have gone into a large sandy enclosure with an old pond in the corner, where the last blade of grass would have long since ceased to exist.  However, Penny and Adrian have entered a life of luxury, and are enjoying the pampered mollycoddled life of a pet duck!  When they arrived, a temporary run was made for them, along with an old paddling-pool filled with clean cool water.  The next day a new home arrived.  A brand new dog-kennel was put together and filled with straw.  Chairs were placed near the enclosure and the children would sit and watch them, chatting and laughing, the ducks getting used to people and their endless talking!  The chickens came and took a look, wondering what all the fuss was about and who the new arrivals were.  Penny and Adrian ate and swam and loved all the attention.  Then just when they really thought life couldn’t get much better, it did – in fact it got a whole lot better.   Yesterday the temporary fence was removed from around their paddling-pool and their deluxe house – they are free to wander in the garden along with the chickens.  Their permanent pond is under construction, yet another project!  The chickens take little notice of them and the cats have decided they are definitely too big to hunt and wander away.  Bentley, being Bentley, totally ignores them.  The ducks waddle around, they flap their tiny wings and run across the lawn – if this is what life is all about, it really is pretty good.

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The garden is changing on a daily basis; it’s like a video on permanent fast-forward and everything is growing so fast.  The first roses on a south-facing wall are blooming

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I love the Arum Lilies, simple perfection

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and the Tamarisk is never still, always moving in the breeze

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We’ve also been walking, lots and lots of walking; it’s such a perfect climate at the moment, not too hot and not too cold and everywhere is so stunning.  Hedgerows with sweet scented lilac,  tall grass waving in the breeze, waiting to be cut for hay.  The bright yellow of rapeseed cuts a colourful swathe across the landscape.  Blowing dandelion seeds and making wishes.  Childhood memories and carefree days.

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Whenever we come home and walk down the driveway I am greeted by the beautiful flowering horse-chestnut.  All the trees are incredible and in full leaf; one half of the garden is now a canopy of shade.  Sometimes I just stand and stare.  I call the children over to look at them as it’s all too easy to forget about the trees.  They are just there, a part of the garden, and we do take trees for granted.  But I like to draw attention to them as they are magnificent, hundreds of years old, and only then, standing looking up at the giant lime tree, do we all really see how huge it is.

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43 thoughts on “HEN-ZILLA AND THE MOLLYCODDLED DUCKS

  • The ducks are gorgeous…………as are your children!Take time to enjoy the TREES!I have a silly question!The Lime trees you French people have they do not produce the fruit or do they…………?They seem to be used along driveways a lot.

    • Thank you. The European Lime tree is also known as the Tilia or Lindon Tree, or a Basswood in North America, not the same as the small fruit producing Lime tree of warmer climates. They do indeed often line avenues and roads, we have three of them, they are huge!

  • You were kind enough to answer me in French 3 weeks ago and I appreciated it a lot, so I am going to try to write in English to return you the favour… I have read your post with attention since I would like so much to have hens and ducks! We almost bought hens last Sunday in a bric à brac but I am still hesitating. Your home looks like heaven.

    • hi Caroline, your English is excellent. I love having both the hens and ducks, we have learnt a great deal in a short time about keeping both. Do please let me know if I can help in any way, we are in no way experts but can share what we have learnt! If you want to know more I will email you:)

      • Thank you very much, it’s very nice of you! If I succeed in convincing my husband I will ask you some information.

      • if it is any assistance,my husband was the least keen to get our chickens and not keen on ducks at all. Now he says he couldn’t live without them, he could watch them for hours!!!

  • You have such a lovely garden, so nice to see all the seasonal changes. Ducks are such fun to have as pets, they also make excellent guard ducks

    • Yes I remember ducks from my childhood in various farmyards being excellent guard ducks, they scared me stiff! These two are so friendly already and surprise surprise, Roddy is smitten!!!

    • Thank you. What an incredible co-incidence, I just read a review of that very book this morning and thought I should buy it for both myself and our 15 year old daughter to read and so I shall! I shall enjoy spending some time this evening reading your blog, always great to meet new bloggers and I have added myself as a follower! Have a great weekend and thanks for commenting, so follow if you have the time 🙂

    • Sure of course you can, but it gets wet and grey here too, just not so much! Lovely this morning, pouring now, but I console myself because it is good for the garden and we were having to water which is just crazy in April. Loved the brief time I just spent on your blog, yes I am definitely a summer person too! Started following you so I don’t miss future posts, do come and follow me too if you feel like it. Have a great weekend 🙂

  • Firstly before I forget- I owe you an email – apologies, car troubles here have meant I’ve been all over the place (though sadly not literally!)
    I love the though of strolling and smelling lilac in hedgerows. When we visited Normandy recently we read a few information boards with images of how the wildflowers look around May time and I was in awe of the photos on them so it must be wonderful to be there and able to enjoy them.
    Grapes too! Fab – and the ducks are too sweet. Such a lovely space you have there, I’m looking forward to discovering more about it.
    I hope the kids enjoy the holidays – and thank you for joining in again x

    • thank you. Enjoyed looking around your blog too and a new follower in me! Loved the nature walk with your kids. Do follow me if you get the chance. Have a great weekend:)

  • Found your blog via Lost in Cheeseland and am now a follower! The Charente-Maritime is my favorite part of France – it is where we discovered Pineau des Charente and the best oysters in the world! Sadly, those are hard to find in the US. Happy May and I look forward to your next post.

    • Hi Elaine, so happy to have you following and thanks for your comment. Yes they make the classic pineau des Charente all around here, lots of domains offering tastings. I am ashamed to say I don’t like oysters, but they are truly everywhere and I love seeing all the oyster farms. Have a great weekend and lovely to ‘meet’ you. Susan 🙂

  • It’s amazing what a difference there is in your garden and mine up in Normandy – we had a frost a couple of nights ago so all tender plants are still inside and whilst we are green we are nowhere near as far forward as you … but I can beat you on broodies as I have 2 broody bantams and 2 ducks sitting on a whole load of duck eggs! #hdygg

    • Ok, you win on the feathered front!!! We have had tender plants out for a good month now, but lots of rain the past couple of days and more to come! Enjoy the rest of the weekend. Loved your article in The Guardian 🙂

  • Such a lovely place you live and the trees look beautiful. Sounds idyllic. Great reading about the chickens and ducks, I love their personalities and really look forward to hearing about the chicks hatching. The ping pong ball egg made me squeal, too cute, I’m like that, I adore all creatures and what they do but feathered friends make me smile so much 🙂 x

    • Hi, I am sorry I only just replied to you, your comment went into spam! It is certainly a lovely place to live ad we are very lucky. I never knew that ducks and chickens would be so fascinating and bring so much pleasure to the entire family, we just adore them and they are such time wasters! Thanks for commenting and I hope you follow along for future posts. Have a lovely weekend 🙂

  • I love the phrase ‘it’s like a video on permanent fast-forward’. This sums up the end of April and the beginning of May beautifully. Those ducklings have stolen my heart and what a childhood your children have to be able to sit in chairs watching them! Delighted to have found your blog via #hdygg

    • I have to admit it is not looking hopeful for Rosie’s eggs:( However, we have the other hen Eleanor, who has another week to go, fingers very firmly crossed! I do agree, one of the things I love most about living here is watching the children garden, plant vegetables, tame the ducks, anything that gets them out and away from electronics!

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