The Ups and Downs of Country Life

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A week of non stop rain has finally come to an end. We had started to think about building an ark once more! Yes –  we needed the rain as it was incredibly dry, but once it started it just couldn’t stop; day after day, we woke to grey skies and puddles. And it turned much colder; the windows and doors remained closed, and once again we reached for sweaters and scarves. Every now and then the clouds would part and a chink of blue would appear casting a golden glow over the sodden ground and saturated stones. 

A stack of jobs were finally finished inside and work I have put to one side was completed, so it was actually a very fulfilling and productive week. Even if we all longed to be back outside in the fresh air a little more. Every day I toured the garden, dressed in a raincoat and wellies, checking on seedlings, pulling at the odd soggy weed and picking up fallen branches. Most evenings we set out for a walk around the village with the dogs, sticking to our 1km lockdown boundary.

We also decided it was time to rescue this really old terracotta pot. It has sat in a corner, hidden from view since before we bought the house. There was a scrubby half dead shrub inside which had obviously been a resident since it was tiny. Now the roots were a good inch thick and fanned out to the very edges and we were terrified it was going to break. We cut it carefully into portions with a small electric saw, and then took out each root, one tiny bit at a time! We think the pot is from the 19th century, so I am glad we managed to keep it in once piece. We might even get to appreciate it now, although I have no idea where to put it. For now it’s just been left outside the front door; it’ll probably remain here for the next decade!

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On Sunday the forecast was for a change with  blue skies, soaring temperatures and plenty of sunshine promised. I planned an at-home picnic and I planned a blogpost around it. But alas, nothing went to plan yesterday.

As always the first job of the morning is to feed and let out the chickens and say good morning to the ducks. Except yesterday morning nothing was as it should be; we sensed all was not well the moment we entered the garden. The ducks were missing. Our worst fears were confounded after an hour long search. It seems for sure a predator (99% likely a fox) took them overnight. There is not a trace of them, not a feather, nothing. To say we are gutted would be an understatement. The two Indian Runners we raised from one day old chicks, they lived in Millie’s bedroom for the first weeks of their lives.

Even as a farmer’s daughter and growing up with life and death amongst animals all my life it hits hard. Our property is well protected with walls and secure fencing all around and in six years we have never had any suspicions of any foxes whatsoever. And today it all seems so calm and peaceful, the hens and our two roosters going about their day as normal. How the fox or whatever it was got to the ducks with the pond close to hand is a mystery.

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Needless to say no one felt much like a long leisurely lunch yesterday and besides, despite the rain having ceased, the grey persisted like a cloud of doom over the garden until late in the afternoon. “I’m not sitting outside on the wet grass” seemed to be the general consensus of opinion and the grand picnic plan was shelved. We’ll do it again, perhaps when the lockdown ends and we’ll take our bikes and head off somewhere all together –  now that alone will feel like a grand adventure.

But in bad times come good things too. We have chicks, seven in total hatched over the weekend.

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We’ve also had many visits from the hoopoes who are nesting all around. As no one has been outside much due to the rain they have got closer and closer to the house. In fact nearly every time  we are at the window above the kitchen sink we see them. The dishes get forgotten and it’s a frantic dash for the camera.

P8270309What a wonderful old fashioned courtship. A true love offering.

 

 

P8270295Open wide!

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And now it’s another week, I slept fitfully last night dreaming of Monsieur Renard stalking our garden. But today things looked much brighter as they always do in the morning. There is not a cloud in the sky, I opened every single window and door throughout the house.

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Today we took down and dusted off the ‘day coop’ and  moved the chicks and Mama Hen into it for the daytime hours. Of course, every night they’ll be locked up securely inside the broody coop, but for now they’re enjoying their first taste of real fresh air!

IMG_6702We are in our 8th week of lockdown, with plans for the start of a slow and controlled de-confinement to start as from next Monday the 11th. Stay safe everyone and keep smiling. xx

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42 thoughts on “The Ups and Downs of Country Life

  • so sad about your ducks….perhaps they will show up…i love the pix of the hoopoes….never saw that sort of bird before but with my penchant to learn something new every day (and the time to do it) i will look them up and learn about them…how beautiful they are !!!! we in new jersey are still not free…they opened beaches and parks to the public this past weekend and also golfing??? they promptly have closed two of the parks already as folks were congregating in large groups…a real shame…hopefully things will steadily improve for all of us and bottom line, we have the sunshine and flowers and growing things all around us to enjoy …be safe and i love your posts ❤

  • I’m so sorry to hear about your ducks. We are surrounded by a wooden fence, but all the wild animals have dug holes under the fence on all sides. Those birds are so interesting, I’ve never seen any like them. Stay well.

  • Oh Susan, how heartbreaking as I know each and every living creature in your – family – is treasured. Runner ducks always make me smile.

    Our life here is trying to adjust to whatever the new normal will be. Like you, we have a garden to escape to. Our restriction are not as tight as yours being that we still can go walking and hiking. Parks are closed though. In fact, there is no where else I would rather be than here. Our population is mostly complying about social distancing, and people wear masks when needed. Speaking of masks, I have a few in colours-and patterns that coordinates with my clothes made by generous friends.
    Ali xx

  • Oh noooooo! I simply cannot believe that a fox would have taken your precious ducks. There would be mayhem all over, feathers, blood…. Our friends in Exeter had serious problems with badgers…. would that be an ‘option’? They dug tunnels under the very Fort Knox construction to get at the chickens, mind you, not ducks…. And why would you not have heard anything? I am SO sorry for your loss, and I’m heartbroken for you and your family.
    The fabulous ‘Wiedehopf’ birds are beyond anything …. reminded me of a children’s hymn where the birds are celebrating a wedding and the Wiedehopf offers the bride a ‘Blumentopf’ (flower pot) and all birds bring their goods to the wedding – a lovely, lovely song. I’ve never seen a real hoopoe and their name makes me smile. Also, the young and new chicks, what a joy…. there is some recompense in all that sad business, isn’t there?
    Am daily thinking of you and wishing you guests, money, succes, growth and goodness galore. For all it’s worth, have it! 🙂
    Love from Switzerland

  • Always hard looking after animals and finding some missing but that’s life. Happened to our chickens on dad’s farm, but there was carnage left behind…

  • How many ducks did you have? Were they able to fly? Maybe they flew away… Unusual that ALL the ducks disappeared without a trace… not a feather or anything left behind. Could someone have climbed the wall and stolen them perhaps? Unlikely in rural France I know but you never know…

    • No no-one would have stolen them, really hard to get into the property on foot, maybe a fox could climb but ladders etc would be so difficult plus they would have to come through other people’s gardens! We are sure it was a fox.

  • Still remember the trauma of stepping out the stable door and seeing the kerfuffle by the pond as the ducks and geese were brazenly seized and carried off by coywolves. Before our very eyes and in broad daylight. A strike force of very efficient pack hunters. Only Ollie a very large and irascible old gander lived to tell the tale – he was just too ornery for them.

    • Its always sad, friends just gave us another pair and we have been religiously shutting them in with the chickens each night. The first night took us two hours to round them up, now they are going in by themselves! xx

  • Sorry about your ducks. Here in Canada, a black bear feels comfortable to walk down a town street, wolves are spotted between houses in subdivisions , so a roaming fox may reflect the trend for our animal neighbours to take back some of their former territory.

  • I’m so sorry about your ducks. The runners always make people smile! The baby chicks are adorable & I really appreciate your pictures. Lovely area. The animals are coming in closer I guess because people are staying home now. Odd there was no sign though. Take care & enjoy your home!! Please continue pics of the baby chicks.

    • Lovely post, as always! Your pictures are wonderful – I feel transported into a tranquil and inspiring garden tour. What a find – your 19th century pot! It seems perfect sitting just where it is. Chicks are fun to watch. Do you have photos of your chicken coop/house in your post archives? I’m looking for interesting examples as my son-in-law will be building a chicken coop and run soon for six recently acquired chicks. Thanks for sharing your life and times.

  • I forgot about the birds ! Have never heard or seen the hoopoes but they are certainly interesting!! Thanks!!

  • Very sorry to hear about your ducks. I can’t imagine that there wasn’t a loud fuss. Maybe they’ll return one day?
    The chicks are adorable! I’ve never seen hoopoes before–they are fascinating. Your posts are always a treasure! Thanks!

  • Nature can be cruel (to us), although the lack of any signs of struggle is intriguing. I thoroughly enjoyed the series of photographs depicting the Hoopoes courting. We get them in our garden too from time to time: I feel privileged when they drop by.

  • How very depressing to have lost your ducks. I know how stressful and sad that can be. Unfortunately walls are no defence against a determined fox – it can easily climb them. I remember years ago losing most of my chickens to a (presumably) fox. The birds were kept in a large pen in the far corner of our entirely walled garden. Two sides of the pen were walls about nine foot high, the other two sides, which gave onto our garden , were of equally high wooden fencing. The next day, when I let them out in the daytime ,a couple of surviving chickens came and huddled outside the kitchen door . They had never before come down to the house and were clearly frightened and ‘asking’ for protection. That evening I put them back in their pen and house, having made sure all was safe and secure, but the next day they were gone. I have never forgiven myself for letting them down when they clearly wanted protection. I still feel guilty.
    It’s not unknown for a fox to cross a short distance through the water in a pond. When I restocked my chickens I bought one of those poophole doors that close automatically at dusk (or whenever you set the timer to close) and open in the daytime to let the birds out. I also fixed some wire at the top of the wall so that if a fox tried to scale the wall it would have to walk on bendy wire before jumping down inside. They don’t like that. But we all know it’s hard to outwit a fox.
    Sad, but nature I suppose.

    • Always sad to outwit a fox. Now we have a new pair, given by some friends and they are in with the chickens each night. The first night it took us two hours to round them up, but slowly they have learnt and are now going in by themselves. Will do all we can to protect them, so fingers crossed. xx

  • We had a fox kill a rabbit right close to our front door one night, but there was fur and blood everywhere, including a bloody paw print identifying it as a fox. Maybe you have a hungry neighbor. Loved the pictures of the birds. I’ve never seen anything like them. We feed the birds in Georgia and have had over 45 different kinds at our feeders.

  • Could hungry people out of work and no money have possibly done the deed? Let us know if you ever find out.

  • So sorry to hear about the ducks, they were so cute. I gather they were not in the chicken enclosure. When our daughter was in the last year of school she received a duckling and had to raise it for the purpose of imprinting and always left it out during the day. One afternoon we came home and there was no sign of the duck, no feathers or any trace. We assumed that a fox took the whole bird and we still talk about it 20 years later.

  • I am not so sure foxes took your ducks…my Grandmother had ducks and they were always making a mad dash for the creek across the field from the barnyard. We had to chase them back home! It was a constant battle. If you have any streams nearby you might want to check them for your wandering ducks. I do hope that you find them. The hoopoes brought back memories of a trip to Madagascar we took 2 years ago. We saw them in a park we were visiting . They certainly are interesting birds. We have been having lots of rain and cold here too. Can’t wait for it to warm up.
    I so enjoy your interesting news. By the way…what I wouldn’t give for a wonderful old pot like that. You have a treasure indeed. Let’s pray warm weather and your ducks return soon.

  • Life does go on, but losing all your ducks, just too sad. What wonderful Hoopoes, thank goodness for Google.
    Nasty storms last night in Middle TN, much wind and rain. Trees down and power outage in neighboring communities. Another round tonight.

  • So sorry about your ducks; Li hope that you find them safe & sound. Love the retrieved pot. The chicks are so cute. May the rest of your week be filled with sunshine & blessings.

  • I am so sorry about your ducks; I hope you find them safe & sound. The chicks are so cute. May your week include lots of sunshine & blessings.🐣🐣

    • That old pot is absolutely stunning!
      Enjoy it. I love your beautiful posts.
      Sorry about your ducks, perhaps the Fox has come further due to the quiet of lockdown. Hope you can all enjoy your chicks.

  • Wow—I can’t believe a fox could make off w/ALL of the ducks & not leave a trace. . . . I loved the way they walked on the back feet like penguins! Could they have flown someplace?
    I always love your postings.

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