Peggy is our local butcher, and my sometimes butchery mentor. She raises all the sheep and pigs that she butchers and sells them from her small farm shop. Peggy was preparing half a pig for us and she fell foul of her cleaver. Well, the top of her thumb did anyway. She should be laid up but she's soldiering on in spite of the pain and doctor's orders. In her opinion, her customers' orders are more important.
I heard the story from her husband Steve when I arrived to pick up our pig. As I'm always looking for an excuse to avoid the pheasant pens in this heat, I offered to give Peggy a hand (!) as unskilled laborer in the butchery room. I was surprised, but glad, that Peggy called and accepted the help.
On Wednesday I spent 4 hours helping her process lamb carcases to fill orders, and we were just finishing each one as the customers came to collect them, one after the other. My work earned us huge beef joint for Sunday lunch, though I was happy to do it just to help. It certainly gave me more experience, and I know how much we appreciated help when Mike was first out of hospital.
It feels nice just to be nice sometimes.
We've had some unexpected house guests -
Unexpected but quite welcome.
It's a pair of swallows. I never even noticed them building a mud nest over the front door. (I know, my powers of observation are astounding.) We're only using the back door now, so we won't disturb them. She appears to be sitting on eggs. I hope we'll see three or four frowning fledglings peering over the top soon.
I noticed we were one quail short this morning when I fed their pen. I disturbed a small rat which darted out from a hole it had dug, probably to get to the quail's food. This hole was not only rat-sized but quail-sized too, at least for the smallest of the three birds. In the afternoon, I heard the lost quail calling and Pip helped me to find him. He had crossed the road and was hanging out with the sheep. He's back with his own kind now.
Barbara is still being a great mom -
She has five chicks now. The two that went to our neighbor's to placate their broody hen were rejected. Simon brought them back a couple of days later and I just stuffed them under Barbara. She didn't bat an eye. Silkies are the most dependable and adaptable broody I've ever known. I suspect if you crammed a newborn puppy under her ass, she'd give it a go.
'Stuffed' and 'crammed' are technical terms by the way.
I can see Barbara from my kitchen window and I watched her while I was baking a cake. She's been pulling the feathers out from her chest and between her legs. You can see the result in her run, which I only moved this morning. We're having a heat wave and I wondered if it was to regulate temperature for the chicks - i.e. less feathers equals less heat equals cooler chicks. Does anyone else know what this behavior is about? She certainly doesn't seem stressed.
As if we didn't already have enough chickens, I'm off to a poultry auction tomorrow morning, There is a pair of Barbu D'Uccles listed in the catalogue which I'd like to bring home. I'm using the money I've earned selling eggs to bid on the breeding pair, which gives me a limit. And seems apropos. Eggs for chickens. The Barbu D'Uccle eggs in the incubator are infertile so it's auction or bust, at least for this year.