Parsnips. Some for lunch - roasted - and some for soup - curried
I spent my Sunday morning digging up the last of our overwintered (read forgotten about) parsnips, treating one case of foot rot (sheep) and one case of seedy toe (horse), and helping Mike catch up pheasant hens for transport to a game farmer near London. Yesterday, I felt very envious of people who spend a civilised Sunday morning reading the paper over a kitchen table spread with coffee and croissants.
I'm holding Matilda, who's growing like a weed and keeping up with the other lambs now
We had a spring weather Sunday, which made the work easier, and a team of six to spread the work load. We had about 400 hens to catch, crate, and load on a trailer for their trip to London -
Talking through the Game Plan
To make our task easier, we built smaller 'catching' pens inside that large holding pen. A panel leaned against a corner to make a small A-frame works fine. Then we quietly walked the birds into it. Jasper the catcher demonstrates:
Yes, that's pretty quietly walked in, for a pheasant
Jasper hands the birds out to me, 5 at a time, to put in a crate. Each crate holds 15 hens. And they don't go in without a fight. Just look at Jasper's arms -
The wounds get so bad that the landlady at Jasper's local pub asked him discreetly if he was self-harming. No, it's purely bird-related trauma he assured her.
Once all the hens were crated, we loaded the crates onto a flatbed and put a tarp over the lot -
That's our Land Rover doing the towing. Their own Land Rover suffered a broken drive shaft just 200 yards short of the catching pen. We lent them ours, to get people and birds home safely.
Did I mention that we have to repeat the whole process over again next Sunday? With a repaired drive shaft, of course.
After a break for coffee and home-made cinnamon rolls (a very small thanks to the volunteer helpers), I intended to send our remaining two Buff Orpington cockerels to Ice Camp (a favourite euphemism for the freezer, borrowed from Kate at Living the Frugal Life blog). We were just divvying up the dregs from the coffee pot, minutes away from the Cone of Silence (this term courtesy of Tamar at Starving Off the Land blog). Then the dogs started howling and chickens were sounding the alarm. A neighbour's newly adopted greyhound got loose and was after Patches, our main Buff Orpington cockerel -
Although it looks bad, I'm glad to report that Patches escaped with his life. But not with his tail -
Poor Patches! (And his newly patchy bottom)
Our neighbours are great guys and responsible dog owners. It was a genuine accident. Patches made it through the night, so it looks good for his continued role as Top Cockerel of the flock. But, just in case, we've had to keep his two replacements. They got a stay of execution, at least until spring. Five minutes later, and we might have had a chick-less summer. Time is indeed everything.