Sunday, 10 August 2014

The Nesting Instinct

We have two big chest freezers containing our year's supply of homegrown, hunted and bartered meat. They now live in a lean-to attached to the house. The lean-to is open on one end and, unbeknownst to me when I put the freezers in there, was already occupied by at least three pairs of swallows.  The last, late brood in the nest closest to the open end looks about ready to fledge. I say that not as a bird expert, but simply from the fact that they're so large now that they overhang the nest, and are in danger of spilling out of it.

If they can fly, it will make certainly make falling a little easier. 

My first hint that the mud and straw nests were in use was the growing mounds of bird poo accumulating on top of the freezers. No matter, as the poo is on the outside of the freezer and a quick wipe when the birds have headed off for Africa will put things right. My first hint that the nests had chicks was less subtle: angry, screaming parent birds dive-bombing me. I thought they got mad when I disturbed their peace to get something out of the freezer for dinner, but they were apoplectic when I climbed up and took that photo of their chicks.

I apologised and topped up their feeders with mealworms by way of penance.

I had my own nest building to do today. Our hatch of chickens and turkeys is due on Tuesday, so I have day old chicks to keep warm, dry and safe from predators. I had planned on using one of the small kennels with a heat lamp, but we have dogs boarding with us while their owners are on holiday so the kennel block is completely full.

Time for Plan B -

Sheep trailer with the doggie swimming pool inside, lined with wood shavings, and a spare heat lamp suspended from a ratchet strap, parked by the incubator barn so I can plug in the lamp. An old horse blanket will cover the gap at the top.

I'm pretty sure the swallows are laughing at me now.

It means I can't move the sheep until the boarders come and collect their dogs, and I can move this set-up to the kennels, but it will work for now. Perhaps if anyone reading this is thinking about keeping chickens but worries that she can't afford an expensive set up, remember my sheep trailer nest.

Ingenuity and low standards, my friends.


Anonymous said...

You are awesome !
I love how you jiggle things to make it look like it was planned all along.
Plan B rocks and you need a raise.

KellyC said...

Swallows! Love 'em. Keep those darn skeeters away. Looks like an great set-up for the chicks. Not sure what the weather is like over in Herford this type of year, but it may be similar to where I am (Central Wisconsin), and I hope that horse blanket doesn't get them cook them.

Jennifer Montero said...

KellyC -I'm a big fan of the swallows too. The first arrival of swallows in spring is always a topic for discussion in the countryside. Some people record the date, and check it against last year's! They will be getting ready to leave soon. I always worry about the late broods, and hope they will be strong enough to make the long migration.

The weather never gets too hot here, and we're still wearing cardigans during the day in August. The horse blanket is just for the nighttime, partly to hold in heat but mostly to keep hungry critters out. If I wasn't so lazy I would fix up some chicken wire!

Jennifer Montero said...

Anon - I don't deserve your praise, but it made my day nonetheless. Thank you!