Time for a progress report, I think. Spring is definitely on the way; the wagtails have returned. This week we also noticed some ducks swimming around in the pond – two males and one female. Earlier in the week I had checked the overflow pipe and removed a few leaves which were clogging it, so it is now draining nicely into the ditch. As you may have inferred, the pond is full! I took a stroll around it today, and found that Mrs Duck has constructed a nest containing four pale blue eggs. Hopefully she’ll be able to raise another brood this year.

Neighbour J called to say she had a couple of rabbit skins for us. Fortunately there is still some room in the freezer. As soon as the weather warms up a bit I’ll get started on tanning the next batch of pelts.

I’ve also finished pruning the apple and pear trees. At least they are all now accessible and one does not have to clamber through the brambles to get to them. Clearing around the trees was done with a rather vicious machine; the aged FIL has a Stihl FS100 petrol-powered strimmer. I had a spare circular saw blade which was exactly the right size. I joined the two together. Very effective!

Cutting up the felled tree is progressing slowly, and the wood shed is gradually filling up. Once the tree has been completely removed I will be able to repair the flattened fence. I’ll do it properly this time, by running wires between sturdy wooden fence-posts, and then attaching the chicken-wire fence to the wires. The aged FIL simply threaded metal re-bar through the chicken wire every meter or so, and regularly had to walk along the fence line hitching up the fencing where it had sagged.

The four new hens have now settled in and are already laying. As I work at cutting and splitting logs, I regularly find white grubs in the wood, so take these over to the chicken run. One of the older hens (we call her “Whitney” as she has a very strong voice!) has cottoned on to this, and she charges across whenever I approach the fence. The result is that she gets to eat nearly all of the grubs which I toss over. By the time the other hens arrive, they’re looking around in puzzlement: “Pork! Where’s ours?”

Too late.

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