Work party

When you decide to do anything in a garden where chickens run free, you are guaranteed to get a lot of unwanted (although very well meant, I am sure) help. Be it weeding, raking or even just walking around, they are there and they are on a mission to inspect everything.

After more than a decade I have finally clicked that a farmer’s wife is not as much a farm worker but a person who does all the jobs her busy husband hasn’t got time for. This might include creating a dry area for the poultry to stand in when it rains (all my animals are similarly spoilt), mowing the lawn or indeed cleaning the French drain.

Over the last few years the soil, dust and leaves have been getting amongst the pebbles and with winter coming, I thought we should make sure that the perforated pipe underneath is free to drain the water of the patio. My dearest cheerfully said, ‘yes, why don’t you’ and promptly left to do some hedge cutting.

I armed myself with a small gardening spade, couple of buckets for the dirt and the clean pebbles and a tray that would serve as a kind of sieve. Oh and a family of chickens.

As soon a I removed the first few pebbles they came running from the other end of the garden (which prompted Fred the dog to return to his bed as he is not their no 1 fan). They watched me for all of ten seconds before Butch the cockerel decided to investigate. He found a worm and that was that. For the next four hours I had to

  1. remove the pebbles
  2. let the chickens peck out any edible morsels
  3. fish out anything else edible from the ‘dirt’ bucket and actually feed it straight into their beaks
  4. cover the cleaned off area with pebbles
  5. repeat

Eventually I took a break because my back was starting to make itself felt and the birds settled nearby for a well deserved cleansing session. I meanwhile returned to the very indignant dog who is so unamused about having these things running around HIS garden, stealing HIS leftovers and my attention that should belong to HIM.

Very soon Brown got bored and began labouring on the next section of the drain. We took the lead (Fred), the walking boots (me) and left her to it.

I still have a stretch of what I now think of as the Grand Canyon, left. This morning my work party stood by the drain ready for their shift but I didn’t budge. I sent them do the weeding instead.

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