A home of our own and a cock named Lionel #4

Moving in day was a bit stressful. Our car broke down just as we were about to sign for the house so we had to borrow Roger and Julia’s van. By the time we had finally got to the notaire’s office to sign, picked up the keys and then dropped a van load of stuff at the cottage we realised we could not stay here for that first night, getting back for the dogs and then back again with more stuff was just too much. So back to the caravans to the dogs and some warmth.

The next day we bought another van load of stuff over along with the dogs. First priority was to get a fence up so the dogs could go out but not escape. Tom did this so fast, it was not an easy job as parts of the garden were so overgrown but he got it done and the dogs could begin exploring safely. There was a wood burner in the cottage, so we lit it to see how it would work, it was pretty chilly by then, November, so we needed to warm the place up. If you have ever lived in a stone cottage you will know that they can get pretty cold when unheated for long periods of time. The burner started glowing away but whenever the door was opened, filled the house with smoke. Whenever it was closed, the smoke cleared but the heat cleared with it and just disappeared. So we had a choice of choking or shivering… We used an electric heater for a while, it was warm if you sat almost on it but of course the heat soon dissipated so we were quite chilly. Within a few weeks of moving in I got ill. Really really ill. I do not think I have ever been that sick before, bronchitis and pleurisy, I thought that was it. It took nearly 3 months to get better and by the time I started to feel better, Tom got ill. We both were having chest problems so decided that the entire burner situation had to change. A new one was installed along with all the correct chimney flues and pipes, what a difference! Immediately it got warm in here, so warm in fact that we ended up by late evening with the front door open, both sitting here in our pants! It was a life changer and made everything feel better. The dogs of course loved it and vied for space in front of it, but they too realised it got pretty hot there so take it in turns now, one of them lays there until they get too hot then goes and spreadeagles like a furry starfish in the cool of the bedroom, then the other comes for their baking.

The chickens came with us of course and Mr Magoo very quickly established a friendship with Jean-Michel our Parisian neighbour. Mr Magoo would follow him around whilst he was working in the garden and became famous in Paris with his photograph being proudly sent to all of Jean-Michel’s family. We had lost Bella to old age just before we left Roger’s but the others were still going. Buffy had quickly established a huge place in our hearts, she had funny wonky feet which the vet had said was the result of no perch when she was younger but that she was not in any pain. She hobbled about quite happily but I had to make sure to feed her separately or the others would steal her share. One day I went into the lean-to which is where they all slept and heard a rustling noise, it took me a few minutes to realise it was coming from the almost empty sack of chicken food. Buffy! She had managed to get in the sack but could not get back out, she was quite pleased to see me! She was a real character and would happily sit on your lap and feed from your hand. A few months after moving in Mr Magoo passed away, he was a very old boy but nonetheless we were very sad, he was such a character, more like a dog really than a chicken. The girls were unhappy and would not come out of the lean-to so we realised we needed to get them a new protector.

Enter Lionel who came from a friend who was looking after a few cockerels for a neighbour, he was a bit of a wimp and was being beaten up by the others so she was glad to find him a new home. All seemed well at first, the girls were not sure of Lionel initially but gradually got braver and started coming outside and pecking around the orchard once more. Lionel settled in and soon began to find his feet, maybe a little too much… Lionel was a young boy, he had begun to feel that urge that all young cockerels do, unfortunately none of the girls were up for that, they were far too long in the beak and just hid under things from him. He became more frustrated and began chasing anyone that walked through the gate. Tom was a particular target for some reason and to this day, I still cannot stop giggling at the vision of Tom trying to get from the gate to the car whilst attempting to ward off an angry chicken with a Tesco carrier bag. It became so bad that we had to carry some sort of defending tool to get out of the gate. The girls were becoming more unhappy and hiding more and more so Lionel had to go. We could not, however, give him to anyone who was going to put him in the pot so we had to wait for someone with the right situation. Along they came finally and Lionel was last heard of looking after 10 young girls and sowing his oats left right and centre. Our girls seemed content without a pesky boy and we could once more go in and out of the gate without running fast, Tesco bag to hand!

We were gradually settling in to our new life, we had cleared huge parts of the garden and started to do some work on the house. All was well in our world, until the incident with the septic tank….

These blogs are just short excerpts of much bigger chapters! I am currently working on getting a book publiished about our journey so far in order to assist funding for the Earthkin project. If you would like to be informed when the book is available, please subscribe to our newsletter, thank you.

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