Jonathan & Denise: It was a month ago – at the beginning of December, that the news came that an outbreak of Avian Flu [Bird Flu] – which had already caused a great deal of loss in continental Europe – had reached our shores. The order soon came that all poultry was to be kept indoors or by other means entirely segregated from wild birds. The order applied in every part of Great Britain [that’s Scotland, England and Wales] and for 30 days. Unfortunately, during that time, there’s been wild birds found dead across the UK in which Avian Flue has been found, and sporadic outbreaks amongst poultry flocks. These flocks have been destroyed by the authorities, and biosecurity zones set up around the site of the outbreak. Compliance amongst back-garden keepers, small-holders [homesteaders in the US?] and – as we’ve seen with our own eyes – Hebridean crofters, has been far from complete. So it was no great surprise that, a few days ago, just before the 30-day lock-down was due to end, the authorities extended it until the end of February – another two months.
Denise: Here’s some of our new recruits! 13 chicks hatched over the past day or two – Most of them are Welsumer, the rest Buff Orpington, destined for duties both here and there – the ‘Buffies’ here at the walled garden, the Welsumers over in Eriskay on the croft. But that’s a couple of months away. Until then they’ll have a lovely time together, first under a lamp in the shed, and then in Greenhouse 1 – as soon as I’ve harvested all the tomatos and cleared the vines onto the compost heap.
Denise: The most recent batch of Buff Orpington chicks we incubated have now ‘feathered up’ nicely, and are big enough for moving house to join the adults here in the walled garden. J scooped them up out of the hen ark where they’ve been ‘grown on’ for the past few weeks, and passed them to me in handfuls of three to take over to the new hen-house in the south-east corner of the garden. He snatched this picture of the last handful: and they certainly were on a handful, as the next photo J took [not in this slide-show!] you could see a swear-word taking shape on my lips as the three of them made a bid for freedom in three different directions!
Pickle arrived to get involved in anyway she could – she really does think she’s human, you know!