Maisie Chicken and Maisie Girl*
I thought it was time to post some news about the poultry at Watermill Cottages.  
They now live in a fox-proof (so far) and dog-proof stockade in the little old orchard up the lane. The hens are still in the HenHouseHilton, a wendy house which John converted, adding nesting boxes and a tilting roof, for egg collection.
Our chickens had been used to flying out and about, and it’s been their downfall; the foxes have taken plenty for their cubs, including Gretel, the last of the originals and my ‘hen of prey’.  A sad day indeed. We were down to three hens and our lovely new Rhode Island Red cockerel, and so, last week, brought four new hens home.  
Red, the Rooster

One of them, the speckled and friendly Maisie Chicken, will come right up to be stroked and she feeds out of my hand.  She’s named after Maise who was staying in Crownwheel Cottage last week.  Hence Maisie Chcken, to distinguish her from Maisie Girl, who helped her to feel right at home. 
The others are Gilda and two Light Sussex lookalikes (they’re hybrids really) called Tallulah and Marilyn.  They should start to lay eggs in the next few weeks.
The ducks are in the same large coumpound in their own quarters, again built by John, with perches, nesting boxes (we have three ducks sitting on eggs at present), and an annexe which was used as a nursery when the ten ducklings hatched, but is now the teenage hostel.  Powdery Duck’s ten are taking flying lessons and will soon be airborne, though they do have a good pond there and plenty of grazing so hopefully won’t stray far..

Violet’s three ‘toddler’ ducklings are just getting their adult feathers, and Specs, the big old Muscovy drake, is still the lord of all he surveys.

Dare we count our ducklings before they hatch?

*Photo of Maisie Girl published with her parents’ permission.