Posted in Chickens, Pets

Story Time at Cosy Cottage Coop

Eliza, front, checks out the floor. Victoria and Matilda (left) look on. Ava is in the background (can you spot her red comb?) storyteller Mabel is on the right

It’s another cold, blustery winter day so, yet again, a day for indoors. The more mature ladies Ava and Mabel remember the good old days when they would gather round with Dottie and Florence to listen to their wise matriarch, Jemima, reciting a yarn. Ava has resumed the storytelling sessions on these chilly, wintry days but today she has taken a back seat for Mabel to tell a tale. Alas, nobody’s attention is on Mabel, whose anecdotes lack the wisdom of Jemima and the warmth of Ava. Eliza has found a curious spot on the ground to peer at and Victoria and Matilda are wondering what it could possibly be. Ava, behind Mabel, has noticed that everyone has stopped listening to Mabel’s, rather tedious, long-running saga, titled When I Laid the Best Egg in the World. She ponders whether it is time for her to step back in as storyteller? We can’t all be good at everything and while Mabel can indeed pride herself on her tasty and prolific egg-laying skills, when it comes to constructing a good story, she’s well behind the egg-less Ava.

Posted in Pets

Looking after Danny

Photo by Craig Adderley on Pexels.com

Working in an insecure and sadly dying industry, I have often mused on the question: ‘if I was made redundant, what else could I do?’ When I was young I liked the idea of being a vet. Unfortunately I did not like the idea of science (although I love reading scientific books now, usually bamboozling topics such as blackholes and wormholes) and then there was the little matter of being squeamish. Roll on a couple of decades and I remembered this desire to work with animals. At the same time I was thinking of starting up a mini business, run on a very low scale to coexist with my current job.

So I joined a dog walking online platform, thinking nothing would come of it. I was wrong and by the end of 2022, I had six clients (canine) and four human ones. One of these canine clients was a British bulldog called Danny. His pet mum was worried that two-year-old Danny wouldn’t settle if his family went on holiday as he was adopted during lockdown and had never been left before. We arranged for Danny to have an overnight stay, a weekend stay and, if those went okay, a week-long stay while his family went on a long-awaited holiday.

He was a perfect gentleman on the first stay. He was a bulky, strong fellow with a naturally grumpy appearance (he was a bulldog after all) but when he ‘smiled’ he looked so happy and friendly. He wouldn’t go into my garden unless I went in too and he wanted to go into the bathroom when I did. He also insisted in sleeping in my room (albeit in his bed although he would have demanded to sleep in my bed had I been a total pushover). Otherwise on his first stay, as I said, a perfect gentleman.

Photo by Creative Workshop on Pexels.com

I looked forward to his second stay as he had been such a good boy the previous time. But Good Danny was replaced by Naughty Danny without my prior knowledge. He chewed a old lampshade that had been stored under my bed and pulled me down while I was walking him because he saw a man with a dog and, for some reason, this was highly exciting to Danny. Oh, and then there was the incident when I was talking on the phone and he took umbrage at this (why was I not looking at him and paying him attention?) and he decided the best way to get attention was to hump my leg. Not a laughing matter when it’s a heavy bulldog who is bruising your leg.

I told his pet mum Amanda about the lampshade but didn’t mention the other matters. She had already booked him in for a week and it was too late to back out now.

It was with trepidation that I greeted Danny for his week holiday. I had only looked after dogs for three or four nights maximum up to this time and eight days felt an awfully long time. And then this was a dog who followed me to the bathroom, chewed my belongings and humped my leg when he wanted attention. Eight days, at least it wasn’t longer. At least, if you halved it, it was only four days and then another four…

Photo by freestocks.org on Pexels.com

On the Wednesday, Amanda arrived with Danny. I smiled and pretended I was delighted to see him. Danny seemed to forget our previous little disagreements and appeared happy to come back to his guesthouse. His pet mum showed me his toys, chews (don’t leave him alone with the chew, she warned. I was thinking, not something else to worry about…), dog food (ironically for active dogs), his bed and blankets. I wished her a happy journey and then she left.

I had the agency’s emergency phone number if anything went wrong, I told myself. I was nervous on two counts.

One, it was just over a week. Other dogs had been looked after for shorter periods, this was eight days, anything could go wrong, what if, what if… (I had been having sleepless nights prior to this week, worrying about what could go wrong).

Photo by Creative Workshop on Pexels.com

Two, it was Danny. If it was Good Danny, all well and good. But what if it was Naughty Danny? Here to hump my leg, pull me over, and eat his way through my property?

I had to take my elderly parents’ dogs to the vet that Wednesday, a necessary trip that meant Danny would have to be left for two to three hours. I avoided leaving dogs on their own unless necessary and usually only for one or two hours but needs must. I left him on my settee in my living room after taking all my knick-knacks out. I hoped he wouldn’t chew my wooden coffee table, although the guinea pigs had been making a good job of it without Danny’s help.

Within three hours I arrived home. I prepared for the worst. Scratched door, pees and poos on the rugs, broken ornaments I hadn’t removed… I held my breath and opened the living room door.

All was well. Danny was at the door, waiting to greet me, wagging his almost non-existent tail (bulldogs have tiny tails). No damage whatsoever.

Photo by freestocks.org on Pexels.com

That night I expected him to bark as I had left in his bed downstairs. I was ready to take his bed upstairs in my room again but if he could relax in my living room, I’d leave him there. Not a sound was heard and the next morning, Danny was, again, happy to see me, wagging his tail and rear end.

I was also able to go to my bathroom without anyone following me or srcatching the door.

This was Independent Danny. I thought he was enjoying my company while I worked in my upstairs study and he slept on the settee up there. But I found that even when I was downstairs, he was still up there, snoozing away. We started trusting each other. I left him to his own devices when I left the house for a couple of hours. He happily napped upstairs. He took a liking to that study, whether I was there or not.

At first I took offence, did he not like my company? But we sat next to each other on my living room sofa that Saturday night, me watching The Deer Hunter, Danny snoring away. It wasn’t me, it was the room I realised. It was the sunniest and warmest room of the house and Danny had carefully selected the best room of his guesthouse for his daytime sleeping. Maybe he knew he was here for a week so he might as well make the most of it and treat himself to the warmest, sunniest spot. He couldn’t demand the landlady’s attention 24/7 so he may as well make the most of the facilities, which he did.

Photo by Craig Adderley on Pexels.com

I found Danny’s company relaxing although when I took photos of him to send to Amanda, he would make the most grumpiest face. He had a dislike to being photographed so many of his pictures were of his dozing on the settee.

The week came and went and soon it was pick-up time the following Thursday. Amanda arrived and Danny ambled downstairs, nonchalantly. He didn’t seem particularly bothered that he was going home. Whether he was sulking because he had been left behind while his family had gone abroad on holiday or simply irritated that he had been disturbed during a lovely napping session, I do not know. But I was happy that nothing bad had happened and that he was healthy and reasonably happy. I thought, yes, Danny, at least Independent Danny, can certainly come back again to stay at Cosy Cottage’s Exclusive Guesthouse.

Posted in Chickens, Gardens, Pets

Little Ladies Part 2

It took a long time for the newbies to make friends with Ava and Mabel. Actually, no, it didn’t take long for them to become pals with Little Ava. Mabel on the other hand…

New Girls on the Block: Victoria, Eliza and Matilda

It was like fighting on two fronts, trying to integrate three young bantams with two established, older ones – something that has always needed time and patience – and trying to snap Mabel out of her increasingly irritable (for her) and irritating (for me!) broodiness. Broodiness can be fatal for hens as they can forget to eat and drink while they’re on the nest, so I had always insisted on taking her out and making sure she ate. I wasn’t too concerned about her as she was eating and drinking but it was still something to keep an eye on.

When Eliza arrived, she had her own problem, a long beak. Despite putting a brick and rock in their temporary enclosure to ensure she would rub her beak alongside it, a week and a half later her beak still looked the same. I enlisted the help of Mum, who helped me trim it with an emery board. Eventually young Eliza’s beak looked just as good as her chums’.

Eliza has an appointment for beak treatment

The introduction process continued on slowly. The chickens came into my house for a meet and greet session a few times. The first was not a success as little Ava (yes, Ava!) went for Matilda, Mabel’s lookalike.

We put the new hens in Ava and Mabel’s coop, an opportunity for them to start getting accustomed to their new abode. While this was happening, Ava and Mabel took a field trip to the youngsters’ home to (hopefully) get used to the new hens’ scent.

It was time for me to start trusting. Ava at least. And for the most part, Ava didn’t seem to mind the new girls, never getting too close to them, keeping her distance to an extent, but still close enough for them to get used to her.

Ava and Mabel (left) sit with their new friends

On the other hand, Mabel always needed a close eye as she was grumpy and unfortunately prone to bullying if she could get away with it.

Three weeks on Simon came to visit. While I was out, he supervised the girls who were all in the garden. The previous time I had let them do this Ava had been okay but keeping a distance from the new hens. Unfortunately, Simon reported that Mabel had attacked Victoria while I had been out. Looked like it was back to square one.

Eventually we got to the point where Mabel tolerated the new girls. I would find them perching on a low border in the garden, the three amigos close together while Ava and Mabel sat a little further on.

Being standoffish is much better than being a bully though. When Mabel came out of brooding, her demeanour improved and her toleration grew. And instead of two separate groups tolerating each other, the friends started mixing more and I would find the whole group together by my door looking for mealworms, led by Little Ava or Mabel. Maybe it was a co-leadership?

Thankfully the five are all one group now but we have another challenge to cope with – bird flu, which seems to be particularly bad this year. And it seems that with bird flu comes lockdowns (not for humans this time). How do I keep wild birds and chickens safe while doing my best to make sure the chickens live as enjoyable life as they can in the circumstances?

For Little Ladies, Part 1:

https://cosycottageandthequestforthegoodlife.wordpress.com/2022/10/15/little-ladies-part-one-or-integrating-chickens-when-you-have-a-grumpy-hen/: Little Ladies Part 2
Posted in Chickens, Gardens, Pets

Little Ladies: Part One (or integrating chickens when you have a grumpy hen)

The new girls – Victoria, Matilda and Eliza

Mabel was busy sulking and grumping in the nestbox – except when I lifted her out and then she would be sulking and grumping in the garden. It was broody season again when common sense would fly out of the window or, to be precise, the coop. Dottie was sadly gone, as had Jemima. And now Mabel had set up camp in the nestbox, never leaving unless I physically took her out.

So there was only really Little Ava left who would perch in the garden by herself or potter about with her deluded pal who would be obsessing about the imaginary eggs she had to sit on. I felt sorry for Ava, she must have felt very isolated, and at the same time as grieving for her two late companions, in particular Dottie who had passed recently.

Crunch time had arrived at Cosy Cottage. It wasn’t fair to keep just two hens, something could happen to one and the other would then be left on her own. And hens are not solitary creatures, they need company. So either I looked for companions for Ava and Mabel or I rehomed them, an unpleasant prospect as I was very fond of them.

Mabel and Ava with Dottie

I had earlier thought of getting more hens when Jemima died earlier in the year, but the process of integration put me off. It’s never a matter of just putting them all together, it’s a gradual procedure otherwise bullying could result. It took a few weeks for Ava and Mabel to become part of the established pecking order of Jemima, Florence and Dottie. Even then the duo kept themselves apart from the three. They weren’t really a unit until much later.

So I had to be decisive for the bantams’ sake.

Decision made – I chose to look for more chickens. Alas Pear Tree Poultry, Ava and Mabel’s childhood home and where I also got Jemima, Dottie and Florence, had closed post-Covid. I had to look elsewhere. Once again I mused on the ex-battery hens but knew that I did not have the space to keep these larger girls with bantams. The difference in sizes made me hesitate too.

A scroll down the internet took me to some pekin bantam sellers in Lancashire and after ringing one up, I ventured out to find some new pals for Mabel and Ava. In large rabbit hutch style cages were several chickens of varying sizes and ages, separated by age. I had liked the look of a lavender one but it was vital the three were all of the same age so I plumped for three 18-week-old chicks who were chirping away. A white one (like Jemima), a white with black barred neck and a black and white speckled, a little like Mabel. I joked that Mabel might think her a long-lost daughter.

Simon helped me select names for the trio. The white one with black bars around her neck had the look of a vicar wearing a dog collar so was named Victoria, the black speckled one had the appearance of Mabel’s daughter so Matilda seemed appropriate, and the all white one would be Eliza. There was no reason for this last name, only that she looked an Eliza in our eyes.

The new girls lived in my spare coop for the next two weeks. After their life in the rabbit hutch, I believed this was the first time they encountered grass, and did they make the most of this delicious new substance!

Getting to know you…

Ava would peer at the new bantams through the spare coop bars, and on the second day she perched on top of the coop. Was she sending a message to the new arrivals? When Mabel was brought out of the coop and saw the intruders on her territory, she tried to launch herself onto Matilda, luckily safe behind the bars (so much for the long-lost daughter idea!).

Ava perches above the coop – Mabel looks on (back left)

For the next week, I would keep the youngsters in their ‘nursery’ and let Ava ‘make friends’ via the bars. At least that was what I hoped she was doing. In the meantime, I would bath Mabel and try to get her out of her broody state while showing her the arrivals from a safe distance. Unfortunately Mabel’s state of mind at this time was both deluded and bad-tempered.

This was going to take some time…

Eliza pays a visit

Coming up Part Two – will the two groups of girls make friends? Will the new ladies settle in?

Posted in Chickens, Pets

Tribute to Dottie

Dottie
Everyone’s friend – Dottie

Jemima had been leader of Cosy Cottage Coop for four years before her sad passing earlier this year. Dottie, despite not being obvious leadership material, dutifully took over, gaining confidence and respect, until one morning I went outside to let the hens out and found her motionless.

It was a sad and unexpected shock and it took me a while for it to sink in. She had died peacefully in her sleep at the age of five.

The last of the original trio I had adopted back in 2017, she was a hen full of character and boasted a beautiful brunette speckled plumage.

Dottie

It was her colouring that led to her name but it suited her persona too. She could be changeable in her outlook. Friendly at times, she would squat for us human friends to pick her up. Often she was demanding, vocally calling out for mealworms or other titbits. Her loud voice often sounded as if she was grumbling, a lack of worms , perhaps? During her stint as leader, she would lead her little flock of two to my back door. “What do we want? Mealworms!” She would loudly insist. But then there were times when she was much quieter, or if I would pick her up she would flap her wings, shrieking: “Let me down!”

Dottie with all her friends

Dottie was a hen’s hen. She loved the company of other chickens, especially Jemima. Along with Jemima and Florence, Dottie arrived at Cosy Cottage in September 2017. On the first couple of days, Dottie made a few attempts of being leader by being very vocal, claiming the first egg on the first night of arriving, and being bossy and pecking the younger (by two weeks) Flo. But it was the calmer, wiser Jemima who eventually took over as top hen.

Jemima was her best friend. I remember they had a spa day in their garden, when a large bag of woodchip was scattered on the ground. While Jemima enjoyed her dust baths, Dottie would insist on pushing underneath her.

Ava wonders just what exactly is Dottie doing?

A few years ago, in 2018, Dottie was ill. She wasn’t moving, eating or drinking and so we took her to the vet who gave her high energy food. A few days of keeping her inside my living room and giving her this food via a syringe, she seemed to start getting a bit perkier. From sad experience since then I realise that Dottie was one of the luckier hens to recover from an illness and it’s not always inevitable that they’ll survive. I do not know what the reason was behind the illness. I had wondered if it was because she was eggbound but the vet examined her with his hands and didn’t think she was. Although she made a full recovery, she was never a prolific layer of eggs, certainly not of edible eggs.

Dottie and eggs were never a perfect match. Often her eggs were soft and this led to the undesirable trait of egg eating, helped by her friends who, no doubt, thought this a grand treat.

When she was laying (soft eggs or otherwise), her comb was red and she was assertive and vocal. But there were times when she seemed perturbed about the softness or the lack of eggs and this seemed to diminish her confidence. I tried to encourage her to eat more grit in case this was the issue. Thankfully, for the most part, she was more often happy, pottering about with her pals.

Dottie with Jemima and Florence

In the early days, when it was just the three of them and Jemima and Florence went through their broody phase, poor Dottie would be wandering the garden by herself while the others would be queuing up at the coop door, waiting to be let in to continue their brooding.

When Mabel and Ava arrived, she found herself a faithful companion in Ava (although sometimes the independent Ava did her own thing). Ava didn’t lay eggs, except for a couple of tiny ones at the beginning. But Ava didn’t care about this, she didn’t let it worry her. Ava also didn’t take part in the brooding season so when Mabel joined in the broodiness, Dottie and Ava could often be found together.

She may have been bossy and liked to peck her friends (Ava, Florence and Mabel, never Jemima, who was top hen), but Dottie was pals with everyone. There was no malice behind her pecks. While Jemima and (surprisingly) the usually mild-mannered Florence showed aggression towards Mabel and Ava when they first arrived, Dottie was mild in her approach. She saved her pecks as friendly reminders – Jemima is boss and I am second-in-command.

There are only two left now, brooding Mabel and Little Ava, who wanders the garden, looking lost and perturbed by the loss of her friend and leader. They will miss their scatty but kind-hearted friend, as will I.

Posted in Chickens, Pets, Self-sufficiency

Queen of the Pecking Order

Dottie is the new leader

Cosy Cottage Garden now has a new boss – her name is Dottie.

The bantams’ previous head of state, Jemima, was an assertive and sensible leader. She took her duties seriously, whether it was telling Mabel off for brooding or alerting the others when a threat, such as a cat, appeared. After her sad illness and death earlier this year, for a while it looked like there was no new Queen of the Pecking Order, or even a pecking order.

The old days – former boss Jemima holds a conference

So the girls did their own thing. Ava would dreamily wander around before perching somewhere to meditate and ponder the mysteries of life, Mabel foraged for tasty greens, destroying honesty and other flowers in the process, Dottie dug away – usually in the tubs where I was trying to grow onions.

“No need for these little things, not sure what they are, but they’re not worms. Keep getting in the way of my worms, toss them out, that’s what I’ll do. They’re only in the way here. Hmm, I’m sure I spotted a worm here… Dig, dig, dig away, merrily into the dirt…”

But hens need someone in charge, so gradually Dottie took control of the situation. She proved a different type of leader to Jemima, more laissez-faire and easygoing. In a different world, she would not have made mother hen with her hands-off approach to the role. But Ava had no interest, Mabel was inclined to be more concerned about food than social affairs and Dottie may be dizzy but she was the eldest of the three.

Dottie complains about a lack of mealworms

She is no natural boss and does suit her name ‘Dottie’ in her character, as well as her appearance. She is not particularly interested in important security issues such as cats and hawks. Instead I see her outside my patio doors, alongside her compatriots, demanding sunflower seeds and mealworms. She will never gain a reputation for wisdom but she has excellent negotiation skills when it comes to titbits. However, unlike Jemima, who would call the others over whenever mealworms were handed out, Dottie keeps news of such treats to herself.

She is no autocrat. Instead of rebuking Mabel, who is starting to go through the broody process again, Dottie sits alongside her companionably, Ava next to her.

When asked about being a leader, Dottie replies: “We all do what we like but I’m the boss of course.”

Posted in Pets

The naughtiest dog

Photo by Tanino on Pexels.com

The year 2020 was a memorable year for the wrong reasons but it was also a year where Cosy Cottage awarded its first ‘Naughtiest Dog of the Year’ trophy. True, the trophy is an imaginary one due to cost restraints, but the accolade is still there.

Actually there are quite a few contenders for the Naughtiest Dog trophy. My family dogs Teddy and Molly are always prime candidates but I will select Max, Simon’s sister’s dog. Max is a springer spaniel who I met while on holiday with Simon in his sister’s caravan in Norfolk.

One day Simon’s sister and brother-in-law went out and we said we would take Max for a walk on the beach.

I once had – and sometimes still have – dreams of becoming a dog walker. I also had dreams of becoming a dog trainer until I realised I was unable to train Teddy and Molly, my family’s jack russells. I preferred to give dogs tasty treats rather than commands. In other words, I was too soft.

But I could always become a dog walker? Right? I took Max’s lead and he pulled… and pulled. I never realised dogs were so strong. Teddy pulls but as a small dog he’s manageable. But Max? And he wasn’t even a big dog, he was a springer spaniel – a medium-sized one! I gave him back to Simon in defeat.

Photo by Tanino on Pexels.com

“I need to rejoin the gym,” I admitted.

We brought Max to the nearby beach where Simon let him off the lead.

“He won’t run off, will he?” I fretted, thinking of all the possible perils of walking someone else’s dog.

Yet for some reason, we were under the impression that he was well behaved. We were mistaken.

He ran off.

And not only was Max strong, but he was fast. He turned out to be the strongest, fastest dog in the world. (He was awarded for those categories too).

We both called Max’s name (it seemed he was deaf too) and Simon (thankfully much fitter and faster than me) ran after him.

And ran.

And ran.

Although I was running too, I could no longer see Simon, let alone Max. But eventually both were spotted coming back. This time Max was on a lead.

It turned out that Max was also a thief. While running his marathon, he decided he would steal another dog’s ball. By the time Max had been retrieved, the other dog and his guardian had gone but Max defiantly had the ball in his mouth. I hope the other dog wasn’t too upset.

I suspect there is a picture of Max in the police stations of Norfolk, Most Wanted Ball Stealer – have you seen this dog?

Max, you may be a very charming fellow, but you deserve the Naughtiest Dog Trophy.

Posted in Pets, Travel, places to visit, mini-adventures

Among the gentle giants at the National Shire Horse Show

For one weekend in March, Newark Showfield in Nottinghamshire turned into the land of the giants, but have no fear as these were as gentle as they were dignified. They were Shire horses attending their own equine version of Crufts.

Shire Horse Show Pictures by Simon Hunter

There was an array of classes for them to compete in and all ages took part. I had assumed they were black horses but there were bay and silver colours too. I was beginning to wonder why it was just geldings and stallions but it was actually ladies’ day the following day when the mares would get preened up. The overall winner would compete in the National Horse Show in Birmingham later on in the year.

Shire horses were once used to pull carts and we got a glimpse of this during another competition where drainage companies competed with breweries.

There was a selection of vintage tractors and other farming machines on display, and, as at these types of events in general, a host of stalls selling refreshments and merchandise, and promoting charities.

It all felt so very ordinary as we wandered about that I forgot how last year this enjoyable event would not have been allowed to happen.

I always get Shires mixed up with Clydesdales as they are both large horses. I knew the Shires were large – 17.2 hands – and is the largest horse in the world. What I didn’t realise was their war history, an irony as they have a reputation for being so calm. While I picture Shires working on the canal, pulling freight barges along, they actually came into being through war in the medieval ages. I had a look at the Shire Horse Society’s website to find out its history…

Back in medieval ages, knights wearing armour were too heavy for the small British horses such as the Dartmoor so heavier breeds came over from Flanders, Germany and Holland. And so the War Horse aka the Great Horse appeared on the scene.

Farmers then took advantage of the Shire’s great strength and it started ploughing and pulling heavy loads (taking over from the oxen). During the Industrial Revolution, the Shire towed barges along the newly constructed canals, as well as drays, trams and wagons.

Technology in the form of railways, tractors and cars meant the need for Shires declined and they were no longer needed on barges, farms or roads. Although the breed’s numbers fell to a few thousand in the 1960s, they are becoming popular again and are seen on small farms, agricultural shows, ploughing matches, forestry and rural life museums, among other places. They are also seen as the more environmental option when it comes to working on the land.

I’m glad to see that these dignified giants will be around for a long time yet.

Posted in Chickens, Pets

Tribute to Jemima

It is rare to find a genuinely good leader – but that is what Jemima was. Her fluffy white plumage hid a sensible, fair and assertive personality, which won her the place of Mother Hen of the pecking order.

She never became tame in the way Mabel was (always in the hope of titbits) or Florence or Dottie when in the egg laying mood. Even when she laid eggs, she disdained human contact. Saying that, she did make friends with my godson Noah, eight at the time, who, on a visit, often brought her into my house.

She arrived with Dottie and the slightly younger Florence back in September 2017. A white egg arrived the next day. I never knew who laid it, although Dottie claimed credit by proclaiming to all and sundry. But it could have been Jemima. She was a quiet girl, not chatting for the sake of it and never boasting about her achievements, even after laying an egg.

Soon after she arrived, Simon called her wise. She always had that air of knowing more than the others.

Jemima with her best friend Dottie

Jemima and Dottie became good pals but she was always respected by all the hens.

Jemima leads a meeting

Jemima took her duties seriously. She was quiet but if she thought there was danger she would alert the others with an alarm call. On these occasions, Mabel was second in command, joining in the chorus. Whether it was a cat, a sparrow hawk or a false alarm, the pair would loudly tell the others to ‘Be safe, be alert. There’s danger about’…

Broody Buddies – Jemima with Florence

Every summer was broody time, a special occasion she celebrated with Florence and Mabel. Last year, she outgrew it and focused on laying eggs. How angry she was that Mabel was still taking part! She would go over to Mabel and give her an angry peck. I had to step in and make sure it didn’t become bullying. Jemima was mostly fair but you still wouldn’t want to get on the wrong side of her.

Recently Jemima became ill and although she apparently got better, she went downhill again before passing away.

That day Dottie looked around her as if to say, “Where’s Jemima?”

They will miss her, as will I.