I spent an hour yesterday afternoon trying to herd a runaway chicken. Which mostly entailed a cycle of tiptoeing up the road past her and then turning around and guiding her back down the road--until she'd spook, about-face, and speed away from the house again. And again. And again. And then she ducked into a hedge. So, Billie the Chicken: 1, Ali: 0.
We hoped she'd find her way back before dusk, but she didn't. I've still got my fingers crossed that she'll wander back in the next day or so, but this experience has brought home some of the realities of free ranging and keeping animals. Of course we're going to lose some along the way. I just didn't expect to lose one so soon.
Not that she's lost for good just yet. Just that she's got a lot to contend with out there. This is some wild countryside. There are foxes, mink, weasels, kites, buzzards, barn cats, and farm dogs. It's part of what makes this place so beautiful. That and the pheasants. Maybe Billie's got a date with the male pheasant who's been hanging around the chicken coop lately, strutting his stuff and hoping for a bit of inter-species romance. I'll tell myself for now that we'll be seeing baby pheackens running around soon. Or that I'll peek inside the coop this evening or tomorrow evening and she'll be roosting with the other hens like she'd never left. Here's to hoping anyway.
Here's a photo from earlier this week (Billie's the white Sussex with her head in the box of sugar puffs):
Billie isn't the only Longhouse resident who's been on the road this week. I've been driving! With big Learner "L" signs magnetized to the front and back of the car. I've had my American license for fifteen years, but driving here, I do feel more like a new driver than I expected I would. I think it'll take me longer to get the hang of steering from the right hand side of the car than driving on the left hand side of the road, at any rate...
Otherwise, there's not much to report from Longhouse. We're on a bit of a budget crunch saving up for central heating (which may delay our sheep acquisition for a short while). I've been revising my novel, and B and I spent a long lazy weekend exploring the local spring goings on--including a village fete, a bit of a pub crawl (we've got some great recommendations for when you visit!), and a day at Hay Festival. For those of you who are unfamiliar with Hay-on-Wye, it's a small town just south of us on the Welsh side of the border, with a population of around 1500--and 20+ bookshops. Like something out of a dream.
So it's not all failing at herding chickens and waiting for sheep. There's quite enough to keep us busy for now. I'll work on my herding skills for you, and I'll try to bring my phone to record the next farm life misadventure so your imagination doesn't have to do all the work. In the meantime, here's to Billie the Chicken: hope you're trav'lin' light.