Good news and bad


She was nowhere to be seen when we arrived home from our holiday. We left food and water out and the pop hole works automatically so that it closes at dusk and opens at dawn. A friend came every day to check on her. I called and chucked, but I could not see our hen named Speckles. Then suddenly, there she was at my feet, feeding on the scraps of bread that I was dropping for her.

Last weekend we fed her as usual and went out for lunch. Once again when we arrived home, she was nowhere to be seen. Then I noticed feathers which filled my heart with horror. Soft white feathers at the pop hole and bigger wing feathers trailed along to the gate. Speckles, our hen, was not going to return this time. What could have taken her in broad daylight? You never know what prowling animal could have killed her out here in the countryside. Our hen has been taken by a hungry creature.

As if to cheer us up a robin began nesting in my bird box outside the kitchen window. I could see it on the cotoneaster with a beak full of hay. Then eyeing me it rested for a while as I stood stock still and she darted into the box. I watched her doing this all morning sometimes bringing leaves and sometimes grass. But Mr T decided to give the lawn its first cut and he awakened the coughing engine from its winter rest. The noise disturbed the robin and she stopped building.

Yesterday, when I was in our potting shed (which used to be the outside toilet long ago), I was planting a cutting and in came the robin with a leaf in her beak. She flew up to the roof where there are old baskets hanging. She has found a new nesting site. I watched her going backwards and forwards with hay and leaves.

Today I saw two people getting up from the restaurant table before coffee and the woman started to dust down her husband’s jacket and trousers.

“We live on a farm up in the hills,” she said apologetically, “and it’s only when we get into town and look at what the others are wearing that we realise we should have dressed more carefully before we came out. That’s the trouble with living in the countryside.”

They had to go outside as there was more debris on his trousers. I saw them brushing down and then they came in leaving a neat little pile of moss and grass. It is a shame my robin is not here to collect it for her nest.

(Taken from my column in the Shropshire Star)


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