One of our most recent jobs has been clearing my late aunt's house. It was an uncomfortable process as we sifted through drawers and cupboards, it felt invasive, but necessary. Ninety-two years worth of detritus and treasures waiting to be packed in boxes, given to charity shops, dispersed amongst the family, or placed in our loft for further investigation as time permits.
It felt as though we were packing away a life. However, discovering that she was a very different person in her youth from the ptarmigant she had become, helped to turn a horrible process into something of an adventure - happier images replaced some of the more awful ones.
I'll be sharing some of these discoveries with you in a future post.
Now the pressure is off and we can begin to enjoy normal life, ordinary things. It does all feel a tad lazy - but wonderful. We can enjoy the gardens again, take time to smell the flowers and enjoy having our grandchildren around and simply sit and watch the hens scratching around.
I can even laugh about how naughty little Sparky managed to bring a live mouse into the house - we still haven't found it - just as I was in the midst of all the food preparations for the wedding reception...
Three of our four rescue hens have fallen off their perch. Finally, about ten days ago, we were left with just the one, Frankie. She really didn't like being a singleton and went into a decline. She perked up as soon as she was allowed through into the gardens and was given lots of extra attention. She even attended the reception, strolling around as though she owned the place, accepting cake crumbs and kindly words.
We decided that as soon as things had calmed down we would get some more hens - company for her, plus the eggs would be useful. I always go for second-hand animals, so many need rescuing from bad situations not of their making, but this time we decided to go for 'brand new' hens. Pretty hens, chosen for their beauty. Shallow of me, I know, but I will rescue some more girls from the pie factory next time!
Yesterday George and I set out to choose the new girls, I hated the process, but I am delighted with the beauty of my choices.
Our remaining ex-battery hen, Frankie, is a little bit cross. I think she feels demoted and jealous. All will settle in a few days as the new pecking order is established.
These two beauties are the temporarily-named Leonie (I'll be asking Ming Ming to decide on her real name when she comes back from honeymoon) and Frankie II - Francesca chose to name 'her' hen after herself, it could be confusing given that we still have Frankie I, as well as Francesca herself.
The speckledy hen is called Mab, Frankie II is in the middle and the one at the back is beautiful Dusty.
They are all young, so it will be a few weeks before they begin to lay eggs.
This is the smallest of the flock, she is a White Star, Harry loves her and has named her 'Shaggy' - he adores watching Scooby Doo, Shaggy is his hero.
Then we have gorgeous Lucy, George's favourite, she is quite a character already, having escaped twice into the woodland.
Frankie one is FURIOUS. She continually tells us that she is not an ordinary hen and should not be penned up like one. She keeps escaping, refuses to stay in the temporary run, won't even stay in the woodland.
We have created a monster, all the extra time and TLC we lavished on her has gone to her little chicken head.
Here she is under one of the old apple trees, strutting her stuff and being very noisy about it.