Another murder in the henhouse – and hornets

Mrs Downs Diary
Mrs Downs Diary
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Our Jack Russell Millie has been very interested in an area of skirting in one of our sitting rooms. As we can never dismiss the idea of a mouse visitor, I usually set a trap when I see her in sniffer mode.

But this time it was something different that crawled out from under a sofa. A hornet. Aaarrgghh. They are huge. And it was not the only one, I have just found another in the hall. Where are they coming from?

A quick flip through the internet and I came away a hornet expert. Checking the outside of the house though to see where the hornets might have gained access drew a blank. No sign of a nest.

Luckily I had not squashed the hornet on sight, rather catching it under a glass and taking it outside to tip into the rubbish bin. Apparently squashing a hornet releases a chemical that attracts other hornets which then proceed to sting you in retaliation.

Mind you I might have found where they were coming from. Till then it is a mystery. More research tomorrow.

The dry spell enabled us to finish getting the ewes clipped. It has also improved the mobility of the lambs. A few of them were getting scald between the cleft in their feet/hooves/toes, brought on by the constantly wet conditions and no opportunity for their feet to dry out. Some were even literally on their knees, despite John administering a foot spray to relieve their symptoms.

All the lambs are now bouncing about on all four legs; a much improved situation.But once more there has been a murder in the barn. A failure in hen management on my part had meant yet another chick had been hatched out a week earlier than the main clutch of guinea fowl eggs that a broody was sitting.

A rogue bantam had sneaked in and laid her egg under the broody hen. I thought it was only cuckoos that did that. We must have a new strain of birds on this farm.

If I left the hen with the one chick, she would abandon the rest of her clutch and take off with it assuming the rest of the eggs were duds.

As John is rearing a number of partridges for a friend, I thought the best answer was to pop this chick under the lamp with the game birds. But John did not agree. “It might scare the partridges away from the heat lamp,” he said. “Put it under a hen that has just hatched out some guinea fowl keets, I’m sure that it was a one off when that other chick was killed.”

It wasn’t. Tonight I have just found a bloodied little chick in the run. Virtually no head left at all. And a totally oblivious to her crime hen.

She had initially appeared to accept the chick. Made no fuss at all. Was clearly waiting for me to leave the barn before stabbing the poor little thing to death. Nature is cruel. And I, at times, naïve.