Free spirited chickens refuse to watch the clock

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Bed time routines for our chickens change as the evenings get longer and lighter. Instead of being all shut up by just after four, the hens are still pottering about at six o clock, and frequently need rounding up to go into the hen house.

“I can’t wait for you lot to put yourselves to bed when I have supper to put on,” I tell them.

A few of the more free spirited and far sighted hens anticipate these corralling tactics and take themselves up into the trees in the orchard where they roost with the remaining guinea fowl.

About three or four of them however still perch on to of the big bales that are left in the barn, peering down defiantly at me as, once more, I fail to persuade them into the hen hut.

Returning from yet another fruitless effort last night I was startled by a silent waft of air above me.

I looked upwards. A ghostly, shape flew noiselessly past, out of the barn where I had been checking that my youngest chicks had been shut up with their bantie Mums, and into the evening sky. Could it be a barn owl?

Looked like one in the brief glimpse I had of the soundless shape flitting out into the gloom, but we have no nest box in this particular barn.

The owl nest boxes that John has made are all in trees over ponds or in small areas of woodland; none this close to the farm buildings.

Super smug John confirmed that indeed it was a barn owl, and yes, he knew we had one and didn’t I know it had been in the barn for quite a few weeks. No I didn’t. I know nothing.

“Can you make it a nest box?” was my next question.

“No came the swift reply, with the very sensible reason being that this is a barn where the grain dryer is, where we are constantly shifting big bales around, fertiliser is stored , tractors and the Landrover on the move. In fact it is not exactly the most peaceful spot on the farm.

For a start the owl has picked the nosiest barn and secondly it is opposite the house where automatic security lights come on if anything moves in the area. Which does explain to me why lights have been flicking on and off eerily in the night. “There are plenty of nest boxes for the owl to use if it wants to down the fields,” came the next statement.

“Apparently the owl is currently perching on one of the roof trusses in the top of the barn.

“He is probably policing the pile of big bales which are swiftly being eroded by the need to make sure the cattle have plenty of straw in the foldyard, especially with all the new calves.

“But soon the barn will be emptied for the ewes to come in for lambing and he may leave of his own accord. Till then I hope he is doing a useful job with mice and rats.