Sunday, 31 May 2015

A Positive Crisis

Wot? No blog in April? I've managed to do one a month for fourteen months, and then... We had a positive crisis in April.

You need a string of disasters to properly appreciate a positive crisis – it's just like an ordinary crisis, or a negative crisis, except that everything goes right at once. It's just as tiring as the bad sort, just as demanding.

We were in the middle of re-painting the kitchen on a place we let out. Near enough to deal with as a 'day job', but far enough away to precluding 'nipping home' to deal with things. We also had Amber, our best broody hen, sitting a clutch of Light Sussex eggs. The chicks started hatching on the Sunday, so we went decorating Monday and all was well. Fine on Tuesday, no problem Wednesday, and Thursday we moved Amber to the greenhouse and a fresh nest box. Everything still going fine, chicks emerging from under her to have food, all looking good, so we went back to decorating.

It was a bit of a worry – would the chicks be OK? Normally, we monitor closely for the first few days, but this was Amber the Superhen, in the greenhouse, safe from our cats (who mostly know not to tangle with a broody hen), so what could possibly go wrong? We were late back, another worry, but the chicks were absolutely fine. Well, almost fine. Standing around, cheeping, wondering what the hell mum was up to. It never occurred to us that our ageing super-broody might just drop dead.

Plan B swung into action – we had other broodies and had previous success in fostering chicks. Not this time. Not only were these orphaned bundles of joy rejected, but one hen hurt several of them.

Plan C... our neighbours raise chickens and offered to foster for a day or two whilst we got ourselves sorted. Problem over, except for the smallest chick that wasn't eating or drinking yet and needed checking every hour or two, day and night... So now only one of us could go painting, with the other on chick-minding duties.

And finally, our former alpha-cockerel You (evening count... two black, four brown, two white... and You), who has been looking droopy for a while, went into sudden decline and died in the night.

String of disasters complete...

And then the positive crisis. Four in the morning, littlest chick started pecking at food! Not fixed yet, not actually eating, not drinking without the aid of a dropper, but a huge step forwards and the prospect of getting a full night's sleep in the near future. Then, just after breakfast, I went to check our borrowed cat-trap – we have been trying to catch Pure Black, the latest feral tom moving in to the barn, and check over any of the others careless enough to walk in. Instead, I found Black&White, one of our long-term resident ferals waiting for breakfast, meowing insistently, hissing furiously, and so desperate for breakfast that he was waiting until I put the food down rather than running away and coming back later... except that the food bowl was still in the trap as bait... and Pure Black was inside.

Welcome to feline DefCon One.

For a bit of peace and quiet, I tipped cat biscuits into the lid of the tub and put it down for Black&White, who hissed some more, meowed briefly, and then ate. That was a startlingly sociable reaction. A minute or two later, my wife came past on her way to feed the sheep and, as I told her what had happened, Black&White came out, wrapped himself around her ankles, then mine and demanded to be stroked...

Our positive crisis was complete – way too much going right at once. Pure Black with wife to vet for check-up and testing for a microchip; wife to painting; me to supervise chicks and slow-mo cat fight as Black&White immediately tested his new privileges and explained to Oatmeal that he was moving in...

Writing it down, it doesn't seem much, but that was our positive crisis – a whole day wiped out and aftershocks that kept rumbling on. Three weeks later, sitting in the greenhouse and watching a second batch of new chicks (courtesy of our youngest broody) have their first proper outing, there was finally time to write it down. So many good things happening at once is exhausting.

Now, our late lambing has started. So far, so good. One small positive crisis after another.

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