Saturday, 7 January 2012

Feeding time

You may remember that the Parish Council cleared the vegetation on the other side of our fence,  which resulted in rats making their way into the Girls' run.  You may remember that we've been putting down poison, blocking the holes, and bringing in the feed every night.

Bringing the feed in means that it needs to go out in the morning, preferably before the Girls get up.  The Girls are used to being able to get up at their leisure, and then take breakfast immediately.  It's been this way since they were eggs.  They don't like the changes in routine - unless, of course, it's to their advantage, in which case they embrace the change whole heartedly. Some beneficial changes seem to become habits after just one instance, funny that. But I'm digressing.

Getting up in the morning to get the feeders out is a real chore, especially as neither of us start work early at the moment.   Poor DH has got into the habit of getting up and doing it.  Every evening, I resolve to get out of bed and do it before he does; every morning, a warm bed and a snuggly cat dissolves my good intentions.

We decided we'd switch to a Grandpa's Feeder (GPF).  Once they have learned to use it, we can leave it in the un overnight and bring in the other feeders.  We can then take out the other feeders when we get up.   So, I bought one.  This is my fifth,  the other 4 are on the allotment. (Apparently the record is 12 feeders, so I have a bit of a way to go).

It arrived swiftly, and we put it in use.  As recommended, we've pegged it completely open to start with, which gives the Girls time to get used to the shape of it, and putting their heads in etc.    Step 2 is partially open so they can see the food and they  get used to the clanging when they step on the footplate; and Step 3 is completely closed.    Because we don't want to encourage the rats again, we're not leaving it out until we've achieved Step 3.

To encourage the Girls to use it, we've only got one other feeder out there, and this has only a small amount of food in.     Totempt them to put their heads inside, I initially prinkled  a small amount of corn on top ofthe feed.  'Tilda was straight in there, sideways on, and didn't give the others a look-in.

Spying on them from my bedroom (they can see me if I stand by the itchen door), I've seen Roobarb eat out of it.  And today, at last, I saw Milly eat out of it.  Milly is a crean legbar, has a crazy comb which means she can't see out of one eye,  and it takes her a loooooong time to get the hang of things.

Florence acts as though it isn't there.  When she's eating corn out of my hand, I lower my hand into the feeder, and she just looks at me as if to ask where my hand has vanished to.  She walks past the feeder looking straight ahead, in that "if I can't see it, it can't see me" way that small children - and daft hens - have. Heaven knows what she's goin gto be like when she steps on the plate and it clangs.

It's only been a couple of days.  And I know from past experience that, when they get used to it, I'll be wondering what the fuss was about.

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