It was -5 this morning, and the Garden Girls' drinkers were both frozen over. Even the inside one, which is better potected and therefore usually less solid, required hot water and a bit of bashing. Reminded me a bit of the old ReadyBrek advert, the one with the girl and her pony. Sorry, I'm digressing down memory lane..
It was our turn to do the Allotment Chooks today, so we went before breakfast.
We started by poiring fresh water on top of the drinkers, and fresh water into a bowl. This meant that the Girls could drink while we worked. DH fired up the camping stove, and we defrosted each of the metal drinkers in turn. Once the ice started to melt, I broke it with a stick.
We then set up the tea lights (prtected in a small glass ramekin, with the ramekin inside an illy coffee tin, holes drilled at strategic points to let the condensation out), and put one under each of 2 drinkers.
I also let the Littlees out to join the main flock. I was surprised at the lack of hen pecking, the littlees were even allowed to drink while others were drinking. Maybe it was just too cold for any of the big girls to notice, or maybe it was because Henry was standing nearby. Or we were.
The two flocks separated again, with main flock going outside to the grassy path and the Littlees staying in the allotment area and exploring.
The Oldies came back fairly quickly, and I spread corn out everywhere. There was a little bit of head-pecking, but nothing major that I could see.
We put the door-into-the-Litlees-Paddock on its side (as in Raymond Briggs' "When the Wind Blows" ), leaning up against the fence. This would provide additional refuge if any of the Littlees needed it.
All done, did a quick headcount. It's much harder now. It used to be
6 black - check
Nora & Batty - check
Norman and Co - check
Princess - check
Big Bird - check
3 Black - check.
Today it was "Nora & Batty, yep; Norman & Co, yep; Henry, yep; Big Bird,yep. 1,2,3,4,5,was that Princess or a black chicken? - Princess - 4, 5, 6, haven't I just counted you?. Hold on. 1,2,3,4,5 here, 6,7, by the fence, Princess, stop moving, 1,2,3,4,Princess, 5,6,7,8, where's number 9? Is there a black chicken in the shed? Yes? 9. Right.
Hopefully they'll be OK tonight.
If we didn't have a cockerel, I wouldn't attempt the integration this fast. Hope Henry does his job, keeping the Girls in order I mean.