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We live on an old farm. Most of the land has been sold off. Certainly no room any more for cows, pigs, sheep, or any other typical farmyard animals. Except for a few that is!
Our hens are mostly rescue hens from The British Hen Welfare Trust. In our old house, they used to invite themselves into the kitchen, eat the herbs in my wobbly, plastic greenhouses, and generally make themselves at home in any area of the garden they felt deserved their destructive attention. Now - they are nicely corralled in the orchard at the back of the garden, behind a fence.
We tend to take the hens that are the most in need of care. At the moment, we have one with a very swollen eyeball (we are not even sure if there is an eyeball) getting a lot of attention from the vet, while I administer antibiotics at home. We have another who had a hole in her face, but that seems to be healing up nicely. They are all of a bit of a motley bunch, really! But they are very relaxing (and time wasting) to watch. And, more importantly, even if they fly up and over the fence alongside the orchard, my Rhino keeps the herbs out of reach for the most part! They are VERY partial to Curly Parsley (not so much the French Flat Parsley) and to Broad Leaved Thyme, which is quite spicy, but that doesn’t seem to bother them.
Then we have 3 ducks - Scooby, Dooby and Doo. 2 boys and a girl - each hatched at a local school to teach kids about how life begins - and then once hatched they had nowhere to keep the birds to show the kids life and the end of it...
The ducks are very destructive, and have taken up residence in the fish pond, rather than the little pool we made for them. They are not eating the fish but they have destroyed the pond plants. And even though we have put netting over the pond, they merely slide along the netting, pushing it under the water’s surface and paddle on top! Unlike the hens, the ducks DO come into the house. Although they too are kept in the orchard with the hens, they are great escape artists.
Do they eat any herbs? No. But they made short shrift of my outside chillis and tomatoes! The photo above shows the ducks TRYING To gain access to my Rhino - but Chuck the dog is on hand to decline them Access to All Areas, especially the Rhino!
And then of course we have our three bee hives. Which I will tell you about every now and then as we change our approach to the beekeeping habits we have been using. Although we have always left more honey in the hive than most beekeepers (our honey is a rarity for others to purchase!), we recently went on a natural beekeeping course which will change the hives we use, whether and how often we treat the bees for mites, and how often we open up the hives. We are returning to the beekeeping of generations ago and it is very exciting! And of course the bees love the herbs, so I make sure I plant loads on our allotment as well as around our house. I will keep you posted on how many herbs I plant on the allotment - bees need HUGE areas of VARIED forage so it all has to be done carefully to make sure I am not just replicating what is already there.
We also have three dogs: one is elderly, deaf, one-eyed and has a bit of dementia; the other is also elderly and deaf; and the third is a mad cap crazy rescue dog. Not for us the well behaved dogs so often seen wandering along the main street of our village! Do they enjoy eating the herbs? Only if mixed with cheese! They'd rather have the apples from the orchard
So - our animals and their relationship with The Herbs. All a bit mixed and unexpected!