December 21st and the shortest day can’t come quick enough for us, particularly the animals. We normally let them out to roam around dawn, depending on fog. The last few days we have woken up to dense fog. It seems to be settling in like a tired old lady in a comfortable chair, not certain when it wants to bestir itself. The chickens and rabbits are not happy about it. They don’t like fog. The ducklings are not bothered, but Maggie won’t fly in dense fog, so we have to walk her down to the others, quacking and calling to the others all the way. It’s obviously slower than flying.
Come dusk in a short day, the complaints are rife from the rabbits and ducks. Not nearly enough time to play outside, and it is definitely too early to go to bed. The chickens body clock works on daylight hours, so well before twilight, they put themselves to bed. They are definitely fair weather, daylight animals. Not so the others.
When it is time to put the rabbits to bed, they like a game of tag. I call ‘scoot, scoot’ and they know it is time to go in, but if they feel it is too early we have a little run around Rabbit World, with me following, and one or more of them running to and fro depending on how much play they want. Eventually though they have expended the extra energy and in they go for their dinner.
The ducklings on the other hand refuse to go quietly. We are still negotiating with Maggie (duck) whether she will join the ducklings in the evenings, and thus far she is firmly in the ‘back to the comfy house and her pillow’ camp. The ducklings would prefer her with them, or would prefer to go with her – but that way lies madness of too many ducks in a small cottage. So we leave the ducklings in their house calling for Maggie, who some nights couldn’t care less, and other nights calls back, not sure whether to stay (though ultimately, she always chooses to come away with me).
Today, Sunday, dawned dry and clear, which has meant Maggie flying down to the other animals when it was time to let them out. She enjoys a good gossip and forage but generally in about an hour we will find her back up at the cottage quacking to be let in. The morning ritual. I enjoy a coffee and a snuggle with Gigi (cat) over a chapter in a good book, whilst Maggie wanders about and then decides she wants to rejoin the other animals. Coffee in hand, I generally only have to walk a few metres from the door, thus giving her permission to go back to the others and off she flies to be greeted profusely, like the long lost sibling.
The chickens then make their rounds, showing up around 10am, for lettuce, seeds and any scraps. This is followed by a dust bath and nap in our garden. They generally do at least 3 circuits of the garden in the shorter days, up to 6 times come the summer time. I take lettuce and other treats down after lunch to the rabbits, the chickens, who at this time are to be found roosting on their favourite bench, and the ducks. The chickens and ducks come running over when they see me, which always makes me laugh, as you can’t not smile when you see a chicken or duck run.
On a clear day, Maggie has taken to showing the ducklings, Meeney, Minhy and Mo the garden. She waddles up, followed by the other three, exploring particularly good bushes and dirt en-route. She is very obviously showing off her knowledge of the area as she leads them about and eventually to her favourite watering spot. If she is lucky, and Pumpjack is working in his workshop, he will turn the water on so she clan play in the flow, make mud pies. and dig for worms. Duck bliss.
Through all this Gigi has sticks to her own schedule – lap time, eat time, run around time, like a true cat, she decides as the mood strikes her. In our animal world, every day is Sunday.