Feathered foes and furry friends


A-Z challenge – My memories of life on the farm in the nineteen fifties and sixties

Fowls and Turkeys

The fowl shed was - yes you guessed it  - sometimes foul. To collect the eggs was usually not a trial unless a hen had “gone broody” and wanted to retain the eggs for hatching. Generally one could put one’s hand underneath a sitting hen and safely retrieve the eggs but sometimes they pecked. We had about a hundred hens, so collecting eggs was a daily chore. Once a week we cleaned and packed the eggs into crates for the market.

Then there was the not so delightful job of shovelling out the hen house once the litter became too deep. When it had dried out it was used as fertiliser around all the fruit trees. Fresh straw was forked across the floor of the hen house much to their delight, they would scratch and scrabble around in it. Sometimes we would catch or tame a hen and tuck it under one arm to carry around. The flock were happy to be hunted back inside the shed for the night.

Turkeys were a different case. Mum bred them for the Christmas market. They roamed the yard by day and every now and then one would see the gobbler chasing after a hen. He could be a fearsome beast with his feathers fluffed and his red neck glowing. It was best to keep out of his way. They were more difficult to herd into shelter, the flock often running madly around in circles. Even though birds were locked up every night, sometimes those wily foxes could still find a way to snatch a live feed.

Cats our furry friends

Just as dogs were an essential part of the farm so too did our cats play an important role. They controlled the vermin; mice, rats and rabbits. Smokey the grey female was once seen dragging two rabbits she had caught for her kittens, one hanging out each side of her mouth. She was a small cat but an intrepid hunter. Sandy the big brindle male was not so friendly. The number of cats we had varied over the years. I had a cat named Norman, a big grey sleek fellow. He was happy to be draped around my neck as I wandered the yard.

Our cats and dogs were outside animals but well loved and treasured. They were fed table scraps and could be seen lurking for well-deserved treats each time a sheep was killed for domestic consumption. The cats also liked to frequent the milking shed on the chance of spilt milk or a saucer of milk still warm from the cow.

Next G - Gates and grates

17 comments:

  1. This is a delightful post. It reminds me of the chickens we kept on our farm when I was young. We didn't have a proper chicken coop, so my grandfather arranged hay in unused horse stalls in our barn and that's where the chickens laid their eggs. He got an outside goose to scare off foxes and such -- and you could hear the honking for miles!

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    1. I had no idea that geese could scare off foxes. In later years one of my sisters who married a farmer had geese on their farm, must chat to her about it.

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  2. We usually live on 4 acres, and so I have never before been without at least one dog. SO I had to give my fabulous beautiful loving Boxer away when we moved to this little flat in London, but she stayed with a niece of mine, so is still in the family. My 17-year-old Ragdoll cat came with us. I was terrified she wouldn't survive the flight. She of course, is not the sort of cat who would dirty her paws with vermin, so she loves it up here in her tower of London.
    My neighbour ( at home) has beautiful Ameraucana chickens, and the farm down the road has a flock of geese who love to come and visit our dam. We call them the local security squad.
    I'm still stuffing up my linky things, Carmel. Even my 16-year-old daughter couldn't help me!

    Wendy of the Rock is OFF the Rock
    F = Fair is foul

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    1. SEE... THOSE BLOODY LINKS DON'T WORK grrrrrrrr

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    2. Send me an email and I'll send you some clear instructions with some of your links. My address is on the About page (use arrow at top to go back to Earlier Years to see about page)

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  3. Hi Carmel - we used to have chickens ... but my Ma looked after them - I never got that near. My father's BIL had a house down here on what was an old chicken farm - the soil was marvellously fertile ... we had geese too to keep the foxes away from the chickens - but all went by the by in the end! Cheers Hilary

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    1. http://positiveletters.blogspot.co.uk/2017/04/f-is-for-feral-goats.html

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  4. Fun post i must say... Somehow i like reading books, articles and movies about life on a countryside and on farms.... Norman is a nice name for a cat :)

    jaishwrites - F for??? (flashfiction)

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    1. Thanks for dropping by jaish_vats. Off to check out your blog.

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  5. I must say that growing up in suburban Sydney, I had none of these joys. However, I did meet one of my husband's cousins at a family funeral and asking her about what she did for work. She worked in a poultry farm removing the dead battery hens from the cages. I was lost for words. "That's nice"...
    I could believe a goose could scare off foxes. They sure scare me! xx Rowena

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  6. Even though I was a city kid growing up in Canberra in the 60s and 70s was a little bit like growing up in a big country town. One of my best friends had chooks, the other had chooks and geese. Like Rowena, I was very wary of the geese. We would often visit farms (my aunt lived on a small holding for a while and friends had cousins out Coonabarabran way). I remember NOT liking warm milk on my cereal for breakfast.

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    1. Mighty good reason to be wary of geese, honking things they are. Our milk was always warmed on the stove and I'd never had cold milk on cereal until I went to boarding school. Now I can't imagine having it warmed.

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  7. Love the farm stories. Back then we knew where our food came from, didn't we? Can you imagine a child today helping to pluck a chicken and then eating it for supper?

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    1. No, but then again I would not be keen to do it again either! Yes we were well aware of the origins of our food.

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  8. Oh, yes, I well remember a jolly gobbler pecking an apple right out of my hand!! Nasty things. And plucking chooks. Yuk. LOL

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  9. That's really interesting. Cats-- not just cuddly, but also useful! Turkeys must have been fun to watch as they ran around.
    Good post.
    operationawesome6.blogspot.com/

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