The answer to the mystery on the previous post is . . .
So well done Rhiannon and Moreidlethoughts - you were spot on :-) Yes, in a moment of seasonal goodwill (maybe madness fueled by a large measure of our 2007 vintage Damson Vodka) I offered a good home to a 6 month old Lavender Araucana cockerel. After a few days thought he's been named Tarragon, not because we have plans to cook him but because a) 'Tarragon the Araucana' sounds good to me; b) it's a good spicy herb to pair with the Spice Girls and c) Tarragon means 'little dragon'. Tarragon looks very much like a little dragon as he prances over the grass . . .
He's not fully grown, I'm looking forward to seeing how his adult feathers develop. Araucana cockerels don't have large wattles under the chin, but they develop a feathered beard and moustache; you can also see that his comb isn't flat and zig-zagged but instead it's a 'rose' and a lovely shade of cranberry red.
I now have an apology to make - yesterday I told you that the studio assistants were curled up asleep somewhere warm, well that wasn't quite true. Yesterday afternoon I spent some time in the greenhouse washing sooty mould off some of the leaves on our little lemon tree, the Tabby One was in and out, in and out, in and out of the greenhouse door - I lost track of were she was and when I'd finished cleaning the lemon leaves I shut the greenhouse door and went back to the house to spend the rest of the afternoon cooking. We then went to a New Year's Eve Murder Mystery Supper with some friends and came home in the early hours of the New Year. This morning after breakfast we wondered where the Tabby One was. As the hours passed mild concern became slight worry became worried enough to go in search of her. Cliff set off to see if there was a furry body in the road and I went to her favourite haunt 'The Wild Wood' - no luck. As I returned past the greenhouse a movement caught my eye - there she was in a box of shallots next to the electric fan heater.
She was very quick to get back to the house and check out the food bowl. If the Tabby One was writing today's blog post I'm sure it would be a tirade of venomous expletives aimed directly at me!
Did you have a White New Year? We did. Here is the under-gardeners' chalet and Tarragon's batchelor pad in the snowy garden. Tarragon decided to join the girls in their chalet last night and who can blame him!
I thought I drank very little alcohol last night but the combo of pomeganate juice mocktails, red wine, champagne and a very late night made me feel less than chirpy this morning. I made squash, chestnut and apple soup for lunch and afterwards felt I needed some fresh air - even very very cold fresh air. So I've just come home from a bracing walk around the village and along the footpath nearest to our house. The Hogweed seedheads were holding little pinches of snow in their umbels . . .
And the freezing fog held the world in a magical stillness . . .
Back home I joined the hens and Tarragon as they ate their corn for supper. The dynamics of our little flock is changing with the introduction of a cockerel - unlike introducing a lone hen, there has been no pecking or agression from the girls. Tarragon is wary and he must be missing his three sisters and all the other hens he used to live with, but he's growing in confidence every minute - I love watching him and so do Nutmeg, Saffron and Ginger ;-)
Best wishes for 2010 everyone!
River Diary by Ronald Blythe
3 hours ago