Coping with the coronavirus lockdown

Ducks 4-6-20 SM Farm

Caroline Fullerton:

I am currently one of the 80,000 “at risk” people on lockdown. This is week six of my 12 weeks at home.

This has been very challenging as I have been doing paperwork instead of walking around 2,200 cows a day as an RMS technician with Genus ABS.

I miss working on my own with only the company of cows rather than being in the house.

My husband Nigel and eldest son, also Nigel, are both, thankfully, still at work. James, our second son, has completed his first year on an Early Years course with a view to being a primary school teacher, so he has been doing most of the home schooling with Ellen.

How has our poultry helped me? I at least have more time to actually spend looking at our birds.

James and Ellen presently do most of the husbandry with the birds. Ellen has taken over the egg collection job and loves candling the eggs with my husband Nigel.

She also had to pick a topic for this term and she is doing spring. This has included the life cycle of a chicken. We count ourselves as very fortunate that we can go outside and work with the birds – there is always plenty to do looking after them.

David Neill:

As a family we have all been at home now since March 18, with Ryan’s A-levels and Marianna’s GCSE’s all now being predicted.

Matthew’s coursework is being done from home and he has just finished his exam online.

This has been very different from what we were expecting and are thankful that we had the poultry to help us to focus on other things rather than the doom and gloom of the everyday news.

Project one was to sort out all the young birds and to break up the breeding pens. This left us with a lot of spare eggs, so out went the honesty box.

I then decided that I could build a box after seeing one on a bee-keeping Facebook for selling honey.

Gathering up scrap timber, work started and Marianna and Ryan were kept busy painting it.

To our surprise a lot of people were walking around our lane and egg sales started to come in. The children have been kept busy collecting, washing and refilling the box.

The neighbours are all stopping for a chat, keeping two metres apart, and the kids have been able to learn a lot more about the history of the area.

The poultry and waterfowl have helped us to get through by working together and giving us something else to focus on, I hope you all have great experiences to share.

Guy Richardson:

We, like Caroline, found ourselves shielding at home for a number of weeks but thankfully living in the countryside with a wonderful hobby of poultry keeping has kept us upbeat.

The younger children and I spend a lot of time working with the poultry and waterfowl and, blessed with weeks of great weather, we have had lots of hens and ducks going broody.

My youngest grand-daughter Jessica has become an expert on gathering eggs to set, carefully marking each egg with the breed they are from to select which eggs we incubate.

The miniature ducks, such as the Silver Appleyards and the Silver bantam ducks,

are all currently sitting on eggs to the delight of Jessica.

Just last week, while we were out in the garden, Jessica summoned me to the pond where on my arrival I found a miniature crested duck with a brood of seven

newborn ducklings happily swimming in the pond.

Our group of Sumatra fowl has a lonely Sumatra cockerel in the pen as all his hens have decided to go broody.

So, taking advantage of this situation, we have set all the hens in different coops with one girl clocking on the Sumatra eggs while the other girls have been placed on Bali duck eggs and Ginger Oxford Game eggs respectfully.

For us poultry keeping has been a wonderful past-time during these unprecedented times that we are living in and, of course, free range fresh eggs never go amiss with a big family.

Each night most of the family are involved in the poultry round-up to ensure all the birds are enclosed safely during the hours of darkness.

As we look forward to returning to some form of normality at least we can be thankful that our hobby has helped to keep us upbeat during these sad and worrying times.

From the three of us we wish all our poultry friends and readers a safe time during the transition from lockdown to the new normal. Stay safe all.

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