I thought I'd let the chickens out this afternoon. They have been confined to their run instead of being allowed to free range around the garden for weeks as part of the fallout from our colds. We haven't felt like committing ourselves to guarding over them until dusk falls and they decide to go back into their run, especially with the wind stuck in the north and east most of the time and feeling decidedly chilly by about half past five. And on afternoons when I have been out in the garden I've been working like mad to get the Strulch down and overdue pruning finished, and haven't wanted to be distracted by the need to keep an eye on the hens.
But today it was sunny and quite warm, and I felt sorry for them, and unkind that they hadn't been out more. I thought I'd let them out after tea, as soon as I'd got to the end of the film review podcast I was listening to. Five minutes after I went back to scraping weeds out of the patio it began to rain. I scuttled around putting my tablet and the radio under cover and collecting up my tools, while thinking that the rain and accompanying rumbles of thunder had definitely not been in the forecast.
I retreated to the greenhouse to prick out seedlings while waiting to see how quickly it would pass, and by six all was calm again and I thought I'd let the hens out for a quick run. They wouldn't go far starting that late, I thought, and would be back in their house within the hour. Not so. They tore round the front garden like demons, and I had to break off from weeding periodically and hunt around for them, in case they had disappeared into the back. They hadn't, but I had to chase one out of the dahlia bed, where she was busily ripping up tulips.
They finally went back into their run at a quarter to eight, by which time I was getting cold and thinking regretfully about my supper and the pelargonium order I need to place in the next couple of days. It's enough to make me yearn for one of those Italian Maremma dogs that chicken farmers use against foxes, even if I did have to introduce it personally to the postman, the bin men, and all the delivery drivers on our round. Imagine being able to leave the dog outside to look after the hens while you could retreat to the warmth of the kitchen and get on with making supper. Unfortunately Our Ginger and the short indignant tabby would hate it.