Sadly I have to report that Duchess the Aruacuna chicken has been returned and tonight will be roosting happily with all her sisters in a warm and cosy house. She has had a terrible time for the last four days as my older and more established chickens gave her hell. She was pecked, chased, bullied and frightened so much she cowed in a corner whenever possible. She probably did not get much food and for the first two nights stayed outside in the cold and rain, too afraid to enter the hen house because of the other aggressive girls. She coped only by staying as far away from the others as possible, and this meant staying inside in the murky gloom of the hen house by day - it did not seem like much of a life. Chickens are so cruel to each other and the pecking order is very real. Had she stayed, the Duchess may not have survived the violent onslaught, and would probably never have been accepted and so I decided to return her to the farm and a more enjoyable free range life with her original flock. She will have the honour of being the only one with a name - thanks Marcie for the suggestion - my more pragmatic farming friend does not name his chickens, even though he knows them all individually.
When the water tank was overflowing recently, I pumped masses of water onto an area underneath some drought stressed Silver Birch trees. They look a whole lot better, but these red toadstools are now popping up everywhere. Elsewhere in the garden where they in Autumn grow is still too dry for them appear. They are called Amanita muscaria or Fly Agaric as once they were used to kill flies when mixed with milk and sugar. To me they look like the stuff of fairy tales.