We have a small and feisty multi-coloured friend of unknown origin who lives in a run with some pretty relatives and friends of Mrs Pippy. All year he is seen to practice on objects of various sizes - most recently acorns. He flings them around with the precision of Phil Tufnell in full swing. He was seen by Dad one morning to pick up the tiny white Frizzle that had hatched in their nestbox and fling her across the pen. However all this is for one purpose - The Conker Championships. Jack's tree that was but a mere conker itself many moons ago, is now extremely tall and bears fruit like no other. The small and feisty creature that is a Super Sleuth at Conker Challenges is limbering up every day for several hours. It is a foregone conclusion that he will be the Champion again this year. And his name? No, not Tuffers. William. William The Conkerer. Gordon & Sylvia xxx
It is a warm morning and there is a plethora of Daddy Long Legs, Magpies and Crab Apples - not necessarily in that order. We like the first one particularly and enjoy springing in the air to snap them up. We studied the fallen crab apples to see whose mouths had been brave enough to gnash on them and decided it was a variety of teeth - obviously given them a try and quickly moved on!
Talking of springing in the air, it did indeed look as if we were a rock band eagerly boinging up and down to the beat. Mum mentioned to me that whilst listening to Popmaster on the radio yesterday there was a question in which you had to name two hits by Atomic Rooster, they were a rock band. One was 'Tomorrow Night' and the other you had to guess at - 'The Devil's Answer'. Mum got it wrong. I listened intently - not to the debate on the song titles, but to the name of the group. Atomic Rooster. I reckon I am a bit of an Atomic Rooster and I think I shall adopt the letters after my name in the same way as a Doctor has MD after his or her name. Yes! Gordon Sebright AR xx
We were musing on the virtues of enthusiasm. Without enthusiasm a task can indeed be hard work. An enthusiastic being can keep moral high when the going gets tedious. It can help see a job through to conclusion, even when the odds are stacked against you getting it finished. And it doesn't need a scholar to provide it - there are no basic grades necessary. To curb that keenness would be cruel - perhaps channel it towards an end result - but not to stem it totally. The cockerels and pullets are learning rapidly and their worldly and acclaimed headmaster Sir Amour is setting them new challenges and new goals each day, inspiring them to stretch themselves further and further.
Some will go on to do great things and be leaders in their field. And others will be the strength and encouragement behind them. It takes all capabilities and all different characters in a team - each one as important and special as the next, right down to the littlest Sebright - she has her place too. They wait excitedly for the wire gate to open and run home to tell us all about their day. They are eager, full of ideas and most importantly, enthusiasm. Gordon, Sylvia and friends xxx
Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;
To bend with apples the moss’d cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
For Summer has o’er-brimm’d their clammy cells.
Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,
Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;
Or on a half-reap’d furrow sound asleep,
Drows’d with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers:
And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
Steady thy laden head across a brook;
Or by a cyder-press, with patient look,
Thou watchest the last oozings hours by hours.
Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?
Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,—
While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day,
And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue;
Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn
Among the river sallows, borne aloft
Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;
Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft
The red-breast whistles from a garden-croft;
And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.
"To Autumn" was written by the poet John Keats who died on 23 February 1821 aged just 25 years. The work was composed on 19 September 1819 after a walk near the River Itchen at Winchester, Hampshire one autumnal evening. It was published in 1820 and is regarded by many to be the most perfect short poem in the English language.
Auntie Sybil is back in her run with the boys, Mum didn't win the Lottery, Truffle still has four tail feathers and Kizzie is home from her holiday in Spain. She is the colour of my feathers - without the black lacing of course. Honey, the littlest hound, didn't actually recognise her at first and stared at Kizzie's face for some time trying to comprehend the change.
I have had a bad eye this week - it is now half open again. Mum asked me what on earth I had done and withour naming names I pointed accusingly at the Bossy Rosecomb. Mum scooped me up and kissed me on the head and to be frank - although I am Gordon - I think I preferred the squinty look to the indignity of the kiss. Most embarrassing.
It has been a week of hard work - well for Mum and Dad - they have mended doors and gates and cut up fallen trees and cleared ditches and still found time to go and earn some money for our food. Dad has had a cold. He arrived one morning sporting a flowery toilet roll - most incongruent with his steel toe-capped workboots. The cockerels and pullets are having to work hard at school too and they seem to have quite a lot of homework. I must admit to quite enjoy helping with it at teatime although Ron and his IT coursework does leave me a bit flummoxed.
We jostled for a place in the sun
We have had heavy rain showers this morning - but the sun is out again now and we are all cramming into it's precious limited warmth as the rays sidle up against the stable doors. Next week on September 23rd it is the autumn equinox and the sun passes the equator moving from the northern to the southern hemisphere (so Neddie and Seagoon told me). The North Pole begins to tilt away from the sun - apparently day and night have approximately the same length then. The Sun rises everywhere on Earth (except the Poles) at about 6am in the morning and sets at about 6pm in the evening - though this can vary a little when time zones and daylight saving etc are taken into account. We are still in British Summer Time until Sunday 30 October when at 2.00 am we revert to Greenwich Mean Time. Whew! Enough of this homework lark! Gordon x
Mum is going to get our food today as Dad has taken Sylvia's Auntie Sybil to a Show. She mused upon the chores for the day as she threw us random bits of bread. Some too small and some so big that they became stuck in our throats for what seemed like ages.
"You know Gordon, I have already done two lots of washing." I wondered what the significance of this was - and how much simpler it would be if she had feathers like us.
"I bet it will rain later!" Mum looked at the sky. I think it may too as today Mrs Black's left leg has that all important twinge, which we all have the utmost respect for, and has helped us avoid getting wet on many an occasion.
"I don't know why it is Gordon, but if I see a mattress or chair strapped to the top of a car it makes me giggle."
I didn't know why either.
"Or a tall plant sticking out of a sunroof. With the passengers peering through it's shrubbery. Or a person walking along the street holding a new mop aloft."
I do sometimes worry about Mum.
"Why is it?"
I started blankly back.
"I think it might stem back to old television programmes - really funny ones - they used to do that sort of thing a lot you know."
It did cross my mind that if they were that funny - why weren't they still doing it.
Mum was obviously trying to think of such a programme - and then her face lit up.
"The Beverly Hillbillies! Granny used to ride along high on the back of the car in an old wooden chair!" Having remembered way back into her old black and white matter she laughed very loudly. The image was obviously conjuring up all sorts of memories.
"There was Jethro - he drove it. And Elly May and old Jed and their bloodhound called Duke. All in the car. They were a poor Hillbilly family and one day Jed was hunting for food in his swamp and missed the bird and struck the ground with his shot. Up through the ground came a bubblin' crude, Oil that is, Black Gold, Texas Tea!"
Although I was now more than slightly concerned for Mum's sanity it was actually beginning to sound more like Mum and Dad that she was describing - and I did wonder if she should put a Lottery Lucky Dip on her shopping list today. Gordon xx
The grassy track to the school
The day dawned dry and blustery. The big field has been ploughed now, but the path to school left grassy and the pullets and cockerels skipped off happily to their classes. Sylvia and I had a most enjoyable morning scratching the soft soil at the top of the paddock to find tasty morsels. After the heavy rain of yesterday there were plenty of interesting leaves and debris blown into our yard and it made for a most entertaining few hours. After some time we noticed a strange rustling in the brambles and immediately were on our guard - pausing as still and silent as statues, ready to take flight at top speed - but it was only Mickey!
"Hello Mickey! What have you been up to lately?" We enquired.
"I have had a most exciting day," he purred contentedly. "What time do the youngsters come out of school? Can I go and meet them?"
"Of course! They'd love that!" Sylvia nodded in approval. The little ones all liked Mickey and loved hearing his tales (even though they were hugely exaggerated.)
"If you set off now - it should be perfect time," I looked at the sun to check.
So off went Mickey, and Sylvia went to join Martin and the girls so that they might prepare the supper - mash and maggots.
L to R - Me, Mandy and Binny
I headed back to the barn and sat with Mandy and Binny. And it was about an hour later that Neddie and Seagoon rushed through the door.
"You are very late!" I commented.
"You will never believe what Uncle Mickey has done today, Dad." They gasped and garbled (it still makes me wince ever so slightly when they call me Dad) and recounted the story of the Gi-Nor-Mouse.
"You see, Mickey pounced on it and it ran away and he ran after it and pinned it down and it jumped in the air and lashed out at him and he swiped it with his two front feet together - like this - " Neddie acrobatically flung himself around.
"It had huge black ears, and a red spotty bow in it's hair!" Seagoon's eyes were as wide as saucers. "Mickey said it stood 6 hands, 3 inches and 2 barleycorns high!"
"Whoa!" I had heard some tall tales in my time, but this one took the biscuit.
"We can show you, Dad. Mickey has hung it on the fence!" Neddie added breathlessly.
"Yes, I think you had better show me, boys." I jumped off the bins and followed them down the footpath and into the big field - where sure enough, dancing and flapping in the wind was a flattened balloon of Minnie Mouse! Appropriately caught by Mickey.
This morning the rain is driving across the fields and downs in silver swathes. Glad to say the young pullets and cockerels all enjoyed school yesterday and came home over excited and then suddenly fell asleep. Today, although eager, they shivered and shuddered down the footpath and across the field to the shelter of the little sheds that were their classrooms, stopping only to shake the rain from their backs and then scurry along again. I find there is something cosy about being inside a shed in the heavy rain - as long as there aren't any leaks - and Mandy, Binny (a rosecomb who likes to scruddle in a bin) and I - cosyed down and watched the rain splattering outside the barn door. Harvest was happily sitting in her pool enjoying the deluge, but all the rest of us were tucked away in the stable and barn, or underneath Bird and Ellen's house. Oh! And Kizzie is sunbathing in unbroken sunshine and temperatures of 30 degrees. Gordon x
Shimmering hammocks in the docks
It is very autumny again this morning. I squinted out of the window at 05.38 and there was still a star to be seen. I quickly shut my eye again and hunched back to sleep. All too soon Dad arrived and flung open the barn door. The Rosecomb gang and Mrs Pippy bustled out, but Mandy and I stayed on our perch until Mum arrived with something tempting enough to lure us down.
The children were all very excited about going to school and there was a lot of frenetic activity as they darted hither and thither. Mrs One-Eye had turned Neddie and Seagoon out to perfection and she reminded them how to behave one last time. The spider's webs hung like hammocks between the old docks and thistles and sparkled in the morning sun. I remember going to school in the autumn and seeing the glistening webs hanging between the gates and fences. All too soon the pullets and cockerels had gone down the footpath by Lois' field and headed towards the little school across the big field. Their excited bustling chatter got more muffled the farther they got away, until you could no longer hear them at all. Perfect peace! The hens sighed with relief. A few of them dabbed their eye with a soft wing feather whilst I climbed back on the bins in the warm sunshine and snoozed contentedly. Gordon xx
Sylvia and the other hens are very busy today. They are getting the pullets and cockerels ready for a new school year. The youngest chicks will be starting now too and there is much excitement. Feathers are being straightened; legs, combs and wattles polished and lunchboxes prepared. Some of the young ones are apprehensive and are being re-assured by those that have already started at the village school. At least they have lots of family and friends around them. It reminded me of my first day at school - I had a very kind teacher, a rather large and well-rounded Rhode Island Red, and she sat me at a little wooden desk near the front of the class as I didn't know many of the others. But I found myself looking out of the window and wishing I was back with my Mum and Dad on the farm. At last the bell sounded for playtime and I leapt out from behind my desk and headed into the playground hoping to see a way to escape. But there was high chicken wire all around the grassy field. A really pretty pullet came over to me and asked if I was all right and we started chatting away. She said her name was Sylvia and we shared morsels from our lunchboxes and that was the start of our long friendship. That afternoon we sat at desks next to each other and learnt our tables.
"3 barleycorns make 1 inch and 4 inches make 1 hand" said Mrs Henna, and by the time the school day was over, I was thoroughly enjoying myself. So much so, in fact, that I was up at the crack of dawn the next morning clasping my books under my wing and waiting to go back! Gordon xxx
Hello! My name is Gordon and I am a Gold Sebright and my best friend is Sylvia. She is a Silver Sebright. We live with our foster parents on a small farm in the country. We thought that we would put our take on life and what we get up to through the year into a diary for you. All the characters are real and the events are a true record, interpreted with a modicum of poetic licence. We hope you enjoy it. Love Gordon and Sylvia