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Walk first, then run

Mottled Hen |

At least, that’s the theory. I’m not sure I’m going to be allowed that luxury. Everything is so new and everything seems to be on a clock, so I’m just going to have to roll with the punches – and get running.

This morning Arūnas arrived in to say he’d found an injured chicken in the garden. I could see a “chicken soup” glint in his eye. “If I kill it, will you pluck it?”, he asked. Pluck it? Sure. Eviscerate it? Hmm. Growing up in a coastal village I’d done plenty of fishing in my youth and was well used to gutting fish. Gutting chickens, however, was a whole new ball game.

“Does that chicken not belong to one of the neighbours”, I queried. I wondered if I was subconsciously looking for a way out. Arūnas trooped off, chick in hand, to see if he could find its owner. If he didn’t, I had resigned myself to the fact that I would clean and pluck it. We were planning to do that anyway – this was just a little earlier than I’d anticipated. I hadn’t a clue how to do it – I’d have to watch a YouTube video.


He returned shortly thereafter, chickenless. Phew! Off the hook for now. But it got me thinking about the whirlwind of new tasks and experiences I’d signed up to. We’d bought a “fixer-upper” house. Apart from a bit of painting and assembling a table from Argos I’ve never done any DIY in my life. We plan on owning hens and cows and pigs and possibly sheep or goats. I don’t know a thing about caring for any of these animals. I know I need a cock if I want the hens to lay eggs. I know the cows (or sheep or goats) have to have offspring before they will give milk. I know the basic science, but I have no idea how to arrange these things.


We have a huge chunk of land for growing vegetables. I think a certain amount of prep work needs to be done before the snow falls if we’re to grow vegetables next year. I have no idea what that prep work might entail. But I’m going to have to find out. Fast. Because otherwise we might miss a whole season of vegetables, and we just can’t afford that.

There is, of course, the added complication that my Lithuanian is still not that great. Every evening when I go for my walk I pass people out milking their cows by hand. I’d love to offer to help to get some experience, love to pick their brains on the dos and don’ts of dairy cows. But I can’t. Not yet, anyway.


So I’m running. Like with the jams and wine and cheeses I’ve made in the last few weeks I’ll scour the Internet for as much information as possible. I’ll buy a few books from Amazon. And I’ll just throw myself in and get it done. Because that’s what I do.

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10 Comments Post a comment
  1. Anne V #

    Congrats June & Arunus wishing you every happiness in your new home. By the way the Cinque Terre was amazing would highly recommend it! Looking forward to reading about your adventures in Italy. Gary & Anne


    October 6, 2013
    • Thanks Anne! We won’t get round to doing Italy this year as time just got away from us with the excitement of buying the house. We’re going to Denmark (Aarhus) for a month in November and skiing to Slovakia in February. We hope to hit Italy sometime after Easter. It’s a tough ole life! Hope you’re all keeping well. J x.


      October 8, 2013
  2. Hi June, Have you checked out The River Cottage? It’s an Australian show with a guy who goes all self-sufficient on his property in Aus. Great episode (Ep 4 part 2) on chicken ‘processing’! Go girl!


    September 15, 2013
    • Hey Aud. Thanks for that suggestion. Had a look at that episode – it was exactly what I was looking for! The processing didn’t look too bad – think I could handle it! Beautiful house and gardens he has – it will be a while before ours looks like that!


      September 16, 2013
  3. smfarm #

    You’ll get there, just start slow and learn as much as you can through books and online. BTW, you don’t need a rooster for the hens to lay eggs, only if you want to hatch chicks :)


    September 14, 2013
    • Oops! Soooooo much to learn!


      September 14, 2013
  4. Lyn Carroll #

    June, I grew up on a farm on first name terms with most of the beef that ended up on my plate, but I still would have as little clue as you do about what to do with a dead chicken! Loving your stories. Keep it up!


    September 14, 2013
    • Cheers Lyn! I might give yourself or Daithí a shout for some tips on cows!


      September 14, 2013
      • He’d be a far, far better bet than I would!


        September 14, 2013

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