Finally Growing Feathers

Cyn’s new feathers

Well, not much has been going on at the Smallest Smallholding – again. I’ve been waiting for the winds to ease before I do my major leaf-collecting exercise. A few days ago the trees were decorated by the most beautiful intense ochres, golds, reds and oranges. Now they look strangely poodle-like, with a few leaves grasping on for dear life at the ends of each bare branch. So of course the Smallest Smallholding looks a complete and utter mess at the moment, so it will have to be seen to this weekend. The bulbs (or ‘blubs’ as I often refer to them) have STILL not gone in, but I’m not worrying about it because I think up until now it’s been relatively mild anyway, so I’ll try and shove them in the ground this weekend too. Sounds unceremonious but bulbs are incredibly strong and clever things, no matter how haphazardly or untidily I put them in now (unless of course they’re upside down), they’ll break through in the Spring and look amazing as ever. Nature will take care of it, she always does.

We had a chrysalis growing against a pot housing my cabbages (which I’ve yet to put in the ground, whoops) that’s currently residing on the windowsill in the kitchen. About three days ago it hatched into a cabbage white – well no surprises there really seeing as the former caterpillar merrily munched it’s way through a couple of tender cabbage leaves. Not enough to do too much damage though! Anyhow we came into the kitchen one evening to find a cabbage white fluttering around, so we put it in the conservatory and then released it the following day. The caterpillars are supposed to pupate over the entire winter, but I think this one being so warm super-excelled and now I sincerely hope it can find somewhere to shelter. I know some butterflies will hibernate but not sure about this one. I know a lot of people think of Cabbage Whites as pests, but I can’t help myself – I cannot kill anything apart from fleas (and even then I feel ridiculously guilty). It makes gardening take ten times longer and more laborious, but I just can’t bring myself to kill things. I hate moth traps on trees, I hate small mammal traps (molehills not a problem to me – fresh soil!) and I hate anything that reads ‘Killer’ on the bottle. Live and let live, I say, even if it does make your life a little bit harder. Prevention is the key, as I said nature will take care of itself, and if you let it do its thing, things will balance out eventually.

Cynthia’s ‘Needles’

Now…to the title of this entry. Yes it seems that FINALLY after almost a year at the Smallest Smallholding, Cynthia is finally losing her baldy spot on the back of her head and neck. She regrew feathers under her baldy red belly a little earlier in the year, and now the last bald spots seem to be sprouting what I refer to as her ‘needles’ – the little hard tubes that poke up out of the skin, before little paintbrush-like ends gradually reveal themselves before growing into luscious, silky new feathers. Hopefully now this winter she will be much better insulated – she’s the last hen to grow back all her feathers, as Maureen arrived pretty much fully feathered, Yoko was horribly bald but started growing all of her feathers back only a few weeks after we got her and Pattie became fully feathered over the summer. I’ve no idea why she has only just sprouted 11 months on from being released from her living hell, but there you go. It’s in time for the onset of the chilly winds and morning frosts, so she’ll be suitably suited and booted for the harsher weather to come.


  1. Great news about Cynthia. i enjoyed reading about what you are getting up to.
    Sara from farmingfriends

  2. Your girls are gorgeous, a real credit to you, and superb photography !
    Cannot wait to get some myself.

  3. I always think that growing feathers looks painful!