The Cottage Smallholder

stumbling self sufficiency in a small space

Cloud post escapeI opened the back door as John Coe was about to come through. He was speaking.
“I can hear her in the next garden.”
I opened the door wide. His face crumpled when he saw that it was me.

He stood there wearing my uncle’s old trilby and Danny’s waxed jacket. It had been raining hard when I left for work so I’d kitted him out. As I wasn’t expected back for hours he thought that I was Danny returning from a wild guinea fowl chase.

When he saw my expression, he looked a bit panicky.
“Who exactly is in the next garden?”
He looked at his feet and then addressed my right hand shoulder.
“The guinea fowl hen.”

Before I left for work, he’d mentioned that the guineas didn’t like him using the noisy strimmer by the run.
“They’re going leary. They don’t like it at all. They’re flying up and squawking.”
He had come in for a coffee to avoid a rainy downpour.

It did not occur to me to tell him to ignore the patch beside the run. I was running late and distracted.

After I left, he’d run the lawnmower over the strip by the chicken pen. It was finally all too much for Cloud. She literally hit the roof of the run, found a loose gap in the netting, escaped from the noise and flown out of our garden.

This is a semi domesticated wild bird. How on earth were we going to catch her?

We might be determined but can’t fly, just yet. We left John to finish the lawn edging and I grabbed the broody coop. A frightened, short sighted guinea fowl might just be tempted inside.

It was raining heavily as we walked the long way around to the garden that backs onto the end of ours. I spotted her through the fence but she saw us and moved quickly into the paddocks beyond. There was a large expanse of grass and a sturdy grey horse in an exerciser. Cloud scuttled swiftly along the bank, disappearing into a soft drift of tall nettles.

Each time I caught up she flapped away, clearly terrified. Beyond the meadows were gardens with big dogs. She had to be contained quickly.

She flew falteringly in small bursts and luckily headed back into the neighbour’s garden. There she just squatted, crouching low, apparently exhausted.


Just as I was just about to pounce she rushed away and settled behind an elegant summer house. D and I plotted a two pronged attack. He would roust her. She might flee around the house into the open broody coup. It worked. As I suspected she didn’t spot the coop until it was too late.

Somehow in the wave of triumph and relief she escaped.

Danny’s comment made me determined to catch her.
“She’s our pet. We just have to get her back.”

We finally managed to pluck her from a large unwieldy leylandii hedge. I carried her close under my arm and stroked and petted her all the way back home.

The strimmer/mower drama had beaten all fowl into the chicken house with the exception of her mate, Thunder. She rushed to stand beside him without acknowledgement.

I was working in that area of the garden that afternoon. My heart went out to Cloud. Clearly rattled, she didn’t preen. Just sat on the roof of the Emerald Castle with feathers that stuck out at 90 degrees from her slim frame. Eventually Thunder noticed her distress and called from the ground below. She didn’t answer but poked her head under a wing and rocked back and forth.

I was concerned. Had the shock been too much for her?

The next morning she was out in the run, neatly coiffured and had laid an egg.

Delighted that all was well, I wanted to hug her.

  Leave a reply


  1. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Pamela

    Ah well.

    I do enjoy your visits to my blog and your stories. Somehow they stick in the mind!

  2. Pamela

    Hi Fiona

    Thank you for your kind comment about writing a blog. It has crossed my mind when I am reading various blogs that I follow that I would like to write a blog of my own. However I’m not sure that I would have the inspiration or the discipline to write on a regular basis. It is much easier coming up with stories in response to something someone else has written.

  3. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Sara

    I think that we were all exhausted after this mini drama!

    The problem was that if she flew back it might be into the jaws of a Min Pin or the big Alsatian dog that languishes in the garden 100 meters the other way.

    The good thing about this episode is that she is safe and now I feel much more confident about catching a guinea fowl!

  4. farmingfriends

    Glad to hear that Cloud is ok after her ordeal, although I’m sure it was just as bad for you.
    From experience and many hours of running round and round chasing guinea fowl I have found that because guinea fowl are social creatures, they will usually find their way back to the other guinea fowl.
    I know exactly how you feel as I sometimes find a guinea fowl where they shouldn’t be!
    Sara from farmingfriends

  5. Fiona Nevile

    Hello KJ

    My heart goes out to your parent’s budgie.

    I was really worried about Cloud –  especially when she started to rock.

    Thanks for dropping by.

    Hi Pat

    It was a bit worrying. When we eventually caught her and brought her back, I was exhausted!

    She’s fine now. 

    Hi Pamela

    Brilliant story. Have you ever thought of writing a blog? I suspect that it would be a winner.

    Hi Rebecca

    Thanks so much for dropping by.

    If you leave your butter pats in a saline solution until the wood is soaked through for a day or so, and then dry them out they should be safe. They are only a larger version of wooden spoons after all. For insurance purposes – if you do anything like this, you do it entirely at your own risk.

    I spent all day working beside the chicken run today and noticed so many tiny things. Especially the greeting when a hen entered the house and wanted to join other hens to feed. As polite and and squeaky clean as a children’s book in the main.

    The butter is good well worth the trip!

  6. Rebecca

    (emerging from lurker-status)

    Oh, poor Cloud! Luckily we have quite high walls in our garden so our chickens have never been able to get out (yet – touch wood) but when they get flustered I hate to see them getting upset. I hate to think what could happen if they ever got out of the garden, especially as we live in quite a built-up area.

    I love your blog, and your post on butter-making has inspired me to give it a try during the summer – we have lots of old carved butter stam ps at home and I am now thinking of ways to transfer the patterns onto something hygienic!

  7. Pamela

    A couple of summers ago an unusual bird flew across my mum’s garden and caught my eye. when I could hear it calling from the flats next door but one I decided to go and investigate at which point we discovered a parrot or parakeet. From there is flew into the garden which backs on to my mum’s and by now the elderly neighbour Frank had come out to see what was happening. Frank decided to try to catch the bird so threw a large net over the fence and came round with a ladder. Said bird is, of course, out of reach so Frank has various bits of food on the fence and wall and is calling to the bird. After a while Frank offers to swap places with me to see if I could do any better. From my vantage point up the ladder I realise that there is a lady sunbathing on a sunlounger – in her own garden – apparently oblivious to the “bird watching”! Needless to say that was the end of our attempts to entice the bird close enough to catch. We did see it on our garage roof later watching us drinking below and that evening we also spotted it in the key park round the corner being chased by the magpies. I wonder what happened to it.

  8. Ohhhhh Poor Cloud!!! What an ordeal for her and you and Danny too. Is this her first egg???? Glad she is okay.

  9. Poor Cloud. I’m glad she’s okay. This reminds me of the time my parents budgie made a break for it through the front door. We got him back into his cage, and he just sat on his perch completely still and silent for the rest of the day. We were really worried about him. By the next morning he was his usual chirpy self.

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