Last full day at the farm. Thursday – a day when a volunteer or two normally turns up. I drive down to the vegetable garden with Jess and find the gate wide open, the electric fence around the chickens turned off, but no vehicle or person in site. I do not know if the eggs have been collected so take a bucket and start collecting what is there although, strangely, there are only a few. As I put the egg bucket on the ground, the chickens manage to tip it over and I have broken eggs and chickens feeding on their own eggs. And just at the same moment, I find Jess in the enclosure – she has somehow got in and has a mouth full of feathers and more feathers flying around and chickens scattering everywhere. It may be my imagination, but it appears she has something else in her mouth and I have a limping chicken.
I gather up the spilled eggs and place the bucket outside the enclosure, and I go after Jess. She knows she is in trouble and runs away. I corner her and manage to get her out of the electric fence and put her back in the truck. I return to the chickens, hoping I do not have to kill an injured one or one with a missing leg. I check each one and, to my relief, find they all have two legs and no injuries.
The low egg count worries me, so I walk around the farm to see if the volunteer has left any somewhere. I eventually find an old bucket with a towel covering it, and when I check to see what is inside, I find two dozen eggs or so.
The pigs haven’t been fed yet. Yesterday was acorn day, so today is feed day. The pigs have an alternating menu of acorns and feed. As I release the feed out of the bag which hangs on a hoist from a gantry, the dispenser that opens and closes a hole at the bottom falls out and feed comes pouring into the bucket. I quickly place both hands in the opening but now I am stuck crouching next to a huge feed bag, a full bucket of feed with more feed about to pour out. I manage to place another bucket on top of the full bucket which soon fills up and blocks the hole.
I do not know how to lower the bag from the hoist which would be the obvious way to stop more feed spilling out. I ring Jess and she says she will send Emrys over to sort it out because he has taken a day off work to prepare for a holiday he is going on (without Jess).
I am curious to know how Jess (the dog) managed to get in the fence. I discover rips in the fencing leaving a gap about a meter wide that would let any small animal in or out.
Emrys arrives and lowers the bag down for me. I show him the hole in the fence and he just says it’s an old fence and I could close the gap using some string. I show him the broken irrigation but he doesn’t seem too concerned and leaves.
I am left with the buckets of feed to load into the truck. As I climb into the driver’s seat, Jess from the passenger seat raises her eyes at me with her head down, looking subdued.
Despite my best efforts, I feel like I am constantly sliding down the mountain, making no progress. I close the gate to the vegetable garden behind me with all the rubble and broken bits of equipment lying around. I wonder to myself that this is no different from major corporations that degrade and exploit the planet, leaving a mess behind. It’s just on a smaller scale.