The Souls Who Make Scotland Farm What It Is

Bella

Bella the Collie is the longest standing Scotland Farm resident and predates all the current humans. She was a rescue dog, found many years ago roaming the streets. With a severe aversion to being cooped up in a building, Bella is a real working dog. With no training at all, her instincts lead her to bring the sheep.
If there are no sheep to herd, she puts her skills to the chickens – to the point of obsession. She is real lady with impeccable manners and a heart of gold. The only misdemeanour she regularly clocks up is that she will blatantly steal toys and treats from her Labrador brother, Oscar but we figure that she deems this acceptable given his toddler behaviour. Oh and she has learnt to steal the occasional egg from the hen coop. She vehemently denies this. However, the tiny remnants of cracked shell on the corner of her mouth are a bit of a smoking gun.
Bella is top dog and for good reason – she is uncannily smart and intuitive. Some months back she would not settle. It was about 10pm, normally way past her bedtime but Bella was fretting. Eventually I took her outside and she kept close to my heel all the way to the hen coop – which we had forgotten to close. Once we had tucked the hens in, Bella settled into the blissful sleep of the doggy just. Quite how she manages to curl her top lip up into an impish grin is beyond us but there you have it.  
 
 

Oscar

Oscar our puppy Labrador, like Bella is a rescue dog and the happy outcome of a wonderful  partnership between  Scotland Farm  and the Labrador Lifeline Trust. Tiggerish and just wanting to play all day, Oscar is exactly what a Labrador ought to be. He has the most wonderful kind nature, a wicked sense of humour  and a bottom-less pit for an appetite combined with a complete lack of moral conscious when it comes to stealing chipolata sausages (and other things) off the kitchen work top. When Oscar arrived, our first worry was how he would respond to our very free range hens, being perfectly capable of dispatching them with one bite and shake of his huge head. Not Oscar! From day one, he has been more interested in eating their poop rather than the hens themselves.  
Oscar’s communicates with us in the most subtle and sometimes not so subtle ways. An arch of the eye brows, a flick of the tail, twitch of the whiskers and the unmistakable “I’m bored” sigh as he acknowledges that there is no one to play with him at that very moment.  But heaven help us if we dawdle when it’s his supper time. You will get a large snout under your backside and firm shove in the direction of the kitchen – no mistaking that message.
Our sincere thanks to Yvonne, Lyn and Anne of the Labrador LifeLine Trust, an organisation looking out for this wonderful breed of dogs when these creatures most need it. LOL might mean Laugh Out Loud or Lots of Love when texting but at Scotland Farm it stands for Love our Lab!  
News of Oscar’s wonderful nature has spread far and wide. It’s not uncommon for there to be a ring at the door bell and a neighbours of ours saying “I was just in the area. Would you mind if I said hello to Oscar.” Follow Oscar’s antics on our blog under What’s New.  
 

The Hen Department Headed Up by Paxman 

The egg department (here come the girls!) is made up of a flock of feathered ladies, led by head honcho hen, Paxman, who we believe must be nearly six years old now. She is a real grand old lady. Named after Jeremy himself, Paxman, is a most elegant Columbian Black Tail who simply does not take no for an answer and is perfectly capable of asking the same question fourteen times. She knows how to use the cat flap and that the fruit bowl contains her very favourite treat – green grapes; a commodity for which she is willing to sell not only her grandmother but all her ancestors as well. Paxman will not tolerate any behaviour she decides is unacceptable. Take the carpenter for example. He dared leave a box of tools lying around. Paxman climbed in and had a good sort out, jettisoning what she deemed trash, chucking the stuff across the barn floor and then settled in the box to lay an egg – on a hacksaw blade and a roll of ducting tape among other comfy soft furnishings. The only time we saw Paxman lose her dignity was the day she was minding her own business on the lawn. With her back to the South Downs, she failed to notice a sharp gust of wind which swept across the hill, up and under her tail feathers resulting in Paxman tipping over on her beak. Well, we guess that is an occupational hazard if you are triangular shaped and very fluffy.  Since meeting this lady, we have formulated a new definition of the word random – Paxman chasing a butterfly across the lawn – a sight I will always be prepared to pay good money to see.

Paxman’s sisters are mainly Exbats (battery rescues); the result of another great partnership between Scotland Farm and the Battery Hen Welfare Trust – an organisation of amazingly caring people who work with battery hen famers so that an increasing number of battery hens are re-homed and have a chance to enjoy a free and natural life.  They arrive having never experienced a world other than the battery housing in which they were born – no space, constant light, constant temperature. As a consequence they have no idea of how the world works and the astonishing thing is how quickly they learn! Take poor Amelia for example. She couldn’t walk – just kept falling over. I thought she had a broken leg until I realised that she was so pigeon-toed that she was merely standing on her toes feet every step she took and tripping herself up.  In the battery she had no need to walk but suddenly things had changed.  Within a week, she had learnt to adjust her gait and was on her way – a little wobbly we admit, a bit like a Leicester Square binge drinker on stiletto heels at three in the morning but never mind. Also within a week, these hens had learnt to do all kinds of other normal fun chicken-type stuff – like pecking at grass and taking a sand bath. One hen got so enthusiastic about this, she ended up lying flat her back, totally covered in dust,  feet in the air, feathers to the wind and a look of total bliss on her face.  Big thanks to Alice at the BHWT.
The best hen story relates to a melon. I am not great about chucking food out and tend to forget about things in the fridge. Now there once was this melon. Way passed its sell by date I thought the hens might enjoy some fruit. I cut it in half and left it on the lawn. The girls climbed in boots and all. Only when the clucking got really loud that I realised just how far gone the melon was - it was positively fizzy. An hour later there was silence in the normally chatty garden. Not a hen in sight. Oh hell, I thought, I have poisoned them. Not a chance. I found the girls lying under a hedgerow, sleeping off their hangovers.
Our girls get a hot cooked breakfast every morning – buttered spaghetti is their favourite but they won’t say no to cous cous or rice. They also get a hot dinner on the very cold winter nights – cannot have them going to bed on an empty, cold crop now could we? And that’s why their eggs are so special - a clear example of the reward you reap being equal to your original investment. Call us if you are local and want to collect eggs on a regular basis or if you just want a one-off dozen. But bear in mind, they are very good and so they don’t hang around very long.  We have a growing list of customers who say they wont buy eggs other than from Paxman & Co.
  

Jenga

Jenga is a little grey rescue cat. She is South African having done her six months quaratine coming into the UK. Like a Dresden China doll, she is totally symmetrical and dainty. Jenga only drinks water out of cut crystal glasses and she lets us all know that she thinks the dogs are revolting. Like all cats, she catches things but unlike others, Jenga specialises not in birds, mice or rats. No, she catches earthworms and leaves them to dry out under the dining room table. Nice.
 

Leo  

 Leo is Jenga's son but nobody believes us when we tell them this. He is at least three times his mother's size and like the lion in the Wizard of Oz, Leo lacks courage. Not surprising that the vet calls him Dorothy. Leo sleeps in a cardboard box on the table in the breakfast room and breaks into deep purrs if anyone puts their hand on him. Leo is capable of catching mice, rats and shrews but he cannot finish the job resulting in all kinds of little furry things rushing around the farm house in a state of total panic. The other day he brought in a green caterpillar - not exactly one of the South African Big Five.