Sunday, 31 March 2013

Easter Chicks... Number 1

This little Chap or Chappette pipped around 8PM last night and arrived in the early hours of this morning

We have called him/her Boris for now, Alden's idea I preferred Egbert.

He is all on his own at the moment, of the ten eggs we set six were infertile or failed to develop by day ten.

That left four, this hatch-ling and we have two that have just pipped this evening there is no sign of any activity in the fourth egg though.

Perhaps by the morning he will have two companions. In the meantime a bit of 'what do you do with a single chick' research meant Alden donated a teddy for him to cuddle up to and he also has a mirror so he knows what he looks like otherwise he might think he is going to look like a Humanosaurus.

Saturday, 30 March 2013

Thats a big egg!

Theres our first goose egg weighing in at 5.8oz, then there is an average duck egg, 2.8oz and finally a medium chicken egg, 1.9oz (although we have bigger from the ex-batts). That goose egg is going to make a very big scrambled egg breakfast tomorrow.

The egg count for last week-
Chickens - 11
Ducks - 23
Geese - 1

Gave the chickens some porridge this morning made with codliver oil and cider vinegar. The new chickens had not had this before but the ex-batts love it so it wasn't long before everyone had a beakful. Both pots were cleaned out.

Friday, 29 March 2013

Our first Goose egg!


Despite this appalling weather whilst Karen was checking all the birds were tucked in tonight she found our first Goose egg laid by Catherine!

Problem is it is too big for the egg boxes!

Pictures tomorrow.

Dallas Ranch on You Tube

Click here to view Davids Video - 'Dallas Ranch' on You Tube

This is Davids first film with his new camcorder that he bought with his birthday money.
Expect more (and slightly less wobbly) in the near future.

Easter cake recipe

1 1/2 cups of sugar
1/2 cup of water
6 eggs, separated
1 cup of plain flour
1/2 teaspoon of cream of tartar
1 teaspoon of vanilla

Beat egg whites until stiff.
Beat egg yolks with vanilla.
Put sugar and water in pan and boil until threads form from a fork. Beware of it crystallising!
Pour over the egg whites and beat until cool.
Add the well beaten yolks and vanilla, and stir well.
Sift the flour and cream of tartar, and fold in carefully.
Pour into an ungreased tin and bake for 40-50 minutes at 300F/150C.
Theres a lot of sugar and egg, so keep an eye on it, it might burn quickly, hence the low temperature.
Turn out when completely cooled.

This definitely had a resounding 'Yum Yum' from everyone.
It is a sweet cake and would go well with a bit of ice cream or cream or custard.
I used six duck eggs for this cake and the whites whipped up beautifully.

Tuesday, 26 March 2013


Icicles hanging off our conservatory, they are 37 1/2 inches at the last measurement and we may have to break them off soon before the weight damages the roof or guttering.

And here is Funny Bunny having a carrot Alden gave him/her. A very hungry rabbit.
All the buns have gone so I made another two dozen muffins, choclate and cranberry.

Saturday, 23 March 2013

Let it snow, bake a cake, let it snow....

 Don't think we will be going anywhere in the car today. The milkman couldn't deliver this morning until the snow plough had been up the road. To be honest, I didn't expect him to come at all, and to see the snow plough was a bit of a surprise as its a Saturday so no school up the road. All the schools were off yesterday, for a change the parents I spoke to agreed it was a good idea, sometimes they close for what many people think is not necessary and the weather doesn't justify it.
The picture to the right is a broken branch from our Pine tree that came down in the wind and snow - firewood for next year.
The chickens have not left the run today, except for Snowy and Copper, both who needed rescuing in the deep snow. The ducks and geese are down on the pond, their feet act like snowshoes so they are OK.
Had rather a lot of duck eggs which I put up for sale but no customers, so had a big bake. There are carrot cakes, choc chip muffins, and pecan and chocolate buns. There are a lot less today than are in the picture!

Egg Count for this week - Ducks 20, Chickens 16.

I gave up trying to work out which chicken laid the egg but there are only four maybe five chickens that are laying but not every day. That's the Barnvelders, Snowy, and my ex-batts Pecky and Gladys.
 Jemima Puddleduck is one of the few ducks that don't spook the geese and doesn't mind them. Maybe its because they are similar colours.Right off for lunch, omlette sandwich I think.

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Geese update - they have names

The Geese are seemingly very gently things and very curious.
I have been working in Derby the past two days getting home after dark so did not see (or hear) them exploring till today.

They like the Pond by the looks of it. and just a couple of times could I hear any loud honking.
They amble along at a fairly sedate pace when it is time to herd them in for the night not all frantic and "run away" like the Ducks.

Tonight the Geese decided they wanted to see where the other birds have gone so waddled into the main run, and then waddled up the rather steep ramp into the open Duck Shed.

The Ducks were not  too happy but they soon waddled out.

We then steered them into their Kennel.


Nearly forgot

Catherine & Zeta

and if we get a Gander

He will be


Well they are Brecon Buffs!

Incubator update

Alden and I just candled the Eggs in the Incubator.
We did it on Saturday and had three, possibly four out of the ten with 'spiders' inside
And today confirmed we have four eggs doing something (you can see movement inside) and therefore six of the eggs weren't returned to the incubator.

We then (as we are beginners) didn't just throw them away but instead we cracked open the other six just to be certain there had been nothing growing inside.

None held any surprises so no mistakes in the candling exercise.
I thought they might smell when opened but they didn't

So now we wait until next Wednesday which will be day eighteen out of twenty one and then we will turn off the egg turning mechanism and raise the humidity prior to the hatch at the weekend...

I am getting excited now...

Monday, 18 March 2013


 Which ways the pond?

Dozing in the sun.

 So, they float then.

Here we go, Keith has finally got his geese that he has been pining for for ages. They are Brecon Buff, they have pink beaks and feet and are really laid back and don't move fast! The only time they have made a noise is when the back door opens or the ponies or dog have come too close, and then if the 'honk' doesn't work there is a very impressive display of outstretched wings and hissing to warn them to go away.

Friday, 15 March 2013

Some new Links

I added two new Links to the link pot further down the page on the right.

Well worth immersing yourself in them for an hour or two and far better than watching the constant 'killing stuff' type nonsense from the States or other inane TV drivel interspersed with equally boring and repetitive mind numbing advertising!

First is
Farm Folly
Which had me chuckling a fair bit last night at some of their posts.
Also some very good recopies and posts on other subjects.
The sheer amount of feed they put into a couple of Weaner Pigs is listed pound by pound (and even egg by egg) and I found it very interesting even the bit about butchering them at home. No we are not getting Pigs here!

Some Geese are next on my list as we have the Dog Kennels the Ducks were using looking very spare at the moment..........

Second is
I Built That
The guys work ethic and his Coops are fantastic even if the Blogs colour scheme is a bit in you face :)
I envy the sheer availability of the raw materials he can use.

I hope he can make a living from his work.

Tigers like Chickens too.........

A great article here on Jungle Fowl
Remarkably Fowl

What he does not say is did it get away!

Chickens and frogs

This weeks egg count -
Ex-batts - 8
Barnvelders - 5
Marans - 0
Hybrids - 1
Ducks - 20

Keith keeps pointing out that there five ducks and eleven chickens that should be laying eggs. There are still plenty for Muffins, scrambled egg breakfasts at the weekend, omelets or eggy sandwiches during the week and fried eggs with the sausage and mash.
Several duck eggs have been lost to the crows as they occasionally lay them by the pond, and we have found some pecked in the run which may be a jealous chicken!
Before WW1, most people ate duck eggs because the high yielding hybrid chickens had not yet been bred. I can see why. To be fair, most of them are babies and not yet laying, or they have been kept in a lit coop in the warm and the free-ranging has messed up their internal thermometer. Gladys and Pecky have been laying in the straw bales and Snowdrop has done her bit. The Barnvelders are laying in the egg box on the side of their coop/shed and the Marans are just too aloof to do anything. Keith bought a proper set of nest boxes for the laying of eggs, no one has been in them yet. I put Snowdrop on the top perch, she had a look, walked along inspecting them all and jumped down.
Talking of Snowdrop, she has been catching frogs down by the pond. I have seen her with four so far this week, she hasn't a clue what to do with them and usually loses them to Gladys who knows exactly what a dead frog is for - eating. I just hope she doesn't get too close to waters edge, I'm still not sure if chickens can swim!
Jemima has been brooding in the coop again this week, attended by Bubble who has been chasing off Ja-Ja and Duck Norris, they have been hanging around outside the coop like expectant fathers. We keep taking the eggs away as soon as she has left but there haven't been many eggs at all for the last few days so maybe they are trying to hide them by the pond.
No sign of any Moorhen chicks so they must have all perished in the cold.

Monday, 11 March 2013

Three Posts all at once today, a bit like Buses..........

Nan wanted more on the Eeeeeeeeep!
At lunch time I needed to set up the Hurdles as we need to catch one of the girls and de-dag her tail at the weekend.

I had also put the two ponies on the grazing strip between the new and the old fences which is clearly greener than where the sheep are grazing, It goes from the Duck House all the away around to the ditch. They are keeping it just right at the moment short but not pounded to Mud! So as well as the occasional raid on the back lawns it means we still have some proper Green Grass for them... Only another month and the rest should start growing away again then it will be a different type of strip grazing to prevent over eating.

I know Mars is the Brown one but as for the other three Karen knows their names I just go by the different facial Features.

What we don't know yet is are any of them in Lamb, another 4 to 6 weeks and we should know for sure as they will be noticeably bigger by then or have little things at their feet.

Old Shed now on skids and the Sheep love it!
Pallet shelter has gone so if Lambs do arrive they have proper Shelter

Stop Press 'Giant Feeder' swallows up entire flock!

Here is Snow-wotsit sun bathing!

Mars is Growing well at least his horns are!
A few weeks ago
Now. I wonder how long before we need to keep an eye on him? at the moment he couldn't BUTTer toast but in another 6 months.....

Mother Nature can be cruel

What a bad choice of day to hatch :(
This morning whilst breaking the Ice on the Pond I noticed the Ducks were watching something in the reeds so were the Chickens.

It was the Hen Morhen trying to lead four newly hatched chicks to the East end of the pond and they were struggling terribly over the frosted ground it was bitterly cold - really not a day to hatch anything.

I think in all probability my movements triggered the evacuation of the nest which for some odd reason the Hen made at the 'busy' end of the Pond.

Not a clever move and nothing we could have done to prevent the inevitable.

It had just four eggs in it for a while but she was rarely sitting on it and I thought due to the cold she had long since abandoned it but clearly not. so this is how events unfolded. and these were taken from the other side of the pond whilst shivering so not the best!

This is what the Ducks were fascinated by.

But so were the Chickens, Morehen to the Rescue but perhaps too late one had already had a peck I think

 She was quite able to face off Snowdrop or whatever we have called her.

 The Chicks followed her calls


 The Ducks actually provided an escort

 Others came to watch


But they just didn't have much of a fighting chance these two I later found dying in a hollow after lasting about an hour in the freezing conditions. Sadly the Hen Morhen didn't try and brood them out in the open which may have saved them.



 I checked the nest was empty just in case as the Ducks were very interested in it.

 They tested it for size but it collapsed later
 Even Duck Norris had a go!

So there might still be two little Morhen Chicks out there but I doubt it, we had three broods of Morhens last year so plenty of time for them to have another go.

Broody Duck

I found Jemima, the one on the header above, in the nest box of the chicken coop we put in the corner of the barn to give the chickens (especially the Marans whose home it first was) another place to lay. Jemima is a large duck and the only way she fitted, and it was a squeeze, was to get rid of all the straw. I retrieved the egg later, we really don't need any more ducks right now. I thought the Marans, Sooty and Dusty, might start laying in their old home but no, instead two of the ex-batts, Gladys and Gen. Lee, tried to avoid detection and sleep in there tonight while Pecky was hiding in the nest on the straw bales.

Here's Sooty enjoying a bit of sunshine today. It has been really cold and all the chickens have spent a lot of time up in the barn. Snowy was seen sunning herself under a berberis bush by the pond sheltered from the wind.
If you are wondering, it's a feeder on the end of the chain with a couple of bits of celery to peck at, not that they do, it's not a very popular vegetable. Apples are good, occasionally carrots but not much that's green.

At the weekend the greenhouse moved into the garden proper, underneath what is now a pom-pom Lleylandi. It reminds me of those parasol shades you see on tropical beaches. There were several trunks that had to be cut down, one is a corner post for the greenhouse and two more are going to be used to put a seat on.
I already have my strawberry plants in the greenhouse along with my Lily bulbs and the Pineapple lily bulbs that had self seeded into the slabs of the last base.
Found a couple of ponies eating the lawn at lunchtime today. Somehow they had managed to escape through the door by the shelter. Lawn is nicely mown now, that's their purpose after all!

Saturday, 9 March 2013

The Splash Orpington

The eggs in the Incubator (the model is an an Rcom Suro) are from a breed called 'Splash Orpington'

We bought them from a local hobby breeder who has a web site here
Keri Aiken - Missys Poultry Shropshire

When Alden and I went to collect the eggs Keri showed us her White Orpingtons and around the foaling station where she lives.

We saw several new born Foals a couple, only days old, Alden really enjoyed it.

And I have just stumbled across this Orpington breeders web site which is absolutely nothing to do with me!

Keiths Orpington Poultry

So maybe if we make a success of this first attempt in 21 days we will have some like these eventually.


Eating eggs and hatching eggs

Firstly, last weeks egg count -
Ex-batts - 2
Barnvelders - 1
Marans - 0
Hybrids - 2
And finally the ducks - 18 WOW!!

Most of the chicken eggs have been found in the straw bales in the 'Barn', Snowdrop especially laid her two there. The ducks have been amazing this week, today we had four eggs and a collapsed paper thin shelled one (which isn't included in the count). One of the ducks is going broody, she is hiding her eggs in the Barn.

Keith bought an egg incubator last week, and today he and Alden went and collected ten eggs which should hatch into Speckled Orpingtons. Of course, there's no guarantee how many hens or how many cockerels there will be. I wiped them over with disinfectant to remove any bacteria, and kept them pointed end down. Keith and Alden readied the incubator so that the temperature and humidity were right. Alden is keeping a calender so he knows when to check them and turn things off. We candled them with a torch and a peice of cardboard with a hole in it, one of them did not look quite right, so that one hasn't gone in. If one is cracked it will go rotten and that spreads bacteria to the other eggs because their shells are so porous, and they will die too. So being novices it was decided not to risk it. Hatching day is Easter Saturday, so real Easter chicks! Thats always assuming nothing goes wrong.
One day of rain on Thursday and the field has returned to a quagmire. One thing about all the rain, it drove the chickens into their shed early and now they are all in before the automatic door shuts - the same cannot be said for the ducks who occasionally need rescuing.