Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Many returns

I collected Vic from her delayed flight from Ibiza to Birmingham last night and fell into bed about half past one so was a little late releasing the chicks and feeding all the birds this morning.

My trip to the far end of the garden coincided with the two fox cubs arrival. They are half grown and there was no sign of an adult so hopefully they will fail to find their way through life. The last thing I need is hungry fox cubs in the neighbourhood....Horrid things.

If only they would eat all the rabbits.....but they don't.

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Not Turkey, Ibiza

Vic lost her flights to Bodrum in the Goldtrail collapse so, instead, I drove her to Birmingham for a flight to Ibiza.
Back in time to recover for Tom's Summer Concert...and that was my day gone.

Monday, 19 July 2010

Hen Lock-in



Depending on your point of view I have just seen a wonderful sight or a terrible sight!




Our local Fox's "teenage" (ie almost full grown) cubs were making a right row and play fighting on the farmer's old rusty field roller, jumping on and off it and each other. That roller is only a couple of hundred yards from my garden and my fowl!!!




Lock-in time chaps! Supervised walks only for the foreseeable future.


And here are
the newest members enjoying yesterday's....


Friday, 16 July 2010

Spoke too soon!

Maron family have gained amazing jumping skills overnight!
I swear I had to catch 8 of the little beasts, but there were still only 4 in the bucket.

I allowed both the Maron and the Blondie families access to the outside World yesterday afternoon (under strict supervision). The main flock were about and took very little interest except for Buffy (Buff Orpington thoroughbred Cock) who inspected the chicks shelter in great detail before I got alarmed and shushed him away.

The youngsters were not impressed and the ducklings actually failed to leave their run at all but the Mums were delighted. It is the first time for some 6 weeks that they have been out of cramped conditions. They Jumped, stretched, scratched the ground and luxuriated in any dust they could find, flapped their wings and yelped for joy. All without moving more than 4 feet from their babies. Then after about 20 minutes they walked slowly back to their respective groups and I shut the doors and that was that.

Thursday, 15 July 2010

Got one - Lost one

I had a medium sized rat in one of the traps this morning so that is more food for the Kites and one less pest.
Unfortunately the little yellow duckling dropped dead yesterday morning. Maybe had a stroke. Life is very precarious when you are that small. And it always seems to be the cutest that are the least robust.
Otherwise all is well. The chopping saw is repaired but I can't use it as the Maron's family night residence is on the saw bench. The family were extremely well behaved last evening and this morning so perhaps they have got the idea of the routine for moving between night and day accommodation and have accepted it. I think the secret is to make sure the hen can see the chicks at all times. Quite a neat move sticking her under my right arm whilst catching 4 chicks and popping them into a bucket with my left hand whilst keeping the hen pointing the right way! Then walk to the next pen , empty the chicks into it and just let the hen go as she will go straight to the chicks.....well so far she has.
The Moorhen chicks have started to wander near and far. They grow up so fast. maybe another lot is on the way as Mum has built at least 3 more nests.
I gave up with Snowflake (no ring). I have given her 4 eggs (selected by Jan). So we might have more chicks at the beginning of August. Her identical twin (Snowflake (with ring) now has a very smart ring round one leg. Maron Mummy has a ring and her twin doesn't. The two ring bearers were as good as gold whilst they were fitted and just sat on my lap and watched.
Girls and Rings Eh?

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Not more chicks?

One of the two White Sussex hens has gone broody.
I have coaxed her off other hen's eggs, taken her favourite box away and generally been horrid to her for a couple of weeks now....but she won't give up.
This morning she was sitting on the floor where the box used to be on some sawdust....and defending it from all comers!
I have put her box back and given her 4 snooker balls. Wait and see what happens.
If she does sit she will be a monster to manage as her first reaction is to peck and peck hard. My other broodies have been real ladies and have never pecked me.
I can't leave the chicks / ducklings in the adult runs yet as there is still evidence of Rats about, although I have not seen or caught any recently. So that will have to wait until they are big enough to stand a chance against Ratty!
I do push the limit as the run I have for hens with chicks is occupied by Blondie with the Ducklings and the Maron with her 4 chicks has to move between the old Guinea Pig Hutch where she overnights in safety to The Guinea Pig lawn run during the day. This involves catching each chick from well within striking range of the mother's beak, popping them in a bucket and then picking up the hen and carrying all between locations.
So far so good, but today the first chick managed to jump back into the hutch whilst I was catching the second. This could become quite a game!

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Red Currants etc!

Pounds of red currants off our one bush!
Jan is fed up with prepping them for freezing.
Strawberries continue but blackcurrants are very poor due to that late frost.
All those hours in the Spring putting up my fruit cage and now i could take it all down again.....or shall I just trust that there won't be any snow this winter?

Monday, 12 July 2010

Summer Fun

What a wonderful, if exhausting , afternoon in the garden!

Tom and I made a video entitled "Tom's Game Show" whilst the rest of the family got in the way.
Stills and Video are on my facebook page.

Sunday, 11 July 2010

Progress


The Old AC drake was still here this morning and enjoyed his breakfast in the yard.








The maron hen has hatched 4 bright chicks. Mother and babies doing well.








The blond hen has her 4 ducklings rushing around and eating well. She appears to be resigned if a little confused as to why they all sit in the water trough.

Saturday, 10 July 2010

Welcome back!

Several years ago a brighter than your average female Mallard Duck realised that our pet ducks had a good thing going. As winter set in she joined our ducks on the ponds during the day and when we called them in and they set off down the path for food and shelter from the perils of the night she flew away.

After a week or two she started to leave the pond and walk with the other ducks but as buildings, dog and humans came into view she would fly off. Gradually she got closer before she fled and one night she came in fed and spent the night in warmth and safety.

She did this for 2 or 3 years. Like all our ducks she was free to leave and fly away every day but secure every night. She mated with the male (Drake) Call Ducks and hatched 8 special AC crossbreeds.

Over the years the flock has reduced, by natural wastage, from a maximum of 15 ducks ....mainly due to foxes. At the beginning of last winter we were left with just 4 ACs drakes. After the moult they became stronger flyers and as Spring began they began to fly further looking for mates.

Unlike previous years they eventually all left and have not returned.

Last night one was back.

And he was still here for breakfast which he demanded in his bowl in the yard!

Thursday, 8 July 2010

Goodbye and Hello





Owen has gone as it was not good to keep him suffering any longer with no chance of a cure. He only weighed 17 Kg in the end but he did get to see the new Ducklings hatch this morning.









The 4 ducklings are all different colours and confusing Blondie, their surrogate Mum, who is a bit concerned that they keep sitting in the drinking water. At some stages all 4 manage to squeeze in.
One Hen chick has almost got out of its egg too so it and up to 5 other chicks should be running around in a day or two.


More Mud

Second smaller pond cleaned. The mud at the bottom was over a foot deep and it was very hard work and very messy removing it. Only a few fish were found including a pair of Goldfish.
Moorhens enjoyed searching through the new garden feature of wet mud banks!

Owen has now completed his medication and has sunk back to not eating and being sick. Back to the vet this coming afternoon.

Although we still look most nights around 2200hrs we have not seen any owls for some time. In fact the only visible wild life at dusk has been endless rabbits.

Our little Gooseberry bush has produced a considerable crop and Norfolk Gooseberry Tarts have been enjoyed with syrup and cream. Yesterday Jan produced a Strawberry version. Mid Bucks Strawberry Tarts....very nice too!

Sunday, 4 July 2010

Mud, mud, mud

As the largest pond only appeared to be about 6 inches deep before becoming black mud we decided to have clear out.
Mud everywhere but we also found in the region of 30 fish happily living in the mud until we took the water away. Mainly Roach and maybe Rudd. We also found Pea Mussels.
Owen picked up as the day went on and is eating quite well.

Saturday, 3 July 2010

Still Eating

Drugged-up steroid junky Owen appears to be quite interested in food, especially Tesco Oxtail Soup.
Vic had a young Tawny (probably) Owl land in the hedge right by her last evening..........I go months , years without seeing such things and she just strolls out there and the wild life throws itself at her!

Friday, 2 July 2010

Oxtail soup & milk!

Owen has drunk some of the above.
We have spent a long time out in the garden but it ain't come back yet!

Thursday, 1 July 2010

Fish?

Got organised and went fishing for those baby fish we had seen. Set a reception tank up in my shed......Never saw a single baby fish!
Owen continues to fade. The vet has him on a last chance anti biotic and steroids. No progress so far.