Still here!

Rob & Lizzie with friends, Pauline & Malcolm

This summer has turned out to be our busiest yet. Miserable weather all July and half of August making outdoor chores more difficult, lots of one-night stays on the B&B front,  orphan ducklings, a Surrey wedding and a week-long visit from Matt and Sarah have made blogging seemingly an activity of some previous life! Not that I’m complaining about any of the above – well, apart from the weather perhaps – as they all ensure that there’s never a dull moment at Garybuie and both the wedding and Matt and Sarah’s visit gave a welcome change. The wedding was of Robert, the youngest son of our long-time friends, Pauline and Malcolm, from Lancashire. In fact, it came as a bit of a shock when we realised that Pauline and I have been friends for half a century!! (Instantly felt more wrinkly!) 

Sarah, Matthew and Kevin

 

Meanwhile, back at Garybuie, the mystery of the discarded ducklings – way back when – deepened after yet another bird was found in a similar situation to Lucky’s in the previous week. Obviously Huff was not to blame after all as he’d been unable to get into MacRae’s house because of some temporary fencing. So is it just down to the Cherry Bs being inexperienced mothers? Maybe the fact that three ducks were sitting on one nest is upsetting the natural order of things. We tried to revive the latest ’reject’ and it seemed to be doing well. Then, for no obvious reason, it died. That was the fourth duck-house death and so when Kevin found that one of the three remaining eggs had pipped, we decided to give the wee mite a chance of survival by hatching it ourselves. 

We knew it was going to be a challenge, as temperature and especially humidity are important factors during the hatching stage. An infrared lamp and some damp straw was our first idea but not much progress was made. The prospect of spraying the straw with warm water throughout the night wasn’t very appealing so we took the gamble of placing it in the incubator along with our current batch of duck eggs. Unfortunately, it was a tricky situation as the humidity for incubating eggs needs to be considerably lower than that for hatching purposes. At least the temperature was constant overnight, but the following morning, no further progress had been made but amazingly, there was still life and so drastic measures were required! 

Lucky visits the new arrival

 

It's great to stretch out!

 

It turned out to be a frantic hour or so as we took turns in picking away the shell, all the while dampening the membrane beneath so that it could be peeled away without tearing any feathers, skin – or something more crucial – from the duckling. Eventually, the bird was free of the shell apart from the lower section to which the umbilicus was attached. Trying to cook breakfast for our guests at the same time didn’t particularly aid our emergency room techniques either! Thankfully, all our efforts paid off and our second orphan duckling of the season, Chance, survived to provide a double act with Lucky, entertaining many of our guests!  

  

  

  

  

  

  

 

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

 

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

 

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

 

  

  

  

  

  

  

 

Both ducklings are great pals, which makes life a lot easier for us as surrogate parents! They are great company and like nothing better than cuddling up to our feet – or empty smelly shoes if no feet are available – and stealing any left-over cat food! They have also been introduced to the pools and Chance in particular is a natural with  sub-aquatic skills a speciality! 

Good pals!

Some sad news within the past couple of weeks however, is that four of Brenda’s chicks have succumbed to a respiratory ailment called Aspergillosis. Apparently it’s caused by breathing in spores from a fungus which grows on old food/ damp bedding. Brenda nested under a coop where grain can accumulate after falling through a gap at the door, so, lesson learned and we’ve now blocked up any gaps through which a hen could squeeze next season. Also, none of the duck eggs in the incubator developed fully which was a great disappointment, so we’re relying on Puff now to produce a decent final brood of the season!

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