All creatures great and small

We brought only one animal with us from Lancashire, Boris, the cat. After a traumatic journey, losing half of his tail to an otter and being beaten up several times by the local  ferocious, feral feline, he seemed to slide into a bit of a depression. Hence the arrival of Hamie to keep him company. She actually started out as a Hamish on her arrival at Garybuie, but after visiting the vet some months later, a slight name change was in order! Wee Wallace was the last to arrive – produced from a local crofter’s pocket on a wet and windy November’s night. How could we say no?

Big B to his friends!

Hamie

Wee Wallace

As far as outdoor beasties are concerned, our initial plan was just to have hens for their eggs. We started out with six, thoroughly enjoyed their company – and eggs – and gradually progressed  to obtaining a cockerel and larger breeds so that we could also incubate eggs and produce birds for meat.

SO, our next venture was pigs – I blame Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall! After starting out just fattening a couple up, we did actually progress onto breeding with our two sows Flora and Effie. They were Gloucester Old Spot/Wild boar cross and were great characters. We used Boris the boar from just further up the coast and had two wonderful seasons of piglet production!  At farrowing time, Flora just used to get on with things. Effie on the other hand was a bit of a drama queen and for her, farrowing involved SERIOUS nest-building! She was quite eclectic in her choice of nesting materials; straw obviously, planks of wood, bricks, maybe a tyre and always her drinking trough!

Lunchtime with Flora!

The beginnings of a fine nest!

During our ‘piggy years’ we acquired our first orphan, Lambkin, who was given to me by a neighbour. He was great fun over the summer until  he took his head butting a bit too seriously, creating a potential problem with our B and B guests!

A piggy’s favourite time of day – next to feeding time that is!!

But lack of space and increasing feed costs made us take a step back and return to just fattening a couple of weaners each summer which in 2009 came from Raasay, http://lifeattheendoftheroad.wordpress.com our first Old  Spot/Tamworth cross. However, with the B&B getting busier by the year, we found that we had less time to spend with the pigs and where’s the fun in that? So eventually, we gave up on piggy pursuits altogether, just buying a pig carcass from the same supplier so that we could still enjoy ham and sausage production with pork from happy pigs!

So, we decided to remain small-scale, staying with our chickens and venturing into the world of ducks. What a world! We bought three Cherry Valley ducks from our first visit to a poultry auction and also invested in a pair of Muscovies, Huff ‘n’ Puff, as they’re apparently very broody. I have to admit that Huff is still my favourite as he’s such a wonderful character!

We also got six Aylesbury eggs from our friend to incubate in the hope of producing a drake for our Cherry Valley birds. It became apparent at a very early stage however, when all six ducklings adopted a very upright stance and ran everywhere, that it was an Indian Runner who had in fact won the heart of Mrs. Aylesbury!

Those six ducklings captured our hearts and became known affectionately as the A.R.s (Aylesbury runners!) with Francis Drake in charge!

What’s cooking?

Lucky and Chance

Although the A.R.s were highly entertaining, they were way too light weight for breeding birds for the table. So, like it or not, they had to make way for MacRae, given to us by the same friend,  an Aylesbury drake for those Cherry Valleys. Both muscovies and white ducks are prolific layers, and we’ve successfully incubated and reared white ducks for the table. Unfortunately, those Cherry Valleys haven’t as yet got the hang of motherhood, all sharing one chaotic nest, with eggs rolling out left, right and centre! That first year we did manage to rescue and rear two orphans, Lucky and Chance, who were great fun and good at entertaining our bed and breakfast guests! Now they live with MacRae and the one surviving Cherry Valley.

The Muscovies on the other hand are great mothers but not so much the first year when Puff only managed to raise one of her two ducklings to adulthood. That duckling was Biggles, who is now a permanent resident. Now, both ducks have got this  parenthood thing down to a tee, sharing maternal duties – beginning with the nest!

And so, those are all the creatures, great and small, who help to make Garybuie such a special place.

Who knows what the future might bring?

2 Responses to “All creatures great and small”

  1. kerry delaney Says:

    Sorry Chris and Kev for you to have lost Boris, he certainly had a great life, hope you’re all okay. xxx

  2. garybuie01 Says:

    Cheers Kerry.

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