Archive for the ‘Hens’ Category

And so, the new season begins

April 21, 2018

We got of to a bit of a false start this season because of Easter being so early. Nature was still sleeping. We had B and B guests over the holiday, but then all went quiet. Anyway, things start to pick up again this weekend and not just on the tourism front.

Now we at least have some cheery blooms to welcome our guests…

…as well as a freshly painted home.

Poor Kevin hates heights! We really should get a little man in!

 

Spring is also making its presence felt in the garden. After expelling the hens from their winter spa, who were none too happy about it as usual, the polytunnel is now shipshape with some early veggies now in place.

 

Some seedlings however, need the slightly kinder environment of the conservatory to encourage them to make an appearance.

 

Of course spring is not just about the appearance of all things green. Yesterday, our first chicks of the season arrived. BB, the bantam Silkie, has done us proud by hatching four youngsters. As usual, we exchanged her own eggs for those of our larger, table birds.

 

 

Silkies are wonderful mothers and BB has decided to keep her new family indoors for now, which is probably very wise as there’s quite a stiff breeze out there.

In a few days, we’re expecting our second batch of chicks, this time from eggs which we’re incubating ourselves. So, watch this space as they say!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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New Year’s resolution?

January 21, 2018

Can’t say that I’ve been particularly on top of the whole blogging malarkey for the past couple of years, but all being well, with reductions in our poultry stocks and plans afoot to save time on the B and B front, I’m hoping to get back into the swing of things. Not every day and possibly not every week but hey, baby steps are good! So, a belated Happy New Year to anyone checking in!

Of course we’re closed for business at this time of year although the weather has been pretty grim these past few months so who would want to be here on holiday here anyway? This past week has been quite nice though, albeit in a chilly sort of way…

…so much so, that Wee Man and his Silkie girls have refused point blank to come outdoors – unless I tempt them with a few mealworms for afternoon tea that is!

The main flock have been keen to find any spot in the sunshine…

And here’s an introduction to a special new resident, The Bruce, our new cockerel. He’s a Blue-Laced Wyandotte and we hand reared him last summer to step into Big Fella’s shoes – or spurs maybe? (God rest his wee chicken soul.)

Markie or Silkan?

July 31, 2017

That is, what do you call a cross between a Maran and a Silkie? Since the demise of poor Big Fella earlier this year, Wee Man has stepped up (literally!) to the task of head cockerel. He hasn’t managed to woo all of the marans, but some of the slightly smaller birds have succumbed to his charms!

Between them, BB, Thelma & Louise have managed to rear three chicks, hardly a great success but probably more than we expected. We were interested to see which chacteristics would be dominant. At eight weeks old their inherited features are quite clear; bantam, Maran feathering/colour, 4 toes (Maran) and surprisingly, some definite Silkie ‘bonnets’!

Wee Man’s days as head honcho will soon be in jeopardy and will hopefully not involve too much aggression. We have two candidates waiting in the wings; a couple of handsome Blue-laced Wyandottes which we reared ourselves. They are a lovely pair, gentle and friendly. They are eighteen weeks old tomorrow and are currently trying to perfect their crowing technique!

Big changes at Garybuie

April 10, 2017

2016 was a very difficult year.

Some of you may remember that my dad came to live with us five years ago. Over the past couple of years his health began to fail and he became gradually more dependent last year. The season was also our busiest yet and so some changes were needed. Although it saddened us greatly, we decided to go back in time to a ‘chicken only’ policy. No ducks. No guinea fowl. Also, we now only have one vegetable plot rather than the two, although we do have the polytunnel still.

Our shrunken veg plot & fruit cage.

Our laying hens were getting old too so we replnished our stock by incubating fertile Cuckoo Maran eggs from the internet. I like marans; they are good dual purpose birds, good foragers and endearing personalities!

Some of our new layers.

Of course just as we get organized with our new poultry regime, Big Fella bows out! Wee man is determined to fill his spurs…

…although being a bantam means that he isn’t always ‘up to the job’ so to speak!

We did get more fertile eggs last mont in the hope of producing a new cockerel for later in the season, but out of a dozen eggs, only TWO hatched!!!

Blue-laced Wyandotte chicks

I’m currently awaiting more eggs from the internet. Lets hope that the postal guys handle them with care!

The silkies went broody quite early and as we still had eggs fertilized by Big Fella, all three girls were sitting happily – BB first by a couple of weeks. Soon after she hatched our first four chicks of the season, one dying after a few days, Thelma and Louise abandonned their nests and went into ‘Auntie Mode’!!! So now we have three chicks with three mums…

By the autumn of last year, Dad had come to need pretty much round the clock care and his wee appartment next door was fast becoming unsafe as he became less steady on his feet and more confused. Consequently, in November, he went into local residential care.

Our B and B season is now underway and looking like another busy one. At least we should be less thinly spread.

A silver lining…

March 8, 2017

…or is that four silver linings? More like wee fluffy rain clouds really, but after the loss of Big Fella, BB cheered us up with the arrival of her first brood of the year.

And do you think that maybe our next rooster is waiting in this box? I ordered Wyandotte fertilized eggs online, a breed that sounds perfect for our needs.

Meanwhile, with no competition, Wee Man thinks it’s his birthday, surrounded by our new layers! Of course he can’t reach ‘the task’ with some of the bigger girls! We reared our new Cuckoo Maran girls last season to replace our old, decreasing stock.

Farewell to the big guy.

March 5, 2017

Big Fella

Yesterday was a sad day as we had to say good-bye to Big Fella, our magnificent rooster. A couple of weeks ago, he started the day with what appeared to be something like a stroke. His left leg was unable to support him and he fell a couple of times, spending most of that day sitting around.

He’s been managing to get around since then, but was struggling to maintain his balance. More to the point, he was unable to do his “Job”. Yesterday however, he took a turn for the worse and we couldn’t work out whether he’d lost his sight or was just very confused/disoriented, behaving very uncharacteristically. An obviously distressed bird.

He will be sadly missed as he was a wonderful gentle giant, popular with all our guests and is present on many a holiday snapshot!

guests

guests

Double loss at Garybuie

October 27, 2016

I know, I know, it’s been quite some time since you heard from Garybuie, but more of that another day. It’s unfortunate that my ‘Returning To The Blogging World’ post is one which brings sad news – on two counts. Firstly, Broody Brenda, our wonderful mother hen, died yesterday.

" Is this my best side?"

” Is this my best side?”

She’s been quiet for a few days, nothing specific but just winding down I suppose. She was ten years old and a great character, raising scores of chicks over the years. She was a frequent visitor to the kitchen, stealing any leftovers from the cats. All cats respected Broody Brenda!

Brenda with Dottie

And secondly, Patches has gone missing. We returned from our end-of-season holiday last week and we haven’t seen her. Our cat/chicken holiday carers didn’t see her but there was nothing unusual about that as she’s not keen on strangers and will only sneak back to continue her snoozing when they leave! We’ve been searching the area although she never wanders far. Plump as she is, she can move pretty fast the minute she hears a car, so being killed by one seems unlikely. I phoned both vets in the area, but no one has brought in an injured cat. With Brenda, there was hard evidence of her demise but not so with Patches so I still have my fingers crossed that she’s gone off in protest and sneaks back for food during the night. In our former life in England, we once had a cat go missing for six months after which he came sauntering up the driveway like nothing was amiss!

Patches

New mum!

June 8, 2016

You may remember that earlier in Spring, Thelma was entrusted to raise some of her own silkie chicks (we usually exchange silkie eggs for regular ones), for a young lady who wanted some as pets. Three of her four chicks survived and are obviously very happy with Isy, their new mum! Conveniently, they are different colours for easy recognition!

New mum

Spring

April 9, 2016

Admittedly, THE VIEW today didn’t look particularly spring-like…

THE VIEW

…and even the few daffodils that we have, were bowing their heads in the rain.daffodil

Even so, it’s a new season and there are new lives at Garybuie. The first arrivals were six Cuckoo Maran chicks.

Maran chicks

Our laying hens are dwindling in numbers through natural wastage so we thought we’d get some new blood by buying some eggs online. We bought a dozen but struggled throughout the incubation with humidity levels. Whether that affected the hatch rate I don’t know, but the outcome was disappointing. It looks like three of them could be female. (Darker head colour in the Cuckoo Maran)

Over the last couple of days Thelma, the Silkie, hatched four Silkie chicks. These chicks are destined for a new home when they’ve grown; a birthday present for a young lassie.

Thelma and chicks

There are other birds awaiting their own spring arrivals, including BB and Louise who are in the same ‘maternity wing’ as Thelma!

L to R, Thelma, BB and Louise

L to R, Thelma, BB and Louise

Polly Blue-tail made her nest a bit too early I think as a particularly cold snap has seemingly thwarted her efforts, as she’s already a week overdue. Mrs Under-by however, began a week or so later, opting for the main coop this time rather than the Guineafowl house!

mrs under-by

And let’s not forget the other young lives at Garybuie, Hamish and Dottie, who are now discovering the great outdoors!

Hamish

Dottie

Always up to mischief, outdoors or in!

Hamish and Dottie

More than we could chew

August 12, 2015

The View – a different perspective…

The View

I’m sad to have to report that once our quail endeavours were fully up and running, we soon realised that we had bitten off more than we could chew. It turned out to be a very high maintenance venture, with runs having to be moved/cleaned out every other day. And for insufficient financial return. Our days at this time of year are already full and we took a step too far with this project. So, the quail are no more. Of course the wee birds haven’t gone to waste, filling a space in the freezer, labelled (in my mind at least) ‘Romantic meals for Two’. We have an abundance of preserved eggs too. Hey ho.

So, let’s get all the bad news out-of-the-way in one go; one of the female guineas got knocked down. Some drivers in the glen can be heavy-footed and she didn’t manage to move fast enough. It was an outright death thank goodness, I don’t think she would have known much about it. Her mate called for her for a couple of days then promptly stole someone else’s wife!

Guinea fowl

The grey guinea, who out of season is on the periphery of the flock, now has TWO husbands – the widower and her ousted partner who still hangs around! Sometimes I’ve spotted the ousted one with the lone, bottom-of-the-ladder female instead but preen him as she might, he doesn’t stay.

Enough of the gloom and doom. Polly Blue-tail hatched five ducklings a couple of weeks ago and Mrs Under-by hatched nine yesterday but kept them well guarded.

Mrs Under-by

BB has produced her third family of the season; five ‘regular’ chicks…

BB

…meanwhile, the inseparable sisters, Thelma and Louise, are sitting on their third set of eggs this year. Maybe they like to chat through the wall?

Thelma and Louise

After the quail disappointment, we decided to put Kevin’s specially constructed brooder to good use by incubating some of our own hen eggs. You just can’t have enough home-grown chicken!

brooder

Annnnnd in the middle of all the summer chaos, I got two portrait commissions from some early season guests – Dottie…

Dottie

…and Poppy.

Poppy

Never a dull moment then!


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