Archive for the ‘ducks’ Category

Moving forwards…

March 19, 2015

…to spring, hopefully. It was another beautiful day on Skye yesterday, albeit a wee bit hazy.

the view

Everybody’s just been happy doing what they do. Sitting on the shed roof checking up on what I’m doing in the kitchen…

Puff and Biggles

…taking a dip…

Chance

…or a snooze…

Lucky

…or just watching the world go by.

Patches

The guinea Fowl are enjoying widespread foraging in this dry weather. (They are also starting to arrange themselves into pairs ready for the spring season)

guinea fowl

It’s foraging nearer to home however for our young Silkie family. I love seeing them all together!

Silkies

BB however has other things on her mind – or under breast to be more accurate! Here she is in a dark corner, happily sitting on 6 eggs. (Not her own of course but don’t tell her!)

BB

As of yesterday, someone else decided to sit too – Polly Bluetail. Here she is giving me that warning look through the a wee gap in her nest box!

Polly bluetail

Today I closed the hens’ Winter Spa’, a decision which didn’t go down well I can tell you! I told them that I didn’t give two hoots, as I need to get the place ready for planting. The displaced soon had plenty to do though, ‘helping’ Kevin as he cleared some of the rough ground outside the old church in preparation for quail summer housing.

Hens

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Seasonal weather and greetings!

December 23, 2014

Obviously, Mother Nature has heard that variety is the spice of life. She’s certainly gifted us with her whole catalogue of winter weather over the past couple of weeks; light rain, heavy rain, rain with and without gale force wind, calm frosty days, crystal clear days, mild and murky days, snow, and ferocious hailstone. Some days we can see the Ridge…

The Ridge

…and some days we can’t.

The view

All of the animals deal with whatever Mother Nature throws at them, each in their own way.

There are pools for bathing.

Chance

Perches to reach with your newly grown primary feathers.

Mrs Under-by

There is grassland to forage. (And running to be done if you’re Kevin. Obviously the Guinea has spotted him in the distance!)

Guinea gang

Or one can get up close and personal in the hope of a wee treat!

guinea gang

The hens don’t like to get wet, so spend a lot of their time in the Winter Spa They also tend to be ushered to bed as soon as decently possible by Big ‘Don’t even think about wetting MY feathers’ Fella!

Big Fella

There are one or two hens however, who seem to feel that a good downpour enhances one’s hair-do!

Thelma

Of course, both cats choose to spend the bulk of their time indoors. Needless to say, Patches does it with style!!

Patches

So finally, whatever your weather, I would like to take this opportunity to wish you and yours a very happy Christmas!

Something afoot

November 15, 2014

Today has been a BEAUTIFUL day! Yesterday evening we were treated to a wonderful sunset…

Sunset

…and this evening we had a fabulous reflected sunset on the Ridge, with autumn showing off all her vibrant colours.

The view

We’ve both been working in the garden all day today, tidying the place up for the winter and putting the finishing touches to a new residence. Huff and his ladies are going to get new neighbours. “Hope they’re not noisy neighbours.” he said. Hmmmm. Fortunately, our friends who have recently moved back south to England gifted us with their wonderful fruit cage. It’s come in very handy to create a perfect temporary extension to the over-by coop.

New neighbours

The imminent new neighbours need to be restricted in their movements for six weeks, until they get used to their new home, then the fruit cage will be moved to its permanent position in the veg patch. I guess you’ll just have to watch this space to see who moves in!

Excitement in the kitchen a couple of avian news items

March 3, 2014

The view

One month to go before we open our doors for B and B. Time for a couple of up-grades in the kitchen methinks! A bigger fridge for one thing, as our current one struggles with all those extra breakfast ingredients. A replacement dish-washer too. To be fair, the one I have now does a good job: nice clean plates, great on pans, fairly quiet and nice to look at too. It’s called Kevin. Anyway, it’s high time that he hung up his rubber gloves as we finally move into the 21st century in the dish-washing department! There’s something else new due to arrive this week too and it’s BIG! Thursday’s the day, hopefully, but I shall keep you in suspense about that one!

We haven’t had a catch-up for a while so here goes. Our Silkie cockerel, Wee Man, has developed into a handsome chap. He is protective of his mate, BB, although he frequently tries to add Broody Brenda to his harem of one! She’s having none of it though, faithful to Big Fella and she can run fast!

Wee Man

Wee Man

BB

BB

silkie nest Finally, BB has got around to laying some eggs, several in fact over the past couple of weeks. She’s only just got the hang of returning to lay them in her own nest-box however, as up until the last couple of days, the whole process seems to have been taking her by surprise and she’s has to make a quick dash for the duck-house or we just find an egg on the ground when she obviously hasn’t quite made it! But as you can see, as of today, she seems to be in control and now has two lovely eggs in her own box.

The biggest change among our bird population is that MacRae is no longer with us. You may remember that we had a lot of problems with the Aylesbury ducklings last year so this time around we’re just sticking with the Muscovies. Also, it will be a relief to all concerned when he’s not constantly pestering Biggles with his unwanted attentions, or scattering ducklings whilst in pursuit of her!

Now there’s an air of calmness around the place and with no policing to perform, Huff can now take an undisturbed siesta.

Huff

Lucky and Chance don’t appear to be particularly concerned by his absence and now we can look forward to eating all of their eggs instead of incubating them, which has to be a big plus point!

Lucky and Chance

Oddly, even though all the Muscovies sleep together, Huff doesn’t seem to realise that the three Musco-teers belong to him! He still spends his days with Puff and Biggles, the Musco-teers doing their own thing. Is it because they are white and he thinks that they’re more Lucky and Chances? They speak his language after all. Maybe when spring fever kicks in he’ll invite them to join him during the day. The girls get on fine, occasionally commandeering the bridge for some collective preening and no doubt some ducky-gossip!

Muscovy ladies

Bleak Sunday and some home improvements

January 27, 2014

Trying to do anything on the internet yesterday was snail-like. It happens every so often so apart from dealing with the essentials, it’s better for the blood pressure to leave matters such as shopping online or blogging until another day. So here I am on another day telling you yesterday’s news! As you can see from THE VIEW, it was a particularly bleak Sunday. There were (very) occasional sunny intervals but strong winds and fierce hail showers dominated. I did manage to get out for my daily walk in the glen but it wasn’t a particularly pleasant experience. Of course Kevin went out running in the surrounding hills (daft or what?), so shirking a walk would have been a bit feeble on my part!

P1010919

During one of the sunny intervals I noticed the new girls investigating the wee bridge…

Three Musco-teers

… I wonder if we’ll end up with all five Muscovy females perched on the handrail some day! The three (so far nameless) girls seem to be feeling quite at home with the other muscovies now and mill around in a friendly fashion with Huff et al in their new, open-plan accommodation…

open-plan

There’s been a minor modification to the Silkies’ home too. Well, just their front door. It usually remains closed during the day to keep all the other hens – and cats – out. However, it shouldn’t be long before BB comes into lay and she’s going to need to get back to her nest. So, Kevin fixed an old cat-flap into the door and we just fasten that open during the day. We suspect that it’s too small for most of the other hens. Wee man likes to go to bed first and we’ve caught him investigating this new, miniature front door, but he still hasn’t mustered the courage to walk through it!

cat flap

Hamie has tried it of course and is probably excited about resuming her peaceful siestas in the Silkies’ abode! I shall tell you a story about this particular cat-flap one day. One day when the flippin’ internet is functioning at a less annoying speed!

And finally, just to share a wee spot of brightness on our bleak Sunday, look what’s popped up in the garden!

P1010918

Settling in

January 22, 2014

As you can see, not much change in THE VIEW, yesterday, still grey with some heavy clouds. Still, it was mostly dry yesterday which was good although it was a fairly strong wind which made it unpleasantly chilly. I had intended to post this yesterday but accessing the internet at a reasonable speed was like pulling teeth, so here we are, a day late!

The view

I mainly wanted to give you an update on our New Girls who seem to be settling in just fine. To be fair, they did set off over the hills and far away on their first day, but they were easy to guide back and have remained reasonably close since. At least being white means that they’re easy enough to spot as they trundle back and forth in the field behind Garybuie. Making friends is a different matter; they seem to be content enough to be around the other ducks with no apparent aggravation – at least not that we’ve seen!

Getting along

The weird thing is that Huff seems to pay them little attention, spending most of his time wandering around the place policing MacRae, who unusually is on his best behaviour these days! We can’t work it out. The girls speak his language when all said and done so is the Daft Drake confused, thinking that they belong to MacRae because they’re white?

huff and white ducks

Anyway, in an attempt to encourage a sense of belonging, Kevin has now removed a panel from the dividing wall between the new and older muscovies, although the gap is covered by chicken wire so that they can see each other but remain be separated. Keeping them separate for a wee while longer is probably a good idea as Biggles in particular can be a grumpy madam when she chooses! When they are more integrated during daytime activities, we’ll remove the dividing wall completely so that Huff’s house will be almost double the size. Of course MacRae, Lucky and Chance weren’t particularly enamoured with their new home, but are gradually getting used to it!

huff's house

Returning indoors, I completed my kitten portrait. I found the picture here, a lovely cat blog which I often visit if I want to feel all warm and fuzzy! Next up is my still life for the SAA 2014 challenge. I’m off now to consult my collection of art books to see how I might tackle it!

white kitten

Warning: carnivores only

November 24, 2013

Seriously, this is not a post for veggies or sentimentalists. Much of our life at Garybuie involves growing things to eat. Yes, vegetables are in the mix but so is meat. Yesterday, Cecilia visited Garybuie’s blog about Muscovies. She asked if we eat our ducks as she’s thinking of acquiring some for the upcoming festive season. Yes, we do eat our ducks and here is a wee bit of information on the subject both for Cecilia and anyone else thinking of growing ducks for food.
Regular visitors to Garybuie’s blog will know that we have two types of duck; Aylesburys…

Aylesburys

…and Muscovies.

Muscovies

Aylesbury ducks are the traditional table bird in the U.K. I’m sure that they, or something very similar, are available elsewhere in the world. The big advantage with this breed is that they’re fully grown at 8 weeks – and of course they waddle and are cute! They have plenty of fat for your roast potatoes! In our experience, they are rotten mothers so if you want to breed them, an incubator is the answer.

Muscovies, on the other hand, are wonderful mothers and will produce a couple of broods in a year. The disadvantage is that these birds aren’t fully grown until 14 or 15 weeks. They have little fat but the meat is truly delicious; dark and dense. The drake is considerably larger than the duck.

Although the Aylesburys like to swim, they don’t NEED much water – just enough for preening purposes and to keep their nostrils clear. There’s even less need of a pond for Muscovies as they are a perching species. Once again, just enough for nostrils and preening. Watch out! Muscovies can fly so maybe clip their wings when you first bring them home. Once they’re used to their new home, they will always return to it – we’ve never lost one yet and it’s lovely to see them fly!

As for meat production at Garybuie this year, although we’ve had some ducks of both varieties, thanks to our cockerel, Snowball, becoming infertile, chicken production has been both reduced and late. Finally though, they are ready and Kevin made a start on ‘processing’ them this weekend. Somebody’s had a lucky escape though…

Lucky boy

He’s gone off in his cat-box to our neighbours and their six hens. He is one of Broody Brenda’s boys.

And now for a bit more romance. Huff’s gentlemanly gestures have definitely paid off and he’s been fully accepted by his family.

Muscovy family

And how about this? Looks like BB has chosen her man!

Silkies

Poor teamwork

September 22, 2013

 

After sharing a nest, Biggles and Puff successfully hatched seven ducklings  earlier in the week. (Sorry I didn’t tell you sooner but we’ve had relatives staying) As I was clearing the nest-box of discarded shells and old straw, I came across a partly hatched egg with signs of life. The nest was abandoned in favour of the seven and I just couldn’t bear not to give the semi-hatched wee fella a chance to live. So, out came a shoe box, infra-red lamp and a warm, damp J-cloth to aid in the process…Almost here

Arrived!

After taking time to dry off and recover from its ordeal, I took the latest arrival to mums! Biggles was in charge of the seven at the time and when I held the eighth youngster near Puff, she raised herself and let it settle beneath her. Great, I thought, a wee life saved! Don’t you believe it. In the past, both Muscovy females have been great at shared parenting but this time around, there’s little evidence so far of any kind of teamwork. Some ‘arguments’ seem to be occurring and four of the eight ducklings have died. And to cap it all today, after being a seriously indoor kind of family for the past five days, today the kids were forced to endure a veritable biathlon! First event being a major hike in the back field through long grass and mud…

hike

 

…followed by a swim!

swim

At least the foursome have survived their harsh introduction to the great outdoors so hopefully are robust enough to survive home life tonight!

The birds of Garybuie

August 18, 2013

robinGarybuie seems to be awash with young birds at the moment, both wild and domesticated. There’s an abundance of Blackbirds, sparrows and my favourite, the Robins, have almost got their full, adult plumage. (Sorry the picture’s a bit blurred!) The swallows are a sight to behold, diving and swooping to catch bugs, then taking a rest on the electricity cables where they chatter and gossip, maybe discussing which route to take to South Africa next month!

swallows

On the domestic front, the Muscovy boys are getting to be quite a size and like most teenagers enjoy some fast food when they can get it!

Muscovies

The mixed bunch of chicks are doing well at almost five weeks old. Kevin extended their run and they’re enjoying foraging in the longer grasses and weeds. See two Silkies hiding?

Silkies

“I’m not hiding!”

Silkie

The Silkies really make me smile. They’re the French Poodles of the chicken world I think! These three are different shades of grey and look like a wee cluster of storm clouds!

And the youngest birds of all, just hatched today, are four more Aylesbury ducklings. Two didn’t make into the world unfortunately, but the others are fine. I hope that there’s not a wobbly one among ’em!

just hatchedThey even had some very early visitors this morning, Isla and Alys, two wee lasses staying with their grandparents in the Glen this week. They called in en route back south, so I was glad that the ducklings hatched in the nick of time!

Isla and Alys

 

A huge sigh of relief

August 15, 2013

A week ago yesterday, Chance had her unfortunate encounter with the frisky cows. We’ve kept our eye on her all week and although she’s been keeping herself to herself, she’s been eating well and looking o.k. I’m sure that she’s got some nasty bruising, both inside and out, so rest is the best cure I suppose. Yesterday however, saw a big change and look where she was…

back with the cows

It’s so nice to see her enjoying time with Lucky and MacRae once more.

together again

Our youngest son, Andy, thinks that we should rename her ‘2nd Chance’!

2nd chance

All six of the Muscovy ducklings, now ten weeks old, are drakes by the look of them! ” Cows, Schmows” they say!

cows schmows

Two ducklings who are happy to stay within the confines of the garden are the remaining Ayelsburys. They’ve even commandeered a tuft of ornamental grass as their personal snoozing spot!

grassy twosome


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