Archive for the ‘muscovies’ Category

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

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Uninvited guest

February 18, 2016

“Steady on! This is a well known MUSCOVY perch buster! Are you a Muscovy? No, didn’t think so, no self respecting Muscovy would sport a hat like yours!”

Muscovy & guinea

“Yeah, that’s it, DOWN is where you need to be heading – find your own perch!”

Muscovy & Guinea

Not quite Goldilocks…

October 3, 2015

…who as we all know, carefully tested everything in the Three Bears’ home until she found perfection.

Polly Blue-tail

We don’t have a Goldilocks but we do have a Polly Blue-tail who has been testing various nesting sites over the past couple of weeks; her own house, the Guineas’ house, the shed and finally the silkies’ home. But even there, she built FIVE nests before deciding on the perfect one in which to lay!

nesting

She will NOT be allowed to rear a third brood!

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!

Still here!

July 2, 2015

Dinner guests Good grief! It’s AGES since I posted on Garybuie’s blog but worry ye not (on the off chance that you were!), we’re still here, just busy, busy with guests, gardens, birds and dinners! Skye is heaving with visitors so we are full every night and many of our guests have been taking us up on the offer of dinner.
Besides spending more time in the kitchen, outdoor tasks are also at their peak. The weather is awful; damp and dreary, cold too until the last few days. We may have reached mid-summer but it sure doesn’t feel like it. Of course our daylight hours are abundant and Pusscat seemingly disapproves, trying his best to seek SOME darkness to facilitate his naps. At least I have an eye mask to help!

Pusscat

Anyway, as it’s been so long, I decided that a pictorial ‘catch-up’ would be easier, so here goes!

The quail are OUT!

Quail

quail

quail

Aunts Puff and Biggles took over ‘child-minding’ duties of Polly Blue-tail’s offspring…

Puff, Biggles, ducklings

…whereas Mrs Under-by’s three remaining ducklings have been learning all about adult conversation…

muscovies

…and are seemingly unimpressed by it!

muscovies

Broody Brenda decided to sit…

Brenda

…and the Plymouth Rock decided to join her!

Brenda

Brenda appeared with the first three chicks of the joint hatch…

Brenda

…followed a couple of days later by the Plymouth rock and seven more. They’re still all sharing the same coop.

Plymouth Rock

Feeding time is certainly more chaotic with such a motley crew.

Feeding time

And as for the Guinea Fowl, after having most of their eggs stolen by our local, dastardly crow, they have finally made a nest out of his sight – which they’re all sharing – and we’re now getting a great supply of eggs! They do enjoy our rare days of sunshine taking a bath…

Guinea Fowl

…or squawking up a tree!

Guinea Fowl

As a culinary conclusion, we’ve enjoyed our first quail and have sold our first eggs!

Roasted quail

Now we are three

May 13, 2015

Poor, traumatised Mrs Under-by now has only three of her eight ducklings left. Not too long after venturing out in the field, Kevin noticed that two were missing. We’re pretty certain that it was a certain bl**dy crow which has been hanging around since Polly Blue-tail’s youngsters arrived (You may remember that she lost two).
The following morning, Kevin found two dead ducklings. Had there been a kerfuffle between cousins/aunts, resulting in the wee mites getting trampled? Back out in the field and it wasn’t long before her fifth offspring was taken. Kevin went out to herd the rapidly diminishing family back into the garden. Mrs Under-by went straight into the guinea fowl coop, her ducklings with her via Kevin’s hat.

Mrs Under-by

Her choice of refuge wasn’t great however, as I doubt that she would have let the guineas to bed! So, further trauma when Kevin picked her up and I popped the threesome into MY hat, transporting them all back to the duck-house. I’d already been in there to separate the two sides with an anti-kerfuffle barrier and she’s stayed there ever since. I built a small enclosure outside the house but so far she’s taking no chances.

Weird family planning!

May 11, 2015

There’s plenty of family planning going on around the place at the moment. Polly Blue-tail appears to have been the only mother who planned it right; in a nest box in the duck house. Unfortunately, being a single parent, without eyes in the back of her head, has meant that she’s lost two of her offspring, probably to the dreaded crows.
ducklings Yesterday, Mrs Under-by hatched her new family of eight, an extra two having been sneaked in there after MY family planning of a ‘Max 6’ strategy! You may remember that her spot of bad planning was the fact that she chose a nesting-box in the Guinea Gang’s house, a foot off the ground! In order to avoid concussion of the wee mites when leaving the nest, we decided that some nice, soft straw should break their fall. Kevin went out first thing this morning to let the Guineas out. Soon after, Mrs Under-by took herself off for some ‘me time’, instructing the wee ones to stay put! The ideal opportunity then for Kevin to transplant the ducklings from box to straw, under the stern gaze of herself! On her return, it didn’t take long before she encouraged them out into the big, wide world where they met their cousins!

ducklings

There was confusion for a while with the new kids not knowing who to follow and mother ducks scolding each other’s offspring! It’s interesting to see the difference in size, with Polly Blue-tail’s ducklings at three weeks old now.
Still with ducks, Puff has been settled on her nest for about a week, with Biggles still laying next door. Yesterday however, Puff decided to move into Biggles’ box, possibly because the ducklings had taken to sleeping with her and making a mess in there. So, the revised plan seems to be one of sharing!

Puff and Biggles

Planning with the Silkies involves ‘Musical Boxes’. Louise started to sit (on regular hen eggs once more) about a week ago. Then Thelma joined in.

Thelma and Louise

If they both leave the nest at the same time, the music begins and whoever returns first just plonks herself down on the first eggs that she sees!

Thelma and Louise

But the award for the worst planning of all goes to the Plymouth Rock hen, a first-timer. You’d think that all was well with this cosy looking nest…

Plymouth Rock

…but don’t be fooled! Two of the other hens are still laying in the same nest (which I remove) so a couple of eggs have got broken. The nest is also somewhat nomadic, moving to different positions in the coop. Sometimes she sits on the eggs, others she sits on the straw with no eggs. Somehow I don’t think she’s cut out for this motherhood malarkey!

And finally, a technique which seemingly involves no planning at all! The Guinea Fowl Technique. We’ve had about half-a-dozen eggs from them so far and not a nest in sight; just a single egg placed randomly on the grass or by a bush! I understand that they like to lay in a shallow depression in tall plants, well, everything’s so slow at coming on with such unseasonably, cold weather, that any formal nest-building has been put on hold!

Eggs

First ducklings of the season

April 22, 2015

After staying close to home yesterday with her newly hatched ducklings….

Muscovy ducklings

…today developed into a beautiful, warm day – perfect for taking the kids on their first outing. There are eight of them (just one yellow one!) and here’s me thinking that I’d carefully restricted her to six! “Lets move with a purpose little ones!”

Muscovy ducklings

Under the fence they went and marched off to spend the day in the drainage channel…

muscovy ducklings

muscovy ducklings

…arriving home late afternoon for a spot of sunbathing before bed!

muscovy ducklings

Moving on and a bit of aggro!

April 20, 2015

Still great weather although a wee breeze today and some clouds of the big and fluffy variety.

The view

Today the quail are three weeks old; time to move on. We split them into two groups before re-housing them in the floor runs. They really appreciated the trays of earth to bathe in!

quail

Whilst moving them, we took the opportunity to sex them which is possible at this stage in their development; eleven males and thirteen females. The males have a russet tinge to their chest feathers…

Male quail

…whereas the females don’t.

female quail

Here’s a shot where you can compare the colouration. The female is in the foreground, the male standing behind.

quail

They certainly appear to be a happy wee flock! However, a whole lot of aggro was on display elsewhere this afternoon. I suspect that Polly Blue-tail is part way through hatching her new family and I was on the receiving end of some serious attitude at feeding time! Her position has completely changed. Can you see how she’s ‘hovering’ above the nest? Presumably there’s new life under her which prefers not to be sat on thank you very much!

Polly Blue-tail

Now here’s something you don’t see every day…

Blue Tit

This particular blue-tit insists on performing a tap-dance on the conservatory roof every morning; either that or peering in through the upstairs bedroom window! Does he like his own reflection or has he espied somewhere through the glass which looks like a promising nest site? Either way, he/she allows his/her partner to sit on the telephone wire and appreciate such nifty footwork!

Quail – part deux!

April 13, 2015

Our second batch of quail eggs seemingly got lost in the post so the supplier sent replacements which arrived today. I’m just ‘revving’ up the incubator for “Quail-Part Deux!”

quial eggs

Our first batch of birds are two-weeks-old today and continue to be entertaining! For the past few days they’ve been practising their jumping technique; this is a skill used in the wild as a means of escape when surprised by a predator. They can get a good distance off the ground using their in-built springs; about two and a half feet in fact, which is quite startling to observe. The comical thing is, that when one of them performs such a feat of athleticism, after landing, the athlete poses, legs apart, head and chest forward, just as though he’s waiting for onlookers to award him points out of ten!

There’s also other incubation going on around the place. Mrs Under-by, one of the musco-teers, has set up camp in the ‘over-by’ coop in the lower nesting box.

Mrs Under-by

The thing is, the over-by coop is actually the home of the guinea fowl! I suppose that at least this time she’s IN the coop rather than UNDER it!!
There is other seemingly serious nesting going on too. The ‘box-within-a-box’ which we always provide for Broody Brenda has been adopted by Louise, the silkie. Brenda meanwhile, has made a lovely nest behind the box, within the main body of the coop! I don’t know, but maybe there’s all this sudden nesting just so that the birds can get out of the weather! We seem to get a couple of good days, then we’re bombarded by strong winds and hailstones! Maybe you can see the next squall brewing at the bottom of the glen; at least when we see such a sight, we can head for cover in plenty of time!

Rain coming!


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