Posts Tagged ‘chicks’

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.

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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!

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

Hatch and dispatch

May 21, 2015

It was a good day yesterday. The weather was pleasant, Mrs Under-by managed to hang on to her remaining ducklings (despite regular fly-bys by the hooded terror) and Louise hatched four chicks!

Louise

Louise

And there’s more hatching going on as I write; quail this time, our third batch which was unexpected as there was obviously some mix-up at the supplier’s end and although the eggs have had to hang around for longer than is preferred, (waiting for the incubator to be vacated) so far 13 have successfully put in an appearance.

quail chicks

That’s the first batch off in the hat transporter to the brooder. They’re a blurry bunch right enough, not because of my poor camera skills for a change but because they are CONSTANTLY on the move. All squirming and clambering! I love the discarded quail eggs. They are all exactly the same; a very neat split in the shell, almost as though it’s un-zipped!

quail egg

At the ‘darker’ end of quail production however, yesterday Kevin dispatched the first birds. They were seven weeks old which is a wee bit early but one of the females from the more boisterous group had suffered a broken leg. We thought that maybe there were too many males around so whittled them down to two males per run in the hope of restoring peace. Eventually, there will just be one male per run but until they are sexually active, we’re taking a ‘just in case’ view. Unsurprisingly, one of the males from the same run as the injured female had very large testes, a problem we’ve come across in chickens in the past when young cockerels have demonstrated excessive aggression.

So, it would seem that quail is on the menu tonight! You can see the severe bruising on the small, injured female.

Hinnisdal Quail

Brief catch-up

April 6, 2015

We opened for B and B on the first of the month. No gentle introduction this year; right in there, feet first, hit with a sledgehammer kind of thing. It’s weird but it’s really difficult trying to retrieve the smooth (most of the time) execution of the breakfast routine after a six month break. And we have evening meals on offer this season which is a new routine altogether! Consequently, I’ve missed reporting our wee bit of recent news; BB hatched three of her six regular eggs, just missing Easter but she is one happy Silkie anyway!

BB and chicks

We’re now down to 24 quail, gradually losing the less robust birds over the weekend. The remainder are all doing well and growing fast. They eat so much for such wee things!

quail

Good and bad things on our return

March 3, 2015

We managed to avoid any snow on our return journey north but for the last couple of days, we’ve awoken to varying amounts of the stuff. This morning big, fat flakes fell to earth and it looked as though they meant business but by the time I took a shot of The View this afternoon, the snow line had retreated to higher levels.

The View

It’s good to be back at Garybuie and even though it’s been a pretty action packed week with our grandchildren, Granddad Skye seemingly involved in most of the action…

twins

twins

… we feel as though our batteries are suitably re-charged for the start of our new season, just one month away.

There have been good and bad things to return to. Dad was most upset to find one of the hens dead whilst we were away. It was Nest Thief. At least Broody Brenda’s nest should be safe this year; I’d like to think that Brenda is much too nice a girl to have been involved in a murder! And just today, Kevin has had to dispatch one of the Guinea Gang who we noticed wasn’t well when we got home; slightly laboured breathing, loss of (dishevelled) plumage, sitting alone. I looked online for any hints as to what it could be but I’m none the wiser. Better to be safe than sorry, plus the fact that we don’t like to see any creature in obvious distress.

The good news however, is that Thelma and Louise have still got their two chicks. They finally ventured outside last week, although with the weather being so cold, they’ve returned indoors for most of the time. They are VERY careful mothers!

Silkies

And look at this, here’s aunt BB in the foreground, sharing a mealworm treat!

Silkies

In our years of raising chickens, never has a mother hen allowed any other hen near her chicks. The Silkies have a different attitude however; all just one, big happy family – including Wee Man!

Girls together

February 14, 2015

A perfect day; crisp and cold to start with, developing into a gloriously, sunny winter’s day.

The view

Polly blue-tail has abandoned here misconceived early nest, thoroughly enjoying the great outdoors once more. (Mrs Under-by is currently making a nest in the shed!)

Polly Blue-tail

Most of the hens, ducks and Guinea Gang were foraging far and wide, unavailable to the camera but BB and Wee Man came to keep us company in the veg plot…

Silkies

…while we finally got around to completing the fruit cage in its permanent position.

fruit cage

The best news however, is that almost a week after Thelma hatched her chick, Louise, her sister, produced a solitary offspring and both girls seem thrilled with this whole motherhood thing! Silkies are certainly different in their behaviour than ‘regular’ hens. I have never seen any mother hen getting so close to another with her chicks…

Thelma and Louise

Even more interesting, is that when it comes time for a snooze, both chicks keep each other company under one hen! Look at these two wee faces peeping out from under Thelma…

Thelma and Louise

We took out the partition which separated the Silkie run into two and now all four adults, including Wee Man, are living as a family group! Louise sleeps with BB and Wee Man, whilst Thelma snuggles down with both chicks in a nest box. Amazing!

Don’t get excited but….

February 9, 2015

…there are a couple of encouraging signs around Garybuie which make me feel as though we’re at the right end of winter – the back-end! Signs which raise the spirits at least.

snowdrops

Thelma the Silkie doesn’t care what season it is and presented us with a solitary chick at the weekend, two didn’t hatch, thrilled that she’s become a mum for the first time.

Thelma with chick

Louise is also sitting on three eggs but doesn’t seem quite so focussed but who knows? All three Silkies have been determined to sit throughout the winter months and we kept removing their eggs. This made not the slightest difference to their intentions, so on the latest occasion, we’ve let the two sisters fulfil their wishes, albeit exchanging their own eggs for regular hen eggs. I feel so sorry for them when they sit for weeks with no family at the end of it! The comical thing has been that if both Silkies left their respective nests at a similar time, whoever returned first plumped for the nest nearest to the door, the last arrival heading for the one furthest away. A game of ‘musical nests’ it would seem, although they were both on the correct nests when Thelma’s chick began to hatch.

Nothing to do with the weather at all, the Guinea Gang have been enjoying the discovery of new perches; any roof will do and in this case, the conservatory one provided a whole new perspective as it’s good for checking out what those humans get up to! This particular perch will certainly provide a topic of conversation over breakfast during the B and B season if it’s still in use!

Guinea fowl

Devoted mother or just plain crazy?

September 23, 2014

The View 7.00 a.m. A lovely treat whilst I was setting tables!

The view

The fact that she’s known as Nest Thief suggests how keen this particular Plymouth Rock was to be a mother. The thing is, her chicks are now eleven weeks old and she’s still clucking around them like, well, a mother hen! Usually, chicks are left to their own devices after half that time but not this molly-coddled bunch!

Nest Thief and chicks


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