Posts Tagged ‘Ducklings’

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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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

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

Looking back

December 31, 2014

It’s weird isn’t it? All year long I think that we’re just doing the same old, same old, which in a sense we are; daily routines are the same, seasonal activities too. But within that daily and seasonal rhythm, many changes have occurred. Of course the weather alone is responsible for many of those changes and our regular shot of THE VIEW demonstrates that to a certain extent.

The View

The view

the view

the view

the view

The view

The view

the view

The View

Of course our other view can sometimes take our breath away too.

sunset

sunset

This year there have been a couple of structural changes around the place; a new conservatory replacing the old…

demolishion

conservatory

…and a new cover for the polytunnel. (The hens are VERY pleased – no leaks in their winter spa!)

polytunnel

It’s the animals however, who contribute most changes within a year. There have been some new permanent residents arrive at Garybuie this year. The Three Musco-teers…

The Three Musco-teers

…and latterly, the Guinea-gang.

guineas

There were plenty of non-permanent additions too. BB became a mum for the first time…

silkie family

…and helped to increase our Silkie breeding stock by two! Thelma and Louise.

silkies

Later, she raised six ‘regular’ chicks. Trusty old Brenda raised an early brood of four chicks and the Nest Thief reared 7. We thought that poor Brenda was doomed after being hit by a car but after some R and R, she seems back to her usual self.

brenda

And how can we forget what was probably the highlight of the year? FORTY-TWO Muscovy ducklings and all within the space of a week!

ducklings

muscovy ducklings

We were fortunate this year as we only lost a handful of young birds. Unfortunately, we also lost Dotty, one of the Musco-teers, who was determined to make a nest across the river, never to return. However, our big loss this year was Hamie.

Hamie

Overall, we’ve had a great year at Garybuie, certainly more positives than negatives. A great growing year for the fruit and veg, more success than failure on the poultry front and our best season yet with the Bed and Breakfast side of things, meeting many lovely people from all over the world. We have taken some time out from our wee patch of Skye this year, visiting Glasgow’s artistic attributes for the first time…

Some furniture designs by C.R. MacIntosh

Some furniture designs by C.R. MacIntosh

Druids, mistletoe

'A Funeral Service in the Highlands' James Guthrie, 1881-82

‘A Funeral Service in the Highlands’
James Guthrie, 1881-82

…and the prehistoric sites of Orkney. Beginning 5,000 years ago in neo-lithic times…

Skara Brae

Ring of Brodgar

…moving on to the brochs of the Iron Age…

Broch of gurness

…through to the Vikings…

St Magnus cathedral

…and the second World War – with everything that came in between!

Created by prisoners of war

Created by prisoners of war

Further time out took us south to see our rapidly growing grandchildren.

Holly and Jake

Patrick

Finally, I’d like to share a touching moment with you. Two of our guests this year, Hans-Georg and Barbara, commissioned a pet portrait for Barbara’s dad as a Christmas gift. Just after Christmas, Hans-Georg sent me this photo of when dad opened his gift. Apparently he was delighted. It was a very kind gesture to let me share in the moment – a lovely gift for me in fact!

Sammy for Xmas

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Shades of blue

August 21, 2014

Not much time for blogging these days with our busiest season ever taking up much of my time. I still make time to pay brief visits to my favourite blogs however and yesterday I enjoyed seeing Cecilia’s beautiful white hydrangeas. So, I thought that I’d show you our blue ones!

hydrangea

hydrangea

From flora to fauna, the Muscovy ducklings are pretty much all grown up now. Twelve of them are lucky enough to have found new homes but of course the remainder will have a somewhat shorter life. We’re planning on doing evening meals next year for our guests so I guess that duck will find itself somewhere on the menu! The wee chicks in the foreground of the next picture are BB’s. She’s down to five now as one developed breathing problems and couldn’t keep up. She’s such a happy girl though, spending most of her time with them foraging in the field behind us.

Muscovie ducklings

muscovies

Hot, lazy days

July 25, 2014

It’s been a hot week. VERY hot. 30 degrees hot – on Skye? The sky has been blue for ever seemingly and ‘The View’ has been the same every day, so just to vary it a wee bitty, here it is from a different position. This is in the field behind Garybuie which our neighbouring crofter cut for silage a couple of days ago.

cut for silage

After the cut grass had been removed, the remaining stubble is perfect for foraging beaks and bills. It didn’t take long for the Muscovy gang to find their way out there!

foraging

Lazing around in the garden seems to have been the main occupation during the heat wave however, keeping cool or surveying the surroundings.

Brenda's brood

Puff and Biggles

muscovies

cool feet

musco-teer

Dotty, one of the musco-teers, has re-grown her primary feathers and is taking short flights just to test them out. She’s enjoying herself immensely I think and seems to be very pleased with herself!

Dotty

Motley crew

July 13, 2014

Before the arrival of the Three Musco-teers, all of our Muscovy ducklings were pretty much identical. With some new genes on the scene however, this year’s offspring are a real motley crew…

motley crew

motley crew

Less of a motley crew and more of a spot-the-odd-one-out gang are doing really well and Nest Thief seems to be very happy with motherhood.

chicks

chicks

Broody Brenda is still a regular visitor to the kitchen door, demanding a grain hand-out for her family. We need eyes in the back of our heads though or any leftover cat food rapidly disappears. Yesterday both Patches and one of the chicks looked equally disappointed that the dish was empty!

empty dish

Back to the blog

July 9, 2014

Garybuie’s blog has taken a back seat for the past week as Kevin’s mum & aunt have been visiting. We all had a relaxing time together and the weather was fairly kind although it was breezy on and off with the odd shower thrown in for good measure. A tip for visiting Skye: Always wear layers, the top one being waterproof! Now although both ladies are Yorkshire lasses, ‘Calendar Girls’ they certainly weren’t – more like a ‘Pack-a-mac Pair’!

pack-a-mac pair

pack-a-mac pair

Of course nothing else around the place had the week off. Veggies and ducklings are a-growing at a great rate and today we had a lovely surprise when Nest Thief emerged from amidst the tall grass and wild flowers with seven chicks!

nest thief

Needless to say that everyone had to come and inspect the new arrivals!

visiting the newcomers

An explosion of ducklings

June 24, 2014

It seems that wherever we look there are ducklings. One minute they seem to be all neat, tidy and under control…

muscovy ducklings

…the next they’ve exploded everywhere!

muscovy ducklings

muscovy ducklings

muscovy ducklings

They’ve even exploded into the field behind us where the grass is very long and must be a challenge for all those wee legs.

muscovy ducklings

swimming poolThey’ve also ventured into the swimming pool and we had an ‘almost’ disaster when the stones positioned to help them climb out slipped, resulting in four of them unable to get onto dry land. Fortunately, Kevin heard their calls and rescued them. One wasn’t too bad and snuggled in with the crowd but three of them needed hairdryer and infra-red treatment to stop their shivering!

rescued

Of course just because we are inundated with ducklings, there’s still another family to consider: Broody Brenda and her chicks. They are getting too big to fit underneath her now but it doesn’t stop them trying!

brenda

Taking care of all the birds is quite an addition to all the other chores at this time of year but there’s still an odd hour here and there to fit some recreational activities in. I finished my latest portrait some days ago and I’m sure that some of you will recognise this happy character!

Marcel the Happy

P.S. BB is sitting again as of yesterday. This time we’ve exchanged her eggs for some of the bigger hens’.

Not so much a Wordless Wednesday…

June 15, 2014

…more of a Speechless Sunday…

ducklings

ducklings

ducklings

ducklings


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