Posts Tagged ‘Hatching’


February 18, 2019

BB and Louise hatched three chicks each on Saturday. A motley crew for sure!





But can you believe it, that rascally BB has kidnapped Louise’s chicks! Louise doesn’t seem overly perturbed and calls her chicks to food, which they readily respond to.

But cuddling up with mum appears to be not an option! Things might change as the chicks start to grow because as you know, these are not bantam Silkie chicks but BIG GUYS, so BB will soon be unable to cover all six. Maybe poor Louise will get a look in then, or even Thelma, who is still waiting in the wings, just dying to be of help!


Silkie chicks

(Thelma is on the right)



A brief 2018 re-cap and looking forward…

January 17, 2019

I’ll begin by wishing you a belated Happy New Year and hoping that this won’t be the only post from Garybuie for 2019! This feels a bit deja vue-ish I have to admit, but I always start out with good intentions and then proceed to get swallowed up by major refurbishment projects, followed by┬áincreasingly busy B&B seasons. However, the D.I.Y issues were completed before Christmas this year, so I now have until the 1st April to re-charge my batteries, with a couple of time-saving plans thrown into the B&B mix!

2018 was another busy year in terms of visitors, April now being the only month when our three rooms aren’t filled pretty much every day. We also had a successful chicken breeding program, using both our incubator as well as the services of our ever helpful Silkies! Bruce was responsible for most of our season’s chicks, although in other respects he wasn’t the best of cockerels. He wasn’t great at getting his girls to bed so many of them tended to stay out partying well beyond bedtime, perching on top of bushes blethering and being completely uncooperative when we came to usher them coop-wards.



So, it was time to go online for eggs to incubate, this time Blue-Laced Wyandottes, with a view to rearing a more authoritative rooster! You can see our lacey youngsters below, perching with some pals.

Lord Lacey (A.K.A. Denis – more on that another day!) is now our resident cockerel, besides Wee Man of course, and so far his behaviour and crowd control are impeccable!

Probably the most time-consuming aspect of running the Bed and Breakfast is the laundry. Many of our guests are ferry passengers staying just one night before their sailing. Consequently, we calculated that laundry duties probably take an average of two hours per day, sometimes still pressing bed linen as the new day’s guests are arriving. We have a neighbour who runs a guest house/self-catering cottage and she sends her laundry out. She invited me to ‘piggy-back’ on her laundry service to see what we thought. What we thought was…WONDERFUL! The particular service didn’t cater for smaller B&Bs, but this year they are, so for this season I have my own contract with them – YIPEEEE! It’s amazing what a difference those couple of extra hours make. Not only is there more time to keep on top of outdoor chores, but it also means that we can occasionally get out for one of our three-hour-holidays, on the bike with some butties! And no matter what you may have read about crowds on Skye, there are still places where you won’t see a soul…

Another very special outing was aboard Red Moon, a boat that can be chartered for sailings around Skye. We climbed aboard in 2017 for Kevin’s birthday treat and enjoyed it so much that we did it again last summer, the weather being so much better on that occasion. To be fair it’s not a three-hour-holiday as we needed to take a night off, when, after stepping on deck, we sailed and spent a night at anchor, enjoying wonderful views, food and company! Anyway, here’s just a brief glimpse of Red Moon, as really she deserves a post all of her own!

Late Spring and early summer saw some fabulous weather; dare I say that it was too hot sometimes? Yes, I dare! I’m not a hot-house plant by any means! We even had a Spanish guest who was complaining (lightheartedly!) that it was too hot and that all the travel books had advised to bring plenty of warm/waterproof clothing. Consequently, he didn’t have enough tee-shirts!

Needless to say, the minute school holidays started, and our family came to stay for a week, the weather changed and didn’t change back! At least our granddaughter, Holly, was happy to be dancing in the Rain!


And the kids could hide under the trees for their picnic!







But we still managed to get out and about, poking around in rock pools and finding fossils and dinosaur footprints!






And when the season was over, the big project this year was the installation, after a sixteen year wait (!), of a new kitchen! Like everything at Garybuie, stripping things back ALWAYS reveals some flaw or other. On this occasion, it was historical water damage to the floor. It was worrying to say the least when the joiner had to keep removing more and more of the flooring before he could make any progress!


Anyway, in then it was well worth the wait and I’m looking forward to cooking all those breakfasts when the new season begins!


And now that all the work is complete, there’s time to catch-up on other winter tasks…

…Dottie likes to supervise my paintings…

…Hamish likes to check on any parcel deliveries…

…and Patches is in charge of temperature control!

We headed south for Christmas, enjoying the company of our family and all the gifts from Santa…

…and in particular a special gift in the shape of Sean, our fourth grandchild, who arrived in early December! His brother, Patrick, seems quite happy with his arrival so far!

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!











April 9, 2016

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


…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!



Always up to mischief, outdoors or in!

Hamish and Dottie

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!



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

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!


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!


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!


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.


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!

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!


Not all good news

April 1, 2015

Sadly, out of the sixty quail eggs that we incubated, only thirty-two hatched, six of those needing assistance. So far, four have died, a couple of them are looking a bit dodgy on their pins and one has a bendy neck!. We’ll see. I don’t know, I just feel that the incubator was perhaps too full, even though it’s meant to hold 72 quail eggs. It’s just that when they begin to hatch, they’re clambering all over the un-hatched eggs, generally having a good old game of football! Consequently, when there’s a reasonable number of hatchlings, we ship ’em out to the brooder. The problem with this is that the incubator humidity drops which isn’t ideal.
Today, I thought that I’d do a wee bit of housekeeping in the brooder. Getting the chicks to move into the non-heated run was enough of a challenge, one which I finally conquered by getting a piece of cardboard and using it like a snow plough to guide the wee guys next door, then blocking off the entrance. I took a video of the result, which made me smile!

Honestly, you’d think that I’d banished them to the arctic the way that they’re competing for the circle of heat! Anyway, we’ve ordered a further 36 eggs to make up the shortfall. More room in the incubator too!

Making an entrance

March 30, 2015

There was one wee quail ready to greet us at breakfast time this morning! Here’s a quick peek at our first ten arrivals after being transported in the trusty fleece hat to the brooder in the old church.

quail chicks

quail chicks

As I write, a further five have hatched, so still a way to go yet!

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