Posts Tagged ‘hens’


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

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…


…or a snooze…


…or just watching the world go by.


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!


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!)


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.


Sunny interlude

March 5, 2015

Skye, the misty isle, has reverted to type today; gone is the snow and now the ridge is under a shroud once more, a miserable drizzle persisting all day.

The View

Yesterday however, was a beautiful, blue sky day and everyone was out enjoying the spring-like interlude. (All ducks were way out in the back field finding better things to do that have their photos taken!)

Silkie family


Guinea Gang

Guinea Fowl

Big Fella and pal

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…



… 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!


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


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!

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.



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



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


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.


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.


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.


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!


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.


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


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


Nesting urges and some intensive care

September 24, 2014

A certain duck named Dotty is in trouble. She’s stayed out all night a couple of times and we suspect that she was laying away. Dad saw her launching off his roof and flying towards the river on several occasions. The last thing we want are yet more ducklings (Kevin’s just about finished dispatching the abundant earlier group), especially not out with the bounds of Garybuie. So, before she had the chance of getting settled in the great outdoors, where of course predators lurk, she has suffered the indignity of having her wings clipped once more. Only a pool-side perch for now Dotty dear! Dotty Someone else who’s decided to nest in an unsuitable place is BB! Here she is, in the corner of Huff’s house. BB She’s taken to laying her eggs in this corner for a week or so. Of course I’ve removed them each day but she’s none the less gone broody! So now she has to be unceremoniously transported to her own home each evening!

A couple of you have been kind enough to enquire after Brenda. There’s not really any improvement in her walking yet, but the unwanted attentions of the great, galumphing Big Fella, was doing her no good at all! So last evening, after all the other birds had gone to bed, Brenda sidled quietly into the coop where she settled in the corner. She’d been hiding under the bushes all day. I took the opportunity to take her to a more suitable location for her (hopeful) recovery. So now she’s ensconced in the over-by coop where she has food and water and can get out into an enclosed run if she wants, safe from sexual harassment! Fingers crossed that the peace and quiet will give her chance to heal. Brenda

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

If you snooze you loose

September 20, 2014

Patches and Pusscat

Now you might think that Brenda, Her Broodiness, is out for the count here, perched on the wee wall outside the kitchen door.


But do not be fooled; you only have to turn you back for one second if the kitchen door is open and she’s IN, devouring any tasty morsels left as a later snack by those comatose cats!


Just ten minutes ago however, she wasn’t quick enough when crossing the road outside and was caught by a passing van. We suspect that she just received a glancing blow resulting in a small cut on her left leg and a limp with her right. She is bearing weight on it though, so hopefully a good night’s rest will do her good. She’s looking a bit shell-shocked at the moment and Big Fella is keeping an eye on her, after all, she is Top Hen.


She’s our special girl so hopefully she will make a full recovery.


Avian entertainment

August 30, 2014

The female Muscovy ducklings now have all their flight gear and are enjoying themselves immensely by finding new high perches. (The drakes can’t quite get off the ground yet however, although they do like to flap around on tippy-toes pretending!)




The shed roof and the adjacent privet bush are a favourite perch for all the birds as it is a nice, flat place to sunbathe and take in the ground level goings-on in the garden. Here are Broody Brenda’s foursome…

brenda's foursome

We never cease to be entertained by all the birds and their antics. Of course our guests are also usually entertained by the hen’s during breakfast and just can’t resist the gentle charms of Big Fella and his girls!



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.



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

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