Posts Tagged ‘Silkies’

Not so bird-brained after all?

March 18, 2019

Stupid, foolish and scatter-brained, or maybe just a head full of feathers? As far as our Silkies go, I’m not so sure. You may remember that all three of our girls went broody at the same time, Thelma abandoning her nest after a couple of days, even though she sat tight alongside BB and Louise until hatching.

Last year, we noticed that Louise was having trouble with her sight; bumping into tufts of grass and tall weeds, needing to see the jug of grain/mealworms up close at treat-time. The bridge between her home in the old church and the main garden proved in fact, to be a bridge too far. She stayed within the environs of the church therefore, with occasional visits from Thelma and Wee man – rarely grumpy, granny BB!

A bridge too far

So, I’m wondering, is Thelma aware of her sister’s problem? Could she sense that she would be of more use to the newly hatched chicks if she stuck around to get to know them? You may remember that BB stole Louise’s chicks on the first day and six non-bantam chicks are a real handful for a wee silkie mum. Did Thelma anticipate this? You may think that I’m crediting Thelma with far too much of the grey matter, but there are stories out there of animals sensing ill health or vulnerability of other beasties, even of a different species! A certain dog named Boo, over on The Farmy in Illinois is just such a caring canine, relishing taking care of orphan lambs, piglets and kittens.

At four weeks old the chicks are becoming very adventurous, needing as may pairs of eyes as possible to keep them out of danger. So whether I’m right or wrong, Thelma has certainly turned out to be a godsend for BB, even if it’s just to cover the youngsters should they need a nap!

So, although Louise looks a wee bit lost on her doorstep, no doubt wondering where her babies are, all is well come bedtime as she still gets a couple of her offspring who snuggle beneath her for the night!

P.S. It has to be said that at this age, chicks are at their least appealing! A bit like gangly teenagers really; legs and necks too long and their clothes not fitting too well!

 

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Chick-napping!

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)

 

 

No staying power

February 4, 2019

That would be Thelma. To be fair, she was a wee bit of a fidgety-britches on the nest and, as was semi-expected, she’s abandoned the eggs. Curiously though, she’s still staying with the other girls but next to them, rather than in the nest-box.

 

Maybe she just fancies being an auntie this time around, instead of the whole mother thing. If so, she’ll certainly provide a valued extra pair of eyes when the chicks hatch. We had a big problem with theft-by-crow last year.

While the snow has been around, she’s had Wee man to cuddle up to in the straw. He really dislikes walking on the snow (never used to bother him) so refuses to come out in a morning! Wuss! Anyway, most of the snow has gone now, washed away by the rain, so it’s just Thelma and the girls once more.

You can just about see Garybuie in this shot, at the end of the fence-line, between the trees.

Never before…

January 26, 2019

…have we had three Silkies sitting in a row!

 

 

BB, Thelma and Louise all appear to have gone broody at the same time, although Thelma is a wee bit fidgety, so only time will tell! We don’t usually allow the girls to settle so early, just in case the weather turns inclement. But this year we have some exciting travel plans in October, so we need all hatching and dispatching completed before then, returning to minimum bird numbers for our ‘chicken sitters’! There’s more than enough room in the Silkies’ home for the new families if it does turn cold. As usual, we’ve exchanged their wee eggs for regular sized hens’ eggs, so assuming that Denis is doing his job, we’ll have some good sized meat birds for the freezer.

As I’ve been neglectful of Garybuie’s blog, it’s been AGES since I shared ‘The View’. Well, the other day I was out for a walk in the glen and on returning home, there was a weird kind of light over the ridge. Like a very diffused spotlight.

Kind of eerie don’t you think?

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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New Year’s resolution?

January 21, 2018

Can’t say that I’ve been particularly on top of the whole blogging malarkey for the past couple of years, but all being well, with reductions in our poultry stocks and plans afoot to save time on the B and B front, I’m hoping to get back into the swing of things. Not every day and possibly not every week but hey, baby steps are good! So, a belated Happy New Year to anyone checking in!

Of course we’re closed for business at this time of year although the weather has been pretty grim these past few months so who would want to be here on holiday here anyway? This past week has been quite nice though, albeit in a chilly sort of way…

…so much so, that Wee Man and his Silkie girls have refused point blank to come outdoors – unless I tempt them with a few mealworms for afternoon tea that is!

The main flock have been keen to find any spot in the sunshine…

And here’s an introduction to a special new resident, The Bruce, our new cockerel. He’s a Silver-Laced Wyandotte and we hand reared him last summer to step into Big Fella’s shoes – or spurs maybe? (God rest his wee chicken soul.)

Markie or Silkan?

July 31, 2017

That is, what do you call a cross between a Maran and a Silkie? Since the demise of poor Big Fella earlier this year, Wee Man has stepped up (literally!) to the task of head cockerel. He hasn’t managed to woo all of the marans, but some of the slightly smaller birds have succumbed to his charms!

Between them, BB, Thelma & Louise have managed to rear three chicks, hardly a great success but probably more than we expected. We were interested to see which chacteristics would be dominant. At eight weeks old their inherited features are quite clear; bantam, Maran feathering/colour, 4 toes (Maran) and surprisingly, some definite Silkie ‘bonnets’!

Wee Man’s days as head honcho will soon be in jeopardy and will hopefully not involve too much aggression. We have two candidates waiting in the wings; a couple of handsome Blue-laced Wyandottes which we reared ourselves. They are a lovely pair, gentle and friendly. They are eighteen weeks old tomorrow and are currently trying to perfect their crowing technique!

Big changes at Garybuie

April 10, 2017

2016 was a very difficult year.

Some of you may remember that my dad came to live with us five years ago. Over the past couple of years his health began to fail and he became gradually more dependent last year. The season was also our busiest yet and so some changes were needed. Although it saddened us greatly, we decided to go back in time to a ‘chicken only’ policy. No ducks. No guinea fowl. Also, we now only have one vegetable plot rather than the two, although we do have the polytunnel still.

Our shrunken veg plot & fruit cage.

Our laying hens were getting old too so we replnished our stock by incubating fertile Cuckoo Maran eggs from the internet. I like marans; they are good dual purpose birds, good foragers and endearing personalities!

Some of our new layers.

Of course just as we get organized with our new poultry regime, Big Fella bows out! Wee man is determined to fill his spurs…

…although being a bantam means that he isn’t always ‘up to the job’ so to speak!

We did get more fertile eggs last mont in the hope of producing a new cockerel for later in the season, but out of a dozen eggs, only TWO hatched!!!

Blue-laced Wyandotte chicks

I’m currently awaiting more eggs from the internet. Lets hope that the postal guys handle them with care!

The silkies went broody quite early and as we still had eggs fertilized by Big Fella, all three girls were sitting happily – BB first by a couple of weeks. Soon after she hatched our first four chicks of the season, one dying after a few days, Thelma and Louise abandonned their nests and went into ‘Auntie Mode’!!! So now we have three chicks with three mums…

By the autumn of last year, Dad had come to need pretty much round the clock care and his wee appartment next door was fast becoming unsafe as he became less steady on his feet and more confused. Consequently, in November, he went into local residential care.

Our B and B season is now underway and looking like another busy one. At least we should be less thinly spread.

New mum!

June 8, 2016

You may remember that earlier in Spring, Thelma was entrusted to raise some of her own silkie chicks (we usually exchange silkie eggs for regular ones), for a young lady who wanted some as pets. Three of her four chicks survived and are obviously very happy with Isy, their new mum! Conveniently, they are different colours for easy recognition!

New mum

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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