Posts Tagged ‘Silkies’

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

New kids on the block

March 1, 2016

We’ve had several days of crisp, winter weather. Good to be alive weather.

the glen

So good in fact, that someone has decided that it’s time to start a family. Unfortunately, Thelma, the silkie, had been using that very duck-box to lay her eggs and wasn’t too pleased that Polly Blue-tail had taken over!

Polly and Thelma

On this particular occasion, Thelma ended up depositing her egg right there on the straw whereas the following day, she climbed into the box with Polly! Needless to say, she wasn’t well received and Kevin ended up playing referee, returning Thelma to her own house and locking her in for a while!

But the real news this week is the arrival of two new kids on the block! Hamish…

Hamish

…and Dottie.

Dottie

As the song says, “There maybe trouble ahead…”

And finally, ‘The man with the Diamond Drill Bit’ arrived, our marble wash stand top was successfully drilled and we now have a functional wash basin! (Kevin played plumber’s mate with his essential cold water spray!)

bathrooom

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!

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…

Chance

…or a snooze…

Lucky

…or just watching the world go by.

Patches

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!

Silkies

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!)

BB

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.

Hens

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

BB

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…

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


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