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Monday, 13 April 2015

Such drama....

As regular readers will know, top broody hen Cagney has been sitting on a clutch of duck eggs for what seems like forever. It has not been easy for her, she doesn't like to be split from the rest so was given a dog crate in the rather large hen house. If you open the door she will occasionally make her way out for food, water, a dust bath and other necessaries, then settle herself back on her eggs again. But mostly you have to carefully lift her out, making sure there are no eggs up under a wing. Unfortunately one egg got chilled when it was kicked to the back. One then broke. The other hens would take advantage of Cagney's absence occasionally and go in and lay in there, but they generally left things alone. Then the infertile eggs started to seep and even explode. Then there were only two left. Poor Cagney, it didn't seem fair after all that waiting. Eventually we heard the remaining two ducklings cheeping within their shells and there was great excitement when one started to hatch. But while Cagney was out eating one naughty chook dashed in and grabbed, coming out with a piece of shell. Luckily Dave was on hand and on investigation found a lifeless duckling on the floor, outside the cage. Feeling very cross he picked the little mite up and then saw it's eye move. So ran upstairs to the incubator full of infertile blue eggs and put him in there to warm up. As he came round and got more active he was put back under Cagney before he was lively enough to scare her and she took to him really well. Unfortunately the last remaining egg, though pipped, failed to hatch and the duckling died.
After thawing in the incubator

Cagney soon had him warmed up and started showing him around

So Cagney has just one fluffy yellow baby to fuss over. And as the temperature soars outside they are in the relative cool of the hen house during the day (the chooks are laying all over the place but rarely in there) Fingers crossed they seem to be doing OK. They go back into the crate at night as we are worried about the other hens while baby is so small, and Cagney is definitely happier with the other hens around her.
Safe from prying beaks

Running around in the cool

However, feeling that she must have needed a bath and she was so busy trying to show baby how to scrat about, they have had an hour in the small chicken run within the main run. While Cagney tried to show the virtue of a nice long dustbath, baby was constantly drawn to the water bowl. So we have Cagney in ecstacy in the dust, and baby having a lovely time ducking and diving in the water dish.
The adults looking a bit confused

Proud Cagney
Showing baby how to have a dust bath

So that was a nice start to the Easter weekend. The weather has picked up and is into the scorching twenties during the day, but still rather cool at night. The dogs are panting, bees amazingly busy, butterflies and bugs everywhere, swallows and nightingales delightful with their different songs, and with my new computer I can take full advantage and sit outside in the shade while I do this.

Also this weekend was the exchanging of decorated easter eggs and other goodies. We had a great time decorating eggs, like being kids again.

We made some hot cross buns to go with eggs

Easter bread, milk, veg casserole and roasted peppers, eggs painted and decorated with tiny soup pasta shapes...ingenious

And more

So at last we can start to think about the tender plants going out, always a relief as they outgrow windowsills. The largest tomatoes are out under cloches and the cherry tomatoes in troughs are on the wall, to be brought in overnight as necessary. Four varieties of beans are sown, two runners, one climbing French and borlotti. The latest broad beans and peas are growing away. There are flowers on the strawberries, celery, land cress and spinach seedlings are out. The earth is nicely warming and tomorrow's promised showers (fingers crossed) should bring on the seeds sown last week.
Starting to look like a nursery

On the flower side, the perennials are really getting going and we have put in some of the bedding seedlings which seem happy. The 'lawn' is a real mess of daffs, tulips and chickweed, the latter allowed to grow while it is fresh and fed to the fowl. They have been in the back paddock a few times but we are trying not to let them trash it before the grass gets going strongly. The garden area will soon be strimmed and tidy, we are just waiting for the wheatgrass to get into a rhythm so that they can have that instead of chickweed.

We had the first of our local car boot sales this last weekend too. It was well attended and we did quite well, selling all the 35 duck eggs, cards, jam and chutney. So now I am starting to make again in earnest....thanks to our best chutney buyer for a load of usable bottles. I don't actually make anything on the chutney by the time I have bought the jars, it's more a hobby and a way of using excess produce. But out of season I have to buy ingredients or do without, so added an extra 20p equivelent to a jar of chutney and jam which brought a comment from one person about prices going up, but not to me. However, it was a lovely day and catching up with more news after the winter very enjoyable, also meeting yet more people who I have heard of through facebook but not met. I only wish I could remember names better!
That;s us on the right, and a friend with her knitted characters on the left

We had reason to go into the city last week. The drive has changed again with the leaves coming out and roadsides greening up. As it was our 10th wedding anniversary we went for a meal in the usual place. I couldn't face the very strong coffee we usually get, so asked for Nescafe and milk. It was interesting when it came, a glass of hot milk with a crust of coffee granules which I had to break through and mix, but thankfully there was no sugar in it, what a relief.

Splash suffered a setback in his recovery, we think he has jumped awkwardly before he was ready to and started to growl when touched and picked up, walking like a sick twenty year old. Happily, a few quiet days by the (unnecessary) fire and a few more playing and hunting insects in the sun and he is nearly back to normal, but still unable to jump on kitchen units. With a bit of luck that particular infuriatingly bad habit has been broken.
Just resting....

.....or catching flies.....

....or chilling in the shade....

....or on the seat. Hard life for a little recovering cat

The girls keeping cool


  1. Your little duckling is a miracle indeed. I guess if a duck raised a chick, the chick would drown! Glad to see that nature wins out and the duckling knew that she/he belonged in water. I envy you all those veggies growing. My little plug plants just don't seem to take off... even the seeds are disappointingly slow. Its a learning curve for sure.

    1. They've been out for a scoot around this morning, Cagney scaring the daylights out of anyone daring to look at her baby, Sevi confused, and baby making for all the dishes in excitement only to find them full of food and not water.Safely inside for the day with his own shallow pool to mess up.

      The only veg I have been unable to grow from seed are caulis, I just don't have the touch so yet again I will buy plants. I buy courgettes as we only need three plants. The rest of the veg and flowers come from seed as there is no variety of plants available in the markets, just what they always grow and always have.

  2. Aww the hen and the duckling are just adorable! So funny! I'm impressed by your tomatoes which look nice and bushy - mine grow thin and leggy indoors so I gave up trying to grow from seed and buy young plants. How your weather has changed over the last month - you must be breathing a sigh of relief. Hope Splash gets back to full strength soon. :-)

  3. Cagney is totally devoted....but can't understand whu the little one keeps heading for water, and he can't get into the washing up bowl the big ducks drink from. I've tried putting small dishes of water about but she needs to let him near them! Better that they have their own areas for now, but I don't want Cagney to lose rank by keeping her separate.

    Splash is better every day, now back to his naughty self but luckily at the moment can't quite get up to the rather high kitchen units. Open plan is not all it's cracked up to be! Can't shut him out of the kitchen without shutting the outside door!

    Hate to say it....but my seelings could do with just a little rain......