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Saturday, 28 November 2015

New additions...again

We have four new ducks. These are Indian runner ducks, a smaller and more upright variety that the blobby meat type we already have. They are rather charming and pretty. But we had to get two pairs rather than a trio as the breeder has so many males (we know what that's like!) The two boys get along fine and we would like to keep them both if we can.
Pretty little birds, I look forward to seeing them in breeding colours

Dave has been Facebook 'friends' with the breeder for some time. He is two villages away, a young chap who is passionate about his many birds. He proudly showed us both round all his pens (and many rooms in a derelict house) and has a great variety of chickens, waterfowl, pheasants, budgies, canaries, pea fowl and a good few species of small to medium parrots. I wish I could have taken photos, some of the colours were truly stunning, especially the parrots and pheasants. And the little white puppy and fluffy tortie kitten.....

I was a bit worried about whether the Grumpies (our other female ducks, Bobbie and Jemima) would get on with them. But apart from the occasional swearing match. they are not doing too badly at the moment. They have their own sleeping quarters and nearer the breeding season there will have to be barriers put between the groups to keep the original drake (Randy no-name) away from the runner girls....either that or find him a new home. The hunt is now on for some more girls and/or fertile eggs for next year. There are several people wanting youngsters.

Enjoying their first bath

Elsewhere in Poultry Towers we had a bit of a drama with on of the ex-batts. Dave noticed her walking oddly and when he picked her up for inspection we found we had a football on legs! She was so swollen she was round and her breathing was poor (not surprising with all that weight on her organs) After a quick look through YouTube Dave went off to the vet for a large syringe and he drew off about 60ml of liquid. She was soon breathing a lot better and was bedded on thick shavings in the dog crate and put upstairs in the corridor. In the morning a lot more fluid had drained out through the hole and the shavings were sodden, but by the end of the day she was back to her old self and could go back to the flock. Very odd...we will have to keep an eye on her...well we would if they didn't all look so alike. But now we know what to look for we should notice anything wrong.

Vernon the young cockerel seems to be doing OK. The hens are accepting him and he has grown and thickened out. He still has no long tail feathers but is looking quite splendid all the same. He seems to be good natured so far, maybe because he is the only boy. It's nice to hear the crowing again.
Vernon. Still odd looking, but with some really nice feathers coming through.

These two girls came with Vernon as day olds from the market

Cagney showing off her bald neck. She will soon look fluffy again, but will not lay till spring now

The goats were getting used to going out everyday, but then Tilly-kid came into season for the first time which stopped them for a couple of days, then rain stopped them going out. But today Millie's suitor (and a couple of his girls) came banging on the gate looking for them, setting Millie off into bleating and rushing about. There was no-one with them so either they were let out or escaped. But my, he pongs. You can smell him a mile away!

Bored goats look for trouble. They managed to get into the chicken shed and lock themselves in.

Pongy boy.....

.....but very handsome

I might have mentioned a desire for a poly tunnel before. I love my fresh veg but winter can be far too cold for much to survive. Well this week I have been given a polytunnel by a friend. How lucky is that?We (Dave) hasn't been able to get it up and running yet because of the rain, but the frame is together so that we can see how big it is. The cover needs a bit of patching but we should be able to get a new one (it's the green woven plastic coated mesh type) or even just use plastic sheet. We will only use it for winter and spring, the cover will come off for summer due to the heat. Properly pleased. My sister will be able to keep all her's now...I had been going to use some of her space.

I'm feeling a bit sorry for my sister and BIL. They were so excited at moving into their new home but after a month of mostly sunny and warm days while they were here and waiting for things to happen, not only has there been a week of rainy days but my poor sister has hurt her back/leg so is not able to do much physical stuff. And the rain has prevented the BIL getting a boundary fence up to keep the neighbour's sheep and turkeys out (they have got used to using the garden since it's been empty) never mind stray dogs, so poor Bracken can only go out into the garden under supervision. So frustrating for them.

A link to their blog, showing pics

We enjoyed our evening out last week. But I had such trouble with the menu! There was so much interesting stuff on a very extensive menu that we couldn't decide what to have. Then I forgot photos. It was nice to be with friends and we had a good chin-wag, but the meal was not altogether successful. I had a lovely starter, opting for a simple salad of shredded carrot, courgette, apple and tarragon with a lovely lemon and honey dressing. Gorgeous. Unfortunately the cod I ordered was not available, so I opted for salmon done Mediterranean style. Hmm. These menus are so confusing. Some come with veg, some don't. This was literally a piece of grilled salmon with a single roasted cherry tomato. It was enough, but I have that regularly at home, only with two veg and some potatoes! It costs me the equivalent of two quid to make the whole meal at home....not sure how much we paid for the piece of fish on it's own....but it was a hell of a lot more than that! Dave had a cream cheesy, veggy starter, huge it was, I couldn't have eaten it but he enjoyed it. His main was a disappointment too. He ordered chicken with capers and potatoes (and a cherry tom) but after eating half he was capered out! There were capers inside as well as in the sauce, e just couldn't cope with them all. Puddings were a bit nondescript too. But on the plus side, everyone else enjoyed their meals, I have to say the plate of mish-mash, a sort of scrambled egg with onions, white cheese and tomatoes, was delicious. But it was a lovely evening and we will certainly go again. We just didn't make quite the right choices.

This week we have received some wine and rakia 'for Christmas' from Venka and Yordan. Well, we are not really drinkers....I should imagine a gallon of rakia and a couple of gallons of red wine will last a bit longer than that! Now we need to find some glass bottles to decant at least the very strong rakia into. Like I say...we don't drink so it might be a bit difficult.

In the kitchen we are back into comfort food mode. Having the fire lit is so handy for simmering stews and beans, roasting veg and making would be a shame not to use all that heat...wouldn't it?
Dave's came with beef stew and our own sprouts

But to counter that I have made the first batch of sauerkraut. The cabbages are delicious, but the hearts are not hard so two large cabbage, along with an onion and a couple of carrots for added interest, made only just over half the large kilner jar. Never mind, there is more to come. The new tunnel stretches over most of the greens but there will be some that need picking by the end of the year.

We have also started to make the Christmas cards so that we can get them sent out. We are only making for friends and family this year, I feel I need a break from them, my own fault, I am letting them stress me out by doing personalised cards. Most people will give you an idea of a theme for a card, but others will leave the decision to me, just giving a vague description of the recipient's interests which is a headache when you don't actually know the person. I don't make any money from the cards so there is no point in getting stressed out. So a break is needed....for now.

The work table (kitchen table by the fire) ready for action. It gets a lot messier than this

And finally, we have had a little breakthrough with the cats. Spud is still very stand-offish with the very friendly Charlie, and though they enjoy a game of chase around the garden, indoors Spud likes his space (my knee or the best spot by the fire) Charlie is very happy to share his space and loves to cuddle up, but gets sworn at for taking liberties. This week however, we have not only had them sharing a double bowl with a tablespoon of milk on each side, but I had both cats on my knee together. Admittedly I think Spud was asleep when Charlie came up and movement doesn't really register with him, he is used to me being fidgety. Of course the camera was out of reach and the ones I took with the computer only fit to show Dave.
You can just about make Charlie out, snoozing behind Spud



  1. Loving the goat stud, very handsome. Bet hes a character! Best wishes Michele from Somerset

  2. Love your poultry photos. Can't wait to get our hens and cockerel in Spring! I miss all that chicken kerfuffle.

    1. l know what you mean, we were lost when we had to re-home our three girls when we went into rented accommodation in preparation to moving out here. You'll soon be back into the swing of it....but a warning, the more land you have the bigger the urge to fill it with critters!

  3. When taking a friend to a nearby farm (she doesn't drive) to collect some chickens to add to her flock, we saw the runner ducks. This was last spring. We thought they were beautiful and it is odd how upright they are. They will make lovely additions to your homestead. I look forward to seeing and hearing more of them. Also enjoying all your news as always.

    1. I have to admit l am not keen on the big ducks, though they more than cover their keep in eggs, but l do like the smaller runners. They're sort of cheerful. Looking forward to eggs to hatch in spring.

  4. When bucks are ready to rut, they urinate over themselves to 'attract' the ladies. I can only say I'm glad I'm not a goat. Smart goat owners will keep the bucks in digs downwind of the house.

    1. One thing I do know is I'll never have one on my patch! The friend we got the girls from have Tilly's father, well away from the house on another yard, and at this time of the year you can smell him when you get out of the car. 'Course, they can't. Haha But even they say getting close is no fun.

  5. Indian Runners are such amusing looking ducks and Vernon looks like he will be a very handsome boy. Yay for the polytunnel, you must be really chuffed!

    1. Sorry Mandy, Vernon didn't make the grade. He suddenly got really nasty towards the little ex-batts and with his size and weight (which seemed to increase every day) it was separate or......well, he's a bit cold now.