Monday, 18 April 2011


Hi folks! Hope you are all well. Aren't I the crap one! Anyway, I only popped in to say please visit my new website with it's own blog, where I am now writing. Thank you folks xx

Visit me here (Sorry can't get the link to work!)

Sunday, 16 May 2010

Duckling Emergency!

Yesterday morning, we again checked the eggs. Four ducklings were now hatched, with two eggs to go. One had no signs of life so I candled it and it obviously wasn't right, so I cracked it opento find a dead, half formed duckling inside. What a shame, but too late for that little one. The other egg had small cracks in the end but not much else. So I opened the shell a little more then popped it back under the hen.

Trouble is off to camp this coming week so we went into town to buy some supplies, socks mostly (where do they go?) While we were out I had a phone call from a woman who may have spotted my missing cat. So when we had finished shopping we went for a drive around the area where he might have been spotted. No luck in finding him but we had a quick look at the wind farm while we were there.

We arrived home and went straight to check on the ducklings. Broody hen had brought them out into the run for some refreshments. But there were only four. Looking into the nest the unhatched egg lay there unchanged and abandoned. Picking it up I was sure it was dead. It was stone cold and there was no sign off life. However, when I pulled away more of the shell it moved. We rushed it indoors and switched on an incubator. I carefully pulled away more shell and tried to release the ducklings head. It was almost tied in a knot. It was wrapped right round itself and this was obviously the reason it had been unable to hatch!! There are people who say that if they can't hatch themselves then we should leave them to it, but not me, I wasn't going to leave it! The poor duckling looked very strange, it's neck appeared to be three times as long as it should have been! I know they are Runners, but seriously?

Anyway, poor little chap was kicking furiously and getting nowhere so I eventually freed it from the shell and gave it some water. Things were still not looking good, it couldn't stand up or hold up it's head. I realised it couldn't stay in the inccy much longer and started to set up the brooder. Brand new and not wired up yet! Probably not the thing to do quite late at night and after a few glasses of wine, but it had to be done! Anyway, I wired it up wrong and managed to electocute myself in the process. Eventually gave in and asked my neighbour for help. Nice chap and was still up watching the grand prix! Finally got it sorted and I set it up next to my bed and had a very restless nights sleep.

But this is what I found in the morning;

That looks much more like a proper duckling! I couldn't believe the difference! Very wobbly on it's feet and walking right back on it's legs rather than up on it's feet, but wow it's head was on straight! After plenty of TLC and exercise courtesy of the kids it began to look better and better.

And this evening it went back out to the broody, who accepted it straight away. Within a couple of hours it was waddling around with the other ducklings as if it had always been there. So to those of you that don't intervene - up yours :P

Friday, 14 May 2010

The First Babies Arrive!

Today saw the day the first ducklings hatched. I managed to coax broody hen off her nest this morning for some corn. She allowed me to examine some of the eggs. I noticed that two had a fair size hole in them and that one other had obvious cracks! Then followed an agonising afternoon at work and some very quick food shopping.

When I got home (with some very excited children) we brought broody hen's cat box into the kitchen to check on the eggs. Wearing my chicken wrangling gloves I bravely lifted her gently from the nest. There lay two little fluffy ducklings! Quickly checking the other eggs I noticed the one with the crack noted earlier hadn't changed so I eased the shell open slightly to see it wriggling inside. I quickly candled two eggs and saw that one duckling was moving strongly and one not so much. The other egg I have no idea. I will check again in the morning.

Proud mum

Little cutie

So tired

Brand new

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Egg Candling

Last night I sat on floor with the lights off and began candling and numbering the eggs in my incubator!

The Cayuga eggs are too new for me to know, I am a novice candler after all. The Maran eggs are at day 7 now so are fairly obvious. I noticed two definates, one maybe and 3 that I think are infertile.

The Pheasants are more tricky. The eggs are small and thick shelled. They were definately fertile but it looks like they were found too late. They don't appear to be any further on than they were when I first looked. They do have obvious signs of development, but I think it was my tired eyes that told me they moved. I can also see what I think is the start of blood rings, which I believe usually appear when the embryo dies. So it doesn't look good for the pheasant eggs, but I'll leave them a bit longer and candle them again. Not too long though, I don't want anything exploding in the incubator!

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

What's Cooking?

I love this photo of the incubator so much I thought I'd share!!

Top: Large Grey Eggs - Cayuga Duck
Middle: Brown Eggs - Black Copper Maran Hens
Bottom: Small Greenish/Blue Eggs - Pheasant
All tucked up safe in the auto turning incubator. Phew!
(You can see the Xs and Os from hand turning.)

Monday, 10 May 2010

Poultry Matters and a Missing Cat

Well I picked up the new quail hens last night. All didn't go exactly to plan. Dude was moved to his new hutch with the established females. Sanchez was given the new hens. At first he thought it was wonderful, being male he introduced himself just how a virile male should! Wonderful, I thought, he's pleased with his pressie. Funnily enough Dude did the same thing with his girls, and I'd not seen either of them do it before!! It must be all to do with new territory and new blood.

Anyway ten minutes later and Sanchez was pecking the hell out of the new hens! My cousin had told me how violent they can be but I didn't expect him to be like that with his girlfriends! So Sanchez spent a night in solitary in the shed, partly to give the girls time to settle in and partly so he can think about what he has done!

This morning I have clipped his beak just a little bit and popped him back in. Things seem to be much calmer today, he is chasing them around a bit but doesn't seem to be trying to peck their heads off!

My new Cayuga duck eggs are now in the incubator, a nice Brinsea 20 borrowed from a friend. At least I don't have to turn the eggs. My other incubator currently holding 6 Maran and 7 Pheasant eggs is manual and that's quite a chore to remember to turn them all 3 times a day! And we are only on day 5! Now all that's bothering me is that 28 days is so long!!

At least my Indian Runners are nearly cooked. They are due this weekend, so expect some wonderfully over the top posting from me in a few days! I have had a few panics about them hatching. I bought them from Ebay and was ecstatic to find all six were fertile and developing well. Trouble is when they are under a broody you can't monitor the hatch very well, and I am worried that they will not have been moist enough. I really don't want to lose them at the last minute! Ducks is new to me so it's all trial and error.

On a different note, the family is sad, we have lost one of our dear Bengal cats. He has been missing for over a month now. Just went off one day and didn't come back! A Bengal was found a couple of weeks ago in a village not far from here but was sadly not ours. He had been missing from elsewhere for 3 months though. It does give us a bit of hope that he will stroll back in one day or that someone will find him and check him for a microchip. All we can do is wait.....

Sunday, 9 May 2010

For Stiggy - The Quail

Stiggy asked me about the quail, so I thought I'd post a bit of info for those that don't know much about them.

My quail are Japanese or Coturnix Quail, they are one of the plainer types of the species but are a good 'starter' bird. I got my birds from my cousin at six weeks old, they were literally just off the heat lamp so spent the first two weeks coming into the house at night as it has been so cold. At first they were kept in an old rabbit run on the open ground, with a cat box shelter. Unfortunately one became ill, very dehydrated, and died. I then decided to take them off the ground and found a great big hutch for them.

Quails are very flighty birds so must have plenty of head room. They have an amazing springy quality to them which I can only describe as boingy! The best time to see this is first thing in the morning. When it is cold at night I cover them, when I pull back the cover they let their little over-night wound springs go, and boing from one end of the hutch to the other. When they first arrived I was amazed at how calm they were as I had heard about them being flighty. It didn't last and they were soon difficult to catch to move in and out of their night quarters! I loved having them in the house in the evenings though, they make the most comforting noises. A bit like when you walk in a pet shop full of finches.

Apart from their skittishness they are easy to keep. Mine are just fed on chick crumb, but you can buy them fancy quail mix which is, of course expensive. They also love meal worms for a treat. They are messy and seem to thrive in spilling their water all over a clean bed. They also get through chick crumb faster than I ever imagined for their tiny size.

Quails come into lay very early, anywhere between 7 and 10 weeks I have heard. Mine are now around ten weeks, but I still haven't had an egg! The one thing I am really looking forward to is my first hatch. For any of you that have seen quails eggs you will know how tiny they are. My cousin describes them on hatching, as resembling big bumble bees!

Anyway, as I currently have two males and only three females I am popping back over to my cousin's tonight to pick up some more hens. They will then have to be separated into two clans as, believe it or not, it is the hens that will fight not the cocks. They can live quite happily with a couple of cocks and several hens, as long as the ratio is about 6 hens to each cock, and as long as they were introduced very young. I have been told that quail can be very aggressive and can head peck so badly they will go through the skull! I am not risking that!

So hopefully soon I will have plenty of eggs to sell for both eating and hatching. Quail eggs are fantastic for baking! Obviously if anyone is interested - let me know!