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Archive for September, 2014|Monthly archive page

Springtime life ‘n loss

In Non-Fiction, Poultry on September 24, 2014 at 5:24 pm

Perhaps I was overexcited about the arrival of spring with regards to saying goodbye to heaters and so on… bedroom heater still needed, electric blanket still on the bed! Nevertheless, the end is in sight and that’s good enough for me. We’ve had some wonderful sunny days lately and I’ve relished them. I love to wonder around outside in the weekend (especially on a morning after a cup of tea) doing the odd job here and there in my pyjamas! And it’s the time of year I can feed and water the poultry in my PJ’s too, rather than wrapping up in a warm water proof coat during winter months. Keeping a reasonably large flock of poultry does take time and work but in the winter it’s more so, especially when the rain appears to be never ending. Putting unwanted wood pallets down on the ground really helped this year, giving the chooks somewhere to stand whilst drinking without standing in sodden mud. Makes no difference to the ducks and Blue the Drake, they love wet weather and don’t feel the cold like chickens do.

What a joy it was last saturday when I spotted Twilight on the lawn with her ducklings! All fifteen of them! I ceased the opportunity to not just get outside to see them (and take photos!), but to get all of them over to a safe pen before she headed back to her nest. They were all quite happy to be guided to their new home, and after some tricky moments getting through the veggie garden we made it! Once inside they could enjoy fresh food, water and shelter. I then moved Daphne with her not-so-tiny-anymore  duckling from one of the chicken’s areas so they could share the pen. We’re just waiting for Jemima to hatch her brood now.

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Twilight and her first ducklings

Twilight’s ducklings are gorgeous yellow and black balls of cute fluff—adorable. It will be interesting to see the colours develop as she’s black, white and green and the drake is what you call a ‘blue’ – bluey grey colouring with white.  Daphne’s duckling is sure to be white like her and when I picked it up the other day it had her blue eyes.

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Daphne’s duckling at three weeks old

I hope to find them all good homes with people who want to keep or breed Muscovies and living in rural Canterbury it shouldn’t be too much of a problem, the downside and reality is that some will also be taken for eating. Mr C will often mention ‘crispy duck’ to me, but obviously I just ignore his jibes! And comment: if he can cull, dress and roast it himself, okay, but not when I’m home!


The Muscovy duck (Cairina moschata) is a large duck native to Mexico, Central, and South America


My Little Roo

Even though springtime has brought the new life of ducklings and spring lambs in the paddock there’s sadly been loss too. I was devastated to have to cull my lovely Dorking rooster this week. He developed wry neck and it can occur in chicks but in older chickens it comes on suddenly and it’s a terrible thing to see and to happen to them. They’re neck twists around and usually they can’t walk either. It can be caused by a few factors: vitamin deficiency, stroke or a knock to the head, which can cause a bleed on the brain. When I found Little Roo at night it was dark and he was on the floor in the coop, which I knew immediately was unusual, but the sight of his neck and head completely twisted around the wrong way was not only one of the weirdest things I’ve ever seen but also horrid to see him in that state. I picked him up and sat in the garage with him for a while, cradling him and he slept.

Sometimes they can come back from it with treatment, which can take up to six weeks, but most don’t and even when they do it can happen again. If any of my hens were to produce his offspring they would most probably succumb to the same fate as him because of genetics. He spent the night in a box on an old blanket and his suffering ended the next morning. I’d raised him from a chick.


On a lighter note, it is time to start planning the garden. This year I will be buying all my seeds from King Seeds. I have their new catalogue and I need to consider what we need, what we all eat and how much space I have. Onwards and upwards!



Spring 2014

In Gardening, Non-Fiction, Poultry on September 11, 2014 at 2:09 pm

20140907_141918It doesn’t seem that long ago since I wrote on my blog page about last spring and here we are again, but thank goodness for that (I say this every time this particular season arrives). It will not be too much longer before we can put winter behinds us, stop thinking about wood for the log burner, firelighters, kindling, cleaning the fireplace; then we can simply be at a comfortable temperature no matter where we are in the house. No more heaters in the bedrooms and reminiscing about gas central heating in England. You’d think after several years I would be used to this, but I’m one of ‘those’ people—them who really feel the cold. During the warm summer months I have been found wrapped up in a blanket on the couch in the evenings whilst Mr C protests about the heat!

(photo above: calendula)

IMG-20140827-WA0001Spring brings new life around our place and that’s something I always look forward to. The first new life to arrive is a sweet fluffy duckling—the only one to hatch out of the two eggs I allowed my gorgeous white Muscovy duck ‘Daphne’ to sit on. Why only two eggs? Because I have two more ducks that are now brooding; they can lay up to 18 eggs or sometimes more in one latch, and if they are all fertile and successfully hatch that’s a lot of ducklings running around the place and a vast amount to feed. Therefore, Daphne had two but only one hatched. Muscovy duck number two named ‘Twilight’ has now disappeared; she’s built her nest so far inside conifer trees that I can’t reach her to take any away, so there is going to be many eggs incubating underneath her. It was quite sad the other day when I found one of her eggs, broken and discarded on the lawn. It must have been taken by a predator in the night. The duckling was of course dead yet fully formed. It’s sad, but it’s nature.

With more sunshine comes new routine with the poultry, feeding times change and with ducklings and chicks imminent there will be new feathered friends to raise and some male ones to pass on to someone else, which is the part that I don’t like (but I have to be practical and sensible), they will become meat. It’s predestined because roosters aren’t wanted as pets and neither are drakes, unless desired for breeding (if purebred), which the drakes will be. I kept one rooster last year and that’s worked out fine having two in total, but anymore and there will be more arguments over the hens. Not a good idea to have another drake bothering the ducks, they’re keen on him at this time of year when they’re broody, but the rest of the time they’d rather he left them alone! I’m sure it doesn’t affect his self-esteem!

Of course the new arrival of a duckling has presented me with a photo subject. The amount of snaps I’ve taken in the two weeks since its arrival is close to ridiculous. I’ve always been ‘clicker’ happy when it comes to taking photos and when the world went digital that just made me worse as I no longer have to send photo films away to be developed. The problem is just like chicks, ducklings are fast moving and it’s hard to get a good shot.


In the garden:

I planted my own garlic seed on the shortest day of the year: 21st of June and they’ve sprouted up lovely. I have been using the garlic in my cooking that I froze from last year’s harvest and there’s not much left, but I’m proud to know that I haven’t had to buy any garlic from the supermarket this year so far. I have some slow-growing bok choy on the go, an abundance of parsley, some leeks still to pull and I know I really need to make time to plan and orders seeds. More compost is a must too. I do have my own compost in process but I think it’s going to be another year before it will be ready to use.


Leeks and garlic sprouting (right)

Wherever you are in the world embrace the season and what it brings; if you’re feeling the cold of winter arriving you have my sympathy unless you have gas central heating! 🙂




My recent find:

      Organic Fig Leaf TeaimagesCAASJ0K6

 I’m not ‘big’ on herbal teas, it’s only ever really been Jasmine that I like. Whilst ordering lovely soaps from Naturalus I came across fig leaf tea—it has health benefits for the body such as inflammatory conditions, which is ideal for me.

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