creative 1975

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.

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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!

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