We’ve been keeping chickens for some years now, and never suffered serious losses before. But we didn’t padlock one of the doors the other night, and one of the many local foxes took advantage of the opportunity. Foxes can undo latches and shoot back bolts, so by morning only one of the bantams remained. A few feathers showed where the others had met their end. The bodies had been taken, so presumably they’d ended up as dinner for the fox cubs. It’s still that time of year.
We went back to the very excellent Orchard Poultry to buy a few more bantams. Not for breeding, just to supplement our ornamental flock. And, after losing our silkie during last winter, we’ve learnt the lesson that the breeds must not be too tender for cold damp conditions.
Here are our five newcomers, getting accustomed to their new quarters before being integrated with the existing birds.
I’ve forgotten how long ago it was when we first went to the Blackmoor Apple Day. We’d bought soft fruit plants and later apple trees from Blackmoor Nurseries, and got to know about the apple tasting in that way.
Working an allotment sorts the “glass half empty” folk from the “glass half full” ones. Every year some crops fail or are disappointing. Every year some things succeed brilliantly.
This year, one of the crops that has given us a great harvest is sweetcorn. Here’s last night’s supper, picked just a couple of hours before:
The much-needed rain last week has given way to lovely weather. We’re doing the final preparation of some of the beds, and the tiller has been in use not only for ourselves, but some of our neighbours too.
We’re getting loads of rhubarb: our first glut of the year in fact if you don’t count the eggs. Not everyone likes rhubarb, but enough of our friends enjoy it so as to make it worthwhile to grow. Plus, of course, we’re very fond of it ourselves.
It’s been slightly sad to watch the crows and magpies devouring nestlings from the songbird nests in the blackberry patches that dot the allotment site. Every so often there’s been a clamour of alarm calls, and a crow has emerged with another snack in its beak. Every amateur conservationist that I’ve ever met has assured me that corvids do little or no damage to the songbird population, so what we’ve seen today must be exceptional.
There’s a parallel with having children here. You forget just how fast they grow!
Only a day or two old, the ducklings are thriving. The pictures are taken a little distance from the brooder so as not to frighten them. The cardboard wall is to prevent too much Aubiose from being kicked out onto the floor!
Maybe if we huddle in the corner and ignore the big scary humans, they’ll go away!
It’s now exactly 28 days since the original 11 eggs went into the incubator. Two didn’t develop at all, and one looked infected at around the halfway mark. That left us with eight. As I write, we have seven lively ducklings! Increasing the humidity in the R-Com 20 incubator seems to have paid off.
I caught the hatch of number 4 on camera. The third had just hatched, and her cheeping and movement may have encouraged the fourth to emerge. Here’s the hatch in pictures:
Some pipping action is visible, and as we watch, more holes start to appear in the shell
We’re hatching a clutch of duck eggs for a friend at the allotments. When we last checked, 8 out of the original 11 were still viable. The first surprise came yesterday afternoon, when the three-day hatching phase commenced. A couple of eggs had already started to pip, 48 hours earlier than we would have expected. You can see the first little chips in the shells as the ducklings start to hatch.
The weather’s on the turn, although we got a spectacular show of hoar frost again at the allotment.