So about two/three weeks ago two of our Muscovy girls hatched clutches of ducklings.
Vita and one of the chocolates. Vita has hatched 12 and Choc has hatched 4. They are both delighted with themselves. Vita is being her usual lioness type mum, and hisses and jumps at me if I go anywhere near them. Choc is a bit more relaxed. All are doing well.
Due to our horrible mink attack, we have lost one of our breeding drakes Othello. He was very distinctive black drake, so we should be able to spot his offspring. If we have any black or magpie girls we should be able to keep them as the breeding line will now go back to Orlando.
About a month ago we had a series of mink attacks which have left our poultry stocks pretty low. It has take us a while to write this up as it was really upsetting and stressful. The mink came back over a series of nights and took all of our Kahki Cambells, two Muscoveys, two chickens and our bunny Mac (very sad to lose Mac as he was a pet, still can’t talk about it much). It was devastating. Every morning we would go out and find more dead stock.
We bought and set a trap, but we obviously put it in the wrong place. Eventually I think the mink just moved on. ( Or maybe was caught by something else). We are now just left with Sheep, Muscovey ducks and our geese. We haven’t rushed out to buys lots of new stock because we wanted to be sure that the mink wasn’t coming back. Also, as you will see in the next post we have had some good news, two of our Muscovey girls have hatched large clutches of new ducklings.
After one incident or another, where clipped wings haven’t done the job for example, we have ended up with a bad drake to duck ratio. We’re down to two Muscovy drakes (Orlando and Othello), three Muscovy girls (Vita and the two chocolate girls) and one runner drake (Linford). This is not helpful really, especially given Linford’s tendency to actually get on top of Orlando when he mates with Vita. All a bit messy. So today we went to Melton Fur and Feather market, hurray! We have to avoid going very often because we are ver easily distracted into buying things we didn’t go for. And today was very busy and there were lots and lots of possibilities. One way of curbing our enthusiasm is to only take a limited amount of cash. We had £50, which was good because this prevented us from buying a pair of peacocks, which went for £100.
What we actually bought was not at all far off what we intended to buy, which was ideally, more Muscovy girls. What we came home with was a very sweet Muscovy girl and four fairly entertaining khaki Campbell girls. After a showering of lice powder and a wing clip, the Muscovy girl (from now on to be known as Violet…) has been added to Othello/chocolate girl gang and the khaki’s (no names as all identical) have been put into the area with Orlando, Linford, Vita and the chickens. This has blown Linford’s mind a bit as he can’t cope with not being nosy and checking the new girls out but not having Vita (who couldn’t really care less) with him all the time. So basically he’s just running aback and forth for now.
We did nearly also buy a girl Indian runner and some hatching eggs but came to our senses.
Everyone seems to be settling in fine.
This is one of the two times of year when pretty much every bit of electric fence, every bit of housing, every water and food station and therefore every animal is moved from the now a bit tired winter ground, to fresh new pasture which has been rested for a good few months.
So, following harrowing of the fresh new bits, on Saturday morning, all of the sheep were wormed and hooves trimmed as needed and then moved over to the lambing pasture, ready for the girls to hopefully lamb in the next couple of weeks. This is a mixed blessing for Rambo who can’t wait to get to new grass but is always very annoyed to find he can’t just go everywhere he likes. This is the only time of year when they are completely penned into a relatively small area, which helps us to catch and tag the lambs and check them over when they arrive.
The poultry are now all under the tree and have been split up into three areas; the geese are separated, Othello is in with the two chocolate Muscovy girls and the random collection of the two chickens, Linford, Orlando and Vita are all in together. And Mac has been moved too. And they all look pretty happy and are certainly quieter now they don’t have to defend their patches from anyone but us…
A while back, in an effort to diversify the bloodlines of our muscovies, we bought in a batch of eggs from eBay to incubate. This invariably doesn’t go that well, I’m not sure why we never learn (combination of eggs travelling through the post not being ideal and duck eggs being tricky to incubate), and this batch was no different. We only had two hatch and one of them was much smaller than the other. We thought this was because one was a boy and one was a girl, so we called them Batman and Robin as their pied markings looked like masks. They both survived just fine but Robin is almost definitely a cross with something else. So she doesn’t lay eggs and very quickly she learnt how to fly down to the river, taking Batman with her from time to time. Following a wing clip she wasn’t able to do this any more and simply looked longingly in that direction instead.
And it turns out Batman is a girl, and is a Muscovy, and does lay fertile eggs. So overall, the plan worked and some of her eggs were hatched by Virginia this year. We’ll be keeping one of the boys this year. She too was very persistent with sitting on a clutch this season and sat on a handful of eggs, of which two hatched. At this point Robin’s attentions a turned to the job of duckling rearing and as soon as Batman and the two ducklings were out of the ark she set about becoming surrogate mother. This was helpful and she seemed to have forgotten she could fly.
However, the ducklings have now grown up (the boy was dispatched yesterday) and Robin has lead the charge for her, Batman and the girl duckling to make day trip to the beach. So far they seem to be returning at sensible times, and are hopefully therefore safe from the fox, but a mass wing clip is in order, which is easier said than done when they have worked out their escape route already…
Do you ever feel so fortunate that you have the feeling that something bad must be round the corner? I am having such a lovely weekend just chilling out with Becky and our two whippet shaped friends that I am pretty sure I am owed some bad luck….or at the very least I owe it to someone to pay this good vibe forward in some way. (Suggestions welcome).
Tonight I have cooked us a roast dinner which is 100% sencemeadow. Roast mmuscovey duck, creamy mash potatoe, green beans, courgettes and a raspberry and red wine reduction. It was delicious and I don’t think we will ever get bored of saying “100% sencemeadow”, which we frequently do when eating one of our home grown meals.
I distributed our courgette surplus to a bunch of sporty girls on Thursday night, but we are still drowning. Courgette cake tomorrow I think.
Over the course of June we have realised that some of the little ducklings that hatch under Virginia were Lavender coloured (grey). This is a bit of a surprise as we have no lavender ducks. Although on closer inspection, I believe the ducks that we bought from Melton market as chocolate, were infact crossed with lavender. Although they were a lovely dark chocolate when we bought them, they have got lighter and lighter ever since, see before pictures below, and we will post a present day picture later.
Either way, I love the grey ones and am hoping at least one of them is a girl so I can home her to my friend in the village.