Life and death in the Big Brooder House.
Our Indian Runner Duck eggs hatched last week and we had two chicks survive the difficult and traumatic hatching process. Of the other four eggs in the batch, two did not survive hatching and two appeared infertile. Sadly, after the enormous effort of emerging to a living & breathing world one of the living chicks also passed away after 24 hours so we needed to get a pal for our wee survivor.
Smallholding isn’t all blue skies and fluffy ducklings, it’s an emotional coaster too. Here is the first few days of Sharoo:
So this week, thanks to Google we identified another solo Indian Runner duck of the same age and headed off to glorious Ardersier to bring the buddy back.
The new duck on the block is nicknamed ‘Duckzilla’ as she is a monster compared to Saroo, but they get on amazingly well and are fun to watch racing around their room together.
We also came home with two slightly older birds – more on them in another post. I will end with the sad news that a few of our beautiful hens from the last blog were snatched by foxes this week, literally from under our noses outside the study window before being chased away.
The mornings are getting busier on the farm now with the arrival of another 8 mixed hens to join our 7 Isa Browns. The new girls have just started to lay pullet eggs after two weeks. Though it seems a bit cosy in the Solway hen house, everyone seems to get on OK now.
Breeds include Speckledy, Blacktail, Silver Sussex, Sussex, Bluebell and Rhode Rock.
They all currently enjoy a run with the shelter of the Bothy on one side and a fenceline on the other, providing shelter and security, but without the possibility to create variations on the chicken run. The plan is to move the run adjacent to the new vegetable beds as the birds show little interest in the greens but love the seeds of invasive grasses, as well as the slugs. Within the new field we can also alter the fence to make rotating “teardrop” shapes and fertilise new beds whilst also permitting free roaming when we are around.
Of course the daily result of feed and water (those girls drink a lot!) are beautiful fresh eggs, prefect for poaching. Local human-powered food mile supplies by bike from firstname.lastname@example.org
Finally, in egg-related news, we now have six duck eggs in the incubator and expecting new arrivals this week…
Tomato bushes are thriving and the biggest courgette flower opened to welcome the day.
And a rather spectacular sky to match!
Lovely Marsh (?) Orchids flowering in front of the farm.
This week we planted 30 squash plants into their new beds, along with French bean, lettuce, chard and kale. Time will tell whether the new raised beds will work! Chickens attempted to help whilst the pigs bathed in the warmth of the day. The new hens are starting to settle in, (a lovely mix of hybrids; Bluebell, Speckledy, Rhode Rock, Sussex, Blacktail and Silver Sussex) although are still being rather hen pecked by their longer standing “sisters”.
The first blog post! Nicola and I have been at Achray Farm since December 2016 – six months and a lot of planning, planting, painting and now poultry and pigs.
As we grow our ideas and vision, stock and crops we plan to share the journey here. Next up will be our current farmyard of pigs, chickens and duck eggs in the incubator.