Friday, 11 May 2012

Six new chicks

Friday 11th May 2012
A fine start to the day, the first time I've seen the sun break the horizon for a while.

Half a dozen eggs
By the time I awoke there were two chicks, one of each variety, and through the course of the morning I was entertained by the emergence of a further four. Yesterday's chick was fluffy enough to come out of the incubator into a brood box... which I had not got ready! Oops!
We have a bit of a production line on chicks at the moment, from the incubator to the brood box for the new chicks, onto the box with the two French Copper Marans, who now have most of their feather and will be ready to go outside soon. And then there's the 'teenagers', as we have collectively called them. The four chicks with attitude in their own coup in the chicken enclosure. In between watching the chicks hatch and making a new brood box, I let them out for a run around. They pushed through the long grass exploring, every now and then coming face-to-face with a guinea fowl and invariably being put in their place.
Thus my morning was pretty much spent on chicks.

It was interrupted once when I heard a Reed Warbler singing from the edge of the rape field behind the pond. A slightly unusual place for a reed warbler, but presumably it is freshly arrived and checking out the area to set up a territory.

Before I went to work for the afternoon, I went to round up the teenagers, only to find them back in their coup, inside, and huddled together in one of the nesting boxes. I guess something in the big wide world must have given them a fright!!

In the evening, a long overdue trip to Morrison's (we are not completely self-sufficient, especially at this lean time of year) was delayed slightly as we could not find Gerry to bring him in. He spends a lot of time in the dykes and in the fields, and if he is hunting he completely ignores us. After an hour of wandering around calling his name, he appeared from nowhere on the patio door step, with vole! After a successful hit on the Morrison's evening bread price reductions (freezer now topped up again - hardly worth making our own when we can get the nice loaves for 19p each), we returned home seeing two Barn Owls on the way, then a Short-eared Owl close to the road by Shell Bridge, just near the farm. It seems that some of these Short-eared Owls do not realise they should have moved way North by now. Maybe they are not going home.

On our return, two more eggs were peeping, with small holes pecked in the shells. But as the evening wore on, it looked less and less likely that these last two would make it out of their calcium coccoons. It is tempting to give them a helping hand, but this usually causes problems for them, so we now let nature take its course.

So, eventually, I went to bed on a cliffhanger!

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