All this happened a week ago. For as a smallholder I seem to be constantly moving animals from place to place.
The two white hens are in fact Ixworth hens and when they are big enough they will be laying eggs to be hatched under our broodies to be raised as meat birds.
|This cockerel will be a more permanent resident |
than some of the others, so we'd better think of a name for him.
So there we have our breeding trio. They will be kept in a separate pen to the other chickens so their offspring are pure. Hatching them under broodies will not only keep the broodies happy but it saves Sue and I having to look after them inside. And when they hatch they can wander around with all the other hens until they are big enough to go in the freezer, for Ixworths make an excellent meat bird.
The turkeys came to us a few days old, which meant keeping them in a box with a lamp for heat until they had enough feathers to go outside, which coincides with the time that three of them are pretty much too big to fit in the box comfortably. It also unfortunatley comes several weeks after they begin to create quite an odour! They go out during the day for a while first, like hardening off plants, and then they went into their own pen down with the chickens.
|The turkeys in their hardening off pen. |
(and Sue) (and Boris on the outside, when he was little)
|The turkeys explore their new accommodation|
Five years ago we were city folk and wouldn't have had a clue how to do all this. We have moved on a long way since then.
As I write, the Ixworth trio are now together. For a couple of days they were in adjacent pens so they could get used to each other but when we opened the door, they settled together instantly. The hens follow the cockerel everywhere and he takes care of them.
Meanwhile one of the black ducks has disappeared. To be more precise, once in a blue moon she appears for food early in the morning before wandering off to disappear again. I think she has hidden herself on Weasel Ridge somewhere. If all goes well, she will appear one day soon with a line of ducklings waddling along behind her.
And on the same theme there are now only ten guinea fowl on the fence at nights. I found the other two yesterday, hunkered down in the comfrey bed. Let's hope they do better than last year, when between all of them they eventually only managed to rear two young. If only they would incubate earlier in the year so the chicks weren't so vulnerable to Lincolnshire's early autumn weather.