A Tale of Two Ducklings

Ducks are social creatures so when, earlier this year, out of a dozen bought in hatching eggs

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only one actually hatched

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we had to find her a couple of friends from up the road

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She is a Cayuga and her adoptive siblings are Muscovies but they have got on ok together

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although she has preferred to watch

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at bath time

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When Cagney, our dependable Muscovy, went broody

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we installed her in a safe house and had another go, this time with our own eggs.

First to hatch was indeed a Cayuga

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but because Cayney was also sitting on Muscovy eggs, which take longer to hatch, she has to be taken into temporary custody

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from which she immediately tried to escape

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successfully

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earning the name Houdini.

No other eggs did hatch so for the second time we had a solitary duckling. At least this time he had a foster mother

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as long as Cagney would accept a seven day old reintroduction.

Which she did

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They set up home together

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Soon they were given a bit more space

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from which Houdini immediately escaped

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and went off to fraternise with the flock

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Spying some fellow Cayugas

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she tried to introduce herself

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but they weren’t interested

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Life would be easier if all our ducks were like this one

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Houdini the Duckling

Cagney

friend of James

Has successfully raised several duckling broods

and this month she has been sitting again

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But the clutch we put under her have come from a variety of sources. James is a bit indiscriminate

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The problem is – Muscovys are genetically very different from other breeds and have a a longer incubation time so there was a possibility the eggs might hatch at different times.

In the event, one egg hatched two days ago

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Looks like a pure bred Cayuga (nothing to do with Cagney or James) – Lucky and his ladies

must still be up to it.

Anyway, this individual needs care while Cagney sits tight a little longer. Then she can go back.

She is not amused about being all alone and would prefer our constant company if nothing else is available. To get it she will climb the bars

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squeeze through onto the table

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pretend she can fly

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and set off across the carpet

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Mini-Meadow

We had a grassed area around our fruit trees. Then the ducks moved in and poached the ground leading to run off into… the wood shed. Not good. The ducks have now moved down the plot and earlier this year we started developing the area for meadow flowers, maybe a bit more curated than our main meadow

We scraped off the remaining grass area, sowed a meadow seed mix and threw in a few seed packets. We will develop it further in the Autumn but right now we are starting to get some blooms:

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And here are some flowers happening elsewhere at the moment:

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plus, these harebells are over the fence next door

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We’re Only Half Way There

The year has tipped, half gone. But that half has seemed a year in itself: two months of non-stop water; two months of non-stop drought; and now the timeless background of living in our self-contained little world in even greater immersion than we normally do.

When the flora starts fruiting

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we know that they see their year as over.

And as the days start shortening

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we know what they mean.

This wren

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like other birds, is filling up its last brood

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ready to leave the nest

and the Jay

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has time on her hands to clear the feeders.

After a shaky start the rabbit breeding plan is taking off

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and has led us to grow things never before cultivated here

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provisions for rabbit salad

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not to be confused with ours

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we argue over the fennel

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Our crops seem to take longer to come to fruition, courgettes beginning to form

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the first aubergine flowers

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cucumbers climbing

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beetroot almost ready

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beans on the rise

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leeks ready in the winter

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We have been enjoying the peas

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and the cherries

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plus the wine making apparatus is being dusted down

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So, come rain

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or shine

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we enter the downward slope of the year in good spirits.

Moving Up

(a story of small families)

The Cayuga duckling hatched all by herself and was a bit lonely

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So a kind neighbour donated two Muscovies to keep her company

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and today they had to leave our house for one of their own

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where they got very excited about being able to eat wood shavings

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This meant that the hen chicks who had been living there for the last month

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and were getting a bit big for their boots

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had to move outdoors

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for a treat of raspberries

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This meant that Claire with the two chicks she hatched

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had to relinquish the area they had enjoyed roaming

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visiting the rabbits

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and rejoin her flock

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(somehow “losing” the male youngster on the way)

where she quickly bagged the best roosting spot

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June in Bloom

As the month comes to an end, a roundup of some recent blossomings…

In the early spring, when the outside world is not very hospitable, there is a temptation to home everything in polytunnels. Then, come June, they are starting to burst

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These candulas should have been outside, in here they need coralling to keep them in their place

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In winter the perennial sweet pea completely recedes into the ground but by the end of June it would have taken over the whole polytunnel if permitted

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It will definitely have to move outside before next year. Meanwhile it gives a continual supply of cut flowers

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This is the arch of fragrance

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where roses and honeysuckle combine into a heady mix.

The lake margins are studded with jewels

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and the bullrush is producing heads after not doing so last year

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Behind the lake we raised a bank to catch the sun and included plants to help our bees, who live nearby

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They are now well established and hold their own amid the grass

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This patch of birdsfoot trefoil has arrived by itself on a nearby bank

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and foxgloves pop-up everywhere

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Pansies are always a welcome sight

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Strong colours mark this part of the year, be it campanula blue

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or loosestrife yellow

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Too Hot… for Rabbits

A couple of rather warm days

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Rabbits need ice-water bottles

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and time for all to vacate indoor quarters

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Anna’s litter enjoy a bit of extra space, indoors…

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with ramp…

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to outdoors…

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That space is not available for all so some indoor houses are moved outside

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in a cool North facing prospect

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where Heidi’s young litter can get some cooler air

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Rabbit Report

After a load of palava and song and dance three out of the four does have eventually managed to produce offspring.

First off was Easter, who only managed to produce one (visible) kit

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By being an only child, Comet has asserted an identity which makes it harder to label her “freezer”. She has also required vet attention (ie bills) to correct an ingrowing eyelash

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which is now healing nicely. So currently she is down as a replacement breeding doe – for Lettuce who has shown no interest at all in the whole breeding thing.

Next up was Anna with a litter of four, here two weeks ago

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and thriving a week later

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And then there is Heidi

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who has been through a couple of rounds of ripping out her fur to make nests and exhibiting highly temperamental pre-natal behaviour.

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This week she actually managed to produce – eight at birth with seven survivors

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So now the veg patch has a section for growing rabbit food

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(with protection against The Wrong Kind Of Rabbit)