A few late summer blooms
Ducks are social creatures so when, earlier this year, out of a dozen bought in hatching eggs
only one actually hatched
we had to find her a couple of friends from up the road
She is a Cayuga and her adoptive siblings are Muscovies but they have got on ok together
although she has preferred to watch
at bath time
When Cagney, our dependable Muscovy, went broody
we installed her in a safe house and had another go, this time with our own eggs.
First to hatch was indeed a Cayuga
but because Cayney was also sitting on Muscovy eggs, which take longer to hatch, she has to be taken into temporary custody
from which she immediately tried to escape
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
as long as Cagney would accept a seven day old reintroduction.
Which she did
They set up home together
Soon they were given a bit more space
from which Houdini immediately escaped
and went off to fraternise with the flock
Spying some fellow Cayugas
she tried to introduce herself
but they weren’t interested
Life would be easier if all our ducks were like this one
Our Red House, named in homage to the design history that inspires our ornamentation of its interior, is part of our overflow accommodation/places we can hide in:
friend of James
Has successfully raised several duckling broods
and this month she has been sitting again
But the clutch we put under her have come from a variety of sources. James is a bit indiscriminate
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
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
squeeze through onto the table
pretend she can fly
and set off across the carpet
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:
And here are some flowers happening elsewhere at the moment:
plus, these harebells are over the fence next door
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
we know that they see their year as over.
And as the days start shortening
we know what they mean.
like other birds, is filling up its last brood
ready to leave the nest
and the Jay
has time on her hands to clear the feeders.
After a shaky start the rabbit breeding plan is taking off
and has led us to grow things never before cultivated here
provisions for rabbit salad
not to be confused with ours
we argue over the fennel
Our crops seem to take longer to come to fruition, courgettes beginning to form
the first aubergine flowers
beetroot almost ready
beans on the rise
leeks ready in the winter
We have been enjoying the peas
and the cherries
plus the wine making apparatus is being dusted down
So, come rain
we enter the downward slope of the year in good spirits.
(a story of small families)
The Cayuga duckling hatched all by herself and was a bit lonely
So a kind neighbour donated two Muscovies to keep her company
and today they had to leave our house for one of their own
where they got very excited about being able to eat wood shavings
This meant that the hen chicks who had been living there for the last month
and were getting a bit big for their boots
had to move outdoors
for a treat of raspberries
This meant that Claire with the two chicks she hatched
had to relinquish the area they had enjoyed roaming
visiting the rabbits
and rejoin her flock
(somehow “losing” the male youngster on the way)
where she quickly bagged the best roosting spot
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
These candulas should have been outside, in here they need coralling to keep them in their place
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
It will definitely have to move outside before next year. Meanwhile it gives a continual supply of cut flowers
This is the arch of fragrance
where roses and honeysuckle combine into a heady mix.
The lake margins are studded with jewels
and the bullrush is producing heads after not doing so last year
Behind the lake we raised a bank to catch the sun and included plants to help our bees, who live nearby
They are now well established and hold their own amid the grass
This patch of birdsfoot trefoil has arrived by itself on a nearby bank
and foxgloves pop-up everywhere
Pansies are always a welcome sight
Strong colours mark this part of the year, be it campanula blue
or loosestrife yellow
A couple of rather warm days
Rabbits need ice-water bottles
and time for all to vacate indoor quarters
Anna’s litter enjoy a bit of extra space, indoors…
That space is not available for all so some indoor houses are moved outside
in a cool North facing prospect
where Heidi’s young litter can get some cooler air
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
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
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
and thriving a week later
And then there is Heidi
who has been through a couple of rounds of ripping out her fur to make nests and exhibiting highly temperamental pre-natal behaviour.
This week she actually managed to produce – eight at birth with seven survivors
So now the veg patch has a section for growing rabbit food
(with protection against The Wrong Kind Of Rabbit)