Inheritance

The sun shines bright but the air is chilled.  A strange between time of spring promise with a veiled threat of frost revenge. The birds and the trees seize the present to move on without worrying about the future. We have stepped onto a plot that has been nurtured and cherished for years gone past and now we watch it open up to the new year for the first time:

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And today’s Chick of The Day Picture is….

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a sheep.

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The Catcher of the Fly

An inspiring visit today to Bwyd Bendigedig Fferm Ffrwythau “a totally Gift Economy moneyless shared community resource for the farm community, local community, and wider community. The aim is to have all the basics of life’s needs – land, warmth and shelter, water and food, totally free gratis; a shared resource for a sharing economy.”  Our mission was to be gifted some willow:

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which we brought home to be integrated into our shelter belt, which is a bit thin at the lower levels

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Giving things away seems to be the way to go round here.  We mentioned trying to stock up on green wood to season for the future and our farmer gave us this:

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We are giving water from our bore hole to the sheep in the two next door fields as they have no natural source.  It is helping the lambs get a bit chunkier.

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The most exciting thing today was this:

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A pair of pied flycatchers which had no sooner arrived hot-winged from Africa than they were prospecting Gribin Isaf Wood Official Nest Box No 4.

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New arrivals on the plot include willow warbler, swallow and house martin and the first cuckoo has been heard down at the farm.

The lone wagtail has found a mate

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The chicks have about doubled in size and needed a new home:

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Larger with more space away from the warmed brooder.  The thing is, this evening they were more concerned about being near the window – where they could watch goings on – than to be warm.  Consequently they huddled by the perspex making cold noises until the brooder was moved so they could observe and be warm at the same time.

Which brings us to today’s Chick Picture Of The Day. Today’s Chick Picture Of The Day is a still life featuring fruit and a chick

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So, as the sun goes down behind the old Ash Tree, all is well at Gribin Isaf tonight

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Bread and doses

Today, and for the next six days, the hens are dosed with Flubenvet worming powder.  This is not easy.  The powder is mixed with the layers pellets but the problem is that normally those pellets are a small amount of their intake, only eaten when all chances of titbits, tasties and general foraging are exhausted. So the birds have to be deprived of all these extras for a week to encourage them to eat enough pellets to be purged.  They will not be happy.  Also we moved their run into a fresh area and scrubbed out all their accommodation to reduce the chance of reinfection.

We are not really isolated from supplies here.  If we wanted to we could drive and get food every day – but who would want to use time and fuel in that way?  The one thing we find runs out first is good fresh bread so today we started a way to put that right – make our own:

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When the chicks hatched we made a circle of cardboard as their brooding area. This was very soon modified to include a perspex panel so we could actually see the chicks. What we didn’t realise was that it would have a much more important purpose – to enable them to look out.  They take a great interest in all that goes on outside their window.  Today’s Chick Picture Of The Day is taken from above while they line up to glimpse that latest happenings in the big world:

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The worm and the bud

For a long time this person:

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has been courting the hens through the fence. Today he found himself inside the fence and spent all day strutting in the hen run.  June was a bit affronted by this display competition:

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but April was oblivious to the down side of this incursion:

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Gapeworms are a type of roundworm; they attach themselves to the trachea (throat) of chickens where they impair breathing resulting in the birds gasping (gaping). Young birds are particularly susceptible and can become infected by sharing space with wild birds such as pheasants. Fatal if not treated.”

Tomorrow we have to move the chicken runs on to a new patch and then stop all random feeding while they spend seven days on pellets impregnated with Flubenvet.

On the upside, we were right in our shit analysis:

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Meanwhile May is happy to have new grass to eat but is not too sure about this hen run she is in – how about a nice purpose made shed she suggests:

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These lambs might look like all the other lamb pictures but they are lodging in our field – which has been reserved for the most fragile ewes and offspring:

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Meanwhile, spring has sprung

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Grape vine growthing:
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Fig:
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Kiwi fuit:
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Strawberry:
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Aubergine:
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Now, what you have been waiting for, Chick Picture Of The Day. Today’s Chick Picture Of The Day features a chick meeting, for the first time, A Meal Worm [Hoping it will never meet a Gape Worm]:

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Nesting time

The plot is full of all kinds of natural nesting sites to suit all kinds of species, but hang up a few nesting boxes and they are quickly taken advantage of.  Does it make life easier?  Certainly a lot of to-ing and fro-ing still takes place to bring in all the nesting material.

We put up this robin box a while ago and then intended to move it as we realised it would receive rain water direct from the shed roof above.  We did not get round to that and today noticed it been taken over by a wren who had filled it to the brim with his nest complete with enticing little hole near the top:

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We have now installed a little shelf above the box to deflect the rain.  The male wren builds a number of nests and then shows off outside each of them to entice a female to move in.

This robin box, the one in the generator housing, is occupied by a robin.  Two eggs have appeared over a period of quite a few days – is this normal or are they not taking the job seriously?

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There are a couple of old nests, in the wisteria at the front of the house – but no sign of activity so far this year.

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The Gribin Isaf Wood Official Tit Box Project is proving very popular, with Tits:

Box 1 has a well developed Great Tit nest:

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Box 2 was empty when repositioned two days ago and now looks like this:

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And the two Blue Tits that took over Box 5 within minutes of it going up two days ago have produced this:

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And now for Chick Picture Of The Day.  Today’s Chick Picture shows chicks expanding their diet with a garlic supplement:

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And there definitely is a hedgehog outside the door:

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Don’t put all your eggs in one basket

So, these are the eggs we had:

  • 6  x Large Black Australorp
  • 6 x Speckled Sussex
  • 6 x French Copper Maran

and we put them all in the incubator thinking it would be easy to keep track of what was what.

This is what we got:

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10 live chicks from the eighteen eggs.  But who is who?

The Copper Marans were very dark eggs so one would expect dark chicks? Five of these hatched but we only have four dark chicks:

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What is more, these two:

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are different from these two:

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So one of these:

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came out of a dark egg.  But if one did, why not more than one because looking at pictures online of Black Australorp chicks they look just like this:

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or maybe this:

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BUT, only one Black Australorp egg hatched.

Checking back on the details from the Maran breeder he says the eggs were the product of two Copper Blue Maran cockerels and a flock of Copper Black, Blue and Splash  hens.  Now research shows that Splash Maran chicks are pale, like these two:

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At least these four:

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all look the same as each other and different from everyone else and match the hatching count for the Speckled Sussex.

So if these two:

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came from the Maran eggs, then this group of four:

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comprises three Marans and one Australorp, inspite of all looking the same.

There must be a moral in there somewhere.

A little bit late

A little bit late from some of them but now ten chicks safely out of eggs and moved on to their next home

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They had a very brief stay in an outbuilding but it was quickly decided that was not close enough for easy hands-on contact

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They were brought inside and their enclosure modified for easy visual contact – in and out

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Here the process of becoming happy with human contact can start straight away

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and to be inducted into the standard hen treat round here

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A little bit late, but having an Oxford Doctor of Biology in residence for a week moved us to greater nestbox organisation – proper brackets, numbers, that sort of thing

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This great tit seemed pleased

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and within moments of repositioning this box a pair of blue tits spent ten minutes closely inspecting it – inside, outside, on top, underneath

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We think we might have evidenced mammal number eight

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It is what we think isn’t it and not some pheasant offering?