Moving house….not for us ;) but why have we had to move our ducks?

You will see on our recent YouTube video that our ducks are now in our paddock area.  They were being bullied over food by the laying hens would you believe?  Now if you watch the video, excuse the accent, I hate how I sound sometimes 🙂  Also I think I sound a little arrogant in places which is definitely not meant to be the case 🙂 as I hope you guys would know.


Anyway, the ducks and hens.  They all got along famously when food wasn’t involved but the poor ducks were too polite for their own good and despite being 3 or 4 times the weight of our brown hens, they didn’t get goaded in to fighting over food and we were having to make allowances for how to feed them.
Round here we need things to run smoothly and efficiently, so this wasn’t an option.  We can’t have the ducks not getting enough food and we don’t have spare time to stand round and hand feed them (every day at least 😉 )     

 
Naturally, Rodney helped.
 


So Steven set about with his pallets, hammer and nails, found some roofing that you are sometimes lucky enough to have lying around on a smallholding and made them a lovely duck house that will most definitely stand the test of time! 
 
Whilst we worked on this, the ducks were still in the orchard (where they lived with the chickens) but we soon moved them in to the paddock once their house was ready.

In the paddock there is an area which naturally dips and collects water so we have added a pond liner to it and filled it up with rain water.  If you don’t know already, ducks make everything filthy in no time!  The pond is no exception.  The good thing with this is (the theory anyway) that we can empty and refill it by tipping the liner out.  It’s not very deep at all.  We will let you know!





Rodney and Buster thought it was great fun!


We would like the ducks to stay in the paddock area.  We don’t want them getting any ideas about swimming off down the river! They have plenty of space, water and food here but I’m sure we’d still lose them given the chance.  So the next project, before we moved the ducks in actually, was to chicken wire the bottom of the post and rail fence that runs round the paddock.  We worked together and the weather was kind to us; it didn’t take too long and another  good job done.


The ducks were soon investigating their new home and seemed to give it the bill of approval (sorry, couldn’t resist!!)
Life moves on here, exciting times and a growing flock. I can’t wait to see the egg results when these ducks are all laying, imagine all the things I can make with soooo many duck eggs.  They are my complete favourite animal.

Off like a rocket.

We were given this beautiful amaryllis for Christmas off my Uncle and his family.  Well, I swear if you sit there for an hour, it’ll grow before your eyes.  Isn’t it pretty?  It’s been out of its box around a month.

The chickens are revolting.  They made a bid for freedom, knocking down our temporary accommodation, which we put back up, but they are getting wise to it. 
The ducks also made a bid for freedom and spent a good 15 minutes in the beck that runs along one side of our land, to the river.  They were ushered back in of course but accidents happen (in relation to the Avian Flu measures).
 
So between my plants and escaping animals, they’ve all shot off like rockets in their own way!

Richard the duck

Richard, our most recently acquired duck, is a mucky little thing. Well big thing. He’s actually huge. Since we adopted him he’s been kept in the barn in our growers pen with the other chicks that were of a similar age. He’s outgrown it now and to be honest, he’s getting very smelly. I’m saying that and I have 4 horses in there who don’t smell anywhere near as much. So tonight we introduced him to the other ducks and he’s spending his first night with them in their coop. I’ve probably picked the most gloomy, windy and stormy night of late but he’s got a roof over his head so should be ok from that aspect and fingers crossed he isn’t bullied.
Grace carried him from the barn to the outside area. He cuddled in to her which she loved. The plan for this back area is to clear it out and have a good think about what we can do with it. People say goats live well on rough, nettle land but when I read up about them they seem to be selective eaters and wouldn’t take kindly to the nettles area? Either way we are going to extend the duck area to include the orchard so they get to roam around more. Given the damage the geese have done by bullying the ducks in the past, we’re separating the back of the barn and the orchard so the geese and ducks shouldn’t come into contact with each other. There’s quite a bit of work involved so Ste is taking care of that ad and when he can.
Also we have some huge mushrooms growing in the horse muck!! This is pure muck so I am going to see what we can do about growing our own safe mushrooms next year.

Brief chilly spot

By gosh it’s been chillier morning than it has been for a while.  Not cold, but still a shock to the system.  It’s due to warm up again though so I am not dwelling on it or making any changes!
Last night I was supposed to ride out but when it started raining I quickly changed my plans to allow me to get into the field and start over seeding it.  It needs to be done when the ground is wet.  Basically I am trying to improve the health of our grazing land as we don’t have a lot versus how much some horses have so as I’ve said before I need to take good care of it.  Combined with the daily task of taking out the muck, over seeding, weed pulling and fertilising all play their part.  So do sheep apparently.  Can you see where this is going?  Tonight we popped over to our neighbour across the fields to see what ewes with lambs they have in the hope that we can come to an agreement to take 2 off his hands.  Sheep are good for walking the grass seed in to the ground to help it root in and they also have other health benefits to horses and grazing land.  I’m being sensible and not asking for 6 or 10 and starting small with 2.  After all, another farmer friend reminded us the other day – that’s how you do it, start small.  I’ll update more tomorrow.
The poorly duck is doing a lot better, she’s able to keep up with her friends when they’re waddling around now so hopefully after a week of restricting their access, we will be able to let them out on Saturday.  I’ll just keep a close eye on the geese so that they don’t make a bee line for her again.  I think they see her as the weakest link now.
Our latest acquired duck, called Richard, has settled in just fine.  He is huge for 3 weeks old, however as he’s an Aylesbury breed, I’m not surprised given that they are a heavy bird.  He reminds me so much of Ryan when he was born and rejected by evil mother goose.   I don’t have a photo of him yet but in the mean time, here’s Grace with our home grown cockerel youngster.  He’s huge and so gentle so far, unlike the previous ones.  He’s called Little Red.
Speaking off beelines, Jack my son (6) was stung 5 times by some angry wasps last night.  3 times on his head and 2 on his hand.  The kids were playing near an apple tree, no doubt disturbing the apples and from the screams Jack made you’d think something horrendous had happened, which is what it felt like to him poor soul.  I was in the field so came running as fast as possible and when I got to him the bl**dy thing was still in his hair trying to sting him.  I got rid of it but it kept coming back!! So I ran with him to the barn as it would not let up and I kid you not, it followed us and started at him again.  Steven came to see what was going on as he’d had his earphones in working out, and the wasp turned on him and stung him on the face.  I whisked the kids inside and left Ste to deal with it.   I have never experienced anything like it.  It was in attack mode!  Grace said there were 3 on his head when he got stung and thankfully that was it as I’d hate to think there was a swarm after seeing how brutal they are. 
We will get some wasp powder or such like and if there is a nest, get it dealt with.  I know wasps help pollinate but they have overstayed their welcome after doing that.

Ducks, eggs and magpies.

This is the only duckling we kept from this year’s hatch.  A lady bought the rest of them for her Granddad to keep him company on his allotment.  We can’t leave any eggs in the duck house  with the mother now as the magpies are in there daily and we keep finding eaten ducks egg shells scattered around the farm.  In fact, they were sat outside our bedroom window this morning and I’m pretty sure I could hear them laughing at us!
So we’re taking the eggs in and I’m baking with them or my daughter is having them with soldiers as she prefers the larger yolk of the duck egg.  They make the best cakes.  We may keep one more batch to put in the incubator when the lot that are in there hatch on the 26th July (they are the Jersey Giant ones we bought from the auction plus a few of our hens to make maximum use of them).
The duckling is as big as the adult ducks now and is no longer a duckling.  He will be used a table bird.  My daughter (holding him) knows he will end up as a meal or more for our family and both children are fine with this.  They know the huge importance of ensuring all of our animals have a happy, healthy life and enjoy every minute they have with us.  It means when we come to eat their meat, instead of buying it at Tesco, we can be sure that we know where our meat comes from and that it’s as organic as possible, which is an important part for us, of running a small holding.
I’m making some red onion and redcurrant relish which I think would taste lovely with duck meat.  We’re going to try the relish at the weekend with some sausages on the BBQ, yum.