Tag Archives: goslings

A Misty Dream

Actually, there is no mist involved, but I think I used the days of wine and roses quote as a title before. I also used it in a comment I made on a blog last night, so I don’t want to overdo it.

Yesterday I visited the local duck pond for the first time in months. Even when I’ve been well, I’ve been tired or out of sorts and the trip has seemed too long. Last time I went the yellow flags were just starting to flower. Now they are finished. Being somewhat morose at present, I can’t help seeing it as a metaphor for my life.

A cup of tea soon dispelled that thought (no biscuits – I’m on a diet) as very few depressing thoughts survive tea and sunshine. Even a comparison to the pond couldn’t dampen my spirits – I’m happy being shallow.

Anyway, enough of the introspection, and on with the character assassination.

Earlier in the year I mentioned that a woman thought the white ducks were swans. I was, I think, a little critical. In fairness I shouldn’t really have a go at her for being as dim as a 40 watt light bulb, or say that there…

No, I still think there should be a permit system for breeding. Two kids per family and none at all unless you’re smart enough to distinguish a duck from a swan.

While I was reflecting by the side of the pond yesterday a group came to feed the ducks, led by a woman who, to be chivalrous, was older than me. This is old enough to know that geese don’t have cygnets!

The pictures show geese with their goslings, some young moorhens and coots and some ducks in eclipse plumage. Eclipse plumage is the dull, almost camouflaged, plumage that ducks grow when they moult after all the hassle of raising a family. I can sympathise.


Mallards in eclipse plumage

Later there was a small child called Sam (name changed for Safeguarding purposes, and because I forgot it). His mission in life seemed to be to feed birds and use huge amounts of energy as he ran round saying hello to people. I would have been happier if he hadn’t introduced himself to dogs by holding out his arm in such an appetising manner, but even the Staffordshire Bull Terrier with leather harness and tattooed owner merely licked his hand and allowed itself to be stroked.






Rainy Monday and a feeling of Doom

Well, the elastic bands sort of worked. Only one feeder was knocked off over the weekend, and it retained its contents. On another feeder the band had snapped and was lying in the water container. It makes refilling the feeders a bit more complicated but as it seems to have saved a feeder of Nyger seed it’s worth it.

We had a blue tit visit the feeder I stuck on the window. It announced its presence with an irritating irregular tapping sound, which tends to suggest it might be a bit of a mixed blessing.

Out in the cherry trees down the drive Alasdair spotted a green woodpecker. We’ve had a bit of a chequered history with the species, having some good sightings locally but none round the centre. We hear them all the time and sometimes see something in the distance that flies like one but we’ve not had a good sighting. Alasdair is usually very good on IDs like this, so I added it to the list. A bit later I saw it too, as it rose from the ground and flew down the drive just as Alasdair had reported. Of course, I didn’t have my camera with me.

As I write this there’s more irritating tapping on the window. Julia says it’s a blue tit but as soon as I moved it spooked and flew off.

The keets are all keeping well, as are the two chicks that are in with them. We’ve called it a day with the eggs in the incubator as they were showing no signs of life and were well overdue. That’s what happens when you put dirty eggs in a dirty incubator. I know there’s a skill to it too (It’s not like the monster incubators we used to have at work) but basic attention to detail goes a long way to ensure hatchability.

There are around 17,000 pores in an egg shell. That is 17,000 places for a pathogen to enter. As the egg cools the contents contract and air and is drawn into the shell.

If your egg is laid in a dirty nestbox, or on the floor, the cooling process will suck in germs, which will find the mix of nutrients and warmth in an egg a very good environment.

When I worked in a hatchery we used to candle the eggs at 18 days and transfer them to a hatcher, which had a different environment for the last three days. It was dark in there, it was cramped and , above all, it was 37 degrees C (about 99 degrees F).

Just to add to the excitement, an egg would would occasionally explode when you pulled a tray of eggs out of the rack. These “bangers” were eggs that had incubated a full load of pathogens and, on being disturbed, burst under the pressure. When that happened we used to grab a disinfectant spray and mist the incubator in an attempt to stop a build up of germs. They used to work continuously, so there was never a time when we could switch them off. In fact those machines only stopped three times in 30 years – once when we moved them to another building, once when we programmed a major maintenance programme and once when we switched them off for the final time.

Anyway, backed to the cramped darkness and the stench of a burst egg. It wasn’t pleasant, and it was bad for the other eggs. Sometimes you could see this when candling as you could see a central egg and a spreading ring of eggs around it where it had infected the others.

And so, as my wife gradually draws me back into dealing with poultry, and into incubating more eggs, you can see why the feeling of doom is creeping up on me.

Two of the pictures are from today – the wet one with wheelbarrow and the red one with keets under a heat lamp. The others with poultry are from last week – look how the goslings have grown! Look at the way one of the parents (probably the gander) is thinking of having a go at me. He is going to end up with a shiny jacket and a couple of hours in a low oven if he isn’t careful.

The goats, looking like butter wouldn’t melt in their mouth, are planning an escape. I know that because I had to spend 20 minutes getting them back in the pen later that afternoon.

Great days! 😉






As I published the last post I noticed that it was my 400th. I’d been looking forward to it when I was in the 380s and didn’t seem to be getting much closer. Then I wrote it and missed it! It’s not that I have any erudite observations on the number 400, but it does make the title easier.

Only another 99 to the next milestone and , as I get more casual about blogging, probably no milestone for 500 after that. I wonder if I will find myself linking back to this blog when I reach 500, or even 1,000?

Of course, once you start thinking about number of posts you also have to start thinking about the quality of the content. At that point I have to face up to the fact that what was meant to be an intelligent and focussed blog about Care Farming and sustainability has turned out to be something of a miscellany.

Julia has just read this over my shoulder. I take it from the muttered “rag bag” that she thinks the term “miscellany” may be a little charitable.  This just goes to show that it’s true that behind every successful man there is a woman muttering abuse.

They say that no man is a hero to his valet (well, not so much now, but they used to say it when they had valets) but how much more is that true of wives?

Anyway, back to work.

I’ve put the Guinea Fowl at the top of the post because the photo made me smile and because they haven’t been mentioned much lately. However, that’s the only mention they will be getting in this post.

I now have all the permission slips I need so next week we will be launching personal pages for the group.  It’s a while since I put a new page on the site and it could be a lengthy process as I do it and then correct it…etc. However, when it’s done it will give everyone  a chance to talk about what they like doing and give friends and family an insight into what we do here.

Jody gave us a talk on trees before lunch, with a power point presentation and some tree-themed cards. It was quite interesting though if you look at the photos you may see one of the group is finding it less than gripping. I will mention no names.

After that we had gardening to do and spoon scarecrows to make Yes, it’s that time of year again – watch this space for details of our long range virtual spoon scarecrow competition (though I may have to do something about the name before launching it).

Then one of the neighbours appeared, driving a goose and seven goslings he had found proceeding up Lodge Lane. It isn’t very busy, but it still wasn’t the best place to take goslings. We are going to have to have  a serious look at the fence.

Finally, one of the remaining ewes has given birth. She was one of a small but stubborn group that seems determined to hold on to their lambs until the summer. Hopefully the last three will take the hint.

We have had swallows and a couple of Large Whites fluttering about (the butterfly, not the pig breed) so with a bit of sun it has had all the makings of a lovely spring day, if only the cold breeze would stop.