The snow is here...

February already and now in the grips of Winter. Like most of the country we woke up to several inches of snow this morning. When I let the animals out this morning, for many of them it was the first time they had seen or experienced snow properly (as we only had a very light covering before) and didn’t seem too impressed. Having said that, the ducks were happy as they could find a spot in the pond where they could swim (and not iced over).

Star has had a lodger with him for the past week or so in the form of a poorly chicken. I found her almost collapsed one morning in the enclosure so she spent several days in Star’s bedroom/cage to recover. She was an absolute joy and the respite seems to have worked as we put her back yesterday afternoon and she doing well this morning. Star didn’t appear to be put out by her either. I wonder if he quite enjoyed the company as he used to share his bedroom with a rabbit for a long time.  The rabbit – Boudica – by the way, is really happy with her new room mate Chester or “grumps” as we call her as she looks and acts grumpy. But we quite frequently see them just happily snuggled up together. 

Star is going through more moulting at the moment so is looking a little untidy but, along with our extended family of animals, he is thriving and happy. He is also starting to enjoy hanging out with the other ducks and chickens too (not that he would probably admit it if anyone asked him, as he is not a duck is he!).

Sue Hayman

Farm Blog

9 November 2018

Last week we decided that the 10 Indian runner ducklings – although they were not even a month old – would be ready to get out and about.  So for a couple of hours each day since then, we have been letting them out.  The first few times they all stayed together, very tight knit and needed to be coaxed out.  By Wednesday we just left the stable door open for them to come and go if and when they wanted to. For hours they stayed in the nearby enclosure with the goats. But the next time we looked out, they weren’t there. They had found their way down to the pond/little lake with all the other ducks and hens. We reckon the SAS (the Muscovy army/ducklings) had come and got them to recruit onto their team!  They were having a ball in the water and amongst the reeds.  So much so, that when dusk came and it was time for everyone to go to bed, they stayed where they were. They just weren’t interested in coming away from the water.  No amount of bribery or coaxing from me, Barrie or Drake could budge them. We kept going out to them throughout the evening, in the pitch dark, but no, they stayed where they were, quite happy. They might have been happy but we weren’t.  They were used to sleeping under a lamp during the night and yet here they were, having been outside for most of the day already, wanting to stay out under the stars. It wasn’t a particularly bad night, but it was such a contrast to what they knew, and they were still babies. We had to resign ourselves that they would be out for the night and hope that they would be ok. We just prayed that they wouldn’t freeze to death or succumb to any foxes or anything. We had a sleepless night.

Next morning, we went out with bated breath and there they were, where we left them, near the water, none the worse. I am sure they looked bigger and taller, and more grown up! And ironically, having spent hours trying to coax them into their enclosure, or at the very least to go in with the others that previous evening, the following morning, they had easily found their way back to their own place and were happy and snug by the afternoon.

Since then, it seems they have learned their lesson from staying out, and they go out in the morning, happily mix with all the others, play in the water, forage for whatever, and then toddle back to their enclosure by mid afternoon where they know they are safe, and can sleep under their lamp at night.  We are so proud of them.

The rest of the farm inhabitants are all doing well. The SAS still go out on their manoeuvres throughout the farm each day and the rest happily do their thing.

On Sunday, Barrie will be taking Star to the local church for Remembrance Day.  He did this when we were in Devon and this will be the first time here in Northumberland.

Sue & Barrie

2 November 2018

The 10 little ducklings who hatched 3 weeks ago are going from strength to strength. Growing in size and eating us out of house and home.  Today they will be taking their first steps into the big wide world from their safe haven of the stall in the barn. They are already trying to follow us out of their enclosure now.  They are wonderful to watch.  We will soon be taking the lamp away and mixing them in with the rest of them.

Meanwhile, the chicks and ducklings we moved out of the “nursery” 2 weeks ago are also thriving.  The chicks are of a size they couldn’t be classed as chicks any longer and the ducklings – well, they are a force to be reckoned with.  So much so, we have called them the SAS. They go around in a little pack, marching out across the fields and leading the other ducks and hens astray.  They have worked out where we live and are almost knocking on our door if we don’t come out when they are ready to go to bed/have their evening meal!  Georgie – the duckling we brought in with us for a few weeks when they were younger - she is the ringleader!! She now has one webbed foot in each camp – she leads her little motley crew but whenever we are near her, she will come up and tug at our leg to get our attention, letting us know she is there and will happily be picked up for a cuddle!

Drake – the collie - is still very busy taking it on himself to round them all up at any given opportunity.  He has come in very handy to help us guide them back to their enclosures, but has also taken it on himself to shepherd certain flocks to us when really it wasn’t the right thing to do. Bless him.

Star the duck is doing really well.  We still haven’t taken him out on the street much, but I think he is happy with that. As long as his dad (Barrie) continues to take him out in the car, in the front seat, he seems content enough. He doesn’t spend much time actually outside on the farm as he appears uncomfortable with mixing with the other ducks and hens. In his mind he is not one of them so why would he want to hang out with them?

The rest of the animals are all doing well – the bunnies (Boudica & Chester) and guinea pigs (Salt & Pepper) are all settled and happy; the goats (Denbar & May) are still as stubborn as ever; and the horses are great. The horses and pony are owned by nearby neighbours but we will be having more to do with them as the nights draw in, and will also be helping with training the little Shetland – Luna – to pull a little cart.

So, all exciting here with our extended animal family. 

Sue & Barrie