Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Chicks - continued

The chicks keep coming. We had our third hatch yesterday, pheasant and partridge - 3 down, 6 to go. We had students from the local gamekeeping college participate in yesterday's hatch as part of their training. Not all gamekeepers hatch their own stock as it's a specialised task, so students don't get many opportunities to get involved in the production of the birds. They guys did a great job and were a big help.
A tray of chicks ready to be sorted and counted

Giving a hand to a late partridge chick

And a late pheasant chick - they're so strong you can simply tip them out of their shell

This is how they look when they're dried off and ready to go into a warm shed -

Pheasant (L) and Partridge (R)

Partridge chicks are especially cute -

I drove our pheasant hatch - all 5,507 of them - to a game farmer who will raise them for us and return them when they're around 10 weeks old. We can't physically raise them all on the estate as we're short on staff this year. Hence why I'm loaded to the gunwales to drive the 1 1/2 hours to Exmoor with a truckful.

There's just enough room to see out the side mirror and shift gears. 5,507 chicks also make a considerable amount of noise which wears somewhat on a long trip. I had to take an exam and get a special license to transport poultry. They never mentioned the noise. 

Mike now tells me I'm supposed to deliver 7000 next week. Where are we going to put them?

We've had more chicken chicks at home too, like these lavender Pekins -

A third one hatched the next day and all 3 are doing fine under the other Barbu D'Uccle hen (who really deserves a name...)

Susan's chicks have just started getting big enough and bold enough to come out from under her and explore -

But they're still too small to get up and down that ledge between the house and the run, so mom's staying put for now. They're 2 japanese bantam chicks. I'm praying that at least one is a hen so Sam the cockerel will have a mate, and I can have more chicks next year just like these.

There's only one more chicken hatch in the incubators at home; I can hear the machine ticking behind me while I write. I have one broody left and I hope she'll still be inclined to take whatever hatches out. She's been sat a long time already.

My crow traps are still catching on average one per day. I'm running 4 traps, and I've just started feeding a bin in order to start trapping some grey squirrels. I still have a magpie trap in the garden which hasn't caught anything in over a week but I'm loathe to move it as the chickens seem to find the magpie fascinating -

That old brown hen is there all the time. She watches the magpie jump up and down, from ground to perch and back, like she was watching a tennis match. I wonder if it's like TV and she'll ruin her eyes sitting that close.

Checking the traps is also a good excuse to walk in the woods with the dogs. It's bluebell season and the woods are a carpet of flowers -

Spud is helping me check traps (sort of)-

I'm 13 months old as of yesterday (mom finally got around to looking at my birth certificate)

The bluebells come up so fast that it's a good opportunity to check where the deer are moving; their paths are really obvious and you can be sure they're still using them if the bluebells have been too disturbed to grow -

I found a dead mole on this morning's walk -

I took a picture in case you've never seen a mole up close before. Something killed it by biting it and crushing its ribs (CSI: Woodlands). Look at the size of its front feet. The disturbing thing is that this is a burrowing animal that digs tunnels in the dirt and its nails are still cleaner than mine.


Paula said...

Moles are interesting, aren't they? I just wish they didn't like me so much.

I love the pictures of the bluebells- so pretty.

Why don't you have a contest to name the Barbu D'Uccle? You could just call her Barbara- I mean if Susan is Susan, why not a Barbara?

Re: the 7,000- will it be close enough to make two trips? Borrow another truck? Rent a minivan? I don't know what the act of renting a truck in England is like, but I would think some sort of panel van would give you enough room.

Jennifer Montero said...

Paula - Moles are fantastic, especially when they're in the woods not bothering anyone.

Barbara's already taken - our Silkie hen. Bob is the Barbu D'Uccle cockerel. But a good idea to have a contest. I will have to think of a prize that I can send through the mail. Maybe some handspun wool?

I think the sheep trailer will have to double as the pheasant trailer this week. The Land Rover has a tow hitch so we'll just tack it on. It's definitely too far for two round trips.

Poppy Cottage said...

How about Babs. Our Barbara at work is called Babs. Tis an OK name.

The sound must have been deafening in the truck. Want a passenger on next weeks trip?

Think I need to set fire to my house and get rid of all the clutter and start again. Cab't decided what to keep and what to chuck!!

Lil loves the Bluebells. Ours seem to nearly be over here.

See you soon.

Me xx

Kerry said...

That mole is adorable! Maybe instead of killing them when they invade the garden you could just de-claw them like a house cat. Or give them ocular transplants so they will want to stay above ground and see everything!

I think if you want the Barbu hen to be a good mom, you should name her after a good TV mom.
Marge (if she's patient, or has blue feathers), Alice (good name for a single hen raising chicks), Carol Brady (she is raising another hen's chicks afterall), Harriet or Mrs C.(if she's old fashioned)

Contest over. You know where to send my wool.

Jennifer Montero said...

Colette - We call the Silkie hen Babs for short and it is definitely a good name.

I would love a passenger but that seat is already full of chicks. And there's no way we can chat over the din of cheeping. But if you make the teas and I'll come over and help you de-clutter.

Kerry - Now I'm picturing a mole wearing the Geodie LaForge banana-clip-turned-sideways VISOR...

Why does it always come back to TV with our family? But yes you win the contest I haven't got around to organising, for combining logic and a thorough knowledge of pop culture.

Both hens needed a name, Harriet can be the older one and Carol the younger. And I still have a Marion Cunningham and a Mrs. Garrison in reserve...

You're definitely getting wool, because I'm intrigued to see what you're going to do with it.

(Speaking of Ozzie and Harriet, if your office colleagues are reading this: ask Kerry about the time she was haunted by the ghost of Ozzie Nelson - true story!)

Tamar@StarvingofftheLand said...

You give new meaning to Chick Lit. It's hard to imagine being responsible for so many little lives. (And, Paula, you MUST remember the post about Barbara the Weather Chicken! It's a classic.)

I very much appreciate your picking up a dead mole and taking a picture of it just so I have a better idea of what one looks like. I'd never seen one in the flesh -- it's way cuter than I'd imagined (not that I had spent a lot of time imagining what a mole would look like).

Looks to me like the Rover and a trailer would be the best chick transport this side of the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders' bus.

Cynthia said...

local gamekeeping college?? It's enough of a career path to have its own college? How interesting. I wonder if there are ones in the US.

Jennifer Montero said...

Tamar - Chick Lit! Brilliant..

Sometimes as I'm taking pictures of things I wonder, will people find this interesting or will people think I have an unhealthy fascination with dead things? I'm glad it's the former. They are quite cute. In my mind I always picture them wearing plaid trousers and round wire-rimmed glasses a la Wind in The Willows.

Cynthia - True! Although gamekeeping was traditionally passed on from father to son (pretty sexist career) there are now 1- and 2-year courses at some of the Agricultural Colleges. I'm not aware of any in the US, but if you hear of any let me know.

There are only 10ish students on our local course, but we can offer them some hands-on experience (and they offer us free labor!).