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 finallygot 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.