Building work progress

Building work progress

A very brief building work progress update

We’ve been cracking on and I’m happy with the progress. On Saturday I finished all the brickwork for the run and then mixed and poured a concrete base for the new storage shed.

Brickwork for the run all complete
This is where the shed will be

The shed will have a door into it from the front and then a door into the run. The idea is that we’ll swap shoes in the shed, before going into the chicken run which will incease biosecurity. Inside will be metal or plastic storage containers for the food and shelves for other stuff.

In the picture I’ve just put the last six blocks in location, I need to mix a final batch of mortar and lay them in place. I’ll do this when the chicken run is complete, stage 2 if you like.

This evening I started on the framing for the new run. The timber arrived early this morning as planned. I like this bit as it’s very quick to see progress.

We decided to slope the roof towards the front and have the guttering where it’s easily accessible for cleaning. The trees will drop lots of leaves onto the roof and I’m sure they’ll end up in the gutter.

The final pic shows what it’s going to look like. Exciting!

It’s great to see what it’ll look like
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A lot going on in the garden

A lot going on in the garden

There’s definitely a lot going on in the garden

I’ve been conscious that I’m not updating this blog much lately, looking in now the realisation hit that I have only posted two times since the ducklings hatched.  This is rubbish in contrast to the last hatch where I managed to post at least every couple of days, hopefully providing an interesting running account of their development.

Putting all that aside, the ducklings are now HUGE.  They’re a bit tamer and will eat from our hands when they want to, mostly if green’s are on offer.

They love leafy greens!

There’s definitely two females, which now have leg rings on, the other two are unknown at the moment.  It will be ideal if there are three female and one male.

We have mixed both flocks together a few times without much drama although it has been interesting to see some of the ducklings squaring up to the hens and warning them off.  The hens tend to retaliate with a warning peck to the beak which sends the ducklings scarpering.

One day we tried to keep them all in the run together with a view to merging them and hit the problem of the three big hens ganging up on Snowy so they are seperate again.  The new run will have two good size sections to allow seperate flocks, we need this now!  I think Snowy is ready to be apart from the ducklings and started laying again two days ago.  We don’t want to risk her getting beaten up with the big ones at the moment though.

After not much progress on the new run due to being side-tracked with various events I am now determined to push forwards.  Since the last post we have put in the second course of bricks around the rear section and have decided to do a third as we have enough blocks.

The second course of blocks
Beyond what will be the run is where the concrete base for the storage shed will be

This weekend I plan to lay the thrid course of blocks and lay the concrete base for the shed.  I have ordered the timber to build the new run which will be arriving next week, ideal as the mortar will be dry to allow me to continue, the wood work will come together quite quickly.  Once the new run is built we can move the birds over and the timber from the exisiting run will be used to build the shed.

We had a nice weekend break away in the caravan.  We were on a site next to the canal and a flock of seven ducklings came to see us while their mother duck stood in the distance watching.

Seven Mallard ducklings happily eating Cornflakes from my hand

Our planter boxes are now in full swing.  This is Sam and the girls department and I have no idea what is growing in them but they look very nice indeed, she’s doing an amazing job.

A mixture of lovely flowers in our planter boxes
I have no idea what these flowers are
Some are bigger than others
The great thing is that we can move the boxes around to balance out the taller flowers with the shorter ones

I have taken control of the veg plot and have planted carrots, peas, runner beans and cauliflower.  Some of them are just starting to visibly grow.  This is very exciting as I’ve wanted to have a go for years!

Thank you for reading.

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Overdue progress post

Overdue progress post

This post is long overdue, it’s nearly a month since the last one!  As you can probably imagine, the ducklings have grown a LOT in the last 4 weeks since they hatched.  To try and show this I have selected pictures with a few days apart;

28 May – Wandering around on the grass, Snowy isn’t far away!
28 May – here she is keeping an eye on them!
1 June – getting bigger!

It is a lot easier with the ducklings being outside in contrast to them being in a brooder in the house.  The down side is that they are not as tame and literally panic and run when you reach into their enclosure to lift them out.  It’s a mass panic, once one jumps up and runs, making the alert noise, they all crowd together and stand in the corner.

The new run is coming along.  It’s back-breaking work!

The trench dug out for the footings and blocks. Ideally the footings would have been wider but as this is only a couple of courses of blocks I think it will be fine. Once the blocks are laid we’ll level and probably remove some of the soil in the centre

Getting the trench marked out correctly and then actually digging it was a massive hurdle and I had to keep asking myself why we’re going through all this effort.  But then when we step back and look at the parts of the garden we’ve already transformed, the final image comes back into view.  On top of that I know that the dark, cold winter trips to sort out the chickens will be a lot easier and cleaner.  It’s all been team work up to now which makes things a lot easier, and fun too.

In order to have room to dig the footings and lay the blocks I had to shorten the chicken run as it was in the way.  This was a relatively quick job but means they have less room than ever so we keep making them temporary runs using the Omlet fencing and let them out whenever we can.

Ready to lay the footings. The mixer made it a lot easier. You can see the section of the chicken run that I’ve effectively cut out to make room to work
The concrete poured. This felt like a massive step forwards as we were digging when we had spare time and it took a couple of weeks to complete

The chickens have been well noisy lately.  It’s Star and Belle.  They make this loud irritating squawk sound.  I know it’s because they want treats or attention as they only do it when they see us either at the door or in a window.  Also we are messing with their environment.  It’s that loud though that I feel conscious of the neighbours.  The only saving grace is that there’s seagulls nesting on a roof behind us and they are louder when they start singing, probably due to their height!

7 June – bigger, messier, smellier and consume more water!
8 June – They are exactly the same as the other ducklings we raised in that they will take or leave water rather than dive straight in
15 June – most recent pic. They are as tall as Snowy now!

It’s unbelievable how quick they grow.  They are literally as tall as Snowy now and starting to feather.  It looks like they are all white and chocolate magpie coloured. It’s a real shame that they are not that tame but it’s to be expected, Snowy is their mum and our five fingered hands coming towards them are alien.  It is strange though as when the first one – Oreo, hatched, it would come running out of the coop to see us and climb onto our hands, I even wondered if it had imprinted on us.  I’ve started to spend more time with them and lift them up to pet them.  They do settle but run off as soon as you put them back down.  It’s a work in progress!

It has been great to let Snowy incubate, hatch and raise them though.  If I ever let a hen hatch again in the future, I’ll make sure to spend more time with them to try and tame them a bit more in their first days.

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They say not to help them hatch

They say not to help them hatch

An amazing weekend

What a weekend! The last post showed that number 18 had hatched, that was Friday.  We kept an eye on them through the day and the little one quickly found it’s feet.  We’ve named this one Oreo.

About two hours old and already sunbathing!

When the girls got back from school they were overjoyed to the news of the hatch.  Oreo seemed to want attention from us and would run away from Snowy and into our hands!  I wondered if it’s imprinted on us as Snowy was just a big fluffy heater when it hatched and we may have been the first moving object that it saw.

A very friendly duckling

Meanwhile, Snowy was patiently sat on the other two eggs, number 15 and 16 although there was no sign of pipping.

The following morning I checked on them and number 15 had started to break out, this was great.

Number 15 making an escape

Snowy had a problem though, Oreo needed teaching on how to eat and drink, but the eggs needed to be sat on.  She was back and forth.

Every check of the eggs shown that 15 wasn’t progressing past a certain point, and the beak didn’t look to be in a position to break any more shell, but I left them to their arrangement and we went out for a couple of hours.

They say not to help them hatch from the egg

When we got back later in the afternoon, Snowy had somehow rolled the eggs into the run and 15 was sat in the warm sun but was still chirping and moving.  I moved them back into the coop and Snowy followed and sat on them.  A few checks later and I decided to give it a little hand.  There was no progress in cracking the shell and the beak was still in the wrong position to break any more.  The main concern was that the membrane was all visibly dried out.  The duckling looked strong and was pushing on the egg.

I gently peeled away some of the dried membrane and broken bits of shell and then placed the egg back onto the coop floor.  Snowy was trying to peck it so we held her off, and Oreo was running around and getting involved too.

I’ve read that you shouldn’t help them hatch, the strong ones will get out.  But this little guy had been through quite a bit already, and leaving it to dry out in the warm sun hadn’t helped.  He needed a little hand.

On the next push the little duckling managed to get one foot out of the shell which seems to be how they get grip to progress to their final push.  That final push was amazing to see, it was the first time we’d seen one hatch and all of us were there to watch.  The little guy was tired.

We left Snowy to take over at this point, she was perfectly capable although I did lift the little guy and put it underneath her as it seemed to be looking for comfort.

Tired but OK

There’s a few pics missing from the story now, but we do have videos which I will upload later.  Unfortunately egg 16 was still showing no signs of movement so we removed it.

Next to hatch was number 8 in the incubator at about half ten on Saturday night.  Sam and myself managed to watch this one hatch too which was amazing again especially with it not needing any help.  As soon as it’d hatched and moved away from the shell I scooped it up and we took it to Snowy, it was dark at this point and we just slid it under her and she accepted it.

While the incubator was open I checked the three remaining eggs, number 11 had pipped and was moving happily in the egg but the other two hadn’t and were showing no signs of movement.  We went to bed knowing that 11 would probably be out by the morning.

The girls ran down before us and then came back to say it’d hatched and it was another magpie coloured one.  I went and scooped that one up, which looked like it had not long emerged, and put that under Snowy with the others, again she happily accepted it.

Fast forward a few hours and this is the scene! Spot Oreo wandering off into the run!
Four little ducklings
Out of 12 eggs, 7 were fertilised and started to develop and just 4 pipped and hatched

So it has been an amazing weekend for all of us and I think Snowy is happy.  This last picture shows her teaching them all how to eat and drink, of which she is doing a great job.

Can chickens raise ducks? Of course!

One thing I realised this morning is how much easier it is this time around.  We don’t have the brooder cage set up in the house, we won’t have to deal with any smells or noise and Snowy is delighted to be taking care of it all!  Perfect!

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