The Cottage Smallholder


stumbling self sufficiency in a small space


New life and hazards

Posted in Ducks, Wildlife | 15 comments

New life and hazards

Today I was creeping gingerly up a roof to paint a gable. I looked up and spotted a collared dove sitting on a slim nest of twigs. If she was comfortable at this height why not me? I sat on the ridge and surveyed the view. A duck hatched out eleven ducklings yesterday and the brood were having fun on the pond. The moorhen’s chicks are growing fast. Unlike the ducklings they are kept well away in the reeds so seeing them is rare. But she still has three. After school three young lads (about ten years old) appeared by the pond with a fishing...

read more

Update on the Indian Runner Ducks. Happy on the hill.

Posted in Ducks | 7 comments

Update on the Indian Runner Ducks. Happy on the hill.

“They have settled in so well. I expected a few problems but they are getting on fine.” S poured the tea as the ducks toured the garden in a neat crocodile line outside. “In fact, Eric(a) loves hanging out with the grown up boys. And she’s extremely bossy with the older female ducks.” Eric had always hung back and given Freddie and Tipex first dibs on everything. I was delighted that she was finally putting her flat, webbed foot firmly down. “Look, they are coming up to the wood. I love seeing them waddle...

read more

The Indian Runner ducks have gone

Posted in Cottage tales, Ducks, Guinea Fowl | 9 comments

The Indian Runner ducks have gone

Freddie, Tipex and Eric Boss had a final breakfast of French beans, emptied the fresh water fountain and moved to their new and permanent home on Sunday morning. S and Rollo arrived with a sturdy wooden crate in the boot of the Golf. “We’ll catch one each,” S explained as he set up the crate for our return. Secretly, I was a bit concerned. I’d never picked up the ducks or even touched them. They’d pecked gently at my green gardening gloved fingers hoping that they were edible. S is an expert domestic fowl catcher...

read more

Update on Mrs Boss and the ducklings: Moving on

Posted in Chickens, Ducks, Guinea Fowl | 7 comments

Update on Mrs Boss and the ducklings: Moving on

It’s been over a month since the last update on the Indian Runner ducklings. They are now 9 weeks old and seem almost as big as The Chicken Lady’s grown up flock. We have discovered that Eric is a female duck and Tipex and Freddie are drakes. Eric clearly hasn’t burnt her bra as she’s extremely deferential to her male companions. Waiting to drink and eat after them. She is dark brown and the black Wellington feet that she was born with are now an elegant shade of tan. Freddie and Tipex are beautiful too. Similarly...

read more

Update on Mrs Boss and the ducklings: Freedom at last

Posted in Ducks | 5 comments

Update on Mrs Boss and the ducklings: Freedom at last

“The ducklings are enormous; I think we ought to let them out into the big run.” Danny was watching them playing with the water fountain in the grounds of the Emerald Castle. At only five weeks old they tower over Mrs Boss. It’s getting cramped in the castle. So when I was dusting and sluicing down the dormitory, I opened the castle gates wide. Freddie, Tipex and Eric stood looking out at their next step to freedom. Like so many dreamers, they dithered and remained exactly where they were. They shot inside the castle when I...

read more

Update on Mrs Boss and the ducklings: one glorious month old

Posted in Ducks | 11 comments

Update on Mrs Boss and the ducklings: one glorious month old

The ducklings are thriving. You haven’t heard much about them as there seems to be little to report. But writing this post this evening there seems to be loads. And I havn’t even touched on Carol bursting into the Emerald Castle to steal their greens! The ducklings are tall now, towering over Mrs Boss – the small, squat bantam that is their adoptive mum. Tiny feathers are appearing on their wings and tails and they are still covered with the softest down. One duckling has started to quack. A fuzzy sort of sound, reminiscent...

read more

Update on Mrs Boss and the ducklings: two weeks old

Posted in Ducks | 12 comments

Update on Mrs Boss and the ducklings: two weeks old

Water. Since day one the ducklings have emptied a water fountain within a few hours. They play endlessly with water and sometimes drink a bit. After a few days, S assured me that they would be fine with an adult water fountain. I filled and placed one in the castle grounds. Mrs Boss examined it carefully before calling to her brood. They sprang forward, put their bills into the water and raced round and round the fountain, within seconds the 1.5 litre fountain was three quarters full. Then two of them tried to jump in but the fountain lip was...

read more

Update on Mrs Boss and her ducklings: The final count is three

Posted in Ducks | 9 comments

Update on Mrs Boss and her ducklings: The final count is three

When I opened the wall of the Emerald Castle this morning Mrs Boss was sitting as far from the nest as possible. The ducklings peeped out at me from beneath her wings. Bright eyed and curious. The stench from the nest was rank. One egg was whole the other two were piped. This means that there was a small hole in the eggs. I don’t know whether Mrs Boss had pecked the eggs or they were made by a duckling struggling to get out. The smell indicated that the ducklings inside the eggs had been dead for some time. I removed them and cleaned up...

read more


Copyright © 2006-2012 Cottage Smallholder      Our Privacy Policy      Advertise on Cottage Smallholder


FD