The Cottage Smallholder


stumbling self sufficiency in a small space


We’ll have Leghorns in three months time, if all goes well.

Posted in Chickens | 7 comments

We’ll have Leghorns in three months time, if all goes well.

I miss Mrs Boss. Somehow that small grubby bantam got under my skin. When I let the hens out each morning I miss her skippy feathered feet and her enthusiasm for the morning corn. All our flock are precious but Mrs Boss was special. Her tendency to go broody drove us nuts in the early years. We didn’t want to raise more stock but learnt a lot about how to stop a hen from being broody .  I also discovered that some chickens have very strong personalities. A flock of hens are not a demure group of Stepford wives. They are a gaggle of birds...

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Min Pin phantom pregnancy

Posted in Min Pin dogs | 18 comments

Min Pin phantom pregnancy

The Contessa, our senior Min Pin bitch, was prone to phantom pregnancies. As she didn’t fancy Dr Q it was pretty clear what was going on. Although we always hoped that she had finally snuggled up and might be carrying a litter of pups. In the end we went down the AI route with the mismatched couple, which was a surprisingly down to earth experience. The key result was that Dr Q fell instantly in love with the female vet and any visit to any veterinary establishment since then is an expectant joy for Q. He actually pulls on the lead to go in...

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Sexing the bantam eggs: results of the ring test on the clutch of mixed bantam eggs

Posted in Chickens | 8 comments

Sexing the bantam eggs: results of the ring test on the clutch of mixed bantam eggs

I must admit that I felt quite confident about the ring test on the lucky dip bantam hatching eggs that we bought on eBay. The ring test predicted that Dixie and Beatyl would be female chickens. But there has always been something about Beatyl Chick. A certain Tyrone Power swagger and adventurous approach to life in the Emerald Castle and grounds. Last week a teeny mound of feathers appeared on Beatyl’s rump. Hens do have tail feathers too, I reassured myself. Within days these feathers had elongated and a tiny ridged crest appeared on...

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Update on Mrs Boss: lucky dip bantam eggs are hatching

Posted in Chickens | 10 comments

Update on Mrs Boss: lucky dip bantam eggs are hatching

The evening that we buried Great Aunt Daisy Beatyl I went down to the Emerald Castle to check if any of Mrs Boss’ clutch had hatched. One egg containing a tiny embryo had burst the day before. I was losing heart that we’d get any hatchlings. Bantams usually hatch after 21 days and this was day 22. I lifted Mrs Boss off the nest. As she stepped into the caste grounds there was a small thin shriek from the nest of eggs. A teeny wet chick stood upright in a half eggshell and started to cheep. Not the gentle nestling cheeps but a cry...

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Mrs Boss is sitting on bantam hatching eggs

Posted in Chickens | 15 comments

Mrs Boss is sitting on bantam hatching eggs

“Isn’t it weird? When Mrs Boss used to go broody it was a nightmare. Now it’s a joy that she has gone broody again as we need her to raise new stock for us.” Danny was studying the lots of hatching eggs on eBay. We had decided finally to put a clutch of bantam eggs under our diminutive broody hen. Our main flock was bought four years ago and they are well past their egg laying prime. Carol, the Maran hen, is now three and still lays well. She is joined on the egg laying front by Cloud, the gentle guinea fowl hen. The...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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