The Cottage Smallholder


stumbling self sufficiency in a small space


Newsflash! Mrs Boss the bantam has hatched three ducklings and is still sitting on eggs

Posted in Ducks | 21 comments

Newsflash! Mrs Boss the bantam has hatched three ducklings and is still sitting on eggs

Hatching has stretched over three days now. Freddie (hatched Tuesday) and Tipex (hatched Wednesday) with an ultra white tip to his bill. This morning we opened the side of the castle and discovered Eric standing a bit wobbly on dark black legs with matching feet and bill. Mrs Boss is still sitting so there still might be more ducklings. This evening she had that glinty look again. Perhaps she was protecting another hatchling. Having spent a day alone with Mrs Boss, Freddie seems much closer to his surrogate mum than the others. There is a...

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First duckling hatched: Update on Mrs Boss the bantam and the Indian Runner Duck eggs

Posted in Ducks | 18 comments

First duckling hatched: Update on Mrs Boss the bantam and the Indian Runner Duck eggs

Last summer we discovered that Mrs Boss is a brilliant foster mother. She was the heroine of the Farming Friends Cottage Smallholder interblog Guinea Fowl breeding event. She raised four strong guinea fowl from a box of six eggs that Sara sent us all the way from Yorkshire. When she went broody this spring, The Chicken Lady suggested that she might like to sit on some Indian Runner duck eggs. The gestation period for duck eggs is 28 days. The ducklings were due to hatch on Sunday so I made some final preparations the day before. Filled up the...

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The Emerald Castle: update on Mrs Boss sitting on the Indian Runner duck eggs

Posted in Ducks | 11 comments

The Emerald Castle: update on Mrs Boss sitting on the Indian Runner duck eggs

Last year Mrs Boss was the heroine of the Farming Friends and Cottage Smallholder Interblog breeding event. Four of her keets matured to replenish our local breeding stock, adding some good Yorkshire grit to our East Anglian strains. For the first time in years Mrs Boss was a happy bantam hen, absorbed by her flock and no longer bullied. She rose from the bottom of the pecking order to a place where she didn’t care if she was pecked. She was so distracted by her adopted brood that she ignored the taunts. After a while the pecking and...

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Update on Mrs Boss and the duck eggs

Posted in Ducks | 3 comments

Update on Mrs Boss and the duck eggs

I’ve overslept, having fallen asleep at the laptop last night. My post is not finished and I have to go out for the day. So this is just a small update on Mrs Boss and the duckling eggs. I have made extensive repairs on the “castle”. Mice have spent a happy winter chomping through the castle walls. With the aid of one of Dan’s olive tins and a large pair of tin snips I have repaired the damage and disinfected the accommodation with Citrox the organic disinfectant. I discovered a rat run under the house, which ends just...

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Duck egg incubation by Mrs Boss: preparation

Posted in Ducks | 53 comments

Duck egg incubation by Mrs Boss: preparation

It’s that time of year again. Mrs Boss is going broody. When I go down to collect the eggs from the nesting box, she is keeping them warm for me. She is at the early stages of broodiness so she can still easily be shifted off the nest and scuttles downstairs to eat and drink. She will join the rest of the flock to forage for seed but within twenty minutes or so she is snaking back up the ramp in the hen house that leads to the dormitory upstairs. In past summers she has spent weeks going in and out of jail. An anti broody coop is a...

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Ducklings

Posted in Ducks | 8 comments

Ducklings

I was lucky to work in the house of a local retired racehorse trainer before he died. This tall man was charming and companionable. He had ridden the winner of the Grand National at seventeen and trained many great racehorses. Now in his seventies, his nurturing passion was his birds. He had a parrot in his conservatory, a large community of semi wild bantams and a pair of ducks. “I bred them myself,” he confided with a shy pride when he saw me dawdling beside the run. The ducks shared the run with the bantams. The latter were very...

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