Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Broody at Last????

We may finally have a goose going broody on us but the question marks in my subject title are because she (Black Feather) does not seem at all convinced that she should sit there all day. She announced this possible intention by not coming out of the goose house this morning at 8-ish when I let George the Gander and our other female (Smudge) out and went to shepherd them across to the orchard. She has done this before, mind; she often seems to lay her every-other-night egg very late so you have to leave her sit till she's quite finished and then shepherd her across the 'gap' to find her chums.

'Spare' eggs. Black Feather only needs 12 to sit on.
But today she sat and sat (and also seems to have pulled some of her belly feathers out to line the nest, which is another sign). We wondered if we were on, Day 1 of 31 (-ish). We know that geese, even when in the 'heat' of incubation will leave the nest and go for a wander and a wash for up to 30 minutes so, the way we are currently laid out, we have to leave the goose house door open for her and just keep an eye, as she'd then be completely free range, the big pond, veg growing areas, flower beds etc. All being well she'd only be out for the 30 minutes, so wouldn't be able to do too much damage.

First rose of 2014, a 'Dublin Bay'.
Well, she came off after lunch but then seemed to stay off. I wondered if she was trying to 'talk' to her chums, so at one stage I opened the orchard gate and let them all 'commune' but , no, they all three just wandered about eating the nicer grass outside the orchard and bathing in the big pond. At least I had a chance to nip in and steal the 'spare eggs' again - we have being following Anne's instruction to date mark the eggs and then steal the oldest each day, leaving the nest with only 12. Eventually I got bored with watching them stroll about and shepherded all 3 geese 'home' thinking that Black Feather, on being led in there might see the nest and 'remember' her responsibilities. She did. She went to sit and the other 2 wandered back to the orchard. We saw her off the eggs again later in the afternoon too, so I am worried that she is not yet 100% convinced as a broody. Watch this space, I guess.

Keyhole bed fortified with chicken wire.
At this time of year that all our perennials and the tulips start to emerge from the soil with plenty of young, tender, green shoots, very attractive to chickens. They growing tips are turgid with April rain and quite brittle, so that a chicken pushing through the clump, even if she is hunting grubs rather than greenery, will snap off all your tulips and trample down the new green stuff. We go into defensive mode, and can hear Anne telling us when we first met, that there is a big difference between fencing chickens into an area, and trying to fence them out! My ring of sheep fence round the keyhole bed which worked 100% last year was perceived with scorn this year by the new ladies and I had to add 4 feet of chicken wire on top. It's not beautiful but the galvanised mesh is old and dull and if you squint you can ignore it and see the lovely safe tulips coming into unbroken bud inside.

Liz in a cage. I let her out when she's done enough weeding.
We also decided this year to encircle the entire new raised bed with 40 metres of (4 foot high, 2 inch mesh) chicken wire, in this case supported on canes, just because it was going to be a temporary structure. However, Liz so enjoyed weeding without assistance of the chooks and found some more chicken-damage which we had not spotted, that this encirclement may become permanent. If so, we will probably make it more beautiful, all this fencing is starting to look like Guantanamo Bay. The official story for this picture is that Liz has shut herself in. Some might suspect that I lock her in this cage till she's done enough weeding and then let her out!

Flowering currant (Ribes)
There is not a great deal else going on. Broody Betty shows no sign yet of following Black Feather down the 'broody' road. We chug on with our Bee School - Lesson 5 was last Monday. I have 'Piggy School' on Saturday, my training course for Pig Rearing down in Tipperary. I think I will just leave you with some nice 'macro' pics of garden flowers which are currently doing the honours. Enjoy them.

Vital bee food in April - the humble dandelion. 
A new one on us. Coltsfoot (Tussilago)
Pulmonaria (Lungwort)
Doing very well here in 2014. Primroses.


anne wilson said...

Our problem is not hens or even ducks doing damage to the garden it's the bl...y dog. Dogs have no respect for gardens.

Matt Care said...

Ha ha! ...and that is one BIG, BOUNCY dog you have there! Good ol' Tess.