Friday 21 March 2014

Sixteen to Sit On

In our 'book', geese are meant to come into egg laying in spring when they start to receive the attentions of the gander. They will then accumulate 12-14 eggs before conveniently going broody and sitting on them. These "facts" are based, of course on what we've read plus picked up from Anne and Simon plus one chaotic breeding season when our gander was probably the girls' brother and the two geese nested so close together that each could rob all the other's eggs while she hopped off the nest to bathe and the other would then rob them back in her turn. In short we never knew WHERE we were and resolved to do it better this year. Anne will tell you, though, that these 'facts' are no such thing and birds will do what birds will do, unpredictably and surprisingly to keep you, the poor human, on your toes.

The purr-fect excuse to not do the ironing today?
One of our geese ( you may recall they were named Goosey and Goocie for a laugh but between Liz and I we never knew which one we were talking about, so they now have new add-on names which refer to distinguishing features, Goocie is 'Smudge' and Goosey is 'Black Feather'), Smudge, stayed in lay all winter, all through Christmas and is still there now, an egg every other day. She became (Gander) George's first love and he started 'loving' her a good month ago. We decided to let her start accumulating a clutch. Black Feather came back into lay on the 8th Feb but she was sleeping in separate quarters. We knew she wasn't getting mated, so we have been collecting her eggs for the kitchen. Since then, George has now accepted both the geese, so we are all happy families and Black Feather is now laying in the same nest as Smudge, so I have just had to know which day it is and let Smudge carry on accumulating (odd day dated; e.g. 5th, 7th, 9th etc) while robbing Black Feather's even-date (4th, 6th, 8th) eggs. So far so good. Smudge, though has now got up to 16 eggs and is showing no sign of going broody. The weather might be the reason.

Making up bee hive frames. This one for a honey 'super'
After a nice dry, spring like week which had us out gardening and even enjoying a rain-less St. Patrick's Day parade, we are back to wind, rain and wintry showers. This morning I got a nasty surprise while out chain sawing up some logs when I felt a rat-a-tat on my hard-hat and the mesh visor started to get less 'see through'. Snowy wet hail was hammering down on my hat, sticking in the visor mesh and going down the back of my neck. A joke's a joke, but that wasn't.

Finished hive frame. This one for the deeper 'brood' box.
While we are on the 'egg laying' subject, we are now convinced that Guinea Fowl hen, 'Min' is laying eggs in the hedge or scrub at the far side of the field opposite our property. For 4 consecutive days she has nipped off secretly for 2-3 hours, returning at about 3:30 pm. She announces her return with her 'Buck wheat buck wheat' call and Henry is ridiculously delighted to see her, like some sloppy love story re-union. Yesterday she called from the gate and Henry flew the full length of the driveway at 5-6 feet above the ground to be back with her. It's quite sweet. We had seen him hovering around the bit of hedge we think she is using, and once she was back we went for a sneaky check of the brambles etc but could see no sign of the eggs or nest. We are a bit lost on what to do about this so we are clinging to the fact that she should be safe enough in that thicket from Mr Fox (who is still keeping, much to our delight but also surprise and confusion, a very low profile; we (touch wood) never seem to see foxes or mink). We hope (barely able to believe that this could happen) that she goes broody out there, successfully sits for the 28 days and then leads the keets home in a picturesque little 'crocodile'. We are not happy about this but short of trying to contain these wanderers in some kind of aviary, that seems to be our only hope.

Meanwhile a prompt email shout from the Two Marys sorted me out a bit of confusion over assembling bee hive frames. I have two sizes to build, the tall, 'thin' sort for the (11 in the) brood box, and 10 less tall, 'thicker' ones for the honey comb in the 'super' (as in 'upper') boxes. I had a random collection of parts not assigned to either type as well as being a pair of side bars short, so I was a bit stumped. Mary McN has now sorted me out and I am 'away on a hack'. Indoor craft for rainy days. Mustn't put the sheets of foundation in yet though. Being wax, if it gets warm it can sag in the frames making them all uneven for the bees to build from. If it gets cold it can be brittle and can shatter in the frames, so we build the frames up to part-complete and store the sheets of foundation flat at room temperature.

1 comment:

Mr Silverwood said...

Beehive looking good, just catching up on these posts now