Wednesday 25 October 2017

Pimping Two Babes for the Lads

Diane (who died on 21st Oct 2014) and her disreputable
Border Terrier cross, 'Ragworth'. 
Ignore that dubious title for the moment. First up today we remember that most excellent Friend of the Blog, 'Diamond' (Diane Loraine Walsh). Rest in Peace, lovely Lady. Today (25th) would have been her 61st Birthday. The thoughts of this Blog are with her husband, John, Her Family and all those readers who knew and remember her. I am also told that today is the 602nd anniversary of the Battle of Agincourt and the 75th of the Dedication of the local village church here (Lisacul village), but maybe more on those later.

4 young poults. From the colour of them, almost certainly sired
by our Marans rooster, 'Gandalf'.
With the majority of this year's young chickens having hatched in June, a whole bunch of these are starting to come 'of age' (poultry keepers frequently use 21 weeks, or "point of lay" to denote maturity though that varies wildly between varieties.) from now through November. We had 19 chicks across those early batches and have since added another 7; the 'Manus' and the ABs, bringing our total to 26. The place is fair heaving with young poults. The law of averages tells us that we are likely to end up with 13 hens and 13 roosters though that, too, can vary wildly.

Existing alpha-rooster, Gandalf
In the hard-hearted 'business' world of small-holdering, we would generally keep or sell as going concerns, all the hens, especially if they start laying good eggs but have to dispose of the roosters. If you are lucky you might sell, or give away a few and you might keep one good one if your hen/rooster ratios can sustain it (you want about 7:1, so if you are adding 13 hens to your flock there should be room for one more roo', if not 2). If we can, we will make the(se) keeper(s) either pure-bred Marans or Buff Orpington. 

Our #2 rooster, sex-change 'hen', 'Herme'.
See earlier post
The rest of the roosters will be for the pot and you need to identify and cull them out as soon as they become a problem, fighting with each other or challenging your existing lads. As the girls start to come up to point of lay and (we hope) start popping out the good eggs, the boys cannot help but give away their own sexual identities by squaring up to one another, flaring their cape feathers and bowing down beak to beak preparatory to a few, beginner-ish flying 2 footed kick-outs. If you do not sort them it can get bloody and injurious very fast. What we will do between now and Christmas is to 'sort' them before they become a problem.

We love the colouring on some and we hope they are hens. This
one is optimistically called "Silvergirl"
That's probably enough on chickens. I said "If you are lucky" above (selling roosters) because just when you have your glut of spare males, so does every other chicken breeder you would know. It's like having too many courgettes and hoping other veg-fiends might not have grown courgettes this year.

2 Guinea Fowl boys in search of some female company?
Friends of the Blog may recall that our story of owning and trying to breed Guinea fowl here is not a happy one. We currently have, and have had for many months, two cock birds who are happy enough and tend to wander about like 'the management' minding any turkeys they can find or piles of food. In our Guinea story these guys are preceded by our first pair (Henry and Min; 2013) who tried to breed but we lost H in an RTA. This left M to desert her impressive stash of 16 eggs in the hedge on the far side of our lane. We incubated these and hatched, I think, ten. We managed to sell 5 as youngsters but then had the other 5 stolen by Mr Fox. So far, no roast Guinea fowl for the table.

Dillisk biscuits. 
Henry was briefly replaced by a white bird we called 'Blondie' but he/she was famous for his/her unwillingness to stay here and need to hike off Eastwards. Blondie eventually deserted for good. Subsequently we bought 2 boys (2015) from Sue and Rob (called Apollo and Belvedere) hoping that at least one would pair off with poor, lonely Min, of the heart-breakingly continuous 'buckwheat buckwheat' calls. Belv' did so and all was quiet for 2016. However we never saw more than one or 2 eggs and there was no breeding success. This year, Min fell ill and stopped being able to repel the attentions of our rooster, Gandalf. Before we knew he had nailed her well and truly, flaying all the skin off her 'saddle' with his spurs. We tried to isolate her (not easy to catch!) but she went downhill fast and died within a few days.

Cheesy fish pie. We missed this while we hosted Augustin
who professed a loathing for fish and cooked cheese. 
So in 2017 we are left with the 2 lads, Apollo and Belv' and, although we think they are OK, we think they might enjoy some female company. We livestock keepers are, after all, meant to keep our stock to the "Five Freedoms" (freedom from starvation and thirst etc), one of which is "Freedom to Express Natural Behaviours". In my opinion, that includes being able to mate, breed and bring up young if possible.

Growing fast, the young turkeys. This one is male.
Step forward, then, our newest friends who I mentioned a few posts back, who happen to own a goodly flock of Guineas and are happy to find me 2 hens of sure-fire female-ness (Guineas are notoriously hard to sex). They have promised to get the birds to us by early next week. I have, I hope "pimped" some lovely ladies for the lads. Watch this space.

New limbs for the archery bow.
I will finish with a completely random waffle, the fruits of an addled mind left out watching over dogs on the front lawn today. I said that today was Birthday for the late Diane and also the anniversaries of both Agincourt and the Dedication of Lisacul Church. Agincourt is 602 years ago and 602 (cc) is also the engine size of my beloved Citroën 2CVs. So today handily brings together all manner of "my favourite things". Diane represents friends and Kent, the 602 brings in France and 2CVs as well as archery (Agincourt) and Lisacul Church stands for the local area and the Community here whom have made us feel so welcome here in Ireland.

No Blue! It may BE fish on the menu but we are still not giving
you any even if you try to take up station on the Dining Table.
Sorry about that. It just kind of bubbled out of no-where.


Mazylou said...


Matt Care said...

In his dreams, maybe, Bless him. That disreputable chap is no more a pedigree than my Westies. I was there when "we" picked him up from the breeder and even she (Caroline, friend of Sandra T) was saying that he was likely some kind of cross Lakeland/Patterdale but with plenty other DNA in the mix. Go check out Patterdales on Wiki - you won't find anything that looks even remotely like our Raggedy-Man!