Friday 29 December 2017

A short lived Duckling

Connie brings the one surviving duckling off the nest and
quickly has it feeding like a pro.
A quick post this time, as befits the little recovery period we are having betwixt our busy, visitor bedecked Christmas and the New Year weekend. With the French off the premises, Liz headed for Silverwood land for another very quick tour of Mum-minding duty. A family meal with a 3-line whip had been planned but then cancelled without anyone telling Liz so she ended up just doing the one night. Mum is 'fixed' enough to no longer need random daughters fussing about the place. She is signed off now till 15th Jan. 

Little Paddler.
In the mean time, Friends of the Blog will recall that we have a Sussex hen who went broody in late November and then hatched, we think, 4 duck eggs just as the French visitors left. This lady only managed to bring 1 survivor off the nest. I found only one part-chewed corpse, so I guess that the nest got predated by a rat and the other babies were taken alive or dead. 

This double yolker was to be the duckling's Day 4 breakfast.
The survivor ("Little Paddler") was going great guns. His 'Mum' quickly taught him to feed and he was gobbling up the tiny portions of chick-crumb and hard boiled egg I was taking to them 4 times a day. It was alternating snow, hail and sleet outside, so I shut them in the Tígín to be 'safe', warm and dry. By day 3 (Thurs 28th) he was looking very promising and Mum was sleeping on the floor with him under her skirts.

Horrible, sleety, haily weather. Yes, I did get caught with
a line of washing out!
Sadly, this morning, (Day 4) when I went in with breakfast, Mum came down from a higher perch and there was no sign of the duckling. Mum was fussing and clucking around as if asking me where the baby was. We looked everywhere but could find no sign, no sad little corpse. If she had gone up there to perch and left him 'peeping' on the ground, then he'd have frozen to death in minutes and/or been carried off by the rat(s). Maybe he was taken by the rat and she then flew up to perch higher in her angst? We will never know. Ah well. These things happen. Mum spent part of the day all stressed out clucking about, presumably missing him but by afternoon seems to have calmed down and forgotten him. Sorry, Connie. Better luck next time. 

Just a light dusting of snow this time.
We are still determined to do more ducks, so we have decided to buy a Covatutto incubator like the one we used to borrow from Charlotte of the Mini Horses. We will set a dozen eggs in that in the spring time. We may also try Muscovies; not so good for eggs, but much better than the Khaki Campbells for meat. Also,more fun, apparently with their keenness to fly and sit on your roof tops!

Opening up the new Parma style ham.
We finally got around to 'opening' the Christmas leg of 'Parma' style ham. It had been missed off menus and side lined by the sheer amount of food we were trying to cope with, even with the French visitors. 

Roscommon style 'Parma' ham. 
This leg was from the 2016 pigs, so was 16 months at the air-drying / curing and is deliciously sweet. Liz has pronounced it my best so far. I am quite impressed too. We obviously have that job sussed and if any readers would like to come and have a sample (I know Charlotte likes a 'Parma' ham and may be around at present, down from Dublin) then do drop by.

That is about it. We are now all battening down the hatches for the next named storm, Storm Dylan who is meant to roar through on Saturday night. We are under Orange warnings here for 70-80 kph winds all across the Province of Connaught, though inevitably, coastal areas have the highest predicted wind speeds. 

Beyond that, assuming we aren't blown across to Longford, we will also be enjoying the New Year weekend which will also bring me to the end of my latest stint as curator on the @smallholderIRL Twitter account - where I am sharing a fortnight's shift with account boss @foodborn Margaret Griffin. We are nearly done - finishing, neatly, on Sunday 31st Dec. 

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