two day old chick, Tikka

Well, Watermill Cottages has a new arrival! A chick called Tikka. 

When we were away recently  Marigold chicken (so-called because she looks like she’s got an inflated rubber glove on her head) laid a little white egg in the nest of a sitting Muscovy duck.  We watched to see what would happen, and ten days ago,  I heard a cheeping and pecking and saw a tiny beak through a hole in Marigold’s egg.

hatching …

Great excitement with everyone here, as we all had a go at holding it to keep it warm until I put in a punnet on the Aga where it hatched as I cheeped encouragement as cooked dinner.
As Muscovies take 35 days to hatch and chickens just 21 we wanted the duck to sit on her eggs to the end and not abandon them for one rogue hen.

John made a cage with a heat lamp and we were advised to find it some friends or it would grow up to be anti-social and with the wrong species-patterning.  It instantly recognised my voice for instance and still comes running when I call it – strange being a surrogate hen.

hatched …

Eventually, last Sunday we found some 2-3 day old chicks, and brought four back where we spent an evening enjoying a live  ‘David Attenborough’ experience in poultry behaviour – one side of their box is perspex so we can watch them, and oddly, they can watch us. They’re currently in the sitting room so we can check their water and feed easily.

Our own chicken, a Rhode Island Red/ Leghorn cross, we’ve called Tikka as it’s quite russety.  It now looks like a raptor beside the younger ones but they grow so quickly and already have wing feathers sprouting. 

Watch this space for more news – please let them be hens not cockerels!

The swallows have returned to Watermill Cottages! I was digging some worms in the kitchen garden yesterday to see how our few-day old chicks would react to real meat (as they’ve been hatched in an incubator or Aga I’m having to teach them certain basic life skills) and I heard a new bird call above the long-tailed tits, grey wagtails and blackbirds.

Yes! I looked up and swooping above me were swallows, forked tails printed on blue sky. They’re back! It’s really spring!

We’ll be checking over the weekend to see for the return of the usual pair that nests in the porch at Barleycorn Cottage’s front door.