Tuesday, 30 September 2008

No news but some hope

Just been reading a web site where a garden dove got scared by a hawk and came home SIX months later. The hawk is still around and last night just as dusk was falling I saw him going for Huffy, a rapid flight chase ensued and somehow Huffy escaped. Herb also saw the hawk in the bushes some time later but he flew off again. As hawks are protected there is nothing we can do to get rid of it but we can just hope that he moves on soon. I was contemplating getting some balloons that scare hawks but strangely not doves? The web site also said that we need to search for a mile out from the doo cote in every direction, maybe a walk too far for one person I think.
Lily is still sitting on the nest and seems to be sharing the chore with Huffy so maybe he is the Daddy and maybe Bully left in a huff!
Lily is on two eggs!!

Monday, 29 September 2008

Intruder alert

This morning at 8am I spied a sparrowhawk in the rowan tree about 6 feet from the doo cote. No doubt eyeing up lunch. I ran out like a whirling dervish and shouted suitable obscenities at it and he left, but no doubt the new McDoonalds has its appeal to one hungry hawk. Lily is still on the nest.
Took a walk this afternoon to see if I could spot any trace of Bully , found a few wood pigeon remains but nothing of Bully so the mystery remains just that.
The new hens seem to have settled in well and apart from Trinny taking on the attributes of a velociraptor from time to time it is all quite peaceful out there.

Sunday, 28 September 2008

Bully has gone

Our lovely big, bold Bully Doo has not come home. Lily is sitting on her nest alone, she comes out to feed now and again but I am not sure that incubation is going to be very successful with half the team missing. I don't think that Bully went down the chimney , there were no feathers in the chimney like last time and no noises either. I have shone a light up as far as I can and have heard or seen nothing to evidence the fact that he too might have fallen into the dark abyss. It may be that a cat or hawk has had him but as he never goes far from the house and is only ever on the ground in the front garden that too seems a bit strange. I will take a walk around the fields today and see if I can see any tell tale white feathers, easy enough to spot on the newly ploughed ground.

While I was out scanning the fields earlier today I did spot a roe deer with her much smaller fawn, it was a lovely sight. There are less deer too now that the landowner and his shooters have been out culling them but it looks like at least two have been missed, I just hope we have enough left to allow breeding to take place again.

Young Potter, the young hare is often in the garden and has discovered the delights of feeding below the doo cote. Strangely we have not seen either of his parents since the bonkathon in May.

I think I will let the new girls out into the big chicken run today, if all goes like our last few introductions there will be a lot of posturing and squawking but very little actual damage, it has to be done sooner or later to get the pecking order re-established. Trinny and Susannah will be quite happy if they come out of it not so low in the ratings. Egg production is low at the moment with Trinny, Susannah and Little Poppy doing all the work and the Veras doing nothing, I have added in limestone flour to their feed and also upped the rate of Chicken Spice they get as a supplement.One of the Veras is moulting so that might be the answer, also being a pure breed they tend not to lay as well in winter but the end of September is hardly winter. Poppy soldiers on, a common or garden £4.75 hybrid hen that has hardly missed a day in nearly three years!

Saturday, 27 September 2008


Lily is sitting on an egg on a very crudely constructed nest. Nest in fact is a bit of an over statement as the nest hole in the doo cote just has a few well placed twigs and bits of tobacco stalk strewn around. I bought the tobacco stalks as they are said to release oils that repel lice and mites. It is very exciting but what is a worry is that dad has disappeared, I have been shouting up the chimney but there is no sign or sound that he is in the flue this time. Lily will sit on the egg for about 17 t0 18 days, in fact she will do the long night shift and Bully the day shift from 10 until 4, according to the book, although I am not sure the Moonzie Doos know anything of proper doo procedures! She should lay a second egg after 24 hours so I will keep an eye on things and see if we get the full clutch. I am hoping that Hindoo will also produce an egg, she and her mate have not started nesting but have become very cosy over the last few days. I am not sure if the eggs will even hatch, the weather is not that warm any more and apparently hours of sunlight and warmth have a lot to do with viability of the eggs and chicks, known as squabs and squeakers. So if all goes to plan Baby Doo Day is on or around 12th or 13th October.

Wednesday, 24 September 2008


Hindoo is still grey but has been accepted back into the flock, Bully bonked her as a welcome home present! Lily and Huffy are madly building what they think might pass for a nest in the upper floor of the doo cote. It consists of a few miserable twigs and the odd leaf. I don't know when or if they will lay an egg but there is enough rumpy pumpy going on so I hope we will get at least one egg. I have ordered some tobacco stalks which is , I believe, the order of the day for pigeon nests, it keep the lice and mites at bay apparently. The courtship rtuals are very interesting, the males puff up their chests and strut around looking very important and the girl doos just ignore them, then is a bit of kissing goes on and the odd peck and then the female squats down, raises her rear and it is all over in about twenty seconds, after that they both fly off and wobble a bit on the power cables. Quite funny to see expecially as the favoured bonking place is on top of the finial post on top of the doo cote!

The new hens seem happy enough, very calm and handleable, the others are ignoring them totally. They are still apart and will remain so for a couple of weeks but right now I anticipate no problems at all with the integration.

Sunday, 21 September 2008

New Girls

Got three new hens yesterday, Bovans Goldlines, a Dutch Hybrid that lays lots and lots of big brown eggs. The old flock are slacking a bit, Poppy is in mourning for Daisy, Big Vera is moulting and Little Vera chooses to lay an egg only if she feels like it. Trinny and Susannah are still very productive and should be the best layers over the winter seeing as they come from Chile and they like the cold, apparently. The new girls are Peggy, Ronnie and Roxie as the are 'faaarmily'!
They are in the Little Hilton Chicken House and will stay apart for a good few weeks, they are only 19 weeks and a bit young to be out playing with the old girls as yet. They might get bullied but if they stay apart awhile things should go OK. As we have the new plush updated accommodation it is a lot better than the old packing case that was the intro home for Trinny and Susannah.

Hindoo is gradually losing some of the soot from her feathers but after 48 hours in the chimney it is going to take a while. I put a shallow tray of water with a few drops of Dove Shower gel in it, not shower gel for doves of course but the stuff that makes us all look lovely whatever colour and however old we are. Hindoo had a good splash in it and hopefully it will help to get some of the soot off in time.

There is still a bit of bullying going on, whether Hindoo smells or looks wrong I don't know but she is certainly getting the cold shoulder from the other three. I am sure time will be a great healer.

Herb has put up a covered area for the hens as they have had a lot of soakings this year already and I am not convinced it is going to get any better.

On the garden front, it is time again to harvest the apples and go looking for hedgerow things to make interesting jellies and jams. The bramble and elderberry jelly from last year was brilliant so that is first on the list, after that thyme, mint and sage jellies and who knows what else.

Friday, 19 September 2008


The chimney sweep arrived two hours early, used his soft brush and brought down a very grubby, grey Hindoo. He says he thinks she would just have sat on the ledge until she died of dehydration so thank goodness she is down and safe. I washed her eyes and beak and after half an hour put her into the doo cote, she is now perched on the TV aerial looking very bedraggled, I wonder if Huffy will still love her!

Thursday, 18 September 2008

More drama than the Bristol Old Vic!

Yesterday after breakfast I only spotted 3 doves in the garden and as the day wore on began to worry that someone had gone.Anyway I eventually convinced myself that as it was Hindoo, she had gone to build a nest after her marathon bonking session. She never came down for tea and I did begin to worry , this morning as I was getting ready to leave for court I heard a strange noise coming from the sitting room fireplace. A few white feathers fluttered down and I realized now that Hindoo had not gone but in fact was nearer than ever, up the chimney!

I could hear fluttering and in fact it made me think that yesterday I had heard a similar noise but thought it was a wood pigeon that was flapping at the dining room window in a demented fashion.

I called the SSPCA after looking at various " How to get doves out of a fireplace" websites and was very impressed when a lovely man appeared on my doorstep within 30 minutes. He advised me that doves will only fly down again and not up and as the flue consists of a series of ledges and steps we will have to play the waiting game. I have shone a light up the chimney in the hope of luring her down and have netted the front of the fireplace just in case she gets down and decides to spread soot liberally over the carpet, who decided on a cream carpet I have no idea. He said it can take two to three days or as long as two weeks for them to reappear.

I am doubtful about how alive she would be after two weeks as all the dove books say that doves must have fresh water every day or dire things happen. Meanwhile it is a case of watch and wait. It is a horrible feeling knowing that your lovely pristine white dove is now a grotty shade of grey and is most likely terrified and pretty pissed off to boot. Fingers crossed for a quick and happy resolution.

Friday, 12 September 2008

Baby Doos???

Well, for once the Doo Blog starts with news of doos. The picture shows them being very bold and foraging around on the grass a fair way from the cote but even more exciting have been the goings on in the cote. When I got back from France I saw for the first time that the doves had started using the top floor of the cote, they were in and out and checking the available nest holes and a few days later I discovered why. I was out filling the feed container when Huffy and Hindoo, bold as brass started bonking on top of the doo cote! There had been a lot of amorous goings on for a while but now they are at it like rabbits. I think it may be too soon for them to lay eggs and also too cold but as there are not too many books on the subject we are waiting to see what transpires. This morning I was quite worried as when I went to feed them, only Bully and Lily came to feed and it was not until nearly lunchtime that the other two appeared. They all seem to have settled down now but I don't know where the other two have been, maybe just off for a bit of peace and quiet and privacy!

Herb has got on really well with the log store and it is almost finished, he got the last line of pantiles on this morning and it looks really good, you will see from one of the attached pictures why Sam thinks it should be an outdoor bar. It is the Leuchars Air Show this weekend so the Moonzie Millers are having a combined Beer Tasting Festival and Air Show Bash up by the big trees, we get a great view of the aerobatics and all from the comfort of a cosy marquee with lots of food and drink to keep us happy.

The hens have settled down after the demise of Daisy, Poppy still seems a bit anxious but we will be getting her some youngsters to boss around as soon as I can source them and she can again be Top of the Red Hen Gang!

Wednesday, 3 September 2008

Back from France

I got the news that Daisy had died the after I landed in France, however the sun and pool and copious quantities of great food and lovely wine helped me with the bereavement and pretty soon I was relaxed to the point of stupor! Jacki and Chris are great hosts and I had a splendid holiday. I was met by Chris at Nice and arriving with the temperature still in the high twenties, was handed a flask of ice cold Singapore Sling to drink on the drive back to Valescure. My holiday was marred only by the fact that one morning in St Tropez after breakfasting at La Senequier, I almost entered one of the million pound yachts uninvited and head first after failing to negotiate a small green bollard on the quay side. My bruised ankle though is worthy of mention and has a designer green and purple hue about it. We had cruised to St Tropez in glorious sunshine that morning and had hoped to snap a few 'names', although we never spotted any celebs we could actually name, some of the outlandish outfits could only have been donned by the likes of Paris Hilton or VB ( as we call her). It was good to get away from the noise and doom and gloom at Moonzie but while I was away things have improved and we no longer have the QE2 engine room going in the background. We have dried out well and are just awaiting the carpet cleaners to arrive and then will be getting quotes for a new floor, the byre should be back in a usable state again by the end of next month, Inshallah.

Herb has been very busy with the new woodshed and pretty soon we will be having opening drinks in it, well, we open everything else here with a drink so why not a woodshed when it is going to be so magnificent. Sam is so taken with it he thinks it should be a bar anyway with inside seating for two and a smoking area to the outside!

I have only been away a week but with our monsoon rains the weeds have made an overwhelming attack on my raised beds, the mice have continued to chew my newly planted brassicas and the whole place needs a good sort out. The tomatoes despite having virtually no sun this summer continue to produce masses of trusses of tomatoes of every colour.

The doos seem fine, in fact too well, there is certainly romance in the air and Huffy is courting Hindoo like mad even on the finial of the doo cote, no mean feat. The hens are fine, Poppy seems to be missing Daisy, Herb said she is clucking round his legs when he has been going in egg collecting and is desperate to follow him out. When I went in today to say hello she was right up to me and crouched down so she got a cuddle! I will get a couple of new hens when some are available, probably two little red hens but who knows, the hybrids though are the best layers, less nervy and great pets.

Back to auld claes and mince as they say up here, after the excesses of the South of France. I did manage at last to spot a celeb on my way out of France, Cheryl Cole was flying out to Heathrow and I saw her as she queued to board. Got a wedding to go to tomorrow but after that have no plans for a few weeks at least. This summer has been pretty hectic and it is time to relax before the apple harvest and the manic Bramble Jeely Boil Up!

Lest I get more rude comments from Stupot, I should mention him, he is still at sea fighting with Giant Squid , tussling with mermaids and earning an honest bob. No doubt after ten weeks away is by now sporting a huge unruly red beard looking more like a character from Blackadder than any son of mine.