Sunday, 23 November 2008

Snowing at last!

It was lovely to wake to crisp white snow this morning. The chickens have viewed it with mixed feelings, some with suspicion as Trinny and Susannah refused to come out onto it while Ronnie, Roxy and Peggy all ran around thinking it was lots of lovely food! The Two Veras just looked on with their usual aloof look on their faces, they are a couple of miserable hens!
Yesterday I saw that Lily had something attached to her undercarriage, it was an egg shell and it I caught her , carefully removed it and discovered it was somewhat smelly, I think she had sat on an egg that had cracked after it had gone off. I threw the other three week old egg out but she is now sitting on at least one more egg. Once I get the china eggs we should sort the problem until spring time....I hope!
They seem to have settled down well in the enclosure and I am a lot happier knowing that they are not going to get eaten by the hawk. As the new enclosure had extra nest boxes I will restock as soon as I can.
Off out to build a snowman before curling up on the sofa in front of the fire with a good book and more hot chocolate.

Thursday, 20 November 2008

Fort Knox Mk 2

Herb got the new winter enclosure done, the theory being that if the hawk does not get her meal here she may move away, so far since the big plastic owl went up we have not seen her but I am assured by Malcolm up the track, that she is still around.

The doves moving into the new enclosure was planned with some precision, the outer frame went up one day and then we gave then 24 hours to get used to it like that before very quickly putting on the chicken wire. At dusk Lily settled in onto the eggs and Huffy went into the vacant next hole next door. Sam swiftly blocked both holes with bits of timber and we deftly tossed the net over the roof, stapled it down and Bob's your uncle, two doves trapped safely inside.timber removed and two curious doves poked their heads out to see what ahd been going on.

This morning there was no movement from either nest hole but around 11am Lily appeared, she seemed a bit flummoxed but came down to feed and have a drink. A little while later Herb heard a lot of scraping and Lily was 'rearranging nesting material in the spare box. She then sat on the landing shelf and promptly laid an egg! I was lucky enough to capture the whole event on my new video camera and with a bit of luck and a visit from my very own Cyber expert I will post it on here. I guess that I will have to remove the two unhatched eggs again in a few days. I am hoping my new found pigeon expert ,Harry, will advise me on my next course of action.

They should settle in fine in the new enclosure and at least will be safe from predators during the lean winter months.

The mink killed another rat and this time left it with its guts hanging out and hits head bitten off on the back door mat. Thank goodness I had my shoes on when I stepped outside. Last night I set three traps and the tally this morning was one rat and one wee mouse. Tonight I am laying poison and traps and intend to do my best to get rid of the varmints for good. I think the mink will be too wily to be caught in a trap but I have left the Nooski Trap in situ anyway. The first night it was out a wee mouse had carefully avoided the spring catch, crept in, eaten all the peanut butter covered bacon and left after pooping on the way out. So two fingers from a mouse to modern foolproof technology.

The chickens are all fine, only getting 4 or 5 eggs a day at the moment. The Two Veras may well have stopped for the winter but I was assured that Trinny and Susannah would lay all winter as they come from Chile .

Saturday, 15 November 2008

All calm at the farm

This is what a sparrowhawk looks like once it has grabbed one of your pet doves. May be a lovely looking thing but it is a nasty vicious predator that needs to be sorted somehow.

So far my remaining two birds are OK, the new winter aviary is nearly ready and we will move them in a few days, they are still on the eggs but should lay lots more even if these do not hatch and I have now been advised that it is highly unlikely due to the temperatures. Although yesterday we had 15C up here, almost unheard of for November, some days in the summer we are lucky to get that.

The mink has also been conspicuous by its absence despite me shelling out for a special mink trap. After I had bought it and had it delivered, Stu found another internet site where the same trap was £10 cheaper! It pays to spend a long time surfing for the best buy, a good lesson, expensively learned.

The chickens seem to have reacted not too badly to the mink in the run, we had some 'softies' for a day or two but all has gone back to normal. ( 'Softies', soft shelled eggs, are laid when the chicken has a terrible fright or is out of sorts in some way) Trinny and Susannah are not laying and still moulting like crazy, they really do look like they have done ten rounds with a mink each morning as there are feathers everywhere, still not sure if it was an initial mink attack or if this is just how they will moult.

I have had some comments that mink are nice furry wee things. They are not. They are vermin, they kill our native wildlife, they do not belong here and need to be exterminated from our lovely countryside. Following the release by so called 'animal lovers' from fur farms they are now encroaching on towns and villages and kill pet rabbits and cats and there has been a recent documented account of an attack by four mink on an angler at night. Mink are only acceptable as coats and hats.

Enough of my soap box for now!

Found this on the web and I think it is lovely

Somebody recently said that I was getting seriously 'sad' writing a blog, well, if you don't like it, don't read it. Easy enough. I enjoy putting down in words what is going on around me and I know for sure that I have many friends who really do enjoy reading it.

Peace, love and hippy stuff.

Sunday, 9 November 2008

Bloody Mink Now!

I have solved the mystery of the rat with it's head bitten off, it was not a sparrowhawk but a mink. Yesterday Herb heard a commotion in the run and went out in time to see a sleek black mink helping itself to the chicken food and generally causing some consternation amongst the girls. He told me and I grabbed my new video camera and was able to get some shots of it as it made it's escape down the burn. The mink might also explain the huge pile of feathers I found in the chicken run last week when I thought that Trinny was moulting, I think now that she had a close encounter with a mink. So not only do I have to relocate the hawk, I also have to do the same to the mink who given a chance will take the heads off the chickens and not even bother to eat them. One lady in Dunblane recently lost of 8 of her 15 chickens to a mink .

Mink while looking interesting are in fact a bloody nuisance, they are not native to UK and are responsible for the devastation of the water vole population in UK and cause havoc to nesting ducks and birds as well as the inevitable losses to us backyard hen people. The mink we have are either descendants of escapees from mink farm or are some of the ones liberated by those so called animal rights idiots. What about the rights of the native Vole! Trapping may be easy enough but it is illegal in Scotland to relocate then live after capture anywhere and it is also illegal to drown them in the trap, shooting is the only answer. 'Now just stand still Mr Mink while I aim a shot at your skull, oops, sorry, I don't have a gun!' I am hoping that the local Countryside Ranger may help out, I already have the promise of a mink trap I just need the means to get rid of the mink once it is is it.

I got a great video of the little darling and once I work out how to add it will add it to my blog. So now I am spending my time checking on the bloody 'Spar' at the front of the house, the mink at the rear and hoping that Herb soon gets the winter aviary finished while I still have doos to put in it. The big plastic eagle looks very grand in the garden and a neighbour gave me a smaller long eared owl too, the trees look decorated for Christmas with strings of twirling cd's and the doos are watching it all with great interest.

Thursday, 6 November 2008


Yesterday was not a good day if you were a wee Moonzie Doo. Luckily I was in the sitting room and saw a glimpse of white and a flurry outside and was horrified to see Lily in the grips of a female sparrowhawk, tumbling to the ground, feathers were flying everywhere. I moved quicker than I have for a long time and got to the door in time to see Lily and the hawk on the ground, I yelled some obscenity and the hawk departed one way and after a few seconds Lily the other. She flew around for a while and eventually settled on the chimney pot.

So now I have proof of who has taken Bully and Hindoo and I am going to do my damnedest to prevent it happening again. After looking at lots of advice sites and getting onto a pigeon forum I have decided the best thing to do is to make a winter aviary/loft for them and hope that while they are there the raptor can be 'relocated 'by some means. By removing the Moonzie MacDoonalds it may persuade the hawk to look for another easier dining room. Sparrowhawks are of course protected as at one time they were an endangered species, however the pendulum has swung the other way now and while the Hawk is on the RSPB 'green list' ( doing well and lots about) the Stock dove is on the 'amber list' ( endangered as stocks are low). Crazy that the prey is in danger and the predator doing just fine and dandy( eating all the endangered species) and it is still illegal to kill them while you can shoot as many wood pigeons and doves as you like, amber list or not. No wonder the Gamekeepers take the law into their own hands sometimes, now I understand.

Herb has taken on board my worries and anxieties and has decided to make a winter loft for me as a temporary measure. Even now he is B&Q buying up lengths of 'fourbetwo' and other joinery type things. It will be easy enough to transfer the doos as both now sleep in the doocote at night, Lily on the eggs and Huffy in the spare nest hole, apparently they will not fly at night and can easily be lifted out and placed in safer quarters. I don't know how Lily will take to the eggs being moved but as they probably were not going to hatch it probably does not matter.

Other options to scare away Madam S. Hawk or 'spars' as the pigeon people call them is to place large plastic long eared owls around the garden, string garlands of shiny Cd's from strings, tether 30 foot reflective balloons above the cote and place mirrors on roofs. You can also play the sound of an eagle owl into the garden or find some other way of relocating the bloody hawk. So if anyone has a Cd of Owl Sounds or any spare balloons suitable for floating at 30 feet please pass them this way.

My day is destined to be 'gofer' for Herb the joiner when he gets back with the wood and after that I will be sitting near the window prepared to run and beat the bloody 'spar' around the head should it come near me and my doos again. This is war.

On a plus side if I have a secure aviary I will be able to get my new doos earlier than planned, 'home'them over the winter and then let them fly free in the spring ready to look gorgeous again. Hopefully the 'spar' will be long gone.