Friday, 8 October 2010

Problem solved

At one point I was feeding about 30 full grown ducks but luckily the ladies at least are always in demand so two people came and collected a batch each and one had a drake as well. In order to catch them I have to close the gaps in the fence round the bit of their night time quarters when they have gone out and then shut the gate. At tea time when they are hungry I let them in and shut the gate again and then start catching. It is pandemonium. One by one I catch them, listen for a quack and hand females to the waiting buyer. Drakes only whisper which makes them ideal garden pets in built up areas where the neighbours would complain about quacking. I find that ducks of all kinds make excellent living garden ornaments and they eat slugs and snails. Above is a photo of the slug patrol.
After the first catching session a whole batch of them refused to come in for two nights but fortunately were not eaten by a fox.

Friday, 27 August 2010

a superfluity of ducks

This year my ducks managed to nest in the bog irises without my knowledge, It is such a jungle in the bog where they live at night that I can't see the eggs for leaves. Later I cut a lot of the greenery with a sickle but too late. One produced 8 babies and two ladies sharing a nest produced 10.. By the time they all grew up they were eating me out of house and home. Now, thank goodness, I have sold seven but the rest, finding the selection process [barring exit from feeding station, so traumatic that last night only the drakes and a couple of their more elderly wives came for tea. I don't think a fox has had any as there are no piles of feathers around. I just hope they will be hungry enough or forgetful enough to present themselves fot tea tonight.

Friday, 4 June 2010


Several ducks have found secret places to nest in the bog irises and one now has eight babies. They are two weeks old now and so far no losses. O have been carefully surveying the netting over their safe bog and mended all the possible crow entries I could find. The photo above is their first day. Mother made them wait till she was sure all were out of their eggs. Now if this works right the next photo should appear under the texts.
It's no good. It just won't upload the other duckling picture.

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Duck update

The ducks have truly forgiven me for their winter incarceration and are inhabiting the garden like living garden ornaments.
The Muscovies have taken to exploring beyond my boundaries. I don't really approve as if she decides to nest secretly out there somewhere, she might get eaten and also I prefer to swap the eggs for normal duck eggs so that I don't have to find homes for about a dozen baby muscovies. My neighbour likes them going out on his land as ducks eat the snails that give sheep fluke. He calls them the fluke patrol.
One of the others is being a good girl and sitting in the prescribed place ie. in a box shelter down in their night time bog. There should be babies soon and then I'll post photos.

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Spring has sprung

At last spring has come to Snowdonia. We have ewes popping lambs all over the place and the sun has been shining for a week. The field where of late I have been exercising the dogs has returned to its proper use as a maternity unit.

I'm teaching this week so don't have a lot of time but have managed to flatten the worst of Silver's ravages. Obviously it will require much deviousness to prevent her from reducing the lawn to a battlefield again. I have placed the dog jumps strategically across her original circle and will put some tubs of flowers at various points and move them as a new track starts appearing. At least she'll have pause and manoeuvre as she goes.
The ducks are enjoying life. One is sitting anf one Muscovy lady has vanished. I don't know if she has been eaten or found a nice secret place to nest. I hope the latter but wish she'd decided to do it inside the night time run.

Monday, 22 March 2010

Fixing paw damage at Bodyfuddau.

As the ground has actually thawed and a few daffodils are sprouting, my thoughts turn to the garden. The most urgent is to reclame the lawn I made last year and was so pleased with. Since Silver arrived she has, quite unconsciously, been turning my lawn into two circular race tracks as she zooms around in response to any excitement. The photo shows Silver looking innocent and wondering what all the fuss is about.

I bought some square grids that one can put just under the surface of the lawn in the worst mus spots. I have placed a few in the smaller race track round one of the raided flower beds with a large weldmesh on top till the ground settles a bit. Then I strategically placed a narrower section of weldmesh in a badly damaged bit of the large ciruit and filled below and above with earth and turf [retrieved fron Silver's attempt to build the great wall of China there. Now fingers crossed.

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Ducks have relented

At last the remnants of the snow have gone from all the hills in the immediate vicinity and the sun has shone for several days.
One very welcome extra benefit of this is that the ducks have stopped sulking about the weather [they hate snow and will spend hours in the freezing stream rather than sit on it] and have started to lay. There is rejoicing all round as there are enough for friends who like them and also for me to sell at the market.
Also recently someone gave me another white drake who will hopefully turn out to be more effective than Sir Francis, who has not produced a single offspring in two years.
The gentleman in the picture above is long gone, not Sir Francis. This is Llewelyn and here follows a poem about him and his family,

Feathered Paternity

Llewelyn Fawr is very grand

And knows exactly how to stand

To look imposing,

Which is most important to a drake

Who needs the ladies to impress

And to have a harem

Of enthusiastic mother ducks

For future generations’ sake.

His feathers are a gleaming white

And his beak canary yellow.

His wings, though not in use for flight,

He cleans with infinite care,

Feather by flawless feather.

His feet are golden triangles

That plod majestic through the mud

Like shoes of magic leather.

His wives are speckly coloured

With sapphire in their wings.

Much of their day they spend

Hunting for interesting things,

Snails and slugs and such delights,

Until, in need of change, they wend

Their way to pond or stream, upend

Themselves and dabble there

For frog spawn, fish eggs, dainty bites

To be found in mud below, while

Feet wave freely in the air.

At night the ladies to their nests repair

And lay their eggs all white or green

And hide them under leaves and grass

From beady eyes of crows who pass,

Searching like spy planes from the air.

Then comes the day, one gets the urge

And snuggles down upon the eggs,

With beak on breast, deep in feathers,

And sits for weeks midst yellow flags

Oblivious of inclement weather,

Just waiting till she hears a peep,

And one by one small beaks emerge.

When all are free of broken shells and dry,

She leads them forth in one long line

To float upon the stream, chasing flies

Invisible to human eyes,

Flashing, dashing everywhere,

Propelled by tiny feet

Under mother’s watchful eye,

Turned skywards lest hawk or crow

Descend upon her little fleet.

Llewelyn past them softly glides,

Bursting with parental pride.

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Wheels at last

For over a week I have had no car as mine decided to burn out all its electric wiring. The garage said it was so bad that it was not worth trying to repair it and that I was lucky the whole thing didn't go up in flames, me and the dogs included.
So all this time Emma has been coming up every day with her dog, Rocky, and running them all in the field. She can run and can throw a lot further than me. So they've had a great time, but I have been thoroughly frustrated.
Yesterday my friends took me to see a nice little white van and now I have wheels. As I am supposed to get down to Carmarthenshire for my book launch on Friday, this is a weight off my mind. Also the dogs will be able to go to the forest again. The back of the can is all metal so Silver will not be able to chew it.

Creature Comforts

Locally we have one email swapshop and one freecycle. Someone on the latter gave me an enormous carpet with underlay and
everything. They are going to have a wooden floor so the carpet was unwanted, practically new and very thick. The first peoblem
was that the people who were giving it to me needed it out of the way quickly and simultaneously with being offered the carpet I
got snowed in during our last serious wether problems. Clearly even if I could get out I couldn’t lift it into my trailer so I sent out
an SOS to Julian and co. Although they live practically at sea level, this time they were snowed in too. Fortunately the people
were understanding and as soon as the snow there permitted the ganf set out with a trailer and Twm’s beloved landrover. Thus
equipped they got up my lane and piled it all into the dining room.
When the weather finally let up the whole family came and laid the carpet in the sitting room, which is now luxurious. My feet
hardly know themselves. The dogs like it too, especially as I spent a good part of Christmas making nice soft covers for their
beds. The carpet is a plain light salmon colour, not suited to 12 muddy paws, but fortunately the dogs usually head for the other
end of the house where they expect to find me, so they mostly don’t go in there with muddy paws.
There was a lot left over and at first I thought of the dining room but then I thought that, since the layout of this house is such
that the dining room is the main thoroughfare for humans and dogs, that seems asking a bit much of such a nice clean carpet. So
Emma and Phil came up the other day and laid it in my study and I now have warm feet while I work.
In the picture above, Dyfi has been awoken from his post-field nap and is wondering why I suddenly need to take a photo. It is to
show a bit of the carpet but doesn’t really do it justice.

Some days later Emma and Phil came and laid the rest of the carpet in my study. Now that is cosy too. What's more, because the combination of underlay and carpet is so thick my office chair does not slide back when I heave myself out of it. Things are really getting better around this house,

Friday, 5 March 2010

Meet My Dogs

I have three border collies, Jess, Dyfi and Silver. They are all rescue dogs in various ways. Jess came to me because she was afraid of her owners toddler grandchildren and looked as if she might snap from sheer fear. She never did and has met plenty of children since, but rather older ones.
Dyfi came because a farmer gave him to me and I was foolish enough not to ask why he didn't want him. The reason soon became apparent as he is an inveterate sheep chaser. I have managed to teach him to behave with my three pets but can't trust him with other people's sheep. To go down the lane he wears a muzzle and is attached to Jess, whi is better behaved.
Silver was from a dog rescue place where she had been handed in as 'no good'. Actually she is very good with sheep but excessively nervous of the world in general.
Here are some photos of them

Friday, 26 February 2010

The snow is gone, thank heavens

I have now lost count of how often snow has had me incarcerated here this year. The lane to my house is notorious in certain spots for snow drifts. I always make sure in winter that I have enough food and fuel and, of course food for sheep, ducks and dogs. But the main problem is exercising three very energetic border collies. Since my arthritic knees can not begin to compete with their needs, I usually drive down the lane with them and go to the forest where they can run as I drive and look for branches for the fire. However, a snowed up lane puts paid to that idea. Even if the farmers clear the lane in part with a bucket on a fork lift, I can't stand and walk on ice. So the solution [a very cold one for me when the temperature was minus 6 or 7 in the daytime] was to take them into the nearest field, from which sheep were and are temporarily absent, and throw a ball for about half an hour at a time several times a day. This results in happy dogs but a frozen dog owner.

Now it's gone and I hope it stays gone for thisi year. I am hoping to get a new knee courtesy of the NHS which might make the prospect for next year less daunting.