Saturday, July 19, 2014

Hatching problems.

Hills of Sligo.
Tuesday should have been hatching day in the incubator, nothing happened, Wednesday came and still no sign of chicks, by Wednesday evening we were convinced that we had just wasted three weeks of incubation, then the first one pipped then a second one, by Thursday morning no progress had been made so I chipped away some shell to give a helping hand, something that is normally frowned upon. During the course of the day more started pipping but their progress was very slow, all had to be given a helping hand. We double checked our dates, they were correct, humidity was correct, then the light went on in my brain, if chicks dont hatch after twenty one days they are either dead, infertile eggs, or the temperature was wrong. When you hatch eggs in an incubator you increase the humidity for the last two days and decrease the temperature by .3 of a degree. How stupid can we get, we had failed to put the temperature back up from the last hatch, so the poor little mites had been incubated at 37.2 instead of 37.5. I know it doesn't sound a lot but to an embryonic chick it is. Unbelievably it turned out to be the best hatch we have had this year with only three eggs not hatching, one was infertile and two died at the point of pipping.
 It was an important hatch for us as a friend had kindly given us a dozen Copper Maran eggs, this is a breed of bird that gives the darkest of all eggs, a rich Mahogany colour, the rest of the eggs were Buff Orpingtons from our own birds, as our cockerel ( Mr Buffy) is now over three years old we wanted to make sure that we have young birds and hopefully a nice Buff cockerel to take over when Mr. Buffy is too old to do his job. All the chicks are now safely in their brooder; eating, drinking and running around. Next time we hatch we will double check everything, but we do feel very stupid when it's something we have been doing for a quarter of a century. Old age is definitely catching up with us.
Most of the soft fruit has now been harvested, there is still one bush of redcurrants to pick which for some reason has not ripened as quickly as the other bushes. Six pound of these lovely berries are now in the process of dripping through the jelly bag ready to make into redcurrant jelly tomorrow, to be enjoyed with chicken or pork during the coming year.
Supper time.
The pigs are coming along very well, this week our friend Kay came over to inspect them for us, declared them as looking very good and should be ready in about six weeks, she is a pig expert having run a large organic pig herd with her husband before he died. Kay has had to give up keeping pigs now she is on her own, just too much to do for one person, although she still keeps sheep although her opinion of sheep is much the same as ours, a lot of hard work with very little return for an animal whose main objective in life is to find out new ways to kill themselves. Pigs are certainly easier both to feed and to care for and give a far better return than sheep ever could.
Food for free, just a few minutes work.
Last week we managed a couple of days out with our helper Felix, again we headed for the coast
Ten minutes later all done.
and this time managed to collect a bucketful of  Mussels and four sacks of washed up seaweed, this time we  remembered to check the tides.
We then went up to Dromahair in Co Letrim, to visit the Herb Apothecary who were hosting an open day, on the banks of the river Bonet, the cottage is in a lovely setting just down a little lane from the

Creveelea Friary.
Creveelea Friary which dates back to 1508 and is now a national monument. There is some outstanding scenery in this area, a lovely place for a day out.
River Bonet, Dromahair
The weather is warm and rather humid so rather than take chances with the potato crop the haulms have now been cut  off in case of blight, we would hate to loose a years supply of spuds just because we failed to cut them back. They have finished blooming so would not get any bigger.
Forest at Lough Gill.


  1. Wow! Glad to hear you ended up with the best hatch, especially as it was an important one. I never knew 0.3 degree could make such a difference! Very jealous to hear about those mussels, that was such a lovely day out. Pictures are great, very serene...wish I was there! x

  2. Hopefully we can go mussel picking again when you next come.
    Chicks are all doing well thankfully.

  3. How are the birds doing? The copper marans sound wonderful. I bought some marans years ago.but I don't think they were true to their breed. I think raising your own chicks is a good idea. You had a productive day at the sea, what is the Herb Apothecary, is it an herb shop? Have you ever been to The Perfumery in Claire? I do love it there. Beautiful pictures of The Friary.

  4. The copper marans are all doing well, keeping our fingers crossed that they are mainly pullets. No, I haven't been to the Perfumery in Claire, I have to admit I'm a real snob when it comes to perfume, it has to be French and good, Chanel or Yves St Laurent, it's my one extravagance. The Herb Apothecary is a mediational herb garden in Co. Leitrim, very interesting, I did a healing herb course many years ago so I found it especially interesting.