Hey June – where did you go?

Goodness, I hadn’t realised it’s been a month since I put in an appearance in the blogosphere. Where has June gone?

It got off to a great start with Caiti coming back home from Canada. She left with one suitcase and a small rucksack and came back with two suitcases and three rucksacks! I met her at Orly Airport so she didn’t have to try and get across Paris with all that lot. Either her or the luggage would have gone missing somewhere along the way.

caiti airport

Anyway, Caiti enjoyed her Canadian experience. However, she’s enjoying Les Fragnes too as both Ophelia and Rosie have produced piglets for her. Caiti is very fond of piglets! She’s also taken over monitoring the incubator and oversaw the hatching of the latest batch of eggs. We have another five chicks to add to our collection. TT and the Eurovisichicks are out in the Eglu now, but will have to join the main flock soon as we’ll need the Eglu for this batch.

oph piglets exploring1

My egg hatching production line has come to a sudden halt due to the unexpected death of our good natured cockerel, Humperdinck. He was right as ninepence one day but dead the next. Puzzling and unfortunate. I’m no longer convinced that TT is a cockerel, but there’s bound to be one amongst the Eurovisichicks that I can keep to be Humperdinck’s replacement. I don’t want to buy in a rooster as I think our home-reared ones will be friendlier.

crock a doodle doo

The female turkeys are all sitting on eggs. I’ve had a few turkey eggs in the incubator but have yet to hatch any. I really hope I’ll get some Rouge Ardennes turkeylets soon, but any turkeys will be welcome.

We’ve added another four ducklings to our feathered menagerie. They were rather wild to start with but now that they’ve joined the main flock, they seem to be settling in better.

25juin wild ducks

Now, to the piglets. On 14th June, in the space of two hours, Ophelia gave birth to thirteen spotty piglets. We lost one but the remaining dozen are a lively bunch of rascals. They’re much noisier than any of our Berkshire piglets have been. If you lift one up, it screeches at an earsplitting volume! The day Ophelia decided to have her piglets was cold and thunderstormy. We’d wanted to move Ophelia into the stable pre-birth but she just wouldn’t go. We tried again after the babies were born, but again, no. We took all the piglets over, and despite hearing them squeal in protest and watch them disappear from sight, she wouldn’t budge. She seemed puzzled that they’d gone and looked for them in the shelter, but she wouldn’t leave her field to find them. So we brought them all back, getting soaked through again in the process. I got through three coats that day and as many pairs of trousers! It was a deluge. We tried again to get her into the stable in the evening, but to no avail. We piled hay around the entrances to the shelter and blocked any holes in the roof or walls to keep the weather out, and hoped for the best. We were quite concerned that the babies would get chilled. However, they not only survived that first night but have thrived ever since.

oph piglet close up face

Learning from our timing mistake, we moved Rosie into the nursery the next day, but she kept us waiting for another week until she produced her ten piglets, very quietly and unobtrusively, overnight on the 22nd June. Chris got a nice surprise that morning when he went in to feed her. We checked them all over, and Caiti and I cuddled a few, and not a peep did they make. They are such laid-back little dudes compared with the Tamworth-Gloucester Old Spot crosses. They’re outside now and enjoying life.

25juin piglets daisies2

In other news, the hay is made and baled. Edouard, the farmer who does this for us, had some mechanical problems and ended up calling a friend in to help. For the first time in our nine years here, we’ve ended up with a hay bale in the lake. There are two very near misses as well. The person who was baling in the lakeside field obviously underestimated the gradient of that field!

bale near miss

Other things have happened but that’s probably enough for now. Other than to say we’re in the fierce grip of a canicule (a heatwave) at the moment that’s forecast to go on for the next week and a half. Temperatures have been in the high thirties the last couple of days, and it’s going to be even hotter tomorrow. It’s a bit tough going in the afternoon but bearable, and the pool is wonderfully warm. We’ll cope!

Hot Chicks

Goodness, I hadn’t realised I’d taken such a long time off blogging (nearly three weeks in fact). It wasn’t intentional – it just sort of happened! Life has been busy on the farm with the angling season well underway and various other activities.

So a quick catch-up is due.

TT is now huge and living outside in the eglu. His rechickenisation has begun.


Plus he was getting too big to stay indoors. When he roosted on his brick in his fish tank home, his head was nearly touching the lid. We didn’t have any alternative accommodation for him. He’d been living in front of the TV in the evenings, having spent most warm days in the run in the garden (on his own since the attempt to integrate him with the turkeylings didn’t work – they picked on him!), and I think the change to a TV-free environment has been tough. I’m sure he also misses playing games with Rors on his tablet. He seems to be an ardoise cross breed, but we have no idea who his mum and dad were.

TT and the turkeylets

TT and the turkeylets

And now we have another half dozen chicks. Most of these guys hatched during the Eurovision Song Contest a week ago. So names will include Eurovision, Estonia and Conchickta. At present they all look very similar so only one has a name – Eurovsion, who is Yoyo for short.

Here’s a very very new chick, a few seconds after hatching.

eurovision chick

We left each chick in the incubator until it was completely dry and then transferred them to a hastily-assembled brooder.

chicks plz let me out2

They didn’t like to be kept waiting.

Our brooder consists of a polystyrene box with newspaper and wood chippings on the bottom.
brooderThe infra-red bulb keeps them toasty warm. These are the hot chicks referred to in the blog title – hope you’re not disappointed! They’re at 37.2 degrees C in the incubator so you need to keep them at 35 degrees C for the first couple of days in the brooder before you slowly reduce the temperature to acclimatise them to normal daily temps.

chicks day1 sleepy

The chicks have been outside once during the week when we had a lovely hot day.

chicks outside

The chicks aren’t the only ones to be newly outdoors. We’ve at last got some goat fencing organised and Hughie, Dewy and Louie are grazing in their new field. Chris kept an eye on them the first hour and they were very well behaved.

chris goats sitting

But not good enough to be allowed to share an ice cream!

chris goat icecream

Long may their goodness last.