Now I love my chicklets to pieces. I've loved them since they were tiny balls of fluff & I love them even more now that they're grown up, beautiful, on-the-soppy-side-of-friendly birds. But, in terms of baby birds, there is nothing quite like ducklings!! Alongside lambs, ducklings have to be my all time favourite Spring babies. I'm sure they hatch smiling & each & every day they seek out new adventures & pleasures in life. They are playful, exuberant & joyous! To be in the company of ducklings is to grin from ear to ear & feel your heart swell with love for them.
Daffy, Dougie, Pip, Eve, Orville & Scrummycupcake melt my heart completely. I treasure time spent with them. I can't wait to get home from a day in the office to connect with them again. Because they're hand reared they love being cuddled, & cuddled they certainly are, at any given opportunity! They grow at such a rate that you could almost swear you could see it happen! But each & every day they grow sweeter & cuter as their little personalities develop. They have lovely rounded bellies now, but are so tame that you can indulge that impulse to turn them upside down & blow delicious raspberries into that rounded fluffiness & they don't mind one little bit! It's heavenly!
When you hand rear ducklings it is very important to remember that although they are natural water babies they do not have a Mother Duck to transfer oils to their fluff & waterproof them, so when they are ready to be introduced to water it must at first be shallow & they must be supervised at all times. Their duckling fluff can become waterlogged & it is possible for them to drown in just couple of centimetres of water. So after week one, I decided to let them have their first paddle & hubby bought them a couple of paint roller tray which are absolutely ideal for the job. Can you imagine how excited they were? Well multiply that three-fold & that is just how happy they were to be able to splash about! They had a marvellous time! After their bath time I carefully dried them in a towel & made sure they were warm & cosy. Ducklings can easily chill when they're young. Now, just a few days later, they have out grown their paint trays, so last night I filled our shower tray with just a few centimetres of water for them to play about it. That was just the ticket! But they amused me no end by nosing about in my basket of bathroom products as if to say can we have some conditioner now please mum, oh & some talc would make us lovely & dry! Bless their buttons.
The new chicken ark has arrived for the chicklets & bantams, so this weekend they will be moved from the back garden up to their new enclosure in our little field. I have very mixed emotions about this! It has been so lovely to be able to look out of the kitchen window & see them happily bobbing about. However, it has been impossible to grown anything out there & my poor raised beds have been devoid of the delights of home grown vegetables for a couple of years now. So it does make sense to move them, & of course, I will have the ducklings out there shortly until they are big enough to join the rest of the ducks. Oh & then there will hopefully be some Croad Langshan chicks out there for a while if the eggs in my incubator hatch in a week's time. Then a second lot of ducklings, so lot’s to keep me busy & I guess I'm just being a big baby about it really!
After my Croad Langshan eggs & second batch of duck eggs hatch I have offered to hatch out some Scots Grey & Dumpy chickens on behalf of Caithness Rare Breeds charity which works to preserve native livestock & wildlife of the Highlands & Islands of Scotland. This came about after Stephen from the charity asked via Twitter if anyone knew where to source these poultry breeds. I knew where you could get hold of some hatching eggs, but he didn’t have the means to incubate them, hence my offer. Stephen is just trying to source a good poultry courier now so that we can go ahead. (If you know of one, do please let me know – thank you)
Croad Langshan chickens are sadly on the critical list of the Rare Breeds Survival Trust so I hope to be able to establish my own small breeding flock of these big, docile birds. I’m very excited about this little project, so wish me luck with my first hatching!
In other news, I was pleased to hear from Compassion in World Farming that Morrisons supermarkets had decided that all of it's own brand eggs should become free-range. Encouraging news that will hopefully prompt other supermarkets to follow. CIWF encouraged it's supporters to write to Morrisons to applaud the move, which I did but asked when they would extend this free range policy to all chicken meat it sells & also to it's own brand chilled & frozen ready meals. I was pleasantly surprised to get this response back the next day.
‘Good Afternoon Mrs Burton,
Thank you for contacting us regarding your concerns about the care and welfare of chickens. Please be assured that we take animal welfare extremely seriously.
We offer an own-brand range of RSPCA Freedom Food accredited chicken. The Freedom Food mark ensures that the chicken has been reared on a farm that meets higher welfare standards set by the RSPCA.
Freedom Food and Morrison’s have worked together for years to deliver the widest range of RSPCA Freedom Food accredited chicken and we currently offer the smallest price difference between this range and our regular own brand range, making it affordable for everyone.
All of our own brand fresh and frozen chicken is British and sourced from reputable suppliers who produce to recognised standards.
We are committed to providing our customers with a wide choice of poultry which is produced to nationally recognised standards, each standard having an animal welfare aspect embedded within it. Our product range includes Organic chicken which meets the Soil Association standards and is identified on pack by the Soil Association logo and RSPCA Freedom Food chicken which meets RSPCA standards and is identified on pack by their logo. Throughout our wide product offering we can competitively deliver on freshness, variety, quality and price.
We are currently working with suppliers to further extend our range of RSPCA Freedom Food poultry products (further information on Freedom Food poultry can be found at: www.supportchickennow.co.uk/freedomfood).
In addition to selling Freedom Food fresh chicken, 100% of our fresh duck range is free range and is RSPCA Freedom Food accredited, we also sell Freedom Food organic salmon and Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) accredited fresh fish.
Our premium range, ‘The Best’, contains only free range eggs in its ingredients as do some other own label products, for example fresh egg noodles. We are currently investigating the feasibility of extending this policy to other own brand products.
I trust this addresses the points you raise and we thank you for sharing your views with us.
Customer Services Department
WM Morrison Supermarkets PLC’
I really hope that in the not to distant future battery farming of any animal, not just chickens, is a thing of the past.
To celebrate Earth Day on 22 April I joined the Greenpeace Airplot campaign to try & prevent the expansion of Heathrow Airport. I’m now, along with thousands of others, a beneficial owner of the plot of land Greenpeace own on the proposed site for the third runway. Just click on the link in the side bar of my blog if you want to join in or find out more about it.
Well, the sun is shining & I have lovely plants to put into my front garden, so I will love & leave you for now & hope that wherever you are you are enjoying the sunshine & able to enjoy the wonders of Nature’s Spring time babies.