Sunday, 6 March 2011

Lost and Found

For todays' blog I am resurrecting my "Hen of the Day" feature.  Below is a photo of a mystery hen who has joined our merry bunch.  She is completely black and has a rosebud comb and a big sail-tail.  She is in very good condition and looks to be a fully mature hen.  We first noticed her yesterday at feeding time because she was not part of the usual rough-and-tumble feeding frenzy, rather she was standing on the outskirts looking a bit lost.
After a night in the byre with the rest, she is still around and we can't find out where she's come from.  None of the neighbours have black hens.  What a mystery!  If anyone has any information about this hen, please let us know.  We are more than happy to re-patriate her, or we can keep her.

Another new addition to the poultry gang is the naked neck chick who went down the road to our neighbour as "Duchess" and yesterday returned to us as "Duke"!!  He is a fine fellow - half buff-orpington and half golden naked neck.  Our other two naked neck cockerels are getting on a bit so Duke can take up the slack when the time comes.

Things have been a bit hectic on the croft over the past couple of weeks.  We have had a big outbreak of "pink-eye" amongst the flock.  This is a nasty inflammatory condition of the eyes that cause a cataract like growth to form over the lens and the affected sheep become blind for a while.  The treatment is an eye ointment containing an antibiotic which has to be applied to affected eyes every couple of days, and which reduces the inflammation.  Most sheep recover within a week or two.  However, a peripheral problem with this condition is that because the sheep can't see she can't find her food by herself, and this is not a good thing to happen just before lambing.  It is also a very contagious condition and passes from sheep to sheep mainly following bad weather during clustering round the feeding trough and hay net.  Thankfully nearly all the sheep are now on the road to recovery.  One of last years' lambs looks like she may be blind so will need a lot of care for the rest of her life.   Whilst its always good to have births and good news on the blog, we do need to reflect that here on the croft we are not immune to the problems that beset other farmers in other parts of the country.  It's been a wretched winter for us - heavy losses due to the weather conditions.  Spring can't come soon enough and we all have our fingers crossed for some good weather to get the grass growing and give the new lambs a fresh start when they start to arrive at the end of the month.

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