I have been sitting on this story for a couple of weeks now becoming more and more excited to share, however after the rabbit and the squirrel tale from Guy I was rather nervous of tempting fate with this one and rightly so, no sooner had I written the post than all turned to disaster. However I decided not to ditch the post but to share the story anyway, after not all farm stories can end ‘happily ever after’ and there is a silver lining.
We had two adorable baby peachicks born at the beginning of the month.
It hasn’t been an easy journey. Nick originally bought our young peacock and peahen back in 2011 at the Wadebridge fowl auction claiming “they were a good deal”. It transpired they were in fact not that much of a bargain as he then spent a fortune building a home for them on the shady side of his shed to ensure they couldn’t escape. To this we added our two guinea fowl who took to wandering up to the village and annoying the villagers roosting on their cars.
Patiently we fed and nurtured the group through to the summer of 2012 and were rewarded with 4 eggs. Our peahen showed no sign of knowing what to do with them so we set the incubator up in our house and tried to hatch them ourselves. Alas only one began to break free from the shell on the due date but never made it out, one other died just before term and two were non starters. For 2013 there was only one egg which we left waiting in vain for more to appear and in 2014 after the long wet winter the pair began to look anything but spritely and loving when they should have been in their prime.
Farmer Nick took the decision to free range them and let them take their chances with the dangers of nature and a possible loss for us, they were clearly unhappy and not going to reproduce anytime soon where they were despite our cleaning them out and providing fresh branches to roost upon.
Nervously they took their first tentative steps into the world beyond their Aviary venturing no further than a few feet for days. Immediately they began to roost on top of the Aviary and to this day still come back to this same spot each night. Within a week they had discovered themselves and were clearly enjoying life on ‘the other side’and their fun characters began to shine.
Days turned into weeks and the peacock’s feathers grew like never before. A proud male at last he fanned his feathers daily at his lady who feigned disinterest every time; we decided this was all a part of the courting ritual and they became affectionately named Percy and Priscilla.
Slowly they began to build a nest. It was a precarious location she chose on the edge of Jurassic park and eggs kept tumbling out. Prscilla didn’t seem to be sitting on them so we took them and placed the six in our incubator.
This however wasn’t the end, she continued to produce and create a new nest in an equally unsuitable spot still just feet from their old Aviary. We toyed with the idea of taking these eggs in too but decided she was actually sitting on them and that we would let nature take its course.
This turned out to be a mistake as one morning we discovered the nest empty and our lovely lady limping badly. We suspected a badger was to blame but we will never know for sure. Thank goodness we had six slowly developing in our laundry room. All we could do was wait.
On the last day of June we heard chirping coming from the incubator. This was followed by a cracked shell and finally a fully hatched chick.
It was two days before another joined him and sadly the rest never hatched. However the two looked strong and healthy and we were so hopeful of creating a peafowl group free ranging here at the farm. Each morning the children were delighted to open their little house for a cuddle.
Then after two full weeks of me sitting on this story the unexpected happened, Farmer Gill was on duty and doing the morning rounds to check the animals ahead of the feed run and found not one but two curled up still peachicks in their house. We will never really be certain of how they died but they had taken to hopping in and out of their nesting box under the heat lamp as their strength grew and we guessed that they had hopped out on this occasion and waited till they were too cold to hop back in. A stark reminder of how fragile life is for baby fowl. Thankfully all our early morning checks meant the guests never saw the peachicks that morning and moved straight onto visiting the growing sussex chickens.
We will have to wait till next year now for another go at peachicks, but atleast we came one stop closer this year and Percy and Priscilla have proved that they can look after themselves whilst happily free ranging here on the farm.
I led the feed run the following morning as “Farmer Fiona” while Nick went off to the fowl auction to see what he could find by way of day old chicks to bring on. Sadly there were no peachicks but he did come back with a pretty baby rabbit, some eggs for the incubator and cute Cuckoo Maran, Rhode Island Red and Welsummer chicks for our nesting house to the delight of the guests.
“Tales from the farmers wife” shares the funny and interesting happenings on our lovely holiday farm with Farmer Nick and our 6 children. A behind the scenes look on balancing family, farming, the holiday business and cooking for all.