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Archive for May, 2010

Today we have mostly been.. planting beans.  Lot and lots of them.  Borlotti, french, purple french, butter (spagna) and runners. 13 wigwams and the line of runners.

And the last of the pea plants went into today. Yay -cos I am a little tired of sowing peas now!.

Very late with everything this year, but perhaps just as well with that harsh late frost that caught so many people out.

Courgettes and other squashes going out this week.  Then the planting rush will be over.

Realised we dont have a whole heap of space in the freezers and (hopefully) the harvesting time will be on us soon..  have turned 2 off since last autumn, but we  have more pigs this year…  So meals will have to be based on what created most freezer space….

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We went back in the night, when it was completely dark (rather than dusk as earlier) and slowly added chicks to her, just a few at a time, as advised on the downsizer forum.  And no defensive fluffing up, no noise apart from the occasional cluck.  Once all fifteen were under (we had to cull one that wasn’t right), we slipped away and went to bed.

She seems to have accepted them as her own.. in fact looks pretty smug about it all.. she was sitting on one (fake) egg for 2 weeks, and hatched 15 day old chicks! – yeh i’d be smug too.  And of course – a reprieve for Henrietta.

By our calculations, it costs the equivalent of three sacks of layers pellets to use the heat lamp and get chicks to the point they are off the heat.  So if Henrietta does that just once , we will be saving (as she doesn’t eat that much!). Besides it is a lot easier and less smelly for us, and a lot more natural for the chicks.

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new chicks

Over the last couple of days we have had chirping in the dining room again, as sixteen chicks made their way into the world.

We set them – due to the broody hen.. the one that gave up half way.  But no problems.. we had another broody in the interval.

Henrietta.. not the best broody in the world.. as she seems to lose eggs.  She was our first broody.. and she nested the first time in the hen house.. we blamed the other chickens…we bought a coup.  The next time she lost some we blamed it on vermin….so we  super vermin proofed her coup.. and still eggs vanished.  We realised some were broken, so super padded the coup. The next time after that.. we worked out it was her.  OK – so we didn’t want to believe it. Cos she is broody.. often.  Too often. And all the time she is broody, or getting over being broody, or raising chicks, she is not laying.  Throw in that she is not laying lots these days anyhow.

So.. we said.. next time she goes broody. Into the pot.

But clever Henrietta (you can tell she was an early chicken.. she got a proper name.. since chickens have been called things like ‘Big Comb’ ), saw a reprieve, and cunningly went broody just as the other bird gave up.  Well, we said, raising chicks is useful, she can have a place in the flock after all.

Tonight we took out the chicks, at dusk, and popped them under her one at a time, hand concealing the chick, sneaking them in.  Unlike last time, she did not cluck motherly clucks, but instead squwarked defensively.  The chicks nestled in.  Henrietta fluffed up.. but not in a motherly way.  We replaced the lid and peeked through the gap.  She reacted as though some parasites had invaded her nest.  She pecked each one if they showed themselves..

We took them out again.  We lifted her off the nest and offered her one chick.  She ate, drank, pooed.. and carefully walked around the chick.  The chick sidled up and tried to sneak in.  She attacked.

And we brought the chicks back inside under the heat lamp.

It’s not looking good for Henrietta.

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The promised rain came.. the water butts filled.

You can spot those that grow their own veg – they are the ones pleased to see rain!

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fleeced

Or de-fleeced to be accurate.  As I mentioned, yesterday the shearer came and now we have skinnier, tidier, cooler, looking sheep.  And lots of lovely wool.

Sharona’s fake pregnancy fat reveals itself.  she is grumpy.. as always.  but in a nice loving kind of way…

Before

after:

Saffie is back to sleek and black and looks much more comfy, Arabella’s fleece was small but scruffy so she looks much better now- and the lambs were left unshorn.

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Tthey promised rain today, but as we got closer, the forecast changed, to slight rain, to grey cloud.. to rain at 10pm.  Then of course we had just a few spots, pathetic pointless rain in the evening… just as the shearer arrived.  Typical. The ten o’clock rain never came.

Why this obsession with rain?  Not just because I am a Brit, but because it is starting to matter – first off we have delayed shearing our sheep, but rain and hot weather is the perfect combo for flystrike.. and I have been hearing stories of it being around.  Secondly.. the veg patches are really suffering, the ground is dust, and we are slogging away watering everything, and the water butts are emptying one by one.

To add insult.. earlier, I eventually looked out my window to see what the persistant whining noise was (no not himself carrying watering cans), a man up the road, washing the pavement with a power washer.  Gallons of water was blasting out as he made the patch infront of his house cleaner. He used the force of the water.. drinking quality water.. to weed between the cobbles.  Then after a while he noticed the pile of debris he had made in the road.. so he started to power wash that a bit.. carefully blasting the rubbish to in front of his neighbours house..

Makes you feel it’s all pointless sometimes.. here we are, saving rainwater, putting in a water meter, being careful.. to save money, and resources. And there is someone else.. no doubt not on a meter.. which somehow gives  him licence to use as much as he pleases.. I think I would understand if he was watering his garden.. but not when he is watering the road.

Tomorrow, I shall have to start using water from the tap, to water my greenhouse.. and hope it does rain before the water butts serving the livestock runs out, and we have to carry it all the way to them.

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My Son and my mum have formed a rambling club.  They are the only two members…  but today, they kindly let me join in (as a guest member, my son tells me) to go and visit the bluebell lawns near Houndtor.

A nice short walk, and the bluebells were *wow* – and the air filled with their scent. And we could hear a cuckoo too.

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So hot today, and so gutted, as the shearer cancelled his visit today.  I had been so pleased – as we have had to put him off twice already because of bad weather, and only having a small flock, means we often get pushed to last, but we had a booking, and the weather was set to be fine.  And his shearing equipment breaks…

He hopes to be able to come to us next week.. and the weather forecast is not so great..

We plod on with other things to be done – but there is a time reversal going on, the heat of the midday sun means we rest and relax in the shade then, just as the cat sleeps the day away, the sheep keep to shade in their woolly coats, the hens are under their ark, and dust bathing and the pigs play in their wallow.

And in the evening we are out putting up our bean wigwams, planting the leeks  and watering.. and watering… and watering. Still on collected water, but the smaller water butts are running out – the IBCs that serve the pigs, new greenhouse and veg patches still keep going.  the cabbages are wilting, the new seedlings in the greenhouse struggling against the heat.  And we water and water…

So funny that not so long ago the place was a quagmire..

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