Video

30 seconds of bliss, forking heck 😜 & focaccia.

Monday 14th May 2018: Ahh where is the year disappearing too, how come Winter seems sooo long and the rest soooo short? Did the morning rounds, I let the few hens, that were in the stable for a couple of days, out and almost immediately they knocked over a quarter bucketful of corn that John had left lying around 😜 Did a little bit in the garden, planted the mini pop corn out under cloches, put some more tomato plants out for sale, not much to do at the moment really although I think I will need to water tonight it seems very dry already. Sat down for a coffee and recorded this 30 seconds of bliss, there were more seconds that that but I managed to capture the moment I think, not a dog barking, duck quacking, car passing, hen clucking, just the wild birdsong 😀 and me with my coffee, heaven.

I decided that the duck pen could do with some bushes of some sort for shade and hiding under, there is a row of conifers but they are to the North of the pen, so I set about digging up and elderflower, perfect as the ducks won’t eat it and it will get big pretty quickly once it takes root, plus it’s extra berries 😀 I was digging away forking the ground around it, put the fork under and went to lift, heard a breaking sound, checked my fork handle over, nope that hasn’t broken so I assumed it was a root, lifted my fork out and a prong has snapped off 😪 pants. Pretty sure this fork had a lifetime guarantee however I can’t remember where I bought it and the name has long since rubbed off!

I had some toast this morning, nothing unusual in that except that I put my hand to the back of the fridge to find something I had hidden 😝 French butter ❤️ My Dad and Sue had given me some when they came to stay last time, Sue had been given some by her brother in law, the genuine article and let me tell you if you have never had French butter then go and buy some, try and find an artisan one that would be the best, but the President one will be a good one to start with. I’ve read a few articles about how they make it and can’t quite decide why it tastes better it just does 😀 It’s hidden from John as he eats slabs of butter and has no appreciation of the taste so it’s for my consumption only 🤪

Today’s ‘oh I think I’ll have a go at that moment’ was to dig out and ancient scythe and have a go with it, specifically cutting down nettles which will then be left to dry and used for rabbit feed in the winter months when there is not a lot of fresh stuff growing. The blade looked decidedly blunt and the handles had wood worm at some point but I had a go, it just flattened the stingers, Samantha had a go, turns out I was holding wrong, and whoosh down came the nettles in one fell swoop, hooray even though it needs sharpening it still does an ok ish job so I cut down the nettles in the orchard where they are drying nicely on the ground. So much more pleasant than a petrol strimmer, lighter to hold as well, I just need to get the blade sharpened and ‘penned’ which apparently is hammering the edge of the blade and it’s good to go 😀

Never a dull moment I ordered some curing salt and I’m hoping to cure some of the breast of lamb that I have in the freezer, not your usual cured meat but we have a few of them and they don’t really yield much of a dinner unless stuffed. I looked it up and yep obviously it’s perfectly possible to make lamb bacon so that’s what I will have a go at.

Bit tired from all the Sun today but not complaining 😝

Had a lucky find today, someone was giving away some bird feeders with the caging round which will replace my feeder that I have cobbled mesh round to stop the crows, she wanted some brassica plants so we did swapsies 😀

Salt cure, pink salt (Prague powder, salt, brown sugar, pepper and crushed rosemary)

Tuesday: Another beautiful day 😀 Did the morning rounds making sure everyone has all the food and water they need until later, then a bit of foraging for the rabbits, comfrey, lovage, grass, cleavers and a couple of other bits, watered the mini corn, leeks and carrot seedlings then had a quick shower before making bread. While I was at it I have always fancied having a go at focaccia so I made some, this time of year I love all the Italian food influences mostly due to the wonderful aromas of the herbs as they are so strong at the moment.

Mia arrived and I made some mushroom and asparagus pasta for lunch, I am picking 3 bundles of asparagus a day and most of it is sold but I do keep a bit back for us to use now and again. Simple lunch, cook pasta, add asparagus just before the pasta finishes cooking, sauté some mushrooms and garlic, when they are done make a small quantity of veg stock, pour in and I added cream cheese but cream is fine, drain pasta, toss into mushroom mix, dish up and shave on some Parmesan 😀 tasty 😋

Had two funny moments with Mia today lol kids, First while Sam was still here and they went out to sort Jack out and I stayed in finishing the bread and making pasta, Mia comes to the back door and I expected Sam to be with her, Mia says Mummy’s stuck so I quickly take the pasta of the stove and the bread out of the oven. Show me where she is I said and off Mia runs in the direction of the paddock, we get round the corner and clearly Sam is NOT stuck just filling the water buckets 😂 turns out Mia didn’t want to stay so Sam said go back to the house and find Nana 😜 Second time was when Mia found a lily beetle crawling through a plant, I need my glasses she said 🤣🤣🤣 I’m guessing it’s because that’s what I always say when looking at something only difference, hers are sunglasses 😎

Off round to Mums for Ken’s birthday and some scoffs tonight, I know what your thinking 🤔 there is always a birthday, yep, that’s what happens with a big family that mostly all still live in the same area 😀 there is always cake 🎂

Came home and started looking at flower arranging lol, I have some of the most beautiful lilacs in and around the place and thought they would look nice indoors but I’m rubbish at arranging so I just ordered a book for 1p on Amazon plus £2.30 postage to reach myself how to do it right 😀

Wednesday: Did the morning rounds then Shelley came over with some strawberry plants for me, her strawberry box is overflowing with plants and I had seriously thinned mine out last Autumn, Josh and Mia helped to plant them up, hopefully they will recover quickly as they have lots of flowers on them so lots of potential strawberries, I put a good bit of manure in the compost to give them a boost.

I found some pork mince in the freezer, it was probably for stuffing or sausage rolls originally but I hadn’t used it so I typed in ‘what can I make with minced pork’ what I should have put is ‘what can I make with minced pork that John will eat’ 🤣 as most of the recipes are oriental or Mexican and he won’t eat either! In the end I did oriental pork for me which I will have with rice and a piggy pie for John which is basically shepherds pie but with pork lol.

I have not seen Diesel the cat for a couple of days, he has not been for his feed in the mornings, I have noticed he has been hunting a lot more lately so maybe he is not hungry but he can usually be found lying around somewhere, hopefully he will appear soon.

Thursday: Did the morning rounds, thought I had lost the new white ducks but found John must have shut them in the stable instead of the duck pen, phew. Everything else was in order so went on to do some watering and a bit of gardening, planted up the rest of the strawberry plants and dug a hole in the middle of each bean wigwam to put some manure in so that when I water the manure will feed the plants. I should have mucked up the beds last autumn but I didn’t and now this seems like the quickest and easiest way to get nutrients to the roots, really must try harder at the end of this year to manure all the beds.

Mixed up a salt cure for the breast of lamb, rubbed it all in and now it will sit in the fridge for 5 days, it will be interesting to see how it turns out.

In the afternoon we went to Witney, I had to get a few things and we visited Johns Mum in hospital, we had lunch at Cafe Rouge which was rather nice, must be what it’s like to be retired I guess 😜

Still no sign of Diesel today 😏

We have some of the young hens keep coming back to the stable at night so that’s where we shut them in, only trouble is we can’t find where they lay their eggs, John knocked up a quick nesting box to put on the wall in the stable to try and encourage them to lay there, one did but the other 14 have laid goodness knows where. Tomorrow I will leave them shut in until lunchtime I think so that we at least get some eggs.

John went off with the metal detector to try and help the Doctor find his wedding ring, he tested it over a 50p before he went because though I bought it for him a few years ago he has never used it! They didn’t find it but apparently had quite a laugh trying then had tea and cake lol

John had to go out around 9.30 and Diesel was in the front driveway so that’s good news, if it is our cat that is, John has history of bringing home the wrong missing cat, a story for another time I think lol

Friday: Did the morning stuff then spent the day with the Grandchildren and their respective mothers, we had a picnic in the back paddock and had the best time playing and eating.

Saturday: On today’s agenda was cutting the grass in the front paddock, it is getting a bit long because the geese are sitting and so that means they are not grazing very far from their hut. We don’t want the grass to get too long for them to eat when the babies finally hatch out and adult geese can’t have the grass too long either. The ride on mower has been sat in the stable block all winter, it was covered in dust (must cover it next year) and obviously hasn’t been started for months. We pushed it out, cleaned it off, topped up with oil and petrol, put wd40 on every part we could see and then had a go at starting it………ta dah, it actually went lol so off I went and cut the paddock. Then we got an area ready for the eight pekin ducks, we decided to move them to be on their own as they are not very competitive for food and get seen off by the other ducks and the hens, consequently they don’t lay many eggs so hopefully this will improve their ability to lay. They seem happy as Larry, whoever he is?

Putting the geese to bed tonight I found five eggs turfed out of the nest and shed, I’m hoping they know what they are doing and that these eggs are duff, however they may just be clumsy geese 😝 For some reason one of the nests has got closer and closer to the door way, this happens every year and eggs end up outside, I will have to think of a way to stop it happening and quickly or we could lose all the eggs in the same way. I found a piece of wood to wedge in to hopefully stop any eggs rolling out.

Sunday: Got up got the jobs done then I promised John breakfast at the garden centre as I needed to get a few veg plants. Some of my squash seeds never grew, butternut and courgettes, I had a list of things I wanted to get they included, horseradish and squashes, but I also picked up a few other bits, cape gooseberry as I lost mine this year, Jerusalem artichokes, a honey squash which I have not seen before, a spaghetti squash and something entirely new to me, tiger nuts which is a grass that produces nodes under ground, we will see how they turn out. I also wanted a grape but the cheapest they had was £50 I’m not paying that lol, in fact I couldn’t believe the prices of plants these days. When I was at college many years ago our tutor who was from Yorkshire said that once you had grown stuff from seeds and cuttings you will never pay the garden centre prices again, he was not wrong and made me think I really ought to divide more plants and save more seed to sell next spring. When they are asking £4 for a tomato plants my 50p ones for sale are a total bargain 😀

We realised this morning that we had sustained quite a fox attack yesterday while we were out for the afternoon 😩 we lost at least 5 hens and a big Aylesbury duck. At one point I did think that we could live in harmony with the fox and we can as long as it doesn’t come during daylight hours but this is the second big attack we have suffered besides them being picked off one by one daily, so I’m afraid we need to do something about it and quickly.

5.40pm and I tried to do some watering but it’s still too hot out there and much as I would love to be out in it I can’t as it would make me ill, I will probably do a bit of research on shade gardening and start planning that lol.

Lily beetle, luckily I have no Lilly’s 😀 not sure what else they eat but they used to be notifiable, now they are so widespread it makes no difference!

The long range weather forecast shows no sign of rain in the near future 😖 I have very nearly used the thousands of litres of rain water from the tanks on the ducks and the veg garden so it will be mains water until they fill again, surprising how quickly it gets used up.

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Dandelion honey, more fox attacks and a toad 😀

Sunday eve: Waiting to put the birds to bed as John is sleeping again, hope this illness passes soon 🤪it’s 8.30pm and still very light so might have a coffee outside while I’m waiting.

Bank Holiday Monday 7th May: Hot, hot, hot today phew. Got the birds done first thing, John was just well enough to help out a bit but then it wiped him out for a few hours. I did a few bits in the garden, picking asparagus, watering the tunnels etc, gave the rabbits some hay and did a bit of foraging for them. Meanwhile Charlie and Macca hoovered and tided the house oh and John changed the sheets on our bed, that is the first time in over thirty years he has done that! Then I finished making the dandelion honey, oh my days, that is some seriously good stuff, and going down a storm with everyone who tries it, obviously it’s not honey and it does have sugar in it, quite a lot, but it really does taste like honey, better in fact. Here is the link to the page and recipe http://tinandthyme.uk/2013/05/dandelion-honey/. Do have a go at making it if you are that way inclined, you won’t be disappointed, I will certainly be making some more at some point.

Had to laugh this morning, a local retired Doctor who is a customer of Johns phoned this morning, not on a plumbing matter but needed to borrow a metal detector as he has lost his wedding ring in the garden somewhere (that’s not what I laughed at just so you know 😝) but John told him his symptoms and asked him what he thought was wrong with him lol, he suggested taking aspirin instead of paracetamol and it seems to have done the trick to an extent, either that or he was getting better anyway 😝

Then Sam came over and we went to Cogges Farm craft fayre, I had planned to go with John but he wasn’t up to it, it was incredibly hot and as with most of these things there was not much shade so we only stayed a couple of hours before coming home again. When I got back Shelley and Martin were here and had done some of the jobs that John usually does like cleaning out the front hens, thank you everyone today for helping out and taking me out x x Martin showed me how to use the chop saw safely and I had a go so I should be able to start making stuff 😀

Charlie and Macca did a bbq in the evening, we had meat already in the freezer to use up but the salad leaves, chives, mange tout and asparagus all freshly picked 😀 from the garden to the plate.

Sitting here are 8.30 typing up and Charlie comes running in the back way with a hen , she was sat outside with Macca when the horse started making a racket the dogs shot off and they ran up the back to see foxy with a chicken in its mouth, the dogs chased the fox who dropped the hen minus a load of feathers! The hen has a puncture wound which I have purple sprayed and hopefully she will survive the shock, I have now shut her away with the rescue ducks in the stable, we caught up all the other hens out the back and shut them away and also shut the ducks in their compound. Last night we lost a hen at around the same time of night, we are suffering attacks daily now and the problem is that it’s still light and the hens are still out, they will be confined for the next few days until the fox either moves on elsewhere or stops visiting because there are no birds about.

I candled the goose eggs in the Incy and all but one are viable so hopefully we will have eight goslings 😀

A farmer in the village has lost his cows! Eight of them are missing and a Facebook appeal has been put out for any sightings, we haven’t seen anything hope he finds them soon 🙁

Tuesday: Wall to wall sunshine again this morning although showers are possible later which would be just perfect, save me watering the veg plants 😜

Got on quite early this morning as it is so pleasant working in the cooler morning air than the hotter parts of the day. As I said yesterday the birds at the back of the farm are being confined in their runs much to their disgust but I am not going to risk any more attacks from the fox. After feeding, straight into the garden to pick, this mornings offerings are asparagus, rhubarb, mangetout and some radish, mostly all put out for sale in the shed, some saved for dinner later. Forage for the rabbits, mostly dandelion and thistle today, I planted some more broccoli plants out in the cage and sowed some more seeds, mini corn, courgette (as the other seeds just rotted away) beetroot and coriander, I am trying to do them fortnightly so I get a succession this year instead of gluts! I picked some herbs for drying, sage, thyme, lovage and oregano, I intend to dry quite a lot this year to keep me going through the Winter months (though I don’t want to think about that too much just yet it still has to be prepared for) Watered the poly tunnels, I have moved a few things from the greenhouse into the tunnels as the greenhouse does not seem to be performing well this year. I have been pondering about rebuilding it or getting a new one or another tunnel, though the tunnels are really good nothings beat the feeling of being in a greenhouse in the spring, seems like a heart or head decision 🤔

Then Mia arrived had a bit of lunch then went for a sleep as she was quite tired, while she was sleeping I picked some of the thinner sticks of rhubarb to make a pudding for later, rhubarb pudding cake, easy, quick and hopefully delicious. I did a double take at the ingredients as there are no eggs in this pudding mix but I thought, ok, we will see how it turns out? The rhubarb retains its sharpness as the mix is sat on top of the fruit but there is plenty of sugar in it it counterbalance that, then it is soft and almost custard like with a chewy sweet topping, it’s fab, I love it and a dollop of creme fresh would top it off nicely 😀

Old Fashioned Rhubarb Pudding Cake Recipe

Ingredients

• 2 cups chopped rhubarb

• 1 3/4 cup sugar, divided

• 3 tablespoons butter, softened

• 1 teaspoon baking powder

• 1/4 teaspoon salt

• 1/2 cup milk

• 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

• 1/2 teaspoon almond extract

• 1 cup sifted flour

• 1 tablespoon cornstarch

• 2/3 cup boiling water

Directions

Cover the bottom of an 8 or 9 inch square pan with fruit. (I prefer an 8 inch or 9 inch square glass baking dish. You could also use a deep dish glass pie plate.)

Mix 3/4 cup sugar, butter, baking powder, salt, extracts, milk and flour together (add a little more milk if it is too thick to pour); pour over fruit. Mix remaining sugar and cornstarch; sprinkle over mixture in pan. Pour boiling water over the top. ( I know this sounds strange, but trust me, it works to create a pudding around the rhubarb in the bottom of the pan.)

Bake at 375°F for 45 minutes.

https://commonsensehome.com/rhubarb-pudding-cake/

I am having chicken left from the bbq last night with salad leaves from the tunnel, asparagus, mangetout and some avocado I need to use up, John will have his with beans and chips probably, some people don’t know when they are well off, I keep telling him he needs to change his diet but it’s like trying to drag a kicking and screaming bear out of the woods, not worth the bother 🤪

I ordered some silicone callipo style lolly moulds, we grow a lot of soft fruit and sometimes you can only eat so much of it so I thought the grandchildren would appreciate real fruit ice lollies if the weather stays on the same course it’s on now and I ordered biodegradable paper straws for smoothies 😀

The egg sales were extraordinary at the weekend which resulted in selling every available egg on the place, I thought today would see a slow down but nope, everything I put out this morning was gone by 2pm and I have just put out what is left of todays laying, great for us not so good for customers who turn up when they are all gone 😝

The farmer has found his cows, they had gone along the downs quite a long way away, I know the farmer was very upset at losing them so all has ended well 😀

Wednesday: Not much happening today, did the morning rounds, still keeping some birds confined to pens, we will be moving the pullets to the front house tonight to live with the older hens as we have secured 40 new POL for delivery on Friday, partly for demand in sales of hens and partly for the high demand in eggs. I did a bit of pottering in the garden then Mum called over so we sat and had coffee and chatted, then Sam and Mia arrived, Sam went off to work and so it was just Mia and I for the afternoon. We had good fun playing in the pirate ship, land ahoy lol.

After tea, which was beef stew today with frozen veg I am still using up from last year and some left over rhubarb pudding, I was looking at the stats for my blog site and I couldn’t believe that I have been blogging for seven years!! Oh my days lol, at some point when I get time I will have to have a random read of some of the posts 😝 no idea where that time has gone.

Covert operation completed at dusk and all pullets moved swiftly and without incident 😜 we had taken down the poultry netting across the big side paddock when we dragged it so we put that back up again to hopefully contain the hens or at least to put the fox off or give the hens a chance if it comes in the daytime.

Thursday: Another nice day forecast, a little cooler than of late but still pleasant enough. Before I did the morning round I spent an hour cleaning out the POL pen then onto feeding and watering the animals, nothing untoward in my rounds. After that I cut asparagus to put out for sale and went foraging for the rabbits, today they had ribwort, grass, dandelions, lilac, they love it, I love watching them love it 😊 Then Shelley, Josh and Florence came and it was time to play with Josh, we fed the rabbits, went for a wander across the paddocks, went up the back to take some treats to Jack, ran off some steam in the ménage, cuddled the baby quail and it was time for lunch 😀 In the afternoon I did a few bits then popped next door for a chat and a cuppa, came home and did some hoeing and watering. I realised I had put the hose from the rainwater tanks to the duck bath and forgotten to turn it off, all day 😝, I did think for a moment that I had lost all 15,000 litres but luckily there was still enough in there to water the plants, I’m not sure how much of it was lost but I will be glad when it rains again to fill them back up to maximum! Tonight’s jobs will be to round up the hens we moved last night some of whom have made their way to the back again which is all shut up so they can’t get in 😜

I have started meditating 😜 to focus mainly and to be honest I’ve only done two days at 5 mins each session so I’m not sure there is much to report but I figured nothing ventured, nothing gained 😀

I also want to tell you about an app called what3words, every single 3m x 3m square in the world has been allocated three random words, what’s the point I hear you ask, because that’s exactly what I first said but if you read up about it it’s actually brilliantly simple and useful. Words are easier to remember than co ordinates and the UN can use it to give people in refugee camps an ‘address’, the car manufacturers are beginning to use it in their sat navs so watch this space, just when you think there is nothing left to invent 🙂 and do download the app and see what yours are, then have fun typing in three random words and seeing where it takes you, it’s a free app.

Friday: An ok day weather wise. My first job was to spend a bit of time organising the duck compound, I needed to get the ducks that were in the stable into the compound so they have some outside space, then partition off the smaller duck house so that there are now three available areas for them to choose from. The problem at this time of year is the drakes, they are very amorous and competitive and it causes all kinds of racket, probably why a small group chose to go up to the back paddock each day out of the way. All ducks are now in the same compound and they have a choice of sleeping quarters so hopefully all will be well. Then onto finishing the rest of the rounds. After that it’s gardening, though I did put a couple of loads of washing on inbetween times and with the wind as it is today it should dry quickly. I have planted some of the leek seedlings, they may be a bit small but fingers crossed they will carry on growing, cut the grass, weed some of the beds, plant some dwarf beans straight into the beds, normally I would get them going in the greenhouse but with this years weather it’s getting late, they will hopefully be stronger plants for it. Sam and Mia called in and Sam gave Jack a good brush to get his winter coat out.

New batch of POL hens arrived this afternoon.

John is feeling much better thank goodness so we went out for steak 😁

Put the birds to bed, had to catch a few of them up and we put them in the stable, as it had rained a little I spread a bit of grass seed in the small back paddock then watered it in.

Saturday: realised I had left the hose on all night after watering in the seed 😆 Had a very busy day today and only just taken a break (3.30pm) Found a dead quail hen on my rounds, don’t know what happened to her they are only a year old ☹️ John spent most of the day cutting up wood, it’s getting there and we will definitely have enough to keep us warm next winter 😀 I spent all the rest of the time in the garden, I have put in the hazel poles for the runner beans and sowed the beans seeds straight into the ground, planted some tomato plants in the poly tunnel and some little gem lettuce seed tapes. Potted on some of the seedlings in the greenhouse, cabbage, tomatoes, doesn’t sound very much now I’ve written it down lol there must be something else I’m missing can’t remember now though 🤪

There is always something else to do but it can wait for another day as it will be feeding time soon, though we won’t be egg collecting as we have sold out again, bumper week this week selling out every day. I need to have a go with my chop saw, I need to tidy the kitchen, I really need to do some baking as I have not done anything all week!

I found a friend when I pulled back the weed membrane to put the bean poles in, I’m not sure if it’s a frog or a toad, I’m leaning towards toad anyway he let me pick him up and put him under some other membrane, I have no idea where he has come from as we don’t usually see them here.

Sunday: Had a lovely day today, did the morning rounds, had 4 lots of egg customers by 8am! Did a little bit in the garden before finally getting to play with my new toy which occupied me until well I to the afternoon 😀 I made two more bird boxes and a herb box whoop whoop. I had the best fun making them, I need to gen up on some carpentry skills really so that I’m not so ham fisted, there are obviously tricks of the trade that I’m not very au fait with, yet 😜 John spent most of the day cutting up wood and we now have a cleared space, still plenty of wood to cut yet but it’s getting there. His Mum is back in hospital so he went to visit her this afternoon, my sister and brother in law popped in for a cuppa, I dug deep into the depths of the freezer and found some smoked fish for dinner, I really need to make bread either tonight or tomorrow and a bit of baking would probably be appreciated 😝

Bad start, got better, life is good.

Monday 30th April: A woeful morning right from the off, early morning call to John, his Mum is being admitted to hospital after an incident, I do the morning rounds, and we have had a fox massacre in the back paddock. It has gone in through the window on the roof and massacred the hens that sleep in there overnight ☹️ The window was broken but it’s up high on what you would think was an impossible incline, I’m thinking that the strong winds overnight have shaken the rest of the glass and it has broken and any opportunity is all the Fox needs.

It’s bitterly cold out there this morning, I’m hanging on to the fact that this is the last day of the cold weather 😜 It is fricking perishing out there, the wind is blowing a hoolie down from the North, less than half an hour out there and my hands are like ice blocks, I don’t think I will bother outside, the farm behind has a bonfire and there is smoke blowing straight down the yard, don’t get me wrong I love the smell of a bonfire but I can even smell it indoors too 🙁 Ever wish you had a rewind button for the day 😝

It warmed up in the afternoon, typical after I had lit the Rayburn, when John got back from the hospital he cleaned out the front hens which was overdue, while I cleaned out the quail, then he spent the rest of the evening cutting up wood from the mountain 😝 I did a bit of gardening, weeding etc and we didn’t finish until it was dark.

Tuesday: May Day 😄 Today didn’t start off much better lol, I cleaned and filled up a drinker for the hens in the orchard, turned it over and whoosh the bottom came off and a couple of litres of water went everywhere, all over the side and down the back of the cupboards in the boot room 😜While I was outside I took a little time to inhale the perfume of the apple blossom on this glorious May Day morning. I collected fodder for the rabbits, hazel, lemon balm, fennel, dandelions, plantain, grass tufts, I love watching them pick out their favourites first, usually the dandelion closely followed by grass and raspberry runners.

Then we did some tree work in the front paddock, two trees that died a couple of years ago after a pony got in and ate the bark from them, bits of branches keep falling off and they needed taking down properly. We have left about 4ft of stump on both of them, I saw this on a programme about an arboretum, they leave the stump to rot naturally and provide a home for the insects, great idea I thought so that’s what we have done. There is an apple tree that I planted a couple of years ago that should now get lots of light and put on some good growth, the dead wood has been cut up and put in the firewood store (smaller stuff is set aside for use in the fire pit later in the year)

After that John cut the front driveway grass and the lawn while I tidied up the orchard and burnt some dead stuff and twigs, a great mornings work 😀 John went off to the hospital at lunchtime and Mia arrived for her afternoon with Nana while Mummy goes to work, looking every inch the gardener in her hat today 😍

John came back and we had a load of wood chip delivered into the ménage so he got the tractor out and spread it, meanwhile Mia and I made daisy chains, had rides in the wheelbarrow and watched Grampy on the tractor.

I did a bit of baking while I was getting dinner ready, biscuits and a rhubarb loaf, mostly to stop John moaning that there is nothing to eat when he is home.

Wednesday: Raining and cold again ☹️ Did the morning rounds with John then he set about tidying up the wood mountain area and various bits while I went into the greenhouse to work. I feel disheartened at the amount of time and effort I am putting into growing seeds when the temperatures make it a struggle this year, a few of the seedlings have suffered damping off because the compost (that was watered when the sun was hot and shinning) is now cold and wet. I have relented and taken the power out there to turn on the propagators that I have available to warm it up a bit, hopefully it will only be a couple of days at most but this yo-yo-ing of the weather is making things difficult. I have just been watching a video of how to make a hot bench with soil warming cables which I think is what I am going to have to do for next year, I have earmarked a piece of celotex for the job and we have plenty of wood to make a bench 😝 I planted up the pea seeds I have had sprouting on the windowsill, I hope they grow, I never had such a bad year with peas as this year has been. I also planted the sweet pea seeds which I also had sprouting, we can only hope they continue to grow. I’m beginning to wonder what the heck I do wrong, some people are naturally green fingered and can grow something from a dead twig, I am not one of those, if the chance is there for it to die, it does 🤔

After being outside I came in to finish off the loaf of bread I had proving before I went out and got all the ingredients ready for dinner tonight, John has chicken casserole and I am having a Lean in 15 chicken carbonara. I put some sausage rolls in the oven at the same time as the bread, something warm and tasty for John to have with his coffee after being out in the rain.

I ordered myself a chop saw, as a girl does lol, there are things I want to make and waiting for John to be here with his circular saw (which doesn’t cut very straight or so he tells me) is a pain so I will have my own and I can get on when I want to. Bird boxes and herb boxes are on the list but I got carried away looking at benches with storage in, who knows I may achieve this yet 😀 My son in law Martin has offered to give me a lesson on the saw and I am taking him up on the offer better to be safe than sorry and if I know how to use it properly there will be no end to the kinds of things I can ‘knock up’.

Thursday: Lovely weather this morning and after doing the morning rounds, John came back from sorting his Mum out, she was discharged yesterday, we had the arduous task of taking down the fence in the back paddock, it took till lunchtime to cut off the stock fencing and then take down and clear up all the post and rail, we now have one huge paddock at the back 😀 easier for dragging and maintaining and Jack thinks it’s Christmas 😀

After some lunch and forty winks 😉 we started the afternoon jobs, John on cutting up wood as the mountain he was clearing is now full of old rail from the paddock 😝 and I did some veg gardening, to be honest, sitting here now I can’t think what I have done but I did do something 🤪 Mum called round with my niece Zeri and we spent a bit of time looking at the rabbits, guinea pigs and baby chicks 😀 then John did the afternoon feeding and egg collecting while I transported compost from the sack in the front to the beds that needed filling. It’s a shame I can’t get the tonne bag any closer to the garden but it’s in the front driveway until it’s empty enough to be able to drag it! John went off to get his Mums dinner and I planted some runner beans in the poly tunnel and some ying yang beans outside, hopefully they won’t get eaten by slugs and mice, always something attacking the veg.

I cleaned the oscillating sprayer and looked for the hand held trigger type sprayer which I can’t find, I have a feeling it didn’t work and water just spat out the end so I must have thrown it away, I will order a new one, I am going for the Karcher brand as their oscillating sprayer is so good much better than the hozelock one which gets stuck all the time.

A family birthday means we are out for the evening for nibbles, or scoffs which is more like it 😄

Friday: Another good day weather wise, temps look to be warm and no rain 😀 John went off to get some bits of feed and sort his Mum out so he won’t be back until gone midday today. After the morning feeding I did some weeding collecting four buckets of forage for the rabbits who were very happy about that, I sowed some sunflower seeds into pots and then some carrots into one of the smaller raised beds, I have to get everything ready to cover before even starting as the chickens can smell disturbed Earth from miles away and are there scratching as soon as your back is turned. I weed killed the bindweed as it is such a pain to try and dig it all out and I don’t want it taking hold this year like it did last year. When John came back he moved the tonne bag of multi purpose compost with the tractor so that it is nearer to the garden, makes life a bit easier. I have dedicated a small section of one of the beds to flowers this year, I am planting it up with anything and everything I have, it will be a totally random selection and randomly planted, no order to it whatsoever, we will see how it turns out, the main aim is to have a riot of colour to look at and a nectar patch for the insects to feed on. My chop saw arrived………watch this space 😜

Saturday: Well we are on a roll with the weather ☀️ of course with it this hot it means I have to get started early and then chase the shade 😂 which runs out around 2pm at this time of year. I have got plenty done though, I finally planted the potatoes, I looked round for a place but there is not enough soil depth on the beds to grow them so I have used the two long raised beds that used to have flowers in them, I had dug up and potted everything in order to empty them out and put them back together but it never got done and so it’s perfect for growing spuds in, the rest are in pots and potato growing sacks anywhere I can place them I have, I told you the garden was all a bit random this year 😜 First thing this morning I took clematis cuttings after seeing something on Facebook that reminded me it was the right time, I have Montana, Neiobe and Dawn, the Dawn was bought by a friend for my 40th birthday many, many years ago now, it’s a small clematis that is ideal for a shady corner, hopefully the cuttings strike but I won’t hold my breath lol. I potted on the runner beans and put some more seeds into trays, the sprayer I ordered arrived and I have sorted out and connected up all of the hose pipes and various heads for them, I think I will be watering sooner rather than later with this heat. I fixed a little wooden cold frame that I have had for years, the glass fell out and I have finally put it back in and secured it, it now has sweet pea, poppies and cosmos seedlings growing under it. I have filled up some old recycling boxes with compost ready for the cucumbers in the small tunnel and repotted a grapevine that was in the wrong place and struggling, it’s now in full sun so hopefully will romp away nicely. John has not felt well today but despite that has fixed the top rails on one of the paddock fences before deciding to have a sleep.

Cleaned the boot room up a bit, it gets so dusty very quickly that it’s a thankless task but has to be done, then gave the dogs a groom, patch is moulting like crazy, hardly anything came off of Mia!

John took to his bed, he has a high temperature and is pretty unwell 🤒 so it’s up to me to put the birds to bed tonight, it’s very pleasant out there this evening.

I noticed on my way round how much the asparagus has shot up just today, I have been picking a bundle of 10 nearly every day but in the morning I am going to have to cut it early or some will be too long, it does not stay in the egg shed very long it sells pretty quickly, mind you the rhubarb is the same and it looks like I will be picking mange tout as well, the over wintered broad beans in the greenhouse have just started to form, I love it when the veg starts coming in thick and fast.

Sunday: Cracking day again and even at 7am there is no ‘cool’ feel to the air so it’s gonna be hot! The animals are flipping annoying this morning, the cats have taken to following me everywhere and now diesel is sat on the shed roof right next to the bird feeder and all the little birds are giving the alarm call. The chickens are pesky this morning pecking at my boots while I’m sat drinking coffee outside and trying to wander into the kitchen, the dogs bark at fresh air and take off chasing fresh air also every 2 minutes, while I’m typing a chicken flies onto my knee, what’s wrong with them all today?

Did the morning rounds, John is poorly in bed though better than he was last night, then I did a bit in the greenhouse and moved some stuff to the poly tunnel and then I thought bugger this I’m going to have a few hours off lol. You may have noticed that we work 7 days a week usually but today as John is not up to it and it’s a lovely day I decided to read in the shade, bliss, inbetween I took a walk around one of the fields and thought why go anywhere when you have all this to enjoy 😊. I had an egg customer that was Spanish and out for the day call in and bought some eggs and asparagus, ‘you have a lovely Farm’ he said in a Spanish accent, ‘thank you’ I said and thought, yes we really do even though I spend all winter moaning about it, days like today give it back tenfold 😄

As I was having a few hours off and I can’t really sit still very long I decided to pick dandelions and have a go at making dandelion honey or ‘poor mans honey’ I was going to make dandelion jelly but I thought the honey seemed more interesting. I sat in the paddock for a good half hour picking the heads then another half hour or more pulling or cutting the yellow petals away from the green bits and then simmered them with a sliced lemon for 20 mins, they now need to soak overnight so the next instalment will be on next weeks blog 🤪

The petals once they are picked are incredibly fluffy and tactile to put your hands in and if anyone fancies a go themselves we have millions of dandelions all growing in untreated paddocks so come and help yourself 😀

Hatchlings, home baking and mint jelly.

Monday 23rd April: St George’s day 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 Noticeably cooler today than the record temperatures of last week, I for one am glad it’s cooler and more like proper spring temperatures 😜 I did the morning rounds and then spent three hours trying to sort out some tax issues for the old company, I have been losing sleep worrying about getting it sorted and so today was the day to face it and sort it to which end they actually had to pay a refund so happy days and happy sleeping once again.

Still no sign of the quail eggs hatching, never had a failed hatch before on a 100% scale, though I’m sure I can hear cheeping, though faint, so I will leave the incubator on for a couple more days yet. Typed a little too soon, when I went in the back there was a little chick and Mia and I watched as another one exited his shell 😀

In the afternoon free from the burden of tax matters I did a whole lot of weeding, nearly every bed is now under control and just one more to do then I will hopefully be able to keep them up together, I feel as though I am getting somewhere at last 😀

This is the scene that I am greeted with if I am a little late with the feeding, a small flock of chickens coming indoors to find me, then outside a waddle of ducks are also coming to find out what is going on and why I’m not outside yet 😄

By mid evening there are six quail chicks fully hatched and a few more pipping.

Tuesday: 14 hatchlings this morning, hoping for a few more yet 🤞 The Little silkie that had one chick now has two, the only problem is that she abandoned the rest of the eggs, they were cold but I figured they were worth a try as she probably only got off this morning. So I did a mercy dash to the incubator with them and put them in, finished off my rounds and went back to candle them, most were empty a couple were full and a couple half full, I could also smell bad egg so I took them back out and figured the viable ones had died. I left them in a bucket while I went out to sort water for the geese and when I came back I started to open them (a bit like a post mortem) to see at what stages they were at. The very first one started cheeping argghhh so I quickly took it to the incubator, I could tell it had already begun to hatch as it has absorbed most of its yolk, otherwise it would die despite my effort as cracking the shell means it would bleed to death 🙁 The rest were already cold and dead and as I said some had gone bad. I’m not sure if this little one will make it, if it does it will think it’s a quail!

The weather is a bit cold, grey and spitting with rain this morning so I did a bit of baking, I needed to make bread I haven’t made any all week and we have been buying it 😝 I also make a batch of choc chip muffins and some choc chip biscuit mix for freezing. John has taken to buying biscuits when we are shopping, it started off with one packet now two packets a week go into the trolley when I’m not looking, so hopefully this will knock that bad habit on the head lol. I had a look through the freezer for some things to use up for dinner and found some pizza dough and passata that I had made and frozen last year, I have some mozzarella in the fridge so that will be my supper, for lunch I found some homemade chicken soup which will be just right with the freshly baked bread 😀 There is so much that I need to use in there but I do have to have a good look through to see what’s there, I’m always looking for a good method of freezer storage but it never seems to work. The one method that does is keeping veg and fruit in separate sacks in the bottom of the freezer, they are white woven sacks but I have used builders rubble sacks before now as they are strong (new ones obviously). Square tubs work best for stacking but it’s the sauces/gravies that are in pour and store bags that are more difficult to stack and things in food bags, maybe time to think about vacuum packing. Anyway what ever I decide I do need to have a good tidy up of the freezers and really start using it every day no matter what, I have frozen lemons and limes from when I just used the zest, breadcrumbs from left over bread, berries that have been steeped in alcohol and then the alcohol drained off, lol there is a real variety in them, frozen chopped onions that I had forgotten were in there and then bought some fresh ones, the further down the freezer I get the more interesting the dinner choices are going to be 🤪

The silkie chick is doing ok in the brooder unit with the quail though it is three times the size of them 😂

Wednesday: A quick morning routine done and finished then of to soft play with the grandchildren and their Mummies, rather enjoyed climbing round the frame and going down the slide lol, of course I also enjoyed coffee, cake and cuddles with Florence while the Mummies played on the soft play 😀

In the afternoon I had Mia so didn’t get anything else done today, I figured I have spent enough time on the plot so can be allowed some time off 😜

Thursday: Back to working today, the weather is looking pretty good so I got on with various jobs, some pricking out of seedlings, some potting on of toms and pumpkins which are growing very quickly, some weeding in the large poly tunnel and planting of some plum toms. I incorporated some rotted manure into the potting mixture to feed the young plants. Then on to make some more hoop covers and plant the broad beans out, I am covering everything this year to save them from pigeons, crows, chickens, the cats (crapping and digging) the ducks (walking over stuff and squashing it) Had Josh for an hour mid afternoon then when he went home I went into the stables and sorted out the straw that has blown everywhere and tided up the stables, closed them up so the chickens can’t get into all of them and make a mess. Then put some pallets around the hay in the barn as the dogs keep using it as a toilet area 🙁 Meanwhile John has been cutting his way through the wood pile and filling up the wood store ready for next year.

Some seeds that I ordered arrived today, peas for eating and sweet peas, both lots I have put in dishes with water to get them to chit before potting them. I thought the sweet peas would make a colourful addition to my flower area and I have put some of the cut hazel poles in a wigwam formation ready for when they grow.

I have had a flurry of new readers that have signed up to get my blog by email, thank you to all of you and welcome to my world 🤪 I write the blog mostly for cathartic reasons, it definitely helps keep me sane (ish) as I have said before it’s like a diary really (helps me remember what the heck I have done all week if nothing else) and who knows it may still be floating around next millennia as a kind of historical reference of a mad woman’s life on a smallholding in Oxfordshire 😝 how she strives to grow as much of her own produce as possible and make the best use of it, the things that go wrong and the things that go even more wrong 😄

The quail have finished hatching, it’s difficult to count them but I think there are about 20, two that hatched have since died for no other reason than that’s what they do! The bantam chick that nearly got chucked out in the egg is doing really well and is like a big teddy to the little quail chicks. I decided to put nine goose eggs into the incubator while it was out, I will candle them at about 10days in and see if they are viable.

Friday: 🙁 chucking it down this morning, Luckily it was only light rain when I went out to do the feeding and letting out, ah well the ducks will be happy, they are busy playing in every available puddle there is 😀 That just leaves me wondering what to do today, I have blood tests first thing then a choice between housework or making and baking. I need to bake bread as it’s all gone this morning and John went without breakfast, strangely enough he made no fuss whatsoever so I’m guessing he had already decided to go to ‘Rupert’s’ for a bacon and egg roll 😝

Mint jelly is on my list of to do in the making dept, I want to pick the mint before any flowers start to appear, I will probably only make a couple of small jars as John does not eat it so it will just be for me and visitors that are having lamb. The stuff you buy in the shop is very green, it has added food colouring but I prefer to leave mine natural which turns out a yellow brown colour, the taste is still fab 😀

In the afternoon I was sat watching tv as I unexpectedly had Mia and she was asleep, I looked out the window and there was a big red 4×4 in the driveway, I look around can’t see anyone then go out the back and a woman is wandering round! As she came back round by the side door I opened it and said ‘hello’ oh do you have any frizzles she asks, I’m thinking, why have you not rung the bell or knocked on the door before wandering around the place? This entirely raises my suspicions about what she was doing, she may have been genuine or she could have been having a scout about. Why do people think it’s ok just to come onto the yard and wander round, I wouldn’t do it in someone’s garden, same with just parking up and taking your dog for a quick walk or answering the phone, oh yes we have had them as well, flipping unbelievable. Anyhow, suspicions now aroused 🤔always have to be on your guard sadly for those who think it’s fine to take what others work hard for 🙁 the detritus of society.

After Mia went home I quickly hoovered and polished the living room and went back to finishing the mint jelly I started this morning, my suspicions are that it’s not going to set, though I got it to boiling point, the apples have been stored and possibly weak in the pectin scores, I will wait till it’s cold and see how set, or not, it is.

Saturday: I intended to be very productive today but I still have this bug thing hanging on that makes me feel dizzy, only slightly today compared to the other day but it stops you from propelling yourself into work 😝 John did the outside routine while I stayed inside and did some domestic bits and pieces, the weather, after that glorious week, has been disappointing to say the least and a tad on the cold side again, in fact we have lit the Rayburn in the evening the last two nights just to take the chill off the air.

I did a little bit of baking, I cooked some biscuits with the frozen dough that I made and a chocolate cake, healthy style, one of Nigellas recipes, gluten free and made with oil instead of hard fat, it tastes lovely, very chocolaty and hits the spot nicely enough. We watched Hugh’s Fat-fighting programme and decided to pull our socks up a bit lol. The Apple/mint jelly, is set but only just, however it will be fine like that for various recipes or as a condiment. I did find the recipe I generally use (the apple/mint one I got on Pinterest) and will have another go at it next week as it is more like the mint jelly you can buy in the shop and it’s a delicious one at that, I will stick to what I know and like in future lol.

We have beef and broccoli for dinner, Johns with mash and mine with rice, I can’t quite persuade him to shift away from potato’s 😜 however the beef is cooked in honey, soy sauce, toasted sesame oil and sugar we shall see if he comments or not on the taste, if I tell him what goes in he won’t eat it, if I just dish up and let him get on with it, he will, usually!

Looking at the forecast for the week ahead it is pretty poor 🙁 until Thursday at least! I am hoping to get some herbs picked and dried but really need a sunny warm day and I need to do it before the flowers begin to form, I have nearly run out of the ones I dried last year especially thyme, actually my thyme plant is looking a bit worse for wear after winter and I bought some from the supermarket £1 you can’t really go wrong at that price (I wonder if I plant it, it will thrive or not) I am hoping to go to the garden centre and get a new thyme plant and some different flavoured mint as well maybe pineapple mint, I quite fancy that.

Sunday: Still cold brrr John did the morning rounds while I collected fresh feed for the rabbits, then I came inside to do some washing and housework, too cold to bother out there. The seedlings that were coming on fabulously after the heat have now started to look forlorn in the drop of temperatures, I contemplated putting a heater in there but then figured that if they survive they will be hardier at planting out time. We went to the garden centre, had lunch 😝 and bought some thyme and variegated thyme, also some chamomile and some sweet peas that look like they will be a glorious crimson and I couldn’t resist. That was basically it for the day apart from the necessities, I lit the Rayburn and we watched F1. Tomorrow looks set to be even colder than today but after that the temperatures are apparently going back up to normal, thank goodness for that.

I had been letting the bantams in the orchard out for a roam around but today they have decimated my sorrel plant so they will be back to confinement 😜

Lots of sunshine ☀️ Jobs completed (at last) and thunderstorms ⛈

Monday 16th April: Had a very busy day today! Mostly in the garden, I made a little strawberry bed inside the fruit cage and planted strawberry’s that had set themselves in various places, then I spent the rest of the time tidying up, pots that had got blown around, plants that didn’t make it through the winter, raking up dead stuff etc etc so that when the nice weather comes I might just get time to sit and appreciate it all 😜 I carried on a bit too long then it was all to do at the end of the day, light the fire for some hot water, clean up, feed the birds, do the eggs.

I ordered a new choke lever for the lawn mower, it got broken last year and it’s hard graft trying to move it with various implements 😜 I need to give the mower a service and sharpen the blades but the parts are extortionate so I will clean the spark plug up, sharpen the blades with an angle grinder, check the oil and put on the new lever when it arrives and maybe hoover the air filter lol, then it should be good to go 🤞

Tuesday: Up had a shower and had a batch of blueberry muffins in the oven before 8am this morning 😀 I had some blueberries to use up and all the grandchildren will be here later so nana made nana cake 😀 It’s windy this morning and a tad cold with it, still waiting for this heat wave 😜 I’m sure when it gets here it will be with a vengeance like all our weather patterns seem to be.

Fed and water all the animals and foraged for the rabbits, this morning they had, lemon balm, apple, sweet potato, plantain, raspberry runners, broccoli, kale, some cherry wood and violets, happy bunnies.

Doing the afternoon feed in the wind,rain and cold I fail to see how tomorrow is supposed to get up to 24c 😝

Wednesday: The Sun shone ☀️ and how 😀 amazing after yesterday evenings weather. Needless to say there is a lot to do although we would have got further on except for the rain last night, I was hoping that some of the paddocks would nearly be ok for dragging but the rain put paid to that so probably be the weekend when it gets done now. John had a day at home today, I’m not going to call it a day off as I think he has to work harder here than in his regular job 😝 he has been busy taking down all the broken fencing in the back paddocks. We are making two large paddocks instead of six smaller ones that we had originally, they will be much easier to drag, roll and seed without fences in the way, there will only be four corners in each paddock instead of 12 in this particular area, which will make turning the tractor a whole lot easier. It looks lovely with the fences down as I said to John it’s good to change things about a little.

Meanwhile I have been in the garden, watering the tunnels and greenhouse, the temperatures are sweltering in there 😜 At last I have sown some runner bean seeds, I don’t know about other veg gardeners but I don’t feel I have got going until the bean seeds are sown and the potatoes but they are still not in yet due to the inclement weather we have had. I made a quick mini garden and filled it with compost ready for Mia to play in when she arrived, she had a wonderful time digging and moving soil from place to place. She had her lunch outside while I sat and sharpened the grass clippers, all four pairs 😜 I ask you, how did we manage to end up with four pairs? Then it was time for her nap and I cleaned off the decking area and put the parasol cover in the washing machine, hope it comes back out in one bit 🤪 John had a bit of lunch then went back out to the fields, I did help him a bit this morning collecting up electric tape and stakes, I will try and do a bit more later on this evening after Mia goes home.

Ate supper out on the decking, how lovely 😊

Thursday: Another hot one predicted so I was up at 5.45, actually I woke up, my back was aching, I needed a wee and I had acid reflux so I figured I might as well get up and stay up and get an early start in the cool! It was actually very pleasant and I got on pretty well up to the point where the postman came and delivered the choke lever for the mower then it went downhill 😝 I fitted the part but the recoil rope would not budge so I go onto you tube to see what the problem might be, I checked the blade wasn’t wedged (eventually when I found the correct tools) I took off the top cover and checked the spool that was working fine, checked the engine spinny bit was moving, it was, next step check with the spark plug removed, finally found a tool to use for that and snapped the spark plug in half 🤪 I was cursing and swearing and nigh on stomping when John came home, found the right tool removed the remainder of the plug, went and got a new one then helped with solving the problem. It seems when I put the choke lever back on I hadn’t quite got it in the right place and now we have done that it’s working fine 😀 it took me roughly three times as long to fix the damn thing than it did to cut the grass, but I now know a lot more about lawn mowers 😜

After some lunch we got started on cleaning out the middle bay of the hay barn, we picked that job as it was in the shade but it was still hot, dusty work. We quite expected to see a rodent or two when we lifted the pallets that the hay had been stood on, and patch was on standby to catch anything but there wasn’t a single movement so I’m guessing the cats are doing a better job than I thought. John went off to do his Mums dinner and I had a shower and box dyed my hair, it was getting rather too grey and I’m not ready for that just yet lol.

The farmer next door was dragging his field, I knew it was the right time and looking at the forecast we may have missed the opportunity as showers are forecast for Sat and Sun 😝

Friday: Up early again today, rather enjoying the cool early mornings to be honest 😁 John is at home today, well partly, he has to go round and sort his Mum out mid morning but we cracked on and got the animals fed and watered, then John went down to the back paddocks to fill in holes where here has taken out the posts. There is still one more fence to dismantle, then the remaining fences to repair, we had a quick look at the back wall which is a falling down stone field wall. It would be good to put it back up but in all honesty that is a massive job so we may end up taking out the stone and planting a hedge, unless we can find someone who wants to practice their stone walling 😜 While John was out doing that I got on with watering the tunnels and greenhouse, then I finally put the first early potatoes in one of the raised beds along with some beetroot seedlings, carrot seeds and a bulb of garlic, I’m mixing it up this year lol I used the green netting that was too small for the fruit cage to cover the hoops I had already put in, the chickens would be scratching it up before I know it if I don’t cover it as I go. I planted some more beetroot seedlings in the poly tunnel and some melon plants under a cloche. I am trying to decide what is the best thing to tackle slugs, I have some beer traps but unless the slugs feel like a pint they still attack the plants and I don’t want to use slug pellets. So having done a quick bit of reading it seems diatomaceous earth is a good organic method, or at least worth a try, and since I have a sackful I will give it a go, along with damp cardboard, at least I can feed the slugs to the ducks 🦆

Saturday: Up and at it early again though not quite as early as previous days 😜 Main jobs on the agenda was to get the netting on top of the fruit cage and get the brassica cage up, missions accomplished by lunchtime. The brassica cage is a belt and braces job because there is nothing more disheartening than seeing the wonderful, green, bushy plants get decimated by caterpillars 🐛 I’m hoping they won’t get in this, any brassica cage is only as good as it’s weakest point, hopefully we don’t have any and I will be planting a sacrificial crop to lure them away. After that I actually planted the broccoli plants 😀 I also planted some, pak choi and chard directly into the ground and made hoop covers to protect them from chickens, pigeons, anything else that will have a go at them

I was on a roll so I sowed some coriander seeds and some summer savoury, a good day in the garden. John tidied up the rest of the hay barn then went to get some chick crumb as the quail are due to hatch tomorrow and the little silkie bantam has hatched some chicks but I can’t see how many yet I can just hear them. I noticed the asparagus has shot up so I picked a handful of spears, I will probably put those out for sale as I already have dinner sorted and we are out to lunch tomorrow.

Charlie cleaned the boot room floor, it really is grey not muddy coloured 😮 to be honest it is not a ‘priority’ job on my great list of jobs and so I’m grateful that she has done it.

WOW we had the mother of all thunderstorms late evening, lol, I love a good storm.

Sunday: The storms carried on into the night and were so loud it woke most people up in the area from what I have heard, certainly some very loud claps of thunder woke us up at 2am!

Despite the storms and the downpours, the sun was shining brightly this morning and everything felt as fresh as a daisy. We did the morning routine and I watered the polytunnels, then I sowed the wild flower seed where I wanted it, I must say I was taken back by the instruction to weed killer the area first? Needless to say I didn’t which may be an error but I couldn’t see the logic really. Walking back across the paddock I realised it was ripe for dragging, it was only 9am so still cool enough, I convinced John it was a good idea and Macca was eager to have a go on the tractor so that’s what we did. We only got the big corner paddock done as the tractor was playing up a bit and the gateway into the next field is still too wet though John really wanted to go through I put my foot down, the last thing we need is a stuck tractor so that can wait until next week. I finished off the dragging, I love driving the tractor, everyone else gets bored 😑

I can’t remember if I have written that the silkie has hatched at least one chick, hopefully she will have a few others to join it soon, the quail in the incubator show no signs of hatching even though we are on hatch day, I tried candling them but they are difficult to see through so its a waiting game. We made a decision to allow the geese to begin sitting so any eggs they lay from today we will not be picking up for sale, I am hoping for more than one gosling this year, after all they have had two years practice at it now 😜 John has busy busy tidying and moving wood, now we have moved the tractor to the hay barn there is space under cover to get the wood in which will keep it nice and dry for next winter.

I had an hour spare to pot on some tomatoes before we go out for lunch, I have beefsteak and plum this year as well as regular tomatoes, I haven’t done cherry toms this year as I wanted to have a go at different varieties, the other seeds are at last getting going, cucumbers are just breaking the surface, at last we are under way 😀

We went to Upton Firehouse for lunch, if you live locally and have never been put it on your list of places to try you won’t be disappointed, if you have been before you will know why an afternoon nap was next on the agenda 🤪 😴

http://www.uptonsmokery.co.uk/

Amazing smells of Spring, First pick of Rhubarb and new Guinea pigs.

Monday 10th April : Damp this morning with fine drizzle 😐 however it feels ok temperature wise.

Did the morning rounds, 1 egg from the new ladies and evidence of eaten shell, I suspect as we moved them into the outdoor run, we actually do have a rat nicking them, no other reason for them to go from 5 to 1 egg so I need to remedy that and possibly move them back to the stable until further notice and see how many they lay there.

Put out the eggs in the shed which is looking very full of every type of egg we do 😀 and then went round to collect some bits for the rabbits, dandelion I have been growing into a big plant, bits of hazel, blackcurrant and some lovage. I have ordered a book called ‘beyond the pellets’ to learn about feeding rabbits naturally all year round with fresh produce but also ‘tree hay’ which is basically chopped and dried twigs, leaves etc for the winter feed. A mention of it of one of the smallholding sites sparked my interest in being able to feed the bunnies without buying pelleted feed, they get fed a lot of fresh greens during spring and summer but not winter so it will be an interesting read and hopefully a way forward to natural feeding.

I picked the very first lot of rhubarb 😃😃 that makes me very happy and now I just need to decide what I am going to do with it, of course stewed rhubarb and custard is a must as I always say, if you haven’t tried it since childhood do give it a go now you are older, it is delicious.

Then a task I wanted to try all spring but didn’t get round to it and I saw a quick easy way to have a go so that’s what I have done, tapped the maple tree, only I haven’t bored a hole in the trunk and done it that way, I have cut a small branch and taped a glass bottle onto it, fingers crossed I’m not too late for the rising sap and get at least a bit to try. I will check it later to see if I am going to get anything.

The smells this morning have been enough to lift the spirits, the black currant is very strong even just brushing past it, the rhubarb smells divine, the blossom on the trees is heavy, it’s all full of promise and deliciousness 😀

Now going to look at all the rhubarb recipes I have been collecting 😀

Made rhubarb crumble and extras for the freezer, a rhubarb tea bread (simple and quick (except soaking the fruit bit) recipe) and I have some stewed rhubarb and vanilla ready to eat with custard 😀 also made a loaf of bread today.

Rhubarb Tea Loaf

• 300g sultanas

• 200g roasted rhubarb (see note below)

• 300ml strong earl grey tea

• 100g dark brown sugar

• 275g self-raising flour

• 1 egg, beaten

Method

1. Mix the sultanas, rhubarb and sugar together in a large bowl. Cover with the tea and leave to soak overnight.

2. Pre-heat the oven to 150°C(fan)/170°C/gas mark 3. Grease and baseline a 2lb/900g loaf tin. Stir the flour and egg into the fruit mixture. Pour into the prepared tin.

3. Bake in the oven for 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 hours until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Cover the top with foil if it’s getting too brown.

4. NB: to roast the rhubarb chop into 2cm pieces, toss with 20g caster sugar (or more if you prefer it to be sweeter – I don’t think it needs more sugar in this recipe), cover and roast for 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally, in an oven preheated to 200°C.

This is a recipe from sneakyveg.com as always I used what I had rather than what’s in the recipe so instead of Earl Grey tea I used a Green Tea and a Tetley tea bag and steeped them for about 10 mins, I used currants instead of sultanas and I added a splash of orange juice (just because 😜) I also did not wait overnight for the fruit to soak, I did two hours soaking because I couldn’t be bothered to wait 😝 it will still turn out fine I’m sure.

Tuesday 10th April 🤣🤣 spot the error, I figured I would leave it as it was and it’s turning into Groundhog Day round here as regards to the rain anyhow!

Wet, muddy, slippery, I’m beginning to think this is our lot, seriously, it has rained pretty much every day for nearly 3 weeks at least, how much more is there?

Although there is evidence of the grass growing through the mud so that’s a more positive outlook, more grass = more grass roots = something to soak up the rain 😀

According to the forecast (though it seems to change daily) tomorrow is the last day of rain for a while, fingers crossed 🤞

Cleaned out the duck shed with the help of Mia while Sam was doing the horse, Mia was plastered in mud by the time she finished but she enjoyed helping out, I think she will be a great asset as she gets older as she likes to get stuck in ‘I help’ is what she says 😀 After that we went for a well earned costa 😀

Fed the chickens late afternoon and collected the eggs, we are managing to keep up at the moment and we have some fall back in the form of pullet eggs as they are all laying now. We moved the new ducks back into the stable overnight to see what was happening with the eggs as I only got 1 yesterday, I think it’s because they don’t lay as early as my established lot, they have all laid by 8am which is when I let them out. The new ones seem to lay all during the morning and so yesterday they would have probably laid outside and the birds would eat them. I opened the stable at midday and they have gone for a wander so I may have to keep putting them in the stable for the time being otherwise I won’t get any eggs at all.

The book about feeding rabbits naturally arrived and I have part read it, very interesting, there is a lot of fresh food that I knew they could have of course but also some that I had no idea about. I think I have an abundance of assorted material that I will be able to feed them on and save money on pelleted feed, as I have said Spring and summer will be easy it’s the winter and autumn will be more difficult. With that in mind I have knocked up a herb drying screen, it’s rudimentary but it does the job and I made it with stuff I had lying round so free as well 😀 It will be for drying summer herbs that I can make a herb hay with in time. When I started researching it I was amazed that you can buy freshly cut willow sticks for your rabbit online at £12.99kg and dried raspberry leaves, two resources that I usually assign to the compost heap, not anymore, everything will be assessed for rabbit fodder!

Wednesday: A pleasant enough morning, early drizzle but that went and after the morning rounds I got on with some things in the garden. I put some water in a large bucket and then a sack full of manure in the water to make some manure feed, I still have some concentrate left from last year but no time like the present to make some more. Planted up some of the Pak Choi seedlings, some in the large tunnel and some in the small, the weaker seedlings I have planted in a square mushroom container to grow on for the rabbits, I doesn’t matter if they don’t survive but if they do that a bonus. Uncovered and moved the citrus trees into the large tunnel also gave them a feed, they haven’t done too badly over winter and two lemons are still clinging on in there, then tidied up the small tunnel where they have been overwintering. Pinched out the tips of the broad bean plants now that they have started to flower, the soft fleshy tops attract black fly and they are good to eat so they will be wilted and I will eat them with fish later today. Everything else is still a bit slow but hopefully once the temps climb they will burst into life 😜 Still all too wet to do much on the garden itself, too wet to hoe, to wet to walk on really so it’s a waiting game. I read an article about earthing up potatoes, ha, they haven’t even gone in the ground yet! I collected some forage bits for the rabbits to eat, I am looking at everything as potential rabbit feed now 🤣 I even thought about giving them the bean tops then decided against it, they can have the plants when they go over and I will have the tops 😝

Thursday: Got a little bit excited when my weather ap said 24 and sunny today, then it quickly corrected itself and went to 7 and light rain 😩 It’s grey and misty/damp out this morning hey ho beginning to get used to it now. Still waiting for the wire to arrive for the fruit cage otherwise I could have got on with that at least. The nighttime temperatures are no longer dropping so that’s a bonus, it means I don’t need to worry too much about the seedlings in the greenhouse as they should be fine, I can’t see a frost forecast for the next two weeks, famous last words 😜

Went in the greenhouse after feeding and pricked out the broccoli seedlings, once again I have about 50 plants lol don’t know what I’m going to do with all those! I also potted on the Aubergines and moved them into the large poly tunnel underneath another cloche, I have no idea if they will survive or not but they have got too big for the windowsill and there is no where else to move them to at the moment. I did the same with some pepper plants, the tomatoes I did last week seem to be holding their own, waiting for some warmth like the rest of us. The courgettes I had in the propagator on the window sill rotted away, I have never known a year like this one, normally things can be slow but this is ridiculous! There are things that are growing however so all is not lost, the strawberries in the tunnel have grown some flowers 😀 the garlic has sprouted that I planted out last week, the peas in the small tunnel have flowers on, the rhubarb is getting bigger, hope springs eternal, as Pope said.

Came in about 11.30 with the intention of doing some baking but the Sam arrived and we went out to clean the tack room and throw a whole load of crap away, then sorted out all the fencing stakes and electric tape so that it was all in one place finally. Then the rain came, again 😟

Came indoors to make an egg/dairy/gluten free cake, sounds like a recipe for disaster and may well be, it’s still in the oven but I’m not hopeful that this mix is going to bind together while cooking 😝

Then out to do the pm feeding and egg collection, take a couple of photos of the quail house on my way round for someone who wants an idea on how to build their own, then off to look at a property with Shelley and Martin, busy day 🤪

Friday: Road trip 😀 actually it was five minutes down the lane to the Cotswold Wildlife Park, so I got the morning rounds done quickly and off we went, picnic packed, plenty of layers on, had an exhausting day but thoroughly enjoyed by all of us😀

Back home in time to do the afternoon feeding but not before a well earned cup of tea and a sit down.

Did the feeding, collected the eggs, fed the horse then cleaned out the POL pen at the back, John came home halfway through doing it so gave me a hand and then we went to pick up some new pets 😀

You will remember the story of what a rogue ferret did to my guinea pigs back in November, well I have two news ones, meet Tinker and Tucker, two little boars from a friends of ours that breeds them.

I ordered 100g of wild flower seeds for heavy shade, we have put poultry fence all along the roadside of the side paddock, it has a lot of trees along there and we decided it was heavily shaded and as it is fenced off at the moment hopefully the seeds will grow.

Saturday: Cracking day, Sun, Sun, Sun all day long 😀 After feeding this morning we got on with wiring the fruit cage as the rolls had arrived finally. In my search for the right size hole and the right height and length as I wanted 25m long 1m high x 2 I didn’t check the quality of the wire and as a consequence it was not really a great quality, the top and bottom wires were pulled too tight causing bagging in the middle, however we have put it on and it dose not look too bad. Just got the netting to put over the top and the door to wire then it’s finished 😀

Grand National Day, and whatever your thoughts are on horse racing, in our house the GN has always been a big day, normally we would all be in the living room screaming at the telly (except last year when none of us had any horse anywhere near finishing) this year we had a group FaceTime as Charlie is in Italy and Sam was at her house, Shelley and Martin came to ours for the event, Martin and I both had the winner this year 😀 However I made the mistake of doing the bet online, not the same I would rather go and collect cash winnings from the bookies. And that was pretty much it especially as I had to spend a couple of hours on hold while trying to unlock my betting account (which I opened for the occasion) having cocked up signing in in the first place 😝

I was hoping tomorrow was going to be similar to today but rain is forecast ffs!

Sunday: Well it’s not too bad to wake up to, it’s dry at the moment and though obviously a lot cooler than yesterday, it’s not bad at all. Got the feeding done, cleaned out the geese and put fresh bedding in for the ducks, then it was on to finish the fruit cage. We joined together the two lots of wire, top and bottom and then got the net out to put over the roof, John had tensioned two wires across to support the netting. Almost immediately it became apparent that the net was a bit too short, we turned it round and nope it was not quite going to stretch, umming and arghing we decided to put up what we could and we would have to get another piece and stitch it together, not ideal but we had already bought this piece. At this point John decided to measure the length and width, now I did ask him to do this in the beginning and he told me it was definitely 8m x 5m, on measuring it properly this time he admitted it was 8.5m long, no wonder it won’t reach 🤪 I made an executive decision to reorder a piece big enough to cover the whole thing and will use the other netting elsewhere.

After we couldn’t finish that, John went to clean out the hens at the front and I did some hoeing on the veg beds, the asparagus is just starting to poke through so I weeded that bed and a couple of others. I no longer think weeding is a chore as it is now seen as rabbit fodder, I always used to give them the dandelions but now they are having nearly every weed and tuft of grass, two birds with one stone comes to mind. Then I did a bit of work on a new bed I have made at the bottom of one of the raised veg beds, I decided I don’t have enough flowers and so marked that area off at the end of last year for the purpose. I have a small raised bed in front of it which is also filled with primula, cowslips, dwarf lavender and a rose, I put some tete a tete bulbs in there so it will mostly be a spring bed and the first to give colour. Most of the plants I have chosen to go in there will be single flower because that is best for the insects and especially the bees, they can’t gather pollen from double headed flowers. There won’t be much uniformity to it, it will be what I have got already and planted haphazardly (until it gets on my nerves then I will re arrange it all 😜) It began to rain while I was doing this last part but it wasn’t cold so I carried on until the rain became a bit too heavy, no point damagingthe soil by treading it down.

Beginnings, progress and endings.

Bank Holiday Monday 2nd April: Still raining 🌧 rained heavily in the night and as a consequence we now have the lake we usually have AND a tributary stream flowing into it across all the side paddocks, the hay barn is flooded, the stables are flooded, in fact, everywhere is bloody flooded. I know I said we need it but this is beyond a joke and still rain forecast every day up until Thursday! The fact that the farm slopes downwards towards the side paddock is our only saving grace really as at least it doesn’t stay up the top here very long.

We did the mornings rounds and slopped everything out, can hardly call it mucking out today as it just wet runny s**t 😜

John can’t finish the fruit cage as he needs a bit more wood and the wood yard is closed today, and even if he had it the holes he dug are filled with water. There is no chance whatsoever of getting on the garden as that is waterlogged and the problem is that it will be all to do once it starts to dry up and I will be back to single manpower.

At least we don’t have the snow that other parts of the country have had, I think I would just about blow my top lol.

I decided to hatch out some more quail so I ordered eggs from eBay as ours are not laying enough to use those and besides I could do with new bloodlines. I got the incubator out, last time the automatic humidity pump packed up and we still can’t fix it, dilemma, buy a new pump which is 1/3rd of the cost of a new machine and find out it’s the incubator circuit board that is causing the problem or buy a whole new set up and test the old pump on the new machine, that way if it works we will know exactly which part we need to buy, opted for whole new set up, I will need to do lots of hatching and selling to get my money back 😜

John spent a lot of time making sure that any more rainfall has an escape route and we don’t end up flooded, then he cleaned out the front hen house, meanwhile I did lots of washing and some research on various topics 😝

Tuesday: Shall I mention the weather, no need really, I’m sure you can guess what it’s like 😝 I have look at the long term forecast and we are due a lovely week of sunshine soon, though we all know how things can change 😜 John did the animals this morning while I sorted out the recycling, washing up, Rayburn, washing, tidying, made bread etc etc, then he went off to his Mums and get some more posts for the fruit cage, I sure am hoping that it gets finished this week! We have been totally hampered by the weather, I was hoping that the cage would be finished at the end of the week as there are other jobs to get done, it does not look like they will now, then I was hoping that as all the jobs were finished John would then have time to help with the veg garden sometimes and I don’t think that is going to happen.

All the framework is finished and concreted in, ordered the wire online but it won’t be here until next week 😐 Oh and we had bouts of sunshine inbetween rain showers today so that’s what I call improvement.

Wednesday: A dull start but at the time of writing it’s not raining, however I don’t expect that to last as it is forecast! I have a hospital appointment today, normally it’s at the JR in the morning but the Professor has inconsiderately decided to retire and the clinic has been moved to the Nuffield in the afternoons 😜 ok while it’s Easter hols but in future it will be a nightmare on the road. It appears that the discoid Lupus (which is what I was originally diagnosed with) is active which is why I have a permanent rash on my arms and some marking on my face, the doctor was really lovely and gave me a prescription for lotions and potions to help get it under control, luckily the systematic Lupus is still asleep 😴

Picked up Mia on the way back home.

Thursday: Well the long awaited and promised sunshine day has arrived and not disappointed (first things first, on with the factor 30) John fixed the small rabbit run roof that blew off in the last lot of gales, then he replaced one side of the muck heap where the timbers have all but rotted away, our chap with the wood arrived with some more to add to the mountain. Meanwhile I went into the greenhouse to see how everything is doing, moved stuff around, potted on, sowed some cucumber seeds and watered. Watered both the poly tunnels, the peas are beginning to get some flowers 😀 I put some Guinness down in the big tunnel in the slug traps, cut back the Japanese honeysuckle and pruned the gooseberry bushes, a bit late but they should be fine and I don’t want them sprawling. Then John and I discussed how and where we are going to grow the brassicas but we need to wait for the fruit cage wire before we can do that as we will build something off the side of the cage. Next a job that I was not looking forward too and that was the dispatch of the poorly duck 🙁 got to be done as she could barely get about any more, and then onto dispatching and plucking one of the bantam cockerels, we have four, I tried selling them, nothing and so might as well eat them, not much on them but it will provide a meal for two and leftovers for soup or something. The man with the wood came back with a second load! And then time for a well earned sit down (didn’t last long)

Potted on some more tomato seedlings and melon, they are getting a bit leggy with the lack of sunlight up to now, I can’t hold them back anymore or they will be too spindly, fingers crossed they survive otherwise I think I will just give up!

The new incubator is now up, running and primed ready for the eggs whenever they get delivered 😋

The nice weather looks short lived according to the forecast, however the temperatures look set to remain above 6c for most of the time which is fabulous as it means the grass should grow and cover up the mud in the paddocks 😀

John went out to change a set of taps, beforehand he had unloaded the feed he got the other day, when he got to the job and opened the back of the van he had a stowaway, a chicken had hopped in while he was emptying it lol.

Friday: Hopefully another dry day today. We did the morning rounds, I cleaned out the duck house and the small rabbit run while I was at it. I took a wander round the fields to have a look and see what kind of state they are in after the endless rain we have had, not too bad and will come back quite quickly once it stays dry. John chopped up and stacked some wood and then went off to his Mums, today it’s the hairdressers and shopping so he won’t be back until lunchtime. The bantam I dispatched and plucked yesterday needed processing so this was a good time to do that. I have done many a chicken before but not a bantam and I did wonder if it was too small to bother, however people eat smaller birds than that so better not waste it. I found the gutting much more difficult than a standard size chicken due to the small body cavity and I have small hands, so in the end I decided to spatchcock it and remove the insides after cutting up the back. This is still a delicate procedure with the insides as the last thing you want to do is burst any of the intestines or bowel, so I was very careful and luckily successful. I was going to freeze the bird but figured I might as well cook it today now that it has been done as I haven’t got anything else out of the freezer anyway.

So this photo is of the spatchcocked bantam (actually I am not putting the picture up because quite frankly it is the most ridiculous photo I have ever seen 🤣it should look like this

Except that I didn’t break the breastbone enough and it looks like this one but with attitude 🤣🤣🤣

I slathered it with olive oil, garlic, salt, pepper and a squeeze of lemon 😀 it won’t look like a shop bought bird for two reasons, one, it is not pumped full of water to make it look nice and plump (as above)so the skin is quite dry and wrinkly, and two, it has not been bleached with a food grade bleach like they are in a processing unit, but it will taste 10 times better 😀 I cleaned up the feet and will roast those along with the neck and livers for the dogs. When I finished everything I used gets a wash in detol so as not to spread germs and voila, done.

Ok I will put the photo up but try not to fall off the chair laughing

I am aware that it looks a little like it’s sat there with it’s hands in the air 🤣🤣🤣

I went outside to burn some rubbish and the entrails of the bantam and needed to move the burning barrel as the wind is blowing in the wrong direction, sparks could either end up in the straw or burn small holes in my polytunnel. I tried moving it but it’s quite full of ash and heavy and hurt my shoulder so I thought that’s fine I will use the sack truck, looks for sack truck, nowhere to be found! Goes to phone hubby and his phone is on the side, bloody Nora, not even a simple task is possible when people don’t put things away or remotely even where they can be found! I really need that BIG shed with an even BIGGER paddock to stop things going walkabout 😡

Turns out the sack truck is somewhere under the mountain of wood, I ask you, ejit 🤪

John made the door frame for the fruit cage, I will try and gets some pics when I get a minute, and I did some bits in the garden including putting hoops over one of the raised beds ready for planting up, the chickens will be straight on it if I don’t cover it, I also planted some garlic bulbs and sowed some pumpkin seeds. Sam, Mia, Shelley, Josh and Florence came in the afternoon, Josh wanted to look for vegetables and so I introduced him to some bits in the garden, he happily chomped away on some chives and some pea shoots from the garden, Mia spat them out 😂

Made bread in the evening and set the quail eggs into the incubator, out of 48, three were broken in transit, not bad considering they have gone through the Royal Mail handling system!

Saturday: Did the morning stuff, John cleaned out the back hens and went to get sawdust and feed after going to his Mums, I got one of the hits ready for the ducks we are picking up later today, then I did cleaning indoors, bedroom, bathroom and living room, full move everything clean, not got time for the kitchen today as that will take a few hours it will have to wait for another day😜 Weather is not as bad as I expected it to be, had a small shower this morning but it has been dry since then 😀

Picked up the pekin duckies, in the end we were allocated eight rather than ten but that’s fine, these are ex commercial ducks, two years old and have never been able to immerse themselves fully in water! They have only ever had enough to submerge their heads into, as a consequence on their first time in water they are not yet waterproof, they soon will be once they start to preen and use their oil gland but for tonight they will stay in a stable so they don’t get cold. They are nice looking, clean (now they have been able to bath) healthy birds, I hope they enjoy their retirement with us and hopefully want to continue laying eggs 😀

Sunday: Today has been a fab day 😀 not particularly weatherwise but work wise it has been productive. Firstly the new ducks, we got 5eggs out of the 8 and they are big eggs at that, considering I didn’t think they would lay until they had settled in that’s a result. I moved into the outdoor run and closed the gate, the others had already been let out and gone off down the paddocks, however the drakes soon came running back up when they realised there was fresh talent around lol. I opened the gate later in the afternoon but they have chosen to stay where they are all day.

Next job was to go into the side paddock and remove all the electric fence stakes and tape and tidy it up, there was a few years worth of ‘bits of string’ which had been used to tie up various posts etc etc, all cut off and thrown away now. Then we cut a ‘gateway’ in the two fences to enable the chickens to move freely from the paddock they are in, we have put poultry netting up the length of the paddock close to their hut to shut off the front paddock so that we can drag it and seed it when the time is right.

I have drawn a lovely picture in the hopes it makes sense 😝

While we were out there we had a visit from a chap I have been in touch with on social media about the rats under the hut. Basically there is a group that take their dogs out and go ‘ratting’ it’s all done for free and watching the dogs work was an absolute treat, I say work, but they didn’t actually find any, the reason being that we have been so waterlogged that I think the rats moved out, it will only be temporary though as soon as it’s dry enough they will be back and so will the dogs!

Back to the paddock work and we then netted three sides of the bottom half of the side paddock, mainly to stop the hens wandering especially onto the roadside. It doesn’t sound like much but it takes forever to gather up fencing stakes and roll up the tape and we had to bring the poultry net down from the small paddock at the back so it took a fair amount of time all in all but very satisfying to get it done. Then John cleaned out the front hen house and burnt all the cardboard mite traps, while I went and took down some more tape and stakes (and oodles of string) from another part of the paddock, and neatly bundled and tied up all the stakes and tape, a fair amount of string and broken tape went in the bin. John did the afternoon feeding and the eggs then he lit the fire, Macca is cooking the dinner so I carried on pootling about outside, fed the horse, tidied up some more bits of rubbish and voila the day is done, almost, just got to put them all to bed later 😋