Shelley’s blog ๐Ÿ˜€


What a lovely sunny morning it is to welcome me to Friesland farm!

So first things first, don my work clothes and jump into the bosses wellies, and my goodness what big boots I have to fill this week, let’s hope I am up to the task?

The very first job is to feed, water and let out all the animals, ducks, geese, chickens, quail, rabbits, guinea pigs, cats, dogs, the list goes on….making sure they all have plenty of water as today is set to be hot hot hot. After the animals have all been fed, back inside to feed ourselves ๐Ÿ™‚ very thankful to my dad for making me a bacon sandwich and a cuppa! Back outside to water the pollytunnel and all the veg/plants before it gets to hot!

On to check the egg shed is topped up as the customers are coming thick and fast today, nearly sold out of all the eggs, broad beans and artichoke!
Whilst josh slept in his pushchair under the tree I picked broad beans and strawberries and very much enjoyed shelling the broadbeans sitting in the sunshine with nothing but the birds song for company and a little bunny scampering across the field. Once josh had woke up we went inside to take cover from the midday sun. You quickly learn a lot here and 2 things I have learnt already are 1. Do not leave the quail eggs on the counter where your toodler can reach, said eggs are now all smashed and on the floor and 2. Don’t leave broad beans in a basket on floor as if you turn your back for 2 seconds there will be rather a lot of bite marks in them lol.
Lunch was of course a broad bean affair with mint from the garden, lemon and tomatoes, popped on top of a piece of fresh bread with garlic and olive oil, delicious, even if I do say so myself. After lunch all the animals got checked for water and general wellbeing, my son is obsessed with horses so trying to drag him away from them is difficult.

Once the sun started setting I watered all the veg/plants and pollytunnels, it’s only when you start looking properly at someone else’s garden do you realise the shear hard work they put in, the amount of veg and plants that have been planted is massive and the upkeep must be tiring for mum.

Unfortunately I think I may of overdid everything in the sun today as had what I think may of been heatstroke, was very poorly in the night and despite wearing Pyjamas, a blanket and a duvet, I was shivering!

Still unwell this morning, so my kind husband did the rounds with Josh.

As you know today has been so hot, so apart from looking after the animals we have not been out in the sun, although me and Josh did take Daddy to the pub for a cold beer to celebrate Father’s Day!
The egg sales have been very slow today, I am guessing maybe it’s to hot for people to venture out or perhaps everyone is in the pub garden!
As the sun started to set I really cracked on with the jobs, I think if this weather keeps up it’s the only way I will manage, I believe this is what mum does too ๐Ÿ™‚ so tonight I gave everything a good watering, picked broad beans, strawberries and raspberries, blanched the veg and froze it and Josh ate all the raspberries as they are his favourite! I have also been tending to the broccoli, wiping away the eggs from the leaves and squashing the caterpillars so they don’t eat them, one of mine and Josh’s favourite books is the very hungry caterpillar, funny how quickly you can go off things!
Another hot day in store today, 29 degrees at 10am!
At 7am when me and Josh did the rounds we saw Vicky taking the horses to the stables, she said it was too hot for them to stay out today so that was why, Jack however has a field shelter so he will be fine, although normally I am terrified of horses I have been getting better what with feeding and giving water to jack and I am proud to say this morning I went in his field, rather than hanging the hose over the fence! Although my husband, martin is still on poo picking duty as that’s a bit to much time in the field for me!
I am sad to say that on my rounds today I encountered 2 deaths, one was a poorly chicken which had curled up in the shade and passed (mum had warned me that he was unwell) and the other was a small wild bird that had drowned in the water bucket, I laid the small bird to rest under a tree as martin got rid of the chicken.
I tried my best to water as much as I could early this morning and also tidied up round the greenhouse whilst josh slept under the tree.
Again it was too hot to manage anything this afternoon, so I cleaned up inside and then we took to the shade and the paddling pool in the afternoon.
This evening I picked lots of strawberries, watered and weeded as much as I could in the veg patch. When undertaking all the tasks today the same thought kept popping onto my mind and that was, how on earth does my mum do this everyday? Granted it’s not normally this hot, but throw in keeping the house in order, having 3 children (who are always calling in) 2 very active grandchildren, Lupus and the daily activities on a normal life, I just don’t know how she keeps up! Also did I mention she bakes homemade bread every other day and is a good 20 years older than me! I know my dad works extremely hard too everyday so just don’t know how they manage!
So this morning I had a mini brainwave…normally whilst doing the morning rounds I start with the ducks and end up with the chickens, the whole process takes around an hour and by the end it is very hot a Josh is getting cranky and hungry for his breakfast, so today I started with the chickens and the geese as they are the biggest job, this way it was nice and cool for Josh and for me scraping the floor and we ended with the horse (this made josh very happy as he loves the horse)
After breakfast we went out to water everything whilst it was still cool enough and had a general tidy up.
For lunch my friend Heather popped round (she is expecting her first baby in a matter of weeks so it was exciting to have a catch up and have a bit of a break) I picked mounge tout, radish and lettuce from the garden and we had it with homemade mackerel pate, a very refreshing dish on a hot day.
When she had left Josh splashed around in the paddling pool whilst I watered some more plants that were in the shade.
In the evening the hard work began, I have clipped back all the trees by the front door to let in some much needed light (a job my mum doesn’t enjoy as it makes her hands ache the next day) it’s no mean feet either, all in all it took around 3 hours! More tidying up, weeding and watering and sorted out all the eggs for the shed. Egg sales have been slow this week, I believe due to the weather, you really don’t want to be going out in the car unless you have to.
I really feel like I am getting into the swing of things now and trying to concentrate on one area a day, so that if I don’t get so much time for that area the next day I don’t feel so guilty.
I have also come up with a little invention today, for anyone that has to fill big buckets of water up, you will know how irritating it is when the hose falls out, you come back from doing another job and see a flooded floor ๐Ÿ˜ฆ so I figure some type of magnet device to hold it in place would work wonders….maybe I will save that one for my next adventure.
Tonight is the first night we have sat down on the sofa of an evening, although it is 10.30pm and bed will soon be calling lol
Did the animals in the same fashion as yesterday this morning and again it worked wonders, this morning paying particular attention to the floor in the chicken coop as it is getting messy (although done everyday) I picked some broad beans, and artichoke this morning and Josh munched his way through the basket I was collecting (although if that’s the way to get your child to eat veg without a fuss, I say crack on)
Although today was supposed to be the hottest day so far, it didn’t seem it this morning, after doing the rounds and putting josh down for a nap, I decided to make a curry with mounge tout as the main star! (I know I must be mad) 
After lunch we cleaned out the ducks and when i say ‘we’ I mean Josh watched whilst I worked up a sweat in the midday sun, I scraped every inch of their hut as I am mindful of maggots with the weather! After cleaning out the ducks we went on a wander to check the rabbits and quail were doing ok, they are kept in the orchard and at the moment the only animals there (normally home to chickens) there are a few empty huts, I was checking the quail and Josh had gone quiet (any person who has had or had a toddler will know that this means trouble) well I nearly keeled over laughing when I spot 2 little legs dangling out of a hut! As soon as he knew he had been caught he jumped down with the biggest grin on his face, it did make me chuckle.
This evening I spent a good few hours in the veg garden, picking, weeding and watering! I don’t think i have mentioned but my husband is building a pirate ship playhouse for the kids, so that’s what he has been doing each evening on his return home from work! 
Tomorrow is suppose to thunder and rain and although I may sound like a party pooper, I hope it does, they veg need it so bad and a clear air will do us all good!
Today was house tidy day before Mum and Dad get home, stripping the beds ect ect.
We also had a walk round of the farm, tidying up as we went, sweeping, collecting rubbish, raking up leaves ect ect.
This evening, we enjoyed poached duck eggs on toast for dinner and they were absolutely delicious, egg sales have also picked up again so I am pleased with that, must of been the weather lol.
It was a much cooler evening this evening so a bit easier to get on with all the watering and picking, picked another great big basket of veg (its growing like mad) bagged some up for the shed and put some in the fridge for mum and dads return.
Anyway my time is nearly up now and I have to say we have had a fantastic time looking after the farm, I’m brown, I have worked hard and I feel proud to have got everything done (although I am sure I have missed something)
Frieslands Farm, it has been a pleasure – until next time ๐Ÿ™‚  
All I will add to that is a huge thank you to Shelley, Martin and Josh for looking after everything, it’s a massive commitment and they have done an excellent job, I know the place is in safe and capable hands when I go away and that makes all the difference to relaxing and enjoying my time off ๐Ÿ˜€ ๐Ÿ˜˜๐Ÿ˜˜

Guest blog

I have a treat coming up for you in the form of a surprise guest blog. We were away last week and Shelley has written a blog of her time looking after the farm ๐Ÿ˜€ its fab and I will have to raise my game in writing my future blogs lol. I will post it Sunday as usual. 

Windy weather, pests and a parsnip incident ๐Ÿ˜›

Monday: So our guests have returned to Wales, it was lovely to have them for a week and they were no trouble (almost, there was the parsnip incident๐Ÿ˜‰) I shall miss the washing up being done every time I turn my back, got to do it myself now lol. Sue had asked if she could do a bit of hoeing in the garden for me, naturally I said yes that’s fine and she is a keen gardener (flowers and shrubs) so I thought it would be safe ๐Ÿ˜œ Later on that day when we were having a drink in the pub she said ‘you didn’t have anything else other than broad beans in that raised bed did you? ‘ ‘ um, yes there were parsnips around the edge’ ‘ oh’ she said, ‘well there were’ I said and added laughing, ‘ we don’t eat parsnips very much anyway’ then she asked, ‘there weren’t any other plants in various places were there?’ now at this point I realised, as I had said in previous blogs, that I had been putting veg plants in every available space and someone who doesn’t do veg gardening may not necessarily recognise pepper plants, ‘yes there were pepper plants in the herb garden dotted around’ ‘oh’ she said again and went very quiet, we spent the evening ribbing her about hoeing down all my veg plants ๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚ as it happened when I inspected them on our return, the pepper plants were intact and a row of parsnips had survived, I’d like to think of it as, thinning, ๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚

Today the rain has set in and it’s cold for the time of year, the weather has been very mixed over the last few weeks, all or nothing. Anyway the rain is a good thing, I don’t need to water and everything should put on some good growth, I did pick some baby broad beans last week but have left the rest to swell and mature. Except the beans in the ply tunnels appear to be getting eaten, mice is my best guess, I have beer traps for the slugs, I may need to set a mouse trap, they really have stripped every broad bean in there and I don’t want them starting on the dwarf beans and peas so need to sort the situation promptly. 

I’m thinking I’d like to dig out the recipe for rhubarb and custard cake and make one of those this week sometime, I’m sure I had put it on a blog last year but can’t find it, luckily I have a hard copy ๐Ÿ˜€

This is the recipe I use, I’ve tried making it with homemade custard but the thick shop bought stuff is a better result. 

The globe artichokes are coming thick and fast and I have sold a few, however I’ve not really tried them myself properly so I need to remedy that, I mean, I can’t really sell something I haven’t eaten myself can I lol. They always seem a bit of a faf for not a lot of vegetable but I am going to give them a fair trial, I will try a couple of different ways of cooking them and see which I like the most. I boiled them then finished them off in the oven with some Parmesan and a bit of olive oil, they are a faf ๐Ÿ˜œ but strangely morerish. 

Weather has got worse, it’s foul outside, I did the feeding in between lashings, June, phaa โ˜”๏ธโ˜”๏ธโ˜”๏ธโ˜”๏ธโ˜”๏ธ I decided that the horse would be better off in the stable than out in this, he will churn up the paddock and get a soaking so lucky him, he is in with a big pile of hay ๐Ÿ˜€

Tuesday: It’s still pouring down this morning ๐Ÿ˜ so a quick round of feeding, muck out the stable, top up his hay and put the horse back inside, then off in doors to make some bread and cakes as it’s Johns birthday tomorrow. First the bread then a recipe for a gluten/lactose free cake, in the family we have two coeliacs and one that is lactose intolerant can’t leave them out ๐Ÿ˜€ Orange and almond cake for them and I think I will make an apricot and walnut cake too. 

Wednesday: The sun is shining this morning but it’s still windy, after the feed round I went to have a look round the garden to see how it had faired. I depressed myself slightly as all that was covered was now uncovered meaning the pigeons had been pecking at it, the brassica cage has been comprised in the wind meaning that the bloody butterfly’s have probably snuck in and laid eggs, the wind is still strong so I cant remedy that properly yet. The runner beans are looking a little bit ravaged but I guess they will recover, feels like a battle today, it will all be fine with a few days of ordinary weather and rain, fingers crossed that’s what we will be getting. I wonder how on earth the world gets fed when there are so many problems for growers to deal with, if I had the money I would build a walled garden, that at least would protect it from the wind and cold just leaving the pests to deal with ๐Ÿ˜œ

This is roughly the problem here although the gradients are not that extreme, here it’s more of a soft undulation, it still has an effect on the veg garden, should have picked a better spot ๐Ÿ˜looks like I need to dig up the paddock. 

Somehow Thursday has no notes lol and I can’t for the life of me remember what I did! Abducted by aliens I expect ๐Ÿ˜œ

Friday: The weather is still unsettled, raining one minute then the sun comes out, but the worst thing is the constant wind, urrrgghh, its a pain to work in keep being buffeted, it’s affecting the taller plants and blowing off coverings that are there to protect the plants from every living thing that seems to be attacking them at the minute! I had a ‘I don’t why I bother’ morning, I’m up against, mice, chickens, pigeons, black/white/greenfly, woolly aphid, caterpillars, slugs, snail, cold winds, cold rain, sometimes I really think it would be easier to just nip to the shop ๐Ÿ˜ and sooner or later it will be blight. I really need a holiday, thank goodness we have one on the horizon, that first glass of bubbly will be very welcome. 

Saturday: A busy morning in the veg garden, planting out all the remaining veg plants, weeding a couple of rows of seed in the tunnel which didn’t come up, a hard cap has formed on the soil, there is a clay seam that runs through so I decided to plant some spare cauliflower plants there they like firm ground so should do well. I went into the brassica cage and found a few clumps of tiny caterpillars so squashed all those and was chuffed to see the small heads of broccoli forming though the cauli have not formed yet. Sowed some rows of carrots and radish. It’s still windy and cold for the time of year although the early morning was lovely and sunny and I got very warm moving electric fencing for the horse and chickens. 

In the afternoon we went to my Uncles 70th birthday, sat in the pub garden with family and a pig roast doesn’t get better than that ๐Ÿ˜€

Sunday: Up early to get the animals done as we are off to the seaside for the day with the kids and grandkids ๐Ÿ–

Monday morning: I know I don’t usually end on a Monday but we are going away next weekend for a week and I don’t think I will have much time for blogging and certainly won’t have an internet connection to post! Overnight the fox has had the lonely goose up in the back paddock and the guard dog has had a chicken that I could not for the life of me manage to restrain behind any fencing, great start to a week ๐Ÿ˜” I need a recharge of batteries as all I seem to focus on are the negatives at the minute, a bit of warmth, a few bevvies and some time to clear my head will be just the tonic.

See you on the other side ๐Ÿ˜€๐Ÿ–

Photo blog

I didn’t have time to keep notes for a blog this week with visitors here so I have taken photos this morning instead. As you can see everything is growing away nicely including the gosling and ducklings. The horse is making a pig of himself and bust through the electric fence so I have opened it up, as long as he doesn’t touch my fruit trees he can stay there for a while. 

Grey morning with lots of rain forecast so I shall be staying inside and doing house stuff lol.

Sunshine, helpers and visitors.ย 

Monday morning: Up early this morning as the pigeons were scrabbling around on the metal roof making a right racket, still it enabled me to get ahead so washing on, bread on the go, tonight’s dinner already prepped and an early morning call with my Mum who is away on their canal boat all before 7.30 ๐Ÿ˜€We are approaching the season of red mite boom, those little blood sucking vampires that feed on my hens, the weather conditions, rain, humid then sunny will see them expand rapidly in numbers unless they are kept in check. I can already see evidence of them in the boxes ๐Ÿ˜– the hen sat on the quail eggs will be very vulnerable and so I shall be cleaning the boxes out with jeyes fluid and smearing petroleum jelly into all the cracks and crevices I can find. Normally we would move them right out and creosote the whole hut but with no where to move them to that’s not an option this year so other methods of control will need to be put in place instead. The petroleum jelly will act like a trap as they won’t be able to move in it, we sometimes use diatomaceous earth but in all honesty I don’t think it works that well, some people swear by it, I’m not one of those. I have swung the ducklings run around to a new position this morning as they had trashed the grass they were on, need to clean out their hut as well.

Jobs to do: Clean nest boxes, spray and jelly, clean, ducklings, pick asparagus and rhubarb to put out for sale, dig up a couple of bits of ragwort in the paddocks, selectively spray a couple of bunches of docks in the paddocks, mow the walkway down to the back paddocks, they have buttercups and the horses don’t eat them off. Feed the dogs, sort the eggs, put the bread in to cook, hang the washing out etc etc

Well I decided to do the hen house before it gets too hot, that was an orrible task, although i hardly saw any red mite so they haven’t got a hold yet, it’s the detritus that I spotted and doing it in the day when they are tucked up asleep is the best option. Normally if it’s rife you can feel them crawling on you but I didn’t so hopefully Ive done it in time. I have a number of hens gone broody now so I chose another to hatch the other quail eggs and wired her in, no point wasting electric when you have a willing volunteer ๐Ÿ˜€ the other hens got chucked out of the hen house and I collected up the rest of the eggs, best not to leave them in there it just encourages them to sit. A nice long cool drink before I set about the other jobs today. 

Collected the post and was surprised to see live plants in there, I did think when the others arrived that I had ordered chrysanthemums but they were Cottage perennials well I obviously ordered both lots as the chrysanthemums have now arrived as well ๐Ÿ˜€

Potted up those quickly they were quite dry, I’ve realised I am at my happiest potting up and potting on, planted some runner beans to replace the ones that got caught by the cold although they are showing signs of coming back, going to be inundated with beans lol

Tuesday: Did the animals then pottered around in the garden for a couple of hours, had Mia in the afternoon, then spent the evening, cutting asparagus, cutting the grass on the walkways and digging up an awful lot of docks with John. It started off just digging up the couple of bits of ragwort but we thought while we were at it might as well do some docks and thistles. The mower is playing up a bit so John had a look at it, well the only things he knows how to do is check the oil and clean the spark plug lol didn’t make much difference as it is still misfiring ๐Ÿ˜

Wednesday: The temps are set to climb today so I need to get done quickly then I shall be mainly shade hopping in the garden, of course this means there are areas I won’t get to they will have to wait for cloud cover ๐Ÿ˜I have been trying to work out where I will put the remaining veg plants, I might as well use all of them but it means my crop rotation plan has gone out of the window as I use every little space to plant veg. Hopefully it means I will have bumper crops this year and will need to sell quite a lot of it fresh as I’m not planning on freezing as much this year as I did last year, some of it is still in the freezer especially fruit! 

Thursday: As the temps are set to be high today, I got up early to get on, did the animals and then some watering in the greenhouse and tunnels. Then I decided to clean the utility/boot room ๐Ÿ˜œtwo hours later it looks a lot better and smells good for a change, I washed all the winter coats as they should dry quickly today. No point doing that room unless I wash the dogs as that’s where they sleep so much to their disgust (but it’s not winter, and we are not filthy kind of looks I got) they had a shampoo, you would think they be happy but I can bet my last pound they will find the nearest dirt patch to dry off in ๐Ÿ˜– As it is there is cloud cover out there so it’s not too hot at the minute. We have guests staying next week, Dad and Sue will be here so I need to get some cleaning done beforehand, cleaning is nearly always the lowest priority these days, I used to scort around trying to do everything but I realised life’s too short and the dust always comes back so now it gets done as and when necessary ๐Ÿ˜€

Popped out to collect the post and had a lovely letter from Mum and Ken who are on the canal in Warwickshire, love an old fashioned letter in the technology age it somehow seems more appropriate to sit down and relax and read it rather than reading on the hoof as it were. I know Mum will be reading this when she can get a wifi signal so, thank you for the letter ๐Ÿ˜€ and enjoy the canals, a lovely relaxed pace of life. 

Did some watering in the evening and a bit of weeding, had to sort out the electric fence as the horses have spotted long grass that they can reach if the battery is running low ๐Ÿ˜ Up at 6am this morning finished at 8pm…..pooped now. 

Friday: Many hands make light work as they say and I had plenty today, I set them to work on various tasks, I run out of shade too quickly when it’s blazing sun and so it’s great to have others that can work out in it. If I spend too long in the sunshine, and when it’s like this I mean more than 10 minutes, I begin to get very tired as the antibodies rear their lovely little heads and go into overdrive so it’s better not to tempt them ๐Ÿ˜€ Shelley and Josh cleaned out the ducks while Charlie gave Kai a good brush and cleaned out his kennel, I did some indoor work then we spent a pleasant couple of hours sitting in the garden with Sam and Mia.

I did water the garden in the evening but needn’t have bothered, thunderstorm and rain early hours of the morning.

Saturday: A damp start and a great day weatherwise for me, saw a very large buzzard sat on the fence at the back on my morning rounds, I was able to get plenty done in the garden, hoeing, weeding, note to self, when weeding near the gooseberry bushes wear gloves, ouch! Planting up more veg, I am planting it in every available space I can find this year. Shelley and Josh came over and Shelley cleaned out the rabbits and guinea pigs, Josh watched me do the weeding then had a sleep, then enjoyed helping out, well mostly riding in the wheelbarrow ๐Ÿ˜œ. I pulled a stick of rhubarb for him to chew on and he liked it lol, amazing, can’t wait to introduce him to other fresh veg, not the strawberries though, he gets a rash from them but raspberries are fine so I guess he is going to be raiding them ๐Ÿ˜€ Hopefully we will get a bit more rain overnight. 

Sunday: Lovely sunny morning, John got on with the animals while I got ready for our visitors later today, fresh bread made and a batch of brownies, plus a boiled ham for sandwiches. John also dug up a large patch of docks in the paddock and legged ringed and moved the ducklings into the big pen with the other ducks. They had got too big for their little run. Ducks are easy to introduce to each other, they don’t fight so they will be fine in there until they get sold on, I have a buyer but need to wait and see what sex they are first. 

Still trying to get footage of the fox, but he has had a laying hen that had hidden in th straw overnight and now one of my male geese at the back ๐Ÿ˜–. We had moved them into the jump paddock to eat the buttercups, they have been fine for months without being shut away, we are down to one hen in the orchard pen, two jumped ship into the laying flock a couple of weeks ago, two sleep high up in the trees and spend the day free ranging and so only one that sleeps on her own on top of the rabbit enclosure, I did have 14 chickens in there! We are going to make the fence on the side he is getting in, better it’s a bit flimsy at the minute, then I shall be on the hunt for some new bantams ๐Ÿ˜€

Rain, wildlife camera, more rain and healthy options.ย 

Monday morning : It’s raining, I’m happy about that because everything is starting to look lovely and green and lush, just hope it doesn’t carry on foreveeeeerrr ๐Ÿ˜œIn the orchard run I have the two bantams missing this morning, no surprise really when John was up and dressed in the night investigating the dogs constant barking. The fox is getting over the five foot fence via stuff that is piled up in front of it and getting back out again jumping onto a four foot fence and over the top, that’s my best guess anyhow. The bantams unlike the bigger chickens do not go to roost in the trees and were therefore vulnerable and we should have locked them away but didn’t ๐Ÿ˜” Apart from that all else is well this morning.

Soap Box Alert: I read an article yesterday that I can’t get out of my head and so I need to vent my opinions here. Vegetarian fed chicken eggs, hmmmm, if you are a vegetarian and you are buying these hugely price inflated eggs may I just point out a couple of things to you: Chickens are by nature omnivore, they eat, plant and meat, now while we do not feed our chickens meat, for obvious reasons, it does not mean they won’t find their own, worms, grubs, insects, dead animals if they come across them, frogs, yep they will eat a frog and occasionally each other! If they are raised on grass, the argument ends there for me, if they are raised on grass and it is still insisted that they are vegetarian fed then the grass has been heavily sprayed, not good, if they try to guarantee they are vegetarian then they are permanently housed no two ways about it. Of course there are reputable companies that will state the feed is vegetarian and that is fine BUT and it’s a big but, if the chickens are allowed to free range on good pasture they are eating meat of some sort for sure. And as for the prices of these eggs and the hint that they are better for you is in my opinion tosh, besides the chicken would be my top priority, ‘ to exhibit normal behaviour patterns’ is one of the key aspects of the Animal Welfare Act, watch a chicken over a period of a few days or weeks and you will see they are at their happiest fighting over a fat worm or jumping and chasing bugs in the air, and they do fight, draw blood and will if given the chance eat another chicken, to them that’s normal if a bit extreme and obviously not something I would let happen but just proves a point. I have no idea what the health consequences would be for these hens if any, what I can tell you is that a hybrid hen is like an F1 high performance car, it needs exact components to maintain its health and productivity, take any one of them away and you might as well have a loose bolt rattling around in the engine, sooner or later it’s limping back to the pit lane for some tlc ๐Ÿ˜Summary: Don’t waste your money on highly priced eggs believing they are something they are not, do your homework find out exactly how your food is produced from beginning to end, in an industry where the regulations are strict you are already eating perfectly nutritious eggs that come from chickens fed on a balanced diet, beneficial to both them and you, the consumer. Phew glad I got that off my chest ๐Ÿ˜

As an after thought to that, it would be wonderful if our chickens could roam far and wide gathering most of what they need from the fields and hedgerows with just a bit of scratch corn for the end of the day but they can’t, for one the egg numbers would fall rapidly, secondly they would be much more open to predators, and thirdly chances are most of them would bugger off and never be seen again lol. 100 hybrid chickens eat a 20kg sack of specially analysed feed per day to keep them laying, the eggs would be as rare as hens teeth and cost a fortune to do it any other way. I had a good look round the veg garden this morning to see if any of the plants that were got by the cold weather were recovering, most of the beans are showing signs of new growth, some of the squash but not all but the sweet corn have bitten the dust I think. I have sown more squash and someone is doing sweet corn for me, I have bean plants to replace any that don’t make it so it should all be fine. The wildlife camera arrived today so I have set that up in the orchard pen to see exactly what is happening, hoping to get some great footage, might even get a surprise or two, you never know. There was a poster a Facebook page of British garden birds.

I’m pleased that we have all of these except bullfinch and nuthatch visit us weekly and sometimes daily ( song thrush, wren, robin, dove, pigeon, magpie, sparrow, blue tit and blackbird) we also have long tailed tits and at the moment swallows too. Green finches we usually see in large numbers in the hedge at the back and occasionally yellow wagtail as well as the common wagtail? Buzzards and kite are often overhead, starlings are rarer than they used to be but are still around. We have noticed the increase in numbers since we first came, presumably we are providing a great habitat for them all and reaping the rewards. Made a healthy cake today. I used honey instead of maple syrup and added some vanilla essence and a bit of nutmeg, plus some dark chocolate chips too. It’s quite heavy but ideal if you have a craving for something but trying to be good. 

I was very pleased with my blood test results today, most came back normal and my cholesterol has gone down from 5.2 to 4.6 which is excellent, the only thing is that both my white cell counts are low, one usually is but now the other is too, meaning I will struggle to fight any infection off so need to be careful. It is likely that it’s the meds I take for the Lupus which are immunosuppressive and as the Lupus indicators are nil it’s possible that they will drop the dosage or take me off them altogether. Most of the results are due to my new healthy eating regime which I started because of my blood pressure which is also now bang on, it means that we will no longer raise red meat or pork for the freezers and my baking batches will be a distant memory but hey ho you have to look after yourself don’t you. 

Ooo I had a lot to say yesterday didn’t I ๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚
Tuesday: A warm, muggy, damp morning. I was eager to get the rounds done and collect the SD card to see what was on there. Mostly footage of the chickens, in fact all of it was footage of the chickens and the memory obviously ran out before 8pm! So I need to move the camera to somewhere that won’t be triggered by the hens and not turn it on until it’s dark. The picture clarity is amazing though and at least I know it works though I should have got a bigger memory card ๐Ÿ˜I thought another of the chickens was missing this morning as she was nowhere to be seen in the orchard but when I unlocked the front hut she had moved home and was staying in there, she obviously thinks there is a safety in numbers. 

I am eagerly awaiting the broad beans ๐Ÿ˜€ this year I will try shelling them for recipes, apparently they are much sweeter if you take off the outer coat, fiddly but worth it so they say, I shall be using them with bacon and new potatoes mmmm can’t wait. I have this book called, It’s raining plums, which was recommended by a fellow facebooker, its full of information and seasonal recipes, I even learnt that lettuce used to be soporific until they bred that particular trait out, but wild lettuce still has the nick name ‘opium lettuce’. 

Arrgghh cant believe I left the water on in the poly tunnel again, I need a reminder system.

I went out at dusk to set up the camera, no hens to be seen they have gone to roost very high up in the trees, one was trying to get in a stable, they have decided the risk factor is too much obviously ๐Ÿ™„ While I was in the orchard pen I saw, you guessed it, a dirty great rat! There has been no sign of any for days, the rabbit food is still in the tray in the mornings and there were remnants of rat poison uneaten so I’m guessing this one is a new comer, bloody things. Hopefully I will capture some footage tonight of how foxy is getting in and out again, meanwhile the hens are well out of reach, fingers crossed. 

Wednesday: Raining again. Once it’s starts it doesn’t stop lol, still it’s pleasant rain if there is such a thing, but the kind that soaks right through ๐Ÿ˜ There is evidence that one of my speckled hens was taken last night however looking through the footage on the camera shows nothing! It captured footage at both ends of the day and some In the night so it’s not memory this time, maybe the fox is not getting in where I think it is, tonight I will reposition the camera and see what we get. The speckled hen was the one trying to get in the stable, she did not get far up the tree when we took her back, the problem is that when we tried to help her she got in a flap and kept ending up on the floor so we left her hoping she would move higher up, obviously she didn’t ๐Ÿ˜–

I think the rain is in for the day, though the temperature is pleasant, made some healthy option, Greek yoghurt and blueberry muffins, yeah, they are the healthy option because you don’t really want to eat them ๐Ÿ˜œ

Went down to feed the horse and spotted two red legged partridge, making a run for it they were hiding from the rain in the shelter. I decided to do a bit of potting on in the greenhouse, just some peppers left to do really, the greenhouse is leaking like a sieve so I quickly gave that up and decided to come back in for coffee โ˜•๏ธ 

The hay delivery arrived and we talked about the welcome rain and how it will wash in the fertiliser, he was worried that until the point when it started there would have been no hay to cut this year ๐Ÿ˜ฎ As it is the barley has struggled and even with the rain the crop may not be very good. That will have a knock on effect as we usually buy a tonne of barley or wheat, depending on what is available, to feed the hens over winter, it’s cheaper than buying bagged corn and just as good for them. 

The rain is flooding the place, the ground is hard and it’s coming down at such a volume that there is nowhere for it to go until the ground softens. The rain butts are full and overflowing, that’s great really as it will mean we have water for the ducks and the garden for quite a while once it stops, but in the meantime it’s soggy out ๐Ÿ˜œ

Thursday: Well thank goodness the rain has stopped, it’s a tad cooler this morning but looks like it will be a half decent day. The grass is definitely growing now, I can tell by the amount of clipped grass in the goose water bucket, besides everything is looking lush and green. I moved the camera last night and took a look at the footage, mostly the quail moving around all night as I positioned it without thinking that they would set it off, I will get it right eventually. We think the fox was about before the hens went to bed last night as when we went out to shut them away they were all flustered and making a racket. 
Made some bread and set the timer to go out for an hour and clean out the guinea pig, rabbits and quail, forgot about the bread rising ๐Ÿ˜– not sure how much over it’s gone but I’m sure it will be fine. Cleaned out the geese, I was expecting to find some eggs but not today, maybe that’s then end of them ๐Ÿ˜” Tired ๐Ÿ˜ด today

Shelley and Josh came over and Shelley cleaned out the ducks for me while I sat and had lunch with Joshua, he is becoming quite the little chatterbox ๐Ÿ˜€

Had a sit down after they left and then got on with collecting the eggs as they are selling like hot cakes, then onto the garden, planted out two trays of celeriac and did quite a bit of weeding, planted out a banana squash under a cloche, the broad beans in the poly tunnel will be ready to start picking in a couple of days I reckon, everything has enjoyed the rain and will hopefully start romping away now. I intend to fill every available space with something edible this year, I was even thinking of planting in the asparagus bed because once that’s finished there will be room to plant between the rows. I did intend to plant out beetroot but it began to spit with rain and the washing needed bringing in, maybe tomorrow. One thing I forgot this year was pumpkins, so I quickly ordered some seeds and hope they catch up quickly, that will never do, no pumpkins for the grandchildren ๐Ÿ˜–

I have repositioned the camera ready for tonight fingers crossed we get some footage lol

Picture the scene, it’s bedtime, I’m in bed already, John comes in from the bathroom (this is not heading where you think it is ๐Ÿ˜) he says, do you know we are on course to sell 36,000 eggs this year, where the heck did that come from we haven’t even been discussing eggs, it’s the kind of thing he thinks about when cleaning his teeth lol. It got me thinking though, that pretty impressive considering I only wanted a few chickens for ourselves when we first came here ๐Ÿ˜€

Friday: First thing I did was check the camera, nothing, didn’t go off at all lol, think I will give up on that and move it somewhere just to capture any nocturnal wildlife footage. It’s has been raining overnight, I knew I should have cut the lawn yesterday damn it, now I will have to hope it dries out enough to cut it later otherwise it is starting to get long.

The post was all for me this morning just for a change ๐Ÿ˜œ hatching eggs, live plants and pumpkins seeds, happy Friday ๐Ÿ˜€ The eggs are more quail and I’m tempted to use a hen that is constantly broody for half of them and the incy for the other half but they need 24 hours settling time first before being set. Meanwhile the other quail are in full laying mode finally we can sell quail eggs again. And another goose egg was there this morning. Spent a pleasant hour or so potting up the live plants, perennials for using in various places then the rest will be sold on, and sowing the pumpkins seeds, I also put some spring onions and lettuce in the small poly tunnel with the toms and peppers. 

I’ve hatched a plan (pardon the pun) to hatch the half the quail eggs, I have a broody hybrid who sits on fresh air every day despite me chucking her off every time I go in there, she is being unproductive like that so I decided to give her the quail eggs to hatch ๐Ÿ˜œ I have had to secure her in the nest box, mostly so that the others don’t try to get in there and lay their eggs and so that the others don’t eat the quail eggs, don’t worry she has food and water and I have secured wire to the outside so that no other hens can get in and she can’t get out and leave them. One of two things should happen, she will remain tight and hatch them successfully or she will reject them and chuck them out or eat them, time will tell which it will be ๐Ÿ˜ If she hatches them I will need to remove her and the chicks quickly to a safe pen, the other hens will attack them and as they are about 3ft off the ground they will hurt themselves when they try to get out. She will have a bit of a shock as quail chicks are not as dependant on their mother as chicken chicks are, she will have her work cut out trying to keep them near her lol. Fingers crossed all goes well, although knowing hens as I do this could just be a recipe for disaster which is why I only put half of the eggs in ๐Ÿ˜€

Bit of a Hokey Cokey sort of day with the weather today ๐Ÿ˜œ when I could get out I planted the beetroot seedlings out and covered them from the onslaught of chickens and pigeons, planted out some mangetout and a banana squash with a protective cover in the asparagus bed, they will be gone over before the squash get going. 

Saturday: After the morning rounds, I did a bit of hoeing as the weeds are beginning to romp with all the rain ๐Ÿ˜– the rest of the day was spent looking after Josh while Mummy and Daddy went to a wedding, I can’t work out how I managed with three young children and did everything else as well lol, good fun though and we had some great giggles ๐Ÿ˜œ๐Ÿ˜œ precious moments โค๏ธโค๏ธโค๏ธ

The hen is sat tight on the quail eggs ๐Ÿ˜€๐Ÿ˜€๐Ÿ˜€

Sunday: Had Josh till mid morning so John did the animals then it was time to get ready for a trip with the girls to Upton Firehouse for my Mother’s Day treat, oh boy, it was goooooood, highly recommend it, but booking is essential as it is very popular. 

Had a pleasant evening working, I cut the grass in the front driveway and the lawn while John got the tractor out to remove a tree stump and clear the area up. We still have 5 more conifers to get down but it’s a gigantic task and one that will take a while to do over a period of time. 

Muffins, chicken pox, and pallet projects.ย 

Monday: The usual morning routine was done without any incident, definitely no sign of rats in the rabbit run now thank goodness. As I was putting out the eggs for sale in the shed I noticed a goose egg on the ground in the paddock and a jackdaw waiting nearby to get it once the geese moved. This is a bit of a surprise and I went in to retrieve it, a freshly laid one! The is unusual because they have been sitting and haven’t laid for ages in fact they don’t normally come back into lay once they have sat, it’s a bonus and I will be having it for my lunch today. I will need to get in the hut and clean it out to make sure there are no old eggs left in there and so can be sure that any more will be fresh eggs ๐Ÿ˜€Cleaned out the geese then the ducks come indoors make bread, make appointments for blood tests and with the doctor to discuss, get something out for dinner, meanwhile I realise I haven’t checked if there is any asparagus to cut and go out and customers are arriving ๐Ÿ˜ 

Put in an order for paddock grass seed and seaweed fertilisers for the fields๐Ÿ˜– ยฃยฃยฃ but they are in need not only of rain but something for the rain to nourish! Each year the paddocks are different depending on the weather, this year they are bare and dry, I can’t do much about the dry but I can replenish the nutrients, but I need some rain to help it along. 

The goose egg omelette was delish hoping they lay some more eggs although I would be surprised if they do. 

Planted some more runner beans and butter beans, nearly everything is planted up now, just a few more sweet corn to go in and some more rows of lettuce, radish and spring onions. 

Tuesday: No sign of a goose egg this morning ๐Ÿ˜” I was hoping they might carry on laying for a bit.

A lady came to get some horse muck and remarked how lovely that we let the horse wander round ๐Ÿ˜œ๐Ÿ˜œ๐Ÿ˜œShould have been called Houdini not Jack! Sam quickly put him in the nearest paddock and returned him to his when she had gone. 

Had Mia today and she has chicken pox, still looks beautiful spotty though ๐Ÿ˜ while she was asleep I made some rock buns mostly because it was cold and having the oven on would warm up the kitchen ๐Ÿ˜ Josh, our grandson is on a dairy free diet at the moment so I set about making something he could eat as well, I found a recipe for apple and oat muffins and adapted it slightly, I was chuffed that they taste great.

Apple & Oat Muffins – dairy free

1 egg

50g oats

1tsp baking powder

A approx 2 tablespoons 

1tsp cinnamon 

150g SR flour

2 tablespoons oil, I used olive

1 grated apple

Mix all the ingredients together in a large bowl, then divide into a 6 piece muffin tin and bake at 180c for approx 10/15 mins

Job done ๐Ÿ˜€

The honey and the oil are approximate as I didn’t measure it out just put it in and the oven had already been on so the muffins didn’t seem to take long although again I didn’t monitor the time exactly. 

Wednesday: It promises to be a warm day today so after doing the morning feed I went into the garden to get some watering done. Everything is very dry and a bit desperate for rain to spur things along a bit. The squash I planted out has been got by the frost and I’m hoping they will recover, even under the environmesh they have been affected ๐Ÿ˜ซ The gooseberry bushes are dropping a lot of fruit already due to lack of rain, there are plenty of budding fruit on all the fruit trees and bushes but they will start to suffer without a good drink soon. We put the ducklings out into the front paddock, their run fits nicely over the door to a hut I have out there and so it’s an ideal place for them. I think they enjoyed being out with a bigger bath to play in and lots of new things to look at and suss out. 

Thursday: Disaster day! After doing the morning rounds I went into the veg garden to have a look round, disaster the cold has got a lot of the veg plants despite me covering them, beans, squash, sweet corn have collapsed ๐Ÿ˜–๐Ÿ˜–๐Ÿ˜–๐Ÿ˜– The cold and the lack of rain are proving to be a thorn in my side this year and I can only hope that the roots have got a good hold and will struggle on to produce some new growth (wishful thinking) Days like these I wonder what’s the point, it was all going so well, I think I might just invest in a massive poly tunnel and grow everything under cover. Honestly it makes me tired just thinking about all the work and time that went into raising them only to be ruined by the weather. Swearing can be heard at this point ๐Ÿ˜ ๐Ÿ˜–๐Ÿ˜ก๐Ÿ˜ค๐Ÿ˜ซ and then gentle sobbing ๐Ÿ˜ช๐Ÿ˜ช๐Ÿ˜ช 

A day like this just makes me wonder why I am doing this, when you work outside, everything is dependant on the weather, you notice the weather, the weather can lift you up or send you down. When you go from your house to the car and into the office/shop/building you don’t notice it so much, sometimes I think although it would be boring, it would be so much easier and less crushing. So when a message comes through asking if you want to go for coffee the answer is of course yes I do! Back a couple of hours later and get stuck into the housework and cleaning the oven, I know, why on earth did I chose that job, well it chose me really when I need to bake bread but it will smell like the last roast dinner ๐Ÿ˜œ

My grass seed delivery arrived along with the eggs box delivery, knowing it is hopefully going to rain I’m mindful that I need to get it all in or at least under cover, after finishing the chores I went and covered up the seed and bought the egg boxes in, not a moment to soon because finally we got some rain โ˜”๏ธ๐Ÿ˜€ happy days except it’s at this point I realise I turned the watering system on in the poly tunnel this morning and forgot to turn it off! Days like today can do one ๐Ÿ˜คStill I’m over my depressing mood now so onwards and upwards ๐Ÿ˜€

The rain was just a sprinkle and I’m hoping we get quite a bit more, it smells amazing out there tho, there is a name for the smell ‘petrichor’, After the rain, also happens to be one of my favourite perfumes, it’s not an expensive one but I love the smell of it. 

I have well and truly flooded the poly tunnel ๐Ÿ˜it won’t need watering for a good few days, and the water bill will be a tad higher next time. I do have a timer on it but I can’t for the life of me work it out, it seems to have a mind of its own, besides the water pressure usually bursts any fittings off if you don’t turn it off at the tap, can’t win. 

The plant sales have really gone well at the farm gate I’m chuffed to bits, just need the veg to hurry up and grow, at the moment it’s a few bundles of asparagus and rhubarb now and again and even they are sparse due to the dry ground. 

My favourite magazine Home Farmer is looking for blogs about smallholding/veg growing to publish the links to their site so I have sent them my blog link, fingers crossed they use it. 

Cleaned out the orchard chickens, rabbits, guinea pigs and quail quickly before finally sitting down for the evening. 

Birds nest in the stupidest of places, the swallows have decided the stable block won’t do this year and are nesting in our back area instead, this is ok all day when the door is open but we shut it overnight until next morning, and some blue tits have decided that a stop tap hole in the ground partially covered by a manhole cover is a great place to nest. I fear for them in this rain. I did wonder why every time I was using the tap in the front a blue tit would land close by, then I saw it dive down into the hole. 

Friday: Hooray at last a decent amount of rain ๐Ÿ˜€ In between showers I did a bit of gardening along with my Friday helper. We sowed some more squash seeds in case the others don’t recover sufficiently, luckily I have plenty of bean plants to replace any that don’t pull through. Interestingly enough they were all outside as well but but not affected by the cold at all. I put together the seed/fertiliser spreader, eventually, the instructions were not that clear so it took a bit of guess work but it’s working as it should so I must have done something right. I did think about spreading the fertiliser in the rain but then thought better of it, we bought seaweed to spread on the paddocks, it seems to be the thing everyone is using at the minute so I hope it works well. The geese have laid again today, yippee, bonus eggs, they got snapped up quickly when I put them out for sale and I was able to put the a carton of quail eggs out for the first time in around eight weeks ๐Ÿ˜€

I spent the afternoon doing paperwork including the VAT ๐Ÿ˜– the last lot of major paperwork from Johns company, we can now begin to shut it down though it will still take a couple of months to tie up the loose ends. In the meantime he is enjoying working on his own again although the planned extra time for the farm has not panned out yet ๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚ as he is busier than before! 

Saturday: A dead bantam is what I found this morning, in the orchard pen, I’m guessing the fox has managed to get in and out again although he didn’t take the carcass? I have ordered a wildlife camera to see what exactly is happening overnight. 

Had a very productive day today, got the tractor out and moved one of the chicken huts back into the paddock, John dragged it out last year for some reason and it just got left in the gateway over winter because it was too wet to move it. The grass had grown up around it so we let the horse onto that area to ‘mow’ it for us. Then we moved onto dismantling pallets, we decided to save as much as we can and build some kind of playhouse for the grandchildren. While John was cutting up what we couldn’t use I went off to the paddocks to spread the seaweed fertiliser, it came over cloudy so I thought it might rain but sadly not, the fertiliser will sit there until it’s damp enough to disperse it, I did three paddocks altogether with the new spreader, I’ve walked miles ๐Ÿ˜ Then I went back to the pallet dismantling, while I was doing that I had a lightbulb ๐Ÿ’ก moment, we have some old packing cases dating back to 1965 and I need to make some raised beds in my other polytunnel, they will do nicely. We took them apart and reassembled them in the tunnel, perfect, we will continue putting them back together to make the bed tomorrow for the tomatoes. The plants have been selling really well at the gate, I said to John maybe that’s it, maybe that’s our way forward, plant sales, who knows, I have ordered some more, chrysanthemums this time because I want some for the front boxes, the spare I will grow on and put up for sale again. 

Sunday: The perfect growing weather, rain overnight and sunshine in the morning ๐Ÿ˜€ delighted that the seaweed fertiliser will have been washed in and the grass can start to benefit right away. 

Another busy day on the smallholding, we got started on making the raised beds out of the packing cases and filling them with muck and compost, I am really pleased with the results although we didn’t have enough to go along both sides but it leaves scope for other things so I’m not too worried. I got the tomatoes planted in them straight away and in the smaller box is a cucumber which will also climb up to the roof bars and hopefully hang down, and some cherry peppers have been planted too. I did the weeding in the big tunnel and planted up some sweet peppers, that and the feeding both the animals and ourselves pretty much took up the whole day, though we did spend a bit of time with the grandchildren and parents discussing the way the playhouse will be built, exciting little project that will be. Tired but happy ๐Ÿ˜€