Well we have found both of the tortoises, one was found in the stable block heading for one of the stalls, no doubt to hunker down for hibernation and the other was about to break free into the paddocks, both are now safely back where they belong in the Herb garden.
Chickens seem to have been the main focus of this week with various problems cropping up, one of the four that my Mum was having had developed a limp that got steadily worse, we got her out and had a look at her and she appears to have arthritis, she has a joint that is solid and hot to touch, we have applied a generous covering of Arnica gel to see if that makes any difference, if not we will then need to decide what to do with her. Because she is quite well in all other respects the dilemma will be to A) put her to sleep or B) leave her to limp around and see how she gets on. She shows no other signs of distress so I am inclined to see how it goes for a while. If Mum decides to take her on she will get plenty of personal TLC and lots of Aloe Vera!
One of the Buff Orpingtons has managed to hatch out 3 little chicks, its little bit late in the year and all kinds of mishaps are waiting for them but hopefully she will rear them successfully. I have two other hens that keep trying to go broody, unfortunately they are laying hens and do not run with a Cockerel so they have no hope of hatching their eggs! In this instance it is kinder to break to brooding pattern, that can be as simple as keep taking her off and taking away the eggs or as mean as shutting her out of the hen house, it all depends on how she wants to play it, so far just removing the eggs seems to be working although they did keep going back for three days in a row.
We have a feather eating problem in the other batch of hens, after studying them for a while we caught the culprit ‘red beaked’ so to speak with feathers in its mouth! We have had to separate that hen from all the others to break her of the habit, we have also given all the hens a replenishment of oystershell and grit in case it is a deficiency. At this time of year the chickens will go into a moult, egg production decreases and they need a little added extra calcium to grow new feathers, egg eating can also be a problem this time of year for the same reason.
Our home reared bacon arrived in the week, you will remember that we had a pig living with our friends a couple of miles away, well the bacon is delicious, not like the watery thin rashers you buy in the shop, you only need one of these rashers they are about 1/4 inch thick and when you cook them you get very little liquid out of them. We also put a gammon joint in the Rayburn to cook very slowly overnight, in was in for 10 hours and was ready for breakfast the next morning, my worry was that it would be burnt so it was a bit of an experiment but it was fine, very succulent and a great way to start the day 🙂
The freezer is very nearly full to bursting with fruit, veg and meat and so anything that is in the garden from now on will have to be eaten fresh, there are still lots and lots of runner beans to be picked as well as cooking apples. The pumpkins are ripening a little too early but once they are picked should store well in a cool ventilated area. Most of them will be used for Halloween, I personally don’t like eating pumpkin, apart from in a cheesecake I once tasted which was delicious, but I will probably save the seeds from any that we use to carve lanterns from. I need to pick the sweetcorn, it has been a good crop this year and although sweetcorn tastes better if picked and cooked immediately, I will have to freeze some or we will be eating it every day for a couple of weeks!
I still have not decided what to do about the sheep yet but I need to sort it out soon, mainly because we are now spending money on feed that we don’t necessarily need to be doing and so it is not cost-effective. The cow that we have gone halves with also needs to have the same decision made, does it go for slaughter this side of Winter or do we feed it though the winter which will be costly but all the while it is still growing and we get more output in terms of meat in the new year. Decisions, decisions, a consultation will be made with the butcher to see what he thinks before the final choice is made.
The strong winds that we are experiencing at the moment are bringing down all the nuts and we have been gathering Walnuts and Hazelnuts, I have not seen any more signs of the squirrel and am beginning to think he may have become a casualty of the road, great for me, not so great for him!
Talking of the wind, as I can hear it picking up outside, I am hoping that the new roof Hubby has been busy trying to finish, stays put! It will be a compete calamity if it doesn’t (note to self, have a little more faith in his abilities). Hopefully I will report back with good news on that score next week 😉