September, the month of produce :)

Good morning all, another Monday morning and another blog 🙂 I have just had a look at my stats, and since I began the blog, I have had nearly 1000 views, not bad. I started the blog as a way to record and look back at the things that happen or the things that we do on the farm, and the fact that people read along with our weekly exploits is a real bonus so thank you.

The subtle changes of Autumn are in the air, the leaves are beginning to turn brown, the vegetables have definitely slowed to snail pace, and the morning and evening air temperatures have dropped. Despite that it is still a lovely time of the year that can sometimes surprise you with a lovely sunny day, we are forecast a good week this week coming so we had better make the most if it.

The Greater Spotted Woodpecker made a welcome return this weekend, we have not seen it all summer long, but I heard It’s unmistakable call on Saturday, looked out and there it was sat on top of the telegraph pole. We also have an Owl that appears to be living very close by, I have an Owl box that my daughters boyfriend made for my birthday so need to get that erected in the roof of the hay barn and see if it will become a des res for a family of owls which would be very exciting. As I was making my way to feed the dogs this morning I noticed what looked like a pile of pigeons! There were five of them all piled on top of each other trying to have a bath in the smallest of puddles, the silly thing is that there were plenty more puddles around, that one obviously was deemed to be the best by the local pigeon population.

We have had a visit from a large dog fox this week, thankfully it took the bait in the trap, I have to admit it was a beautiful looking thing but not something I can have prowling around my poultry ready to pick them off. I also had a visit from the lady at the farm along the lane, her lodger has shot four on their land alone in the last month, they seem to be on the increase, sadly it is suggested that urban foxes, when caught, are transported out to the countryside and released, while this may seem like a kind thing to do, it is just the opposite, urban foxes do not know how to survive in the countryside, they are used being fed by humans or scavenging on readily available rubbish, not hunting for their own food with natural instinct.

The same lady keeps bees and produces her own Honey, she kindly dropped off a couple of jars in return for a couple of buckets of cooking apples to make chutney with. The honey is delicious, I had it on toast this morning 🙂 the farm is less than half a mile from us and so it is possible that the bees have popped over this way to collect the nectar, you can’t get more local than that! While we were chatting she told me about an old recipe for Apple chutney that her Nan used to make, when she came back with the honey she also bought me a jar of the chutney as well as the recipe for it and another for Pear chutney. I had a go at making the Pear one on Sunday and early signs are that it is delicious, nice and sweet, I will leave it to mature for a couple of months to bring out the true flavour, and look forward to eating it at Christmas with some cold ham :p

September is a great month for produce, we went along to the local ploughing match this weekend and while we were there we had a wander round the produce tent. What an amazing amount of talent, everything from cupcakes and scones to vegetable animals and sacks of grain harvest. The whole atmosphere was once of relaxed contentment, heavy horses beautifully adorned, huge steam engines and ancient tractors of all kinds, all aiming to get lovely straight furrows and win the, no doubt, coveted prize of a shiny cup. Also on display were the ancient crafts of wattling, woodcarving and weaving all lovingly carried out by those few determined to keep the traditions going, those stalls together with displays from the sheep dogs, the local hounds and many other countryside pursuits, made  a welcome escape from the jobs on the farm and a relaxing afternoon out 🙂

Here on the farm this week we have been using copious amounts of purple spray, for those of you who don’t have a clue what that is, it is a spray that among other things contains Genetian Violet. It is used widely on wounds of all kinds and on many animals, we have had to spray the chickens, the ones that have been pulling each others feathers out. Despite giving them plenty more oyster shell and grit for Calcium and digestion they continued to de-feather each other, eventually they begin to peck at the skin and they don’t stop there, this can result in cannibalism! Purple spray not only heals the wounds but is a good visual deterrent for chickens and it appears to have halted them in their tracks for the time being. We have also had to use it on one of the rams, he has small horn buds, but keeps knocking one of them off when he is rubbing his head on the fence posts, on Sunday morning it looked like a massacre had taken place, not only was he bleeding all down the side of his head but he had managed to rub it all over the other sheep too! We scrubbed him clean and purple sprayed the wound, which should keep the flies off until it heals. 

Talking of sheep, I finally got round to sorting out their final few weeks, it started off well, after much discussion on a forum, I found out which tags I needed to buy to replace the ones that had been lost. All sheep have to be tagged and many of them now have to have electronic tags, because ours are under one year and destined for slaughter they can have just a visual tag, but because some of them have come off and are lost they have to be replaced with a red tag. It’s a complicated system until you get your head round it, but what else do you expect from the EU!!!! Two of the female sheep will be held back as they will not make weight in time, we have until next April for them to go, after that they will have to have two tags, one electronic and one visual. They say it is to make the origin and train of produce simpler for the consumer, but personally I think it is to clog up my life with more paperwork than is necessary 😉

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