Happy New Year :)

I hope you all had a lovely festive season, I thought I would give myself a couple of weeks off from the blog, I was, as I suspect were you, too busy in the run up to Christmas and too tired afterwards!

Well the New Year has certainly blown its way in here, the winds have been frightful, luckily the only damage so far has been a pane of glass in one of the stables. Besides the usual Christmas preparations, we still had the day to day running to keep up with and so it was very busy for a few days, the daily routine remains the same no matter what the calendar says, although we did have a couple of extra ‘half an hour’ lie ins 🙂

About two years ago we made the decision to take down some conifers that are at the front of the drive, they have reached about 50ft and are getting too big to be that near to the road, we finally got round to felling the first of them during the holiday break. That was an experience, cutting off as many branches as possible then tieing a rope to the top and hoping it would fall in the general direction required! When I heard the crack, just as it was about to fall, my heart was in my mouth, then the feeling and exclamation of jubilation, when it crash landed in the right place without any damage to persons or property, was amazing. We have another two to bring down and being closer to the road they will be a little more difficult to manage, but the amount of wood that we will get from them for next Winter will be well worth it.

Hubby and I went to visit My Dad in Wales for a couple of days after Christmas and left the girls in charge of the farm. The usual thing that happens is we get half way down there and they ring up to say the fox had been, so this time they decided to be one step ahead and bait the fox trap, a cunning plan, they got up the next morning to find they had caught…………….the cat! There he was sat in the trap with a belly full of pigeon! Oddly enough we did have a fox on the prowl, when I came home, I could smell that it had been marking its territory, so we baited the trap again and hoped that the cat stayed away, he did and this time we caught the fox. We can’t rest there though, only yesterday while out doing the afternoon feed, Hubby spotted a second fox in the far paddock, and there are tell tales signs of droppings around the Hen houses, so today we will set a second trap out in the paddock, I have lost one hen in the last week, and I can’t afford to lose any more.

I had some great presents for Christmas, all useful, which are the best kind and one of them was a micro brewery kit! I have not started it off yet but hopefully I will be brewing beer before the month is out, what it will taste like is another matter :p One of my aims this year is to use our produce in a wider range of products and brewing is right up at the top of the list 🙂 It may lead to some very entertaining blogs after a tasting session 😉

The New Year heralds new beginnings and that rule applies here just as much as anywhere, but before we begin planning for the future we need to clear up from the previous year, for us that means identifying birds that are no longer productive  and are costing more to keep than they make. From a batch of eggs hatched last year I have 5 very large Blue Splash Orpington cockerels, unless I can find buyers for them they will be fattened up for the freezer, we have around 10 hens that have either never laid or have stopped laying, they need to be culled and as there is hardly any meat on a hybrid they will be used to feed the dogs or bait the fox trap.  Yesterday we had to cull a drake who had suddenly developed a chest rattle and could no longer walk, poor thing was found flapping around in the mud, so we gave him a dry stable, water and food overnight to see if he would recover but it was evident that he was not going to 😦 Then there are the two remaining lambs that will need to go off to slaughter at the end of February, they have put on some good weight even though it is Winter, probably because they badger us for food every time we go near them! Once all that is done it will be time to decide what to plant, rear and grow for the coming seasons. We have talked about a permanent flock of sheep, just a small one of about 3 0r 4 ewes, it would uneconomical to keep a ram and so we would have to bring one in to serve them. It would mean that we would deliver our own lambs, which would be a whole new experience for us but a very exciting one as well, so watch this space 🙂 We also talked about having piglets again this year, after having a year without them, we need to build a permanent run for them first, and I was going to say, it will be a case of if we get round to it, but from experience what usually happens is an oportunity to buy some comes up and you dive in head first without much thought, ending up with piglets but no run, then a mad scrabble to get something ready for them to move into when they get too big for their pen! To be honest I prefer a ‘think on your feet’ situation rather than mull it over and planning it, with the latter we usually never get round to doing it!

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