It is surprising how quickly things can change around the farm. The weather for one has dropped dramatically compared to the last few weeks and now we are having to break water buckets everyday that then freeze again by lunchtime! The Sun is beautifully bright and very welcome at this time of year but there are parts of the farm that it does not reach and they remain frosted all day. All of the outside taps are frozen so the trips to and fro to fill buckets begins, I am not complaining though as this Winter is a vast improvement on the last two 🙂
It’s all change with the horses too, this weekend one livery has gone and a new one has arrived, one of our horses is set to return to its owner in the near future and we have two more new liveries coming next week! We will be a full yard with lots of new activity and interest. Our Thoroughbred, Atherton has been on loan to us for the last three years, he is expensive to feed and can be unpredictable when he is out hacking sometimes, so the time has come for him to be returned, we shall miss him a lot when he is gone but you have to be sensible and it is not viable to keep a horse that needs a lot of feed to keep him in condition when he does not get ridden. Sometimes the Head has to override the Heart!
We were kept awake for the best part of the night by the dog last night, at 1.30 he started barking which went on for a while so we got up turned on the lights had a look out of the window and gradually he stopped. At 3.00am he started again so this time Hubby got up and dressed and went out to let him out into the fields and farmyard, he could not see anything and the dog settled down again until 6.30 this morning when he started again! We thought is was probably the fox but were not too worried as we had baited both traps over the weekend, however this morning when I went to let them out there were tell-tale feathers around the paddocks, he has had three laying hens 😦 He completely bypassed the traps and these three obviously did not go to bed and got shut out, so he had an easy meal or three! Well done to the dog for alerting us, shame on us for not checking in all the nooks and crannies for wayward hens.
This weekend we have been busy doing a bit of tidying up, you can get a bit lackadaisical during the colder months, but the Sun was shining and so it was an ideal time to clear out the hay barn and we also dismantled one of the smaller chicken coops. We have had problems with Red Mite for the first time since we came here, anyone with chickens will know they are difficult to deal with once you have them and this coop was infested. Luckily we have spare coops to move chickens into and so this was taken apart and has been washed down with Jeyes Fluid which should kill them off, they hide in the tiniest little nooks making it difficult to get rid of them completely on a day-to-day basis. The coop will then need to be painted with Creosote to prevent reinfestation and even that may not work, the older, bigger coops were painted with old engine oil years ago and we do not get problems with those, however in this day and age that is frowned upon due to environmental issues and so Creosote is the next best thing.
The hens are beginning to lay a few more eggs a day now that the nights are beginning to draw out again, in the darkest days of the year you are very lucky to get them to lay much at all, of course a big commercial egg producer would have the hens under lighting 24 hours a day in order to get the maximum out of them but we prefer to do it the natural way and so customers just have to wait, not that they mind as they are getting a far better quality egg in terms of freshness considering the eggs in the shops can be at least 3 weeks old by the time they make it to the shelves!
Sadly one of the three chicks that were hatched in late Summer died during the week, I found her in the coop one morning, I could not see any external physical reason such as impacted crop or injury so it must be that something has gone wrong internally. I have found that if a chick does not die in the first few days the next vulnerable time is when they are coming up to point of lay, it’s just one of those things and hopefully the other two will go on to flourish.
On a personal level another big change next weekend will be our youngest daughter flying to Australia for a year, I apologise in advance if the blog does not get written in time for Monday morning, I may be still bawling my eyes out!
Had to edit after publishing as I nearly forgot, we have a new website up and running find us at www.frieslandfarm.co.uk 🙂