Well we knew the weather was bad but now reports of a Tornado over parts of West Oxfordshire have completely topped it! I have to say that the hailstones were big and the wind whipped up but luckily the Tornado did not touch ground here thank goodness 🙂
During one of the two dry days we have had this week, we have been very busy outside as you would expect, Hubby and Daughters Boyfriend spent all day Saturday clearing the remains of the tree felling that we did a couple of months ago, this was no easy task as the pile of branches to be stripped and burnt was huge, but they worked all day, had a huge bonfire going and now it is all clear. The area we are left with is quite big, bigger than the average back garden, there are four trees remaining and the Lilac bushes that were struggling underneath have begun to sprout all over the area. The plan is to plant Daffodils and Primroses for Spring next year. A new fence will be going up next weekend as the old one was completely rotten and then just leave the area to its own devices and see what it does.
The amount of rain we have had should certainly help the farming crops and I know that the Rape is probably going to be a bumper crop this year, this should also be good news for the hay provided the rain stops at some point! Over the last two years the farmer that supplies us with hay has struggled to get a decent crop and he finally ran out of bales last month. This meant that we had to try to find a new supply and quickly, luckily we had a contact who had some bales to spare and so now the hay barn is stacked with those, hopefully they will take us beyond the first cut of the year. When hay is first cut it is ‘green’ this means that the sugar content is too high to feed to the horses straight away and it has to sit a while before its ready for them to digest without causing problems.
I have just received an e-mail to say that the poly tunnel has been despatched, how exciting 🙂 We probably wont be that excited when we are trying to put it up! Many years ago when I had an allotment with my Mum we chose a lovely day to put up a small tunnel, the weather was great until the last couple of hours, by this time we were in too deep to stop and so when the heavens opened we were on our hands and knees trying to backfill the trench and get the polythene taut, when we had finished we were totally plastered in mud from head to foot, but still laughing, one of those times you will never forget 😉 I have also had a call to say that my new shed will be delivered this week, it will be the ‘egg’ shed, it is just a small one to put out the front and keep the eggs in. At the moment I am using a plastic tub which only holds 3 dozen and it is not very good when the sun shines as the inside sweats, so I decided to buy a little 4ft high shed to use instead. I have to confess I got a little carried away with the project and was going to paint the inside and give it a vintage look, by the time I had finished planning it, the shed had turned into a summer house with vintage furniture, tools, terracotta pots etc, well at least I was enthusiastic!
With luck we will have chicks galore in a few weeks, the broody hen is still sitting tight and at a guess she is sitting on over twenty eggs, I have had to put square baskets in the coop for the others to lay in now, if they lay near her she will just keep gathering eggs underneath her and then you decrease the chance of them hatching as she will move them around and some may get left in the cold. If this carries on day after day the chances are that at some point all of them will go cold and fail to hatch, the hen would have no idea and still keep sitting on them so it is best to encourage the others to lay elsewhere for the time being. Last week I ordered 48 quail eggs and set those in the incubator, I have been trying to find live birds for a while but no luck so this is the next best thing. That may seem like a large number of eggs but up to a third will fail to hatch for various reasons, from the rest that do hatch, probably half will be cock birds and then there will inevitably be some fatalities in the weeks that follow, realistically I am hoping to end up with approx 8-10 females for egg laying. Quail hatch on day 17 which is fairly quick, they are mature by the time they are 50 days old and so within a couple of months I should have quail eggs to sell, all being well.
We managed to put the horses out for a couple of days this weekend, the good thing about our soil, which has clay seams running through, is that it does dry up pretty quickly once the sun comes out, yesterday morning however, I went out to give them breakfast and hay nets and noticed that my Shetland was quite lame. It could have had something to do with the fact that he had escaped into the next paddock and probably hurt himself in the process. I decided to bring him in and take a look, I left Jack in the field with his breakfast and all of the haynets to himself, you would think that being the greedy horse that he is he would be in his element, WRONG, I had barely got to the stable block with the Shetland when Jack decided to join us! He had jumped the paddock fence into the drive and was not about to be left outside while his field companion was in, so they both spent the day inside while the Shetland had a bit of medication to help with the pain. He looks as right as rain this morning and is back to chomping merrily on the hay, he seemed to have shoulder pain which would tie in with the fact that he uses his front leg to pull at the rails until he moves them and is free!
On the veg front we have managed to get the broad bean plants in the ground and the bean poles up ready for planting when the weather breaks, I also managed to get some weeding done during the sunny spell at the weekend. Everything else is being grown on inside at the moment, which is working quite well, of course it does mean a shortage of space and we have moved some of the brassicas out into the cold frame to harden off. The courgettes have been planted out into the hot box, which is basically a box filled with layers of horse muck and straw then topped with soil. The courgettes are planted into the soil and the idea is that as the muck breaks down it gives off heat which encourages growth. Courgettes are very hungry plants and as the roots go down into the straw and muck mix they will be very well fed, this is a bit of an experiment and hopefully it will work well, the Victorians used the method with great results so fingers crossed.
Quail eggs, I forgot that one was broken so there are in fact 47!