Were did that week go?? The Summer Solstice is almost upon us and still not much in the way of a Summer and certainly not flaming June! Still at least the hosepipe ban has been lifted, I should think so too :p
We have had some new arrivals on the farm this week, the first were 3 ducklings, not naturally hatched out here but at a local hotel. We were asked if we could re home them as their pond is not big enough to sustain their parents and them also the threat of them being eaten by a fox was high and they didn’t want them to come to that kind of end so they have come to live with us. They settled in very well and after the first few hours were eating and splashing about in the water, they can’t go out with our existing ducks yet as they are too young and not fully feathered plus they need to be isolated just in case they have any infection they could pass on. At the moment they are in the back stable but I am hoping to put them out in a run on the lawn later today weather permitting. It was quite heartbreaking when we took them away from Mum, we put them in a box and carried them to the van but Mum could hear them chirping and followed us out to the car park 😦 I am sure after a day or two she will have settled down back into life without them, probably lay some more eggs to hatch!
The other new arrivals are the chicks that were in the incubator, the Cream Legbars and Splash Orpingtons, so far, six have hatched not bad considering they were not due to hatch until today, fingers crossed for a few more. The Cream Legbars are the Blue egg layers and they are a pretty chicken with a little tufted crest on their head, I already have one hen that I hatched out last year so any cockerel in this batch will be a useful addition for breeding. I ordered two batches from different suppliers so that I could mix the bloodlines but at the moment not one of the second batch has hatched, such is life!
We had a busy weekend, my middle daughter was here on the Saturday to lend a hand, moving all the debris from the plum trees that I had pruned in the week. I left the branches on the floor for a few days for the chickens to pick over any grubs and pests, they also like to eat the leaves, I gave some of the branches to the Rabbits as they also like to eat the leaves and chew on the wood of fruit trees, it does their teeth good and gives them variety in their diet. The plum pruning was a bit drastic and I have probably sacrificed what little harvest we would have got but hopefully they will be rejuvenated for next year. I have seen a couple of news reports about the weather affecting the fruit crop this year, Apples especially seem to be down in numbers, and although our Strawberry plants were heaving with flowers earlier in the year, the fruits are small and with all this wet weather they are succumbing to fungal problems very quickly. I did manage to pick a handful yesterday and took them up to hubby who was turning the muck heap, we stood and had a little snack while admiring the view, those are the moments that make me feel very lucky 🙂
Fathers day here does not mean a day off although we did take it a little easier, on the Saturday, Hubby started to build a multipurpose house and run which we will probably use for the Quail when it is finished, we also had a few bits of hedge to cut back, they had started blocking the entrances to various animal houses making it awkward to get in. In the evening we had a family get-together to celebrate Fathers day, that included the youngest via Skype, although it was 5.30 in the morning for her and she looked a little sleepy 🙂 The girls and one of the boyfriends stayed over and on the Sunday morning we got up and had bacon and egg sarnies and sat around chatting until lunchtime, which is a very rare event for us but one we thoroughly enjoyed 🙂
Last year I bought a food dehydrator and never got round to using it and so I was determined not to do the same this year. In the week I picked bunches of herbs and set about drying them, I was chuffed with the results and managed to make up five small jars of mixed herbs. It was very easy to do and so I am on a mission to do many more, the next batch is a combination of Red Basil and Oregano for an Italian flavour, I have ordered plenty of small jars and hope to do a few different mixes for fish sauces etc. If I end up with too many I may even put them out in the shed to sell. I am very glad I ordered the little shed as it can take many more boxes of eggs and also produce at the bottom as well, this months egg money was the most ever and Hubby calculated that we sold 85 dozen eggs last month!! Because the duck eggs are out there too I also seem to be selling more of them to the public than before, hopefully the Quail eggs will soon be on the board as well as Courgettes which have just started to grow and I usually put freshly picked Rhubarb in there a couple of times a week. I get great pleasure from being able to provide fresh good quality produce even if it is only a small amount, it is very satisfying and I try to charge just enough to cover the costs of seed and time spent. People often say, you should open a farm shop, but for me it is about being outside growing it and looking after it not in a shop selling it, so until the time that I could afford to pay someone to do that, it will be in the little shed at the top of the drive!
We are entering the season of plenty, or rather we should be but the weather is still holding everything back, very little growth on any of the legumes, and from what I have seen when I am out and about, it is common, the high winds we have suffered also cause a setback for any veg plants as they need to be healthy and strong in order to produce any decent harvest, instead they are looking distinctly battered. The winds have once again taken the roof panels off of my greenhouse and I need to find a way to stop it happening every time. I replaced the glass with poly carbonate after the last storms sent the whole roof crashing down, but the panels are light and are easily taken up by strong gusts I may need to resort to using silicon to keep them in place! Most trees and perennial plants are reveling in all the rain of course and we have a very green and pleasant land at the moment, the Elderflowers are bursting out all along the lanes and it is time to make cordial or champagne, it makes a lovely refreshing drink, perfect for these long sunny days in June :s The grass in our paddocks is growing exceptionally well and the bottom corner one that we have manured and seeded is now waist height in various grasses and common wildflowers, it is lovely to walk in, although I did spot a couple of Ragwort which will need to be dug up as it is fatal for horses to eat. One of the liveries has also spotted a Bee Orchid in the margins of her paddock, a delightful little flower and I hope it will colonise.