It’s not too bad a day today still not July weather but at least it’s not raining at the moment. The heavy downpours we had last week have turned the chicken runs into a mud bath again and the paddocks are sodden, the aquifers must be full by now! I have been waiting for the sun to appear so that I can take off the sofa covers and get them washed and dried, I have resorted to drying them in the tumble dryer, no alternative really. The house smells of wet dog most of the time and the muddy footprints were creating an interesting pattern of their own, that’s why I am a little late blogging today, I decided a thorough clean was in order. I say decided but actually my hand was forced this morning when I discovered the contents of our eldest dogs stomach all over the floor in the utility room, if I am cleaning that up I may as well go the whole hog and do the rest. Oddly enough, I wasn’t the first person to enter that room this morning and only a man could walk in there, let the dogs out and not notice a thing!!
The ducks are in their element of course, the pen is a total mud bath, with what can only be described as a layer of sludge over the entire area! It is disgusting to walk through and I keep expecting to slip and fall in it at any moment, I would like to think that I would laugh but in all honesty I would probably swear and be in a foul mood for the rest of the day, lets hope it doesn’t happen but if it does, you have been warned 😉
On the day that we did have some sunshine, and yes it was just one day, we had to work twice as hard to get as many jobs done as possible. The grass down the driveway was getting a bit long as was the lawn and I knew that if it didn’t get cut that day we would miss our window which would make it difficult to cut on the next dry day. One of the large chicken huts needed cleaning out ready for the arrival of the next batch of hens which are due in this week, its best to try to do that on a dry day otherwise you make twice as much mess defeating the object entirely.
We sold a few Quail this week and on the day the family came to choose and collect them, I opened the back doorway to reach one that had been chosen, as I was on my hands and knees picking it up another shot past me and made a bid for freedom into the nearby hedge! Seeing how fast it was I thought there was no way we were going to able to get it back and so left it to its own destiny. The next day someone had left the nearby field gate open and the dog had escaped into the field beyond the hedge, we took the other two dogs and set off to look for him, the grass is well above waist height in there and it was impossible to see where the dog had gone. After fifteen minutes or so we found the escapee and made our way back towards the front of the field, one of the dogs startled something which took flight across the grass, it was the Quail that had escaped the day before, it landed back in the grass and the camouflage must be excellent because we spent another ten minutes or so looking for it to no avail. Just as we were leaving one of the dogs indicated that she had found something and there was the Quail, we picked it up but the shock of being disturbed and then found by the dog was too much for it and it died in a very short time. The others are still happily living in their new quarters and have now started laying, I am getting three to four eggs a day so far so it wont be long before I can put Quail eggs for sale in the little shed as well as duck and chicken 🙂
The last broody hen has finally decided to get off her eggs today after failing to hatch anything out, it is such a shame for her as she has sat patiently for over three weeks, I had made a mental note of when they should hatch and would have tried to break her brooding this week if nothing had happened but she is obviously a clever little hen and realised it for herself. That will be the end of hatching this year, anything hatching out after July does not stand a very good chance usually because of the weather, the broody hens have only managed to hatch out seven chicks this year and four of those disappeared overnight, the incubator has hatched eight chickens and the batch of Quail, not a great hatch rate this year at all 😦
I am, along with everyone else, hoping for an Indian Summer, otherwise we will be back into winter before we know it which is a depressing thought. I am grateful that we have not flooded as they have in other parts of the country or had vast fires like Colorado but I do yearn for some dry, warm weather so that it at least feels like we have had a Summer, just a couple of weeks would be fine pleeeeeeeeeaaaaassssee. The news is already reporting that the yields of fruit and veg are down, this means that the costs will be higher than normal, luckily we still have a fair amount in the freezer from last year and so my plan is to use what little crop there is while it is fresh and come the Winter use the frozen produce to see us through to next Spring which will hopefully be better than this year.
I have managed to pick a small amount of soft fruit although I have nearly given up on the strawberries now, I have probably lost about 80% of the crop that was there due to continuous rain and the fact that they are not getting a chance to dry out at all. The raspberries promised a better crop and I did pick enough to make a batch of jam at the weekend, but it has failed to set, probably due to the high water content, we now have 5 jars of raspberry syrup! I could try to re boil it but I think it would just burn and spoil so its raspberry syrup with everything for the next few weeks, I will have to get creative with it and use it any way that I can think of. The courgettes have just started to produce good-sized fruits and I am cropping those every couple of days, chickens love courgettes so any that don’t get sold are a treat for them, normally at this time of year they would be getting all sorts of lovely tit bits such as runner beans and peas, maybe the odd cabbage, but there is no sign of any of these producing their fruits anytime soon so the chooks will have to keep waiting just like the rest of us.
The polytunnel is our best chance at produce this year and I am glad we made the timely decision to buy one, the Tomato plants have a few trusses on them, the Cucumbers look like they will be the most succesful crop this year and I can’t wait for them to get big enough to start harvesting them. I planted some dwarf runner bean plants in there last week in the hopes that we will at least get a few runner beans this year and I have ordered some Winter veg to plant in there once the Summer crops have gone over. I will be able to grow cauliflower, broccoli and Winter salad crops such as Pak Choi, I will also experiment with carrots, onions and potatoes to see how far into the Winter I can keep things growing, you never know, we may be eating fresh veg at Christmas if I get it right. 🙂