I seem to have lots to blog about this week, not sure why, just one of those weeks I suppose.
We have had two main jobs to do this week, the first was concreting the tack room floor which we did on Saturday morning. It went better than I had thought and within three hours it was completed, it probably would have taken less time with a better cement mixer as ours is a bit tired, three shovel fulls and it won’t rotate any more, I know the feeling! Mia decided to investigate and walk straight into it, all four paws, up to her knees covered in wet concrete, I had to get her straight into the sink and wash it off before she ended up with concrete boots, plus it burns the skin. The floor set overnight and is now being left for a few days to ‘go off’. We were lucky enough to be given some kitchen units that someone was taking out, they will fit just right, slightly worried about the colour though as they are White, we did joke that we should paint them dust Grey as that is how they will look most of the time probably.
The second big job of the week was undertaken after we discovered red mite in the old coops, we have never had it in these before as they have been soaked in old engine oil over the last one hundred years and that usually keeps them away. We decided not to use oil because of environmental issues and the result is an infestation of red mite 😦 No wonder our egg numbers were down, I decided drastic measures were called for and made a stable ready for the birds. We caught them all one night, doused them with louse powder and transferred them to the stable, within two days the eggs went from 6 a day to 14! Proof that they were not happy in thier coop, I ordered a strong chemical, which I dont like to use but needs must, I also ordered a power washer. Read carefully ladies, if you want a job doing buy a power tool and the Hubby can’t help himself, he was immediately attracted to the job because he got to play with a ‘boy toy’ brilliant! I left him alone for a couple of hours and voila the coop was cleaned out spick and span, maybe I will tell him he can use it to clean the bath out after him 😉 the next step is to spray the coop with the dreaded chemical and then creocoat it and hopefully that will sort it out for a while. Red mite are notoriously difficult to eradicate and this year has been a great year for them, the weather, wet and humid, makes for ideal breeding conditions. I will need to treat the rest of the coops too, the little blighters migrate and we would just be going round in circles if I don’t.
The baby quail have been moved outside, one of them has been feather pecking, you can always tell which one as its the only one with any feathers left. The culprit has been segregated and I have sprayed the backs with anti peck spray, they are beginning to grow new feathers back again now. Most of these birds were sold before I even hatched them out, so I just need to ring people up and tell them that they are ready for collection.
On the wildlife side we are having regular visits from the Woodpeckers, we spotted a greater spotted woodpecker and a green woodpecker on the same day which is fabulous. Not so great is the visit from the crows and magpies, earlier in the week I noted that the Victoria plums were ready for picking. I went up the ladder and picked as many as I could reach safely, the chickens below soon realised that any movement of the tree caused a few of them to fall on the floor and they swarmed round to greedily pick any of these over. One other thing I noted is that there was not a wasp in sight, normally I have to be careful grabbing hold of the plums in case I get more that I bargained for. I mentioned to Hubby that I needed help next time because I needed someone at the bottom of the precariously balanced ladder, I went out the next day and the whole tree had been stripped of every single remaining plum 😦 not happy and that was the only fruit we had in abundance. The magpies have been stealing the duck eggs, I caught one at it this morning, the ducks lay regularly so it’s odd when there are none. Three of the ducks live in an old dog cage and the magpies have been hooking them out of the bottom, they leave the remnants in the school, I need to wire the bottom of the cage so they can’t get to them anymore. At one time we had more duck eggs than we could sell but since I have been putting them out in the little shed they have been selling well, mostly because if people turn up and there are no hen eggs they just buy duck eggs instead.
I had a lovely visit in the week from my youngest sister and her friend, the friend reads the blog ( good morning ) and wanted to be able to visualise what she was reading about, I am always happy to show people round if anyone else wants to pop up for a cuppa you would be most welcome. I can’t guarantee there will be cake though as I have not had much time lately to do any baking, one friend who has though, won first prize in a local show for her Victoria sponge cake which she puts down to using our eggs 🙂 so I can now claim we have prize winning eggs can’t I 😉
We had a farm meeting, actually it was just me and Hubby, we walked around and discussed what needed doing urgently and, the most important bit as far as I was concerned, where we were going to put a permanent pig pen. Pigs can be kept in a small area such as a traditional pig pen, but it’s nice to let them have a bit of ground for natural behaviour as well, so we needed to identify an area that could be half concreted for easy washing out but that they could also be let out for rooting and rolling. The area at the back of the stable block has a row of conifers that will perfectly suit them. We did use part of this area to keep pig before but without much experience they soon trashed the place and we don’t want to make the same mistake again. Hubby has come up trumps with regards to the Ewes and their potential mate, no funny comments please, a chap he knows from his regular trips to the burger van during work time, has a flock of sheep that are due to be tupped soon and he has offered to have our two in with his, he even gave Hubby some wormer to give them before they go for a vist, excellent, fingers crossed the ram does his job and we will have lambing to blog about next Spring.
The end of the veg season is in sight, the foliage is beginning to die back on the pumpkins leaving them to ripen, and the runner bean plants are beginning to look tired, although strangely enough this is when they produce most of thier fruits. I am picking over 6lbs of beans every other day, I did have a blanching and freezing session in the week that included carrots and sweetcorn as well, but there is only so many hours you want to spend doing that. The sweetcorn has been successful again this year, it is obviously suited to the ground conditions here because the weather has been different two years running and they still have done well. I intend to double the amount of sweetcorn I grow next year as it is my favourite crop and I am reluctant to share it! Those that have been privileged enough to have had some this year agreed that it was the best they had ever tasted, once tried you will be very reluctant to go back to shop bought, fresh or tinned, I know I was.
I can’t remember if I mentioned missing out on a livestock trailer on eBay last week or not but I am still gutted about it. I put in my top offer and was pipped at the post by 20 quid in the last minute. A trailer will take us one step further to being able to regularly turn livestock over, trying to organise abbatior dates and then borrowing a trailer is a bit hit and miss and I have had to cancel the abbatior before now. This is why the pigs gots a bit too big and started to destroy thier surroundings and also why the sheep are still here in the field instead of in the freezer! Our own trailer will mean that the livestock can go at the optimum time without too much fuss, if you know anyone that has one for sale let me know 🙂
We will be selling Christmas trees this year, when I get round to ordering them, we are ordering in 5 & 6 ft trees of the non drop variety, we will have around 120 of them this year just to see how it goes, we don’t want to be left with any! It will be quite a big outlay, they are not cheap to buy in, so get your Christmas trees here, I will make Hubby wear a Christmas hat for added humour. We did get a bit carried away when planning it and had reindeers and Santa in mind also, but I think we better walk before we run don’t you?
Nearly forgot to give you an update on Mia, apart from her concrete boots, she is settling in very well, she has a laid back nature and takes everything in her stride, she even comes back when you just whistle her. She has taken to stalking the chickens though and I am not sure if it is just because they move and she is playing or if she sees them as potential dinner, she is a greedy puppy. I decided cure her by putting her in a pen full of hens, great, she spent her time eating chicken poo and ignoring the chickens, I need another plan!