Bad news :(

Sadly, despite our best efforts, Frank died yesterday, he had picked up a little in the week and we thought he was going to make it but he took a turn for the worst on Sunday morning and by the evening he was gone. Having reared bottle lambs for a few years in a row and never losing any, this year has seen three lambs not making it, it’s quite a blow, both emotionally and financially, in terms of profit that’s nearly £500 lost. Emotionally, the loss is also there, I had got quite fond of Frank as he was a proper battler and greeted me every morning demanding his bottle, I feel sad that we couldn’t save him. Onwards and upwards as they say and touch wood the others are all fine and enjoying the grass with a morning feed thrown in for good measure.

We have had a gentler pace of life this week compared to the last few which were at times, manic! The only job we had pencilled in for this weekend was to move all the laying hens to the front paddocks in one big house and run. This meant moving the coop out from the orchard, taking the fence down in order to do so, and putting the fence back up with a gate in it for easy access. First we had to move the hens that were occupying it out into one of the runs, it was something that we had to do over the two days and on the Saturday we moved the coop etc and on the Sunday we put up the electric fencing and moved all the hens to their new abode. It is quite nice because now anyone coming to buy eggs can see the hens that lay them, see how much room they have to roam and see what conditions they live in, giving them confidence in our product hopefully. I love to stand a watch the hens when they are moved to pastures new, there is always great excitement from them with a lot of running around and squawking. The idea around moving them is to give the back paddock a rest from chickens, and the front paddocks a rest from the horses, parasites and worms build if you keep the same species on the same ground for too long and this is an ideal way to break the cycle.

I am loathe to keep banging on about the weather but we are back to awful again, that Jet Stream has a lot to answer for, wet and windy and quite cold for June. Each year I hope to be able to sell excess fruit and veg and each year we seem to be hampered by something, the growth of veg is very slow and I wonder if we will get much at all. The poly tunnel is most productive, with the broad beans beginning to pod up, the garlic is doing well and we have had a good couple of pickings of Strawberries, I am going to see if there are any potatoes under the abundance of greenery later, it will be good to have some for tea if there is. The fruit blossom this year was great but if we don’t get any sun to ripen the haul, it will be small and not produce much sugar thus tasting a little sharp. The farmers are already talking about shortages due to the cold and together with the struggle to harvest last year we could be in for a knock on effect with prices rising quite a bit.

On a lighter note, I am about to set some quail eggs in the incubator, my neighbours daughter wants to keep some and I said I would hatch some out for her. I was going to put duck eggs in but they will have to wait, supply and demand takes over 🙂 The splash Orpingtons are still sat on their clutch of eggs and I did try shutting the other hens out but they just got confused about where to lay their eggs so it was a bit chaotic, I reopened the hut and just hope they actually manage to produce a few chicks otherwise that would have been another waste of 21 days sitting. I keep telling Hubby he needs to build a broody coop but even that has its drawbacks, half the time if you move the hens and their eggs they just abandon them anyway that’s why we incubate, it’s more successful usually!

Life should settle down to a quiet routine now with all our other distractions out of the way, the tractor needs a service and then we can set about using it for all the jobs that have been needing heavy machinery, such as digging ditches out and creating gullies for the rain water to run away more quickly, hopefully that will stop the flooding that we had last Winter in the stables, that’s the plan anyway! Maybe now with more time I will be able to have a go at a few new challenges, such as making cheese, I bought a kit a couple of years ago and never managed to get around to doing it, of course it would be lovely to do that with our own milk supply, but I think I would just be setting myself up for a lot of work if I went down that road, maybe when Hubby retires 😉

I hear we are going to have a least one hot day this week! The tomatoes could certainly do with a bit of heat, they are flowering but a little bit of heat would push them on to produce some fruit a little bit quicker. I often think it is weird that toms, cues and peppers are ready at the end of the season when your thoughts are turning to winter food rather than salads, and runner beans are usually ready mid summer seems a bit topsy turvey to me.

Have a great week and enjoy ‘the’ sunny day :p

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