Monday again: This morning I spent a good couple of hours as I went round making sure the pens were cleaned out a bit and fresh bedding put down on the floors. I still haven’t heard back from the chap about the ducks and now we are coming into mating season they are trying to get into the buckets of water to do what comes naturally. Unfortunately that usually results in the bucket of water going over and soaking the floor, I’ve tried various ways of limiting the water spillage but ducks need to get there eyes under the water and so a wide top is necessary, catch 22. The chickens are not doing much better but for a different reason, they are scratching around in the bedding and dirt floors but they get a build up of mud balls on the ends of their claws, which if not removed can lead to the loss of a toe, I have put a pile of stones in there to try and give them something hard to scratch on and hopefully remove the dirt. I cleaned the quail out, sort of, because I usually put them into a holding carrier while I do it but at the moment I have a hen who is stressed in there, so I had to try cleaning their cage out with them still in situ, not easy, they are flighty birds and easily frightened into bashing themselves against the bars. Worn out trying to keep them all happy and healthy, and still there are new cases of AI being reported, the last two in back yard flocks whose owners have not housed them because they think it doesn’t apply to them 😤And on top of that we have reports of temps going down to -13 at the weekend, I will look forward to that one 😖
Just about missed the rain on the pm feed, took the eggs out to the shed and collected the money, I had made a mental note this morning of how much should be there depending on boxes sold, we are £1 short today. I will be monitoring this daily as I’m getting to the point where with all the extra work I’m am wondering if it’s even worth it, especially as the ducks haven’t even begun to lay and I’ve been feeding them all winter, will I ever get any return, need to be a bit more ruthless 😞
Tuesday: Had Mia for the day while Sam was at work so had to get a move on to everything done before she arrived, feed and water the birds, put the horse out and do his stable, feed the dogs, do the eggs, get the Rayburn ready for lighting, start the bread off and put some washing on, mission accomplished, then entertain and look after Mia for the day 😀 She had a good sleep at lunchtime which gave me time to read my monthly mag, Home Farmer, I love this publication it always has something relevant in there, new recipes to try and has thought provoking articles. The sun is shinning and so while I have a spare minute my thoughts turn to the coming growing season, it is at this time of year I start getting impatient about getting started. My seed order is sat waiting patiently, my crop rotation is all drawn up, I read an article on growing lemons successfully, I have a young lemon and an orange tree, I have managed to keep them alive over two winters now and am hoping that they might produce a least one fruit this year. The grapevine I moved into the polytunnel at the end of last year so also hoping it will produce this year and am ever hopeful that the kiwi will eventually produce something, last year it flowered but the frost got to them so need to be on my toes this year and cover it with fleece before that happens. We could do with a good spring and a not too hot summer, I’ll put my order in now 😉 it’s a waiting game. Very much looking forward to my cheese making course at River Cottage at the end of this month, I hope to learn a lot, I know there are books and the internet but nothing beats learning like actual hands on sessions.
Ordered, wormer, flea treatments and shampoo for the 3 dogs and 2 cats, came to £70 nearly fell off the sofa!
Wednesday: Not good today, I woke up with what I can only think is vertigo, related to this damn bug which has taken weeks to shake off. Staggering around the yard my first visit to the ducks led to banging my head and promptly bursting into tears, obviously not feeling well so I called for back up, now this is rare, on a table of 0-10 the amount of times I have actually said, I’m struggling and need help here is precisely 0. The main thing I felt I would not be able to do at all safely is the horse, Jack, there was no way I would be able to bend down and do up his tummy belts on his rug and remain in the standing position when I got back up, so help was needed. I did the rest as best I could, which is a shame as I intended to get a fair bit done today, but spent the day sat or lying down. I did manage to get the sofa covers off and washed to dry over night so all was not lost.
Thursday: I feel a bit better today, not great but not like yesterday, just as well really as I have work to catch up on, trying to clean all the pens or make them a bit nicer for the hens, the ducks trash everything anyway but still got to try. I was on Horse duty this morning and so turned him out got his stable ready and kept an eye on the weather forecast, at the moment it says rain at 11am but it’s that now and no sign just yet, I don’t want to take my coat and wellies off only to have to rush back out when it does start so trying to find stuff to do outside until it starts.
I had an escapee this morning from the front shed, ‘ginger Dave’ snuck out as I tried to get through the door 😝 managed to catch her with a net and deposit her back inside quickly. Trying to clean out the hens while they are all in there is difficult to say the least, mostly it’s a game of trying not to stand on them, they have a lovely game of pecking at the bottom of my wellies and they follow my feet everywhere I tread, it’s very irritating a bit like the drip, drip water torture method I imagine. Wherever you try to put a water bucket down, one of them is always underneath it then they go into ‘the stance’ and won’t move still its more annoying for them being in than it is for me I guess. I bought a big wheel of hay to use for the rabbits and also for bedding and ground cover in the hen pens, I found it’s better than straw because the straw doesn’t soak up any wet whereas the hay does also the hay being cut while has seed heads for the chickens to peck over while the straw has already had the seed harvested, just a small thing but hopefully a useful one.
Well the rain came ☔️️☔️️☔️️ bucket loads of it, luckily I was indoors with the Rayburn lit by then, had a loaf of bread in the go and got the sofa covers back on and cleaned the bathroom. John came home early so we shot off to get a bit of shopping before the store runs out of milk pending the ‘big snow in’, bought junk food for tea today lol well a pizza anyhow, sometimes you just fancy processed carbs 😜 any today seemed like a good day for it. The temperature has dropped a fair bit but still no sign of snow yet. Came back and skipped the horse out and gave him his tea, fed and bathed the dogs, put the rubbish out, I always nearly forget to do that and have to do it in the dark, collected the eggs and topped up the water buckets, hung the washing on the lazy Shelia and ate pizza.
Took a photo of two doves that have been hunkered down for about an hour in the tree outside the back door, I wonder if they know what the weather has in store?
Friday: Well we had a smattering of snow, remains to be seen if we get any more but it wasn’t as bad as they had made it out to be lol. For some reason this year I’m not feeling the cold so much ( must be my age 😉) in previous years I felt reluctant to venture outside but this year I am quite enjoying it. I did the feed and water rounds, then fed the dogs and then went back to clean out the chickens in the stable and put new bedding in for them. If I do it mid rounds I generally forget something like feeding the dogs so it’s best to do the norm first then pick up any jobs after a coffee. After that I came in and had some flour to use up in the form of French bread flour and garlic tear and share mix so I made those, then the girls turned up with the grandchildren and we went out for a spot of lunch and a browse around the charity shops followed by a costa coffee stop. By the time I got home John had done the afternoon feed and put out all the eggs for sale, bonus 😀 The nights are definitely getting lighter nearly 5pm before the dark starts to descend.
Saturday: We had Joshua our grandson for the day and overnight so I did precisely nothing outside, that was left entirely to John, who must have done an awful lot as he avoided coming indoors all day lol, just in case he got asked to change a bum or do a bit of feeding/playing. He spent the day on the tractor turning the muck heap and by the sounds of it as I haven’t looked yet, churning up the place with the tractor wheels.
Sunday: Josh went home at lunchtime so again I didn’t do the morning feed and John is still out here using the tractor, he did come in overnight 😝 it was raining this morning so I hate to think of the mess that has been made out there, roll on Spring. This time next week I will be nearly at the end of my cheesemaking course at none other than River Cottage, I’m so excited, not only to learn about cheese making but to go to HQ has been a long held dream, that thanks to the John the girls and their partners, is now a reality. It was watching the early days of River Cottage that set us off on the journey we have taken into smallholding, I can’t wait to have a look round and find some renewed enthusiasm. Most of the family are looking forward to me bringing home my spoils, except Macca he doesn’t like cheese and John will only be impressed if it’s cheddar! I will be adding a new skill to my small repertoire, and freshly baked home made bread with home made cheese has to rank among the top ten ‘good life’ moments, perhaps I should make butter as well 😀