Sunshine, helpers and visitors.ย 

Monday morning: Up early this morning as the pigeons were scrabbling around on the metal roof making a right racket, still it enabled me to get ahead so washing on, bread on the go, tonight’s dinner already prepped and an early morning call with my Mum who is away on their canal boat all before 7.30 ๐Ÿ˜€We are approaching the season of red mite boom, those little blood sucking vampires that feed on my hens, the weather conditions, rain, humid then sunny will see them expand rapidly in numbers unless they are kept in check. I can already see evidence of them in the boxes ๐Ÿ˜– the hen sat on the quail eggs will be very vulnerable and so I shall be cleaning the boxes out with jeyes fluid and smearing petroleum jelly into all the cracks and crevices I can find. Normally we would move them right out and creosote the whole hut but with no where to move them to that’s not an option this year so other methods of control will need to be put in place instead. The petroleum jelly will act like a trap as they won’t be able to move in it, we sometimes use diatomaceous earth but in all honesty I don’t think it works that well, some people swear by it, I’m not one of those. I have swung the ducklings run around to a new position this morning as they had trashed the grass they were on, need to clean out their hut as well.

Jobs to do: Clean nest boxes, spray and jelly, clean, ducklings, pick asparagus and rhubarb to put out for sale, dig up a couple of bits of ragwort in the paddocks, selectively spray a couple of bunches of docks in the paddocks, mow the walkway down to the back paddocks, they have buttercups and the horses don’t eat them off. Feed the dogs, sort the eggs, put the bread in to cook, hang the washing out etc etc

Well I decided to do the hen house before it gets too hot, that was an orrible task, although i hardly saw any red mite so they haven’t got a hold yet, it’s the detritus that I spotted and doing it in the day when they are tucked up asleep is the best option. Normally if it’s rife you can feel them crawling on you but I didn’t so hopefully Ive done it in time. I have a number of hens gone broody now so I chose another to hatch the other quail eggs and wired her in, no point wasting electric when you have a willing volunteer ๐Ÿ˜€ the other hens got chucked out of the hen house and I collected up the rest of the eggs, best not to leave them in there it just encourages them to sit. A nice long cool drink before I set about the other jobs today. 

Collected the post and was surprised to see live plants in there, I did think when the others arrived that I had ordered chrysanthemums but they were Cottage perennials well I obviously ordered both lots as the chrysanthemums have now arrived as well ๐Ÿ˜€

Potted up those quickly they were quite dry, I’ve realised I am at my happiest potting up and potting on, planted some runner beans to replace the ones that got caught by the cold although they are showing signs of coming back, going to be inundated with beans lol

Tuesday: Did the animals then pottered around in the garden for a couple of hours, had Mia in the afternoon, then spent the evening, cutting asparagus, cutting the grass on the walkways and digging up an awful lot of docks with John. It started off just digging up the couple of bits of ragwort but we thought while we were at it might as well do some docks and thistles. The mower is playing up a bit so John had a look at it, well the only things he knows how to do is check the oil and clean the spark plug lol didn’t make much difference as it is still misfiring ๐Ÿ˜

Wednesday: The temps are set to climb today so I need to get done quickly then I shall be mainly shade hopping in the garden, of course this means there are areas I won’t get to they will have to wait for cloud cover ๐Ÿ˜I have been trying to work out where I will put the remaining veg plants, I might as well use all of them but it means my crop rotation plan has gone out of the window as I use every little space to plant veg. Hopefully it means I will have bumper crops this year and will need to sell quite a lot of it fresh as I’m not planning on freezing as much this year as I did last year, some of it is still in the freezer especially fruit! 

Thursday: As the temps are set to be high today, I got up early to get on, did the animals and then some watering in the greenhouse and tunnels. Then I decided to clean the utility/boot room ๐Ÿ˜œtwo hours later it looks a lot better and smells good for a change, I washed all the winter coats as they should dry quickly today. No point doing that room unless I wash the dogs as that’s where they sleep so much to their disgust (but it’s not winter, and we are not filthy kind of looks I got) they had a shampoo, you would think they be happy but I can bet my last pound they will find the nearest dirt patch to dry off in ๐Ÿ˜– As it is there is cloud cover out there so it’s not too hot at the minute. We have guests staying next week, Dad and Sue will be here so I need to get some cleaning done beforehand, cleaning is nearly always the lowest priority these days, I used to scort around trying to do everything but I realised life’s too short and the dust always comes back so now it gets done as and when necessary ๐Ÿ˜€

Popped out to collect the post and had a lovely letter from Mum and Ken who are on the canal in Warwickshire, love an old fashioned letter in the technology age it somehow seems more appropriate to sit down and relax and read it rather than reading on the hoof as it were. I know Mum will be reading this when she can get a wifi signal so, thank you for the letter ๐Ÿ˜€ and enjoy the canals, a lovely relaxed pace of life. 

Did some watering in the evening and a bit of weeding, had to sort out the electric fence as the horses have spotted long grass that they can reach if the battery is running low ๐Ÿ˜ Up at 6am this morning finished at 8pm…..pooped now. 

Friday: Many hands make light work as they say and I had plenty today, I set them to work on various tasks, I run out of shade too quickly when it’s blazing sun and so it’s great to have others that can work out in it. If I spend too long in the sunshine, and when it’s like this I mean more than 10 minutes, I begin to get very tired as the antibodies rear their lovely little heads and go into overdrive so it’s better not to tempt them ๐Ÿ˜€ Shelley and Josh cleaned out the ducks while Charlie gave Kai a good brush and cleaned out his kennel, I did some indoor work then we spent a pleasant couple of hours sitting in the garden with Sam and Mia.

I did water the garden in the evening but needn’t have bothered, thunderstorm and rain early hours of the morning.

Saturday: A damp start and a great day weatherwise for me, saw a very large buzzard sat on the fence at the back on my morning rounds, I was able to get plenty done in the garden, hoeing, weeding, note to self, when weeding near the gooseberry bushes wear gloves, ouch! Planting up more veg, I am planting it in every available space I can find this year. Shelley and Josh came over and Shelley cleaned out the rabbits and guinea pigs, Josh watched me do the weeding then had a sleep, then enjoyed helping out, well mostly riding in the wheelbarrow ๐Ÿ˜œ. I pulled a stick of rhubarb for him to chew on and he liked it lol, amazing, can’t wait to introduce him to other fresh veg, not the strawberries though, he gets a rash from them but raspberries are fine so I guess he is going to be raiding them ๐Ÿ˜€ Hopefully we will get a bit more rain overnight. 

Sunday: Lovely sunny morning, John got on with the animals while I got ready for our visitors later today, fresh bread made and a batch of brownies, plus a boiled ham for sandwiches. John also dug up a large patch of docks in the paddock and legged ringed and moved the ducklings into the big pen with the other ducks. They had got too big for their little run. Ducks are easy to introduce to each other, they don’t fight so they will be fine in there until they get sold on, I have a buyer but need to wait and see what sex they are first. 

Still trying to get footage of the fox, but he has had a laying hen that had hidden in th straw overnight and now one of my male geese at the back ๐Ÿ˜–. We had moved them into the jump paddock to eat the buttercups, they have been fine for months without being shut away, we are down to one hen in the orchard pen, two jumped ship into the laying flock a couple of weeks ago, two sleep high up in the trees and spend the day free ranging and so only one that sleeps on her own on top of the rabbit enclosure, I did have 14 chickens in there! We are going to make the fence on the side he is getting in, better it’s a bit flimsy at the minute, then I shall be on the hunt for some new bantams ๐Ÿ˜€


Rain, wildlife camera, more rain and healthy options.ย 

Monday morning : It’s raining, I’m happy about that because everything is starting to look lovely and green and lush, just hope it doesn’t carry on foreveeeeerrr ๐Ÿ˜œIn the orchard run I have the two bantams missing this morning, no surprise really when John was up and dressed in the night investigating the dogs constant barking. The fox is getting over the five foot fence via stuff that is piled up in front of it and getting back out again jumping onto a four foot fence and over the top, that’s my best guess anyhow. The bantams unlike the bigger chickens do not go to roost in the trees and were therefore vulnerable and we should have locked them away but didn’t ๐Ÿ˜” Apart from that all else is well this morning.

Soap Box Alert: I read an article yesterday that I can’t get out of my head and so I need to vent my opinions here. Vegetarian fed chicken eggs, hmmmm, if you are a vegetarian and you are buying these hugely price inflated eggs may I just point out a couple of things to you: Chickens are by nature omnivore, they eat, plant and meat, now while we do not feed our chickens meat, for obvious reasons, it does not mean they won’t find their own, worms, grubs, insects, dead animals if they come across them, frogs, yep they will eat a frog and occasionally each other! If they are raised on grass, the argument ends there for me, if they are raised on grass and it is still insisted that they are vegetarian fed then the grass has been heavily sprayed, not good, if they try to guarantee they are vegetarian then they are permanently housed no two ways about it. Of course there are reputable companies that will state the feed is vegetarian and that is fine BUT and it’s a big but, if the chickens are allowed to free range on good pasture they are eating meat of some sort for sure. And as for the prices of these eggs and the hint that they are better for you is in my opinion tosh, besides the chicken would be my top priority, ‘ to exhibit normal behaviour patterns’ is one of the key aspects of the Animal Welfare Act, watch a chicken over a period of a few days or weeks and you will see they are at their happiest fighting over a fat worm or jumping and chasing bugs in the air, and they do fight, draw blood and will if given the chance eat another chicken, to them that’s normal if a bit extreme and obviously not something I would let happen but just proves a point. I have no idea what the health consequences would be for these hens if any, what I can tell you is that a hybrid hen is like an F1 high performance car, it needs exact components to maintain its health and productivity, take any one of them away and you might as well have a loose bolt rattling around in the engine, sooner or later it’s limping back to the pit lane for some tlc ๐Ÿ˜Summary: Don’t waste your money on highly priced eggs believing they are something they are not, do your homework find out exactly how your food is produced from beginning to end, in an industry where the regulations are strict you are already eating perfectly nutritious eggs that come from chickens fed on a balanced diet, beneficial to both them and you, the consumer. Phew glad I got that off my chest ๐Ÿ˜

As an after thought to that, it would be wonderful if our chickens could roam far and wide gathering most of what they need from the fields and hedgerows with just a bit of scratch corn for the end of the day but they can’t, for one the egg numbers would fall rapidly, secondly they would be much more open to predators, and thirdly chances are most of them would bugger off and never be seen again lol. 100 hybrid chickens eat a 20kg sack of specially analysed feed per day to keep them laying, the eggs would be as rare as hens teeth and cost a fortune to do it any other way. I had a good look round the veg garden this morning to see if any of the plants that were got by the cold weather were recovering, most of the beans are showing signs of new growth, some of the squash but not all but the sweet corn have bitten the dust I think. I have sown more squash and someone is doing sweet corn for me, I have bean plants to replace any that don’t make it so it should all be fine. The wildlife camera arrived today so I have set that up in the orchard pen to see exactly what is happening, hoping to get some great footage, might even get a surprise or two, you never know. There was a poster a Facebook page of British garden birds.

I’m pleased that we have all of these except bullfinch and nuthatch visit us weekly and sometimes daily ( song thrush, wren, robin, dove, pigeon, magpie, sparrow, blue tit and blackbird) we also have long tailed tits and at the moment swallows too. Green finches we usually see in large numbers in the hedge at the back and occasionally yellow wagtail as well as the common wagtail? Buzzards and kite are often overhead, starlings are rarer than they used to be but are still around. We have noticed the increase in numbers since we first came, presumably we are providing a great habitat for them all and reaping the rewards. Made a healthy cake today. I used honey instead of maple syrup and added some vanilla essence and a bit of nutmeg, plus some dark chocolate chips too. It’s quite heavy but ideal if you have a craving for something but trying to be good. 

I was very pleased with my blood test results today, most came back normal and my cholesterol has gone down from 5.2 to 4.6 which is excellent, the only thing is that both my white cell counts are low, one usually is but now the other is too, meaning I will struggle to fight any infection off so need to be careful. It is likely that it’s the meds I take for the Lupus which are immunosuppressive and as the Lupus indicators are nil it’s possible that they will drop the dosage or take me off them altogether. Most of the results are due to my new healthy eating regime which I started because of my blood pressure which is also now bang on, it means that we will no longer raise red meat or pork for the freezers and my baking batches will be a distant memory but hey ho you have to look after yourself don’t you. 

Ooo I had a lot to say yesterday didn’t I ๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚
Tuesday: A warm, muggy, damp morning. I was eager to get the rounds done and collect the SD card to see what was on there. Mostly footage of the chickens, in fact all of it was footage of the chickens and the memory obviously ran out before 8pm! So I need to move the camera to somewhere that won’t be triggered by the hens and not turn it on until it’s dark. The picture clarity is amazing though and at least I know it works though I should have got a bigger memory card ๐Ÿ˜I thought another of the chickens was missing this morning as she was nowhere to be seen in the orchard but when I unlocked the front hut she had moved home and was staying in there, she obviously thinks there is a safety in numbers. 

I am eagerly awaiting the broad beans ๐Ÿ˜€ this year I will try shelling them for recipes, apparently they are much sweeter if you take off the outer coat, fiddly but worth it so they say, I shall be using them with bacon and new potatoes mmmm can’t wait. I have this book called, It’s raining plums, which was recommended by a fellow facebooker, its full of information and seasonal recipes, I even learnt that lettuce used to be soporific until they bred that particular trait out, but wild lettuce still has the nick name ‘opium lettuce’. 

Arrgghh cant believe I left the water on in the poly tunnel again, I need a reminder system.

I went out at dusk to set up the camera, no hens to be seen they have gone to roost very high up in the trees, one was trying to get in a stable, they have decided the risk factor is too much obviously ๐Ÿ™„ While I was in the orchard pen I saw, you guessed it, a dirty great rat! There has been no sign of any for days, the rabbit food is still in the tray in the mornings and there were remnants of rat poison uneaten so I’m guessing this one is a new comer, bloody things. Hopefully I will capture some footage tonight of how foxy is getting in and out again, meanwhile the hens are well out of reach, fingers crossed. 

Wednesday: Raining again. Once it’s starts it doesn’t stop lol, still it’s pleasant rain if there is such a thing, but the kind that soaks right through ๐Ÿ˜ There is evidence that one of my speckled hens was taken last night however looking through the footage on the camera shows nothing! It captured footage at both ends of the day and some In the night so it’s not memory this time, maybe the fox is not getting in where I think it is, tonight I will reposition the camera and see what we get. The speckled hen was the one trying to get in the stable, she did not get far up the tree when we took her back, the problem is that when we tried to help her she got in a flap and kept ending up on the floor so we left her hoping she would move higher up, obviously she didn’t ๐Ÿ˜–

I think the rain is in for the day, though the temperature is pleasant, made some healthy option, Greek yoghurt and blueberry muffins, yeah, they are the healthy option because you don’t really want to eat them ๐Ÿ˜œ

Went down to feed the horse and spotted two red legged partridge, making a run for it they were hiding from the rain in the shelter. I decided to do a bit of potting on in the greenhouse, just some peppers left to do really, the greenhouse is leaking like a sieve so I quickly gave that up and decided to come back in for coffee โ˜•๏ธ 

The hay delivery arrived and we talked about the welcome rain and how it will wash in the fertiliser, he was worried that until the point when it started there would have been no hay to cut this year ๐Ÿ˜ฎ As it is the barley has struggled and even with the rain the crop may not be very good. That will have a knock on effect as we usually buy a tonne of barley or wheat, depending on what is available, to feed the hens over winter, it’s cheaper than buying bagged corn and just as good for them. 

The rain is flooding the place, the ground is hard and it’s coming down at such a volume that there is nowhere for it to go until the ground softens. The rain butts are full and overflowing, that’s great really as it will mean we have water for the ducks and the garden for quite a while once it stops, but in the meantime it’s soggy out ๐Ÿ˜œ

Thursday: Well thank goodness the rain has stopped, it’s a tad cooler this morning but looks like it will be a half decent day. The grass is definitely growing now, I can tell by the amount of clipped grass in the goose water bucket, besides everything is looking lush and green. I moved the camera last night and took a look at the footage, mostly the quail moving around all night as I positioned it without thinking that they would set it off, I will get it right eventually. We think the fox was about before the hens went to bed last night as when we went out to shut them away they were all flustered and making a racket. 
Made some bread and set the timer to go out for an hour and clean out the guinea pig, rabbits and quail, forgot about the bread rising ๐Ÿ˜– not sure how much over it’s gone but I’m sure it will be fine. Cleaned out the geese, I was expecting to find some eggs but not today, maybe that’s then end of them ๐Ÿ˜” Tired ๐Ÿ˜ด today

Shelley and Josh came over and Shelley cleaned out the ducks for me while I sat and had lunch with Joshua, he is becoming quite the little chatterbox ๐Ÿ˜€

Had a sit down after they left and then got on with collecting the eggs as they are selling like hot cakes, then onto the garden, planted out two trays of celeriac and did quite a bit of weeding, planted out a banana squash under a cloche, the broad beans in the poly tunnel will be ready to start picking in a couple of days I reckon, everything has enjoyed the rain and will hopefully start romping away now. I intend to fill every available space with something edible this year, I was even thinking of planting in the asparagus bed because once that’s finished there will be room to plant between the rows. I did intend to plant out beetroot but it began to spit with rain and the washing needed bringing in, maybe tomorrow. One thing I forgot this year was pumpkins, so I quickly ordered some seeds and hope they catch up quickly, that will never do, no pumpkins for the grandchildren ๐Ÿ˜–

I have repositioned the camera ready for tonight fingers crossed we get some footage lol

Picture the scene, it’s bedtime, I’m in bed already, John comes in from the bathroom (this is not heading where you think it is ๐Ÿ˜) he says, do you know we are on course to sell 36,000 eggs this year, where the heck did that come from we haven’t even been discussing eggs, it’s the kind of thing he thinks about when cleaning his teeth lol. It got me thinking though, that pretty impressive considering I only wanted a few chickens for ourselves when we first came here ๐Ÿ˜€

Friday: First thing I did was check the camera, nothing, didn’t go off at all lol, think I will give up on that and move it somewhere just to capture any nocturnal wildlife footage. It’s has been raining overnight, I knew I should have cut the lawn yesterday damn it, now I will have to hope it dries out enough to cut it later otherwise it is starting to get long.

The post was all for me this morning just for a change ๐Ÿ˜œ hatching eggs, live plants and pumpkins seeds, happy Friday ๐Ÿ˜€ The eggs are more quail and I’m tempted to use a hen that is constantly broody for half of them and the incy for the other half but they need 24 hours settling time first before being set. Meanwhile the other quail are in full laying mode finally we can sell quail eggs again. And another goose egg was there this morning. Spent a pleasant hour or so potting up the live plants, perennials for using in various places then the rest will be sold on, and sowing the pumpkins seeds, I also put some spring onions and lettuce in the small poly tunnel with the toms and peppers. 

I’ve hatched a plan (pardon the pun) to hatch the half the quail eggs, I have a broody hybrid who sits on fresh air every day despite me chucking her off every time I go in there, she is being unproductive like that so I decided to give her the quail eggs to hatch ๐Ÿ˜œ I have had to secure her in the nest box, mostly so that the others don’t try to get in there and lay their eggs and so that the others don’t eat the quail eggs, don’t worry she has food and water and I have secured wire to the outside so that no other hens can get in and she can’t get out and leave them. One of two things should happen, she will remain tight and hatch them successfully or she will reject them and chuck them out or eat them, time will tell which it will be ๐Ÿ˜ If she hatches them I will need to remove her and the chicks quickly to a safe pen, the other hens will attack them and as they are about 3ft off the ground they will hurt themselves when they try to get out. She will have a bit of a shock as quail chicks are not as dependant on their mother as chicken chicks are, she will have her work cut out trying to keep them near her lol. Fingers crossed all goes well, although knowing hens as I do this could just be a recipe for disaster which is why I only put half of the eggs in ๐Ÿ˜€

Bit of a Hokey Cokey sort of day with the weather today ๐Ÿ˜œ when I could get out I planted the beetroot seedlings out and covered them from the onslaught of chickens and pigeons, planted out some mangetout and a banana squash with a protective cover in the asparagus bed, they will be gone over before the squash get going. 

Saturday: After the morning rounds, I did a bit of hoeing as the weeds are beginning to romp with all the rain ๐Ÿ˜– the rest of the day was spent looking after Josh while Mummy and Daddy went to a wedding, I can’t work out how I managed with three young children and did everything else as well lol, good fun though and we had some great giggles ๐Ÿ˜œ๐Ÿ˜œ precious moments โค๏ธโค๏ธโค๏ธ

The hen is sat tight on the quail eggs ๐Ÿ˜€๐Ÿ˜€๐Ÿ˜€

Sunday: Had Josh till mid morning so John did the animals then it was time to get ready for a trip with the girls to Upton Firehouse for my Mother’s Day treat, oh boy, it was goooooood, highly recommend it, but booking is essential as it is very popular. 

Had a pleasant evening working, I cut the grass in the front driveway and the lawn while John got the tractor out to remove a tree stump and clear the area up. We still have 5 more conifers to get down but it’s a gigantic task and one that will take a while to do over a period of time. 

Muffins, chicken pox, and pallet projects.ย 

Monday: The usual morning routine was done without any incident, definitely no sign of rats in the rabbit run now thank goodness. As I was putting out the eggs for sale in the shed I noticed a goose egg on the ground in the paddock and a jackdaw waiting nearby to get it once the geese moved. This is a bit of a surprise and I went in to retrieve it, a freshly laid one! The is unusual because they have been sitting and haven’t laid for ages in fact they don’t normally come back into lay once they have sat, it’s a bonus and I will be having it for my lunch today. I will need to get in the hut and clean it out to make sure there are no old eggs left in there and so can be sure that any more will be fresh eggs ๐Ÿ˜€Cleaned out the geese then the ducks come indoors make bread, make appointments for blood tests and with the doctor to discuss, get something out for dinner, meanwhile I realise I haven’t checked if there is any asparagus to cut and go out and customers are arriving ๐Ÿ˜ 

Put in an order for paddock grass seed and seaweed fertilisers for the fields๐Ÿ˜– ยฃยฃยฃ but they are in need not only of rain but something for the rain to nourish! Each year the paddocks are different depending on the weather, this year they are bare and dry, I can’t do much about the dry but I can replenish the nutrients, but I need some rain to help it along. 

The goose egg omelette was delish hoping they lay some more eggs although I would be surprised if they do. 

Planted some more runner beans and butter beans, nearly everything is planted up now, just a few more sweet corn to go in and some more rows of lettuce, radish and spring onions. 

Tuesday: No sign of a goose egg this morning ๐Ÿ˜” I was hoping they might carry on laying for a bit.

A lady came to get some horse muck and remarked how lovely that we let the horse wander round ๐Ÿ˜œ๐Ÿ˜œ๐Ÿ˜œShould have been called Houdini not Jack! Sam quickly put him in the nearest paddock and returned him to his when she had gone. 

Had Mia today and she has chicken pox, still looks beautiful spotty though ๐Ÿ˜ while she was asleep I made some rock buns mostly because it was cold and having the oven on would warm up the kitchen ๐Ÿ˜ Josh, our grandson is on a dairy free diet at the moment so I set about making something he could eat as well, I found a recipe for apple and oat muffins and adapted it slightly, I was chuffed that they taste great.

Apple & Oat Muffins – dairy free

1 egg

50g oats

1tsp baking powder

A approx 2 tablespoons 

1tsp cinnamon 

150g SR flour

2 tablespoons oil, I used olive

1 grated apple

Mix all the ingredients together in a large bowl, then divide into a 6 piece muffin tin and bake at 180c for approx 10/15 mins

Job done ๐Ÿ˜€

The honey and the oil are approximate as I didn’t measure it out just put it in and the oven had already been on so the muffins didn’t seem to take long although again I didn’t monitor the time exactly. 

Wednesday: It promises to be a warm day today so after doing the morning feed I went into the garden to get some watering done. Everything is very dry and a bit desperate for rain to spur things along a bit. The squash I planted out has been got by the frost and I’m hoping they will recover, even under the environmesh they have been affected ๐Ÿ˜ซ The gooseberry bushes are dropping a lot of fruit already due to lack of rain, there are plenty of budding fruit on all the fruit trees and bushes but they will start to suffer without a good drink soon. We put the ducklings out into the front paddock, their run fits nicely over the door to a hut I have out there and so it’s an ideal place for them. I think they enjoyed being out with a bigger bath to play in and lots of new things to look at and suss out. 

Thursday: Disaster day! After doing the morning rounds I went into the veg garden to have a look round, disaster the cold has got a lot of the veg plants despite me covering them, beans, squash, sweet corn have collapsed ๐Ÿ˜–๐Ÿ˜–๐Ÿ˜–๐Ÿ˜– The cold and the lack of rain are proving to be a thorn in my side this year and I can only hope that the roots have got a good hold and will struggle on to produce some new growth (wishful thinking) Days like these I wonder what’s the point, it was all going so well, I think I might just invest in a massive poly tunnel and grow everything under cover. Honestly it makes me tired just thinking about all the work and time that went into raising them only to be ruined by the weather. Swearing can be heard at this point ๐Ÿ˜ ๐Ÿ˜–๐Ÿ˜ก๐Ÿ˜ค๐Ÿ˜ซ and then gentle sobbing ๐Ÿ˜ช๐Ÿ˜ช๐Ÿ˜ช 

A day like this just makes me wonder why I am doing this, when you work outside, everything is dependant on the weather, you notice the weather, the weather can lift you up or send you down. When you go from your house to the car and into the office/shop/building you don’t notice it so much, sometimes I think although it would be boring, it would be so much easier and less crushing. So when a message comes through asking if you want to go for coffee the answer is of course yes I do! Back a couple of hours later and get stuck into the housework and cleaning the oven, I know, why on earth did I chose that job, well it chose me really when I need to bake bread but it will smell like the last roast dinner ๐Ÿ˜œ

My grass seed delivery arrived along with the eggs box delivery, knowing it is hopefully going to rain I’m mindful that I need to get it all in or at least under cover, after finishing the chores I went and covered up the seed and bought the egg boxes in, not a moment to soon because finally we got some rain โ˜”๏ธ๐Ÿ˜€ happy days except it’s at this point I realise I turned the watering system on in the poly tunnel this morning and forgot to turn it off! Days like today can do one ๐Ÿ˜คStill I’m over my depressing mood now so onwards and upwards ๐Ÿ˜€

The rain was just a sprinkle and I’m hoping we get quite a bit more, it smells amazing out there tho, there is a name for the smell ‘petrichor’, After the rain, also happens to be one of my favourite perfumes, it’s not an expensive one but I love the smell of it. 

I have well and truly flooded the poly tunnel ๐Ÿ˜it won’t need watering for a good few days, and the water bill will be a tad higher next time. I do have a timer on it but I can’t for the life of me work it out, it seems to have a mind of its own, besides the water pressure usually bursts any fittings off if you don’t turn it off at the tap, can’t win. 

The plant sales have really gone well at the farm gate I’m chuffed to bits, just need the veg to hurry up and grow, at the moment it’s a few bundles of asparagus and rhubarb now and again and even they are sparse due to the dry ground. 

My favourite magazine Home Farmer is looking for blogs about smallholding/veg growing to publish the links to their site so I have sent them my blog link, fingers crossed they use it. 

Cleaned out the orchard chickens, rabbits, guinea pigs and quail quickly before finally sitting down for the evening. 

Birds nest in the stupidest of places, the swallows have decided the stable block won’t do this year and are nesting in our back area instead, this is ok all day when the door is open but we shut it overnight until next morning, and some blue tits have decided that a stop tap hole in the ground partially covered by a manhole cover is a great place to nest. I fear for them in this rain. I did wonder why every time I was using the tap in the front a blue tit would land close by, then I saw it dive down into the hole. 

Friday: Hooray at last a decent amount of rain ๐Ÿ˜€ In between showers I did a bit of gardening along with my Friday helper. We sowed some more squash seeds in case the others don’t recover sufficiently, luckily I have plenty of bean plants to replace any that don’t pull through. Interestingly enough they were all outside as well but but not affected by the cold at all. I put together the seed/fertiliser spreader, eventually, the instructions were not that clear so it took a bit of guess work but it’s working as it should so I must have done something right. I did think about spreading the fertiliser in the rain but then thought better of it, we bought seaweed to spread on the paddocks, it seems to be the thing everyone is using at the minute so I hope it works well. The geese have laid again today, yippee, bonus eggs, they got snapped up quickly when I put them out for sale and I was able to put the a carton of quail eggs out for the first time in around eight weeks ๐Ÿ˜€

I spent the afternoon doing paperwork including the VAT ๐Ÿ˜– the last lot of major paperwork from Johns company, we can now begin to shut it down though it will still take a couple of months to tie up the loose ends. In the meantime he is enjoying working on his own again although the planned extra time for the farm has not panned out yet ๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚ as he is busier than before! 

Saturday: A dead bantam is what I found this morning, in the orchard pen, I’m guessing the fox has managed to get in and out again although he didn’t take the carcass? I have ordered a wildlife camera to see what exactly is happening overnight. 

Had a very productive day today, got the tractor out and moved one of the chicken huts back into the paddock, John dragged it out last year for some reason and it just got left in the gateway over winter because it was too wet to move it. The grass had grown up around it so we let the horse onto that area to ‘mow’ it for us. Then we moved onto dismantling pallets, we decided to save as much as we can and build some kind of playhouse for the grandchildren. While John was cutting up what we couldn’t use I went off to the paddocks to spread the seaweed fertiliser, it came over cloudy so I thought it might rain but sadly not, the fertiliser will sit there until it’s damp enough to disperse it, I did three paddocks altogether with the new spreader, I’ve walked miles ๐Ÿ˜ Then I went back to the pallet dismantling, while I was doing that I had a lightbulb ๐Ÿ’ก moment, we have some old packing cases dating back to 1965 and I need to make some raised beds in my other polytunnel, they will do nicely. We took them apart and reassembled them in the tunnel, perfect, we will continue putting them back together to make the bed tomorrow for the tomatoes. The plants have been selling really well at the gate, I said to John maybe that’s it, maybe that’s our way forward, plant sales, who knows, I have ordered some more, chrysanthemums this time because I want some for the front boxes, the spare I will grow on and put up for sale again. 

Sunday: The perfect growing weather, rain overnight and sunshine in the morning ๐Ÿ˜€ delighted that the seaweed fertiliser will have been washed in and the grass can start to benefit right away. 

Another busy day on the smallholding, we got started on making the raised beds out of the packing cases and filling them with muck and compost, I am really pleased with the results although we didn’t have enough to go along both sides but it leaves scope for other things so I’m not too worried. I got the tomatoes planted in them straight away and in the smaller box is a cucumber which will also climb up to the roof bars and hopefully hang down, and some cherry peppers have been planted too. I did the weeding in the big tunnel and planted up some sweet peppers, that and the feeding both the animals and ourselves pretty much took up the whole day, though we did spend a bit of time with the grandchildren and parents discussing the way the playhouse will be built, exciting little project that will be. Tired but happy ๐Ÿ˜€

Kites, Robins and Swallows

Monday: May Day ๐Ÿ˜€bank holiday ๐Ÿ˜€Its been raining overnight, now normally I would be disappointed that the bank holiday is wet but we are in such desperate need that I’m letting it go this time ๐Ÿ˜œAfter putting the ducklings in the back I’m surprised we still have some as John didn’t shut the back door properly, it was ajar ๐Ÿ˜ซthings could have be much different but luckily they are still intact. Spent a good few hours in the garden and had to go get new bean canes as the old ones were breaking as I tried to put them in the ground. Cut the driveway grass and it started lashing down, soaked by the time I finished. Moved the horse to a different paddock put electric tape up to confine him. Did a bit of evening work as it was so nice and John was watching snooker ๐Ÿ˜ด a bit of sweeping and tidying, also got started on a long list of jobs that need doing, need extra hours in the day, days in the week and a few extra arms would be useful too ๐Ÿ˜

Tuesday: Up early as I have booked a haircut in for 8.15! I need to get everything done beforehand a I have Mia today as well, saw a big brown rat who obviously wasn’t expecting anyone to be about that early, he was in the orchard pen, put the last sachet of poison down will have to stock up on some more. 

Wednesday: phone call to John to get some rat poison as a matter of urgency! Did the feeding rounds and went back into the orchard pen to asses the quail as they have matured now and one of the males is being attacked by the others and I need to remove him from the hut, out the corner of my eye I spotted movement in the rabbit pen, small rodent like movements, uuurrrghh there are about 3 baby rats and 2 bigger ones all scurrying around!! I did think that the rabbits had got particularly hungry of late, no wonder when a family of rats are eating all their food ๐Ÿ˜ I would have got the air gun out but I am not a crack shot and can’t risk the rabbits running in front just as I fire ๐Ÿ˜œ I removed the rabbits hard feed and went into the garden to collect a bucketful of herbs, grass, dandelion and carrot thinnings plus put a sackful of hay in for them, I also fed the rats with some poison from a bait box that had not been eaten ๐Ÿ˜

Did a bit of garden work, I decided to grow the cucumbers along the top bars of the poly tunnel this year to use up the headspace that is usually wasted really, we will see if it works. I planted some basil that I have grown from seed in the poly tunnel and a pot of coriander. I intended to sow some more rows of lettuce, spring onion and radish but Mia arrived with her mum and so it can wait until tomorrow. I have ordered two wooden plant staging thingy’s to put the plants for sale out on, at the moment they just sit on the ground but often get knocked over, I have lots of veg plants to sell this year as well as a few flower plants, lavenders and fuchsia, and some herbs too.  

No sign of the other goose eggs hatching yet ๐Ÿ˜” I will leave it to the end of the week and see if I can candle them somehow ๐Ÿ˜›the little gosling seems to be doing ok though even if it’s parents keep eating all the chick crumb I put out for it! 

The weather still leaves a bit to be desired, cold winds, nice when the sun does come out but it’s a bit sketchy. Made some bread, and have beef stew for dinner tonight. 

Thursday: Still a tad cold for my liking and the plants too they need some heat to get them going a bit more. Did the morning rounds, fed the rats as well ๐Ÿ˜œ John came home with two tubs of poison yesterday, I honestly don’t know why they are more of a problem this year but it’s the same for everyone I speak to. Spent most of the day in the veg garden, potting on, moving plants outside to harden off, then my new plant staging came, very pleased with how they display plants for sale and the whole look around the little shed is delightful especially with Johns bargain buy egg sign at the car boot sale. 

I have been looking back through the blog posts to see when the geese started sitting as the eggs have not yet hatched, on average they should take 35 days, from the blog week I mentioned it in we are getting on for 39 days, however she may not have been sitting tight from then so I will give her a few more days probably until the end of the weekend and then drastic measures will have to be taken, I can see a fight with a goose coming on ๐Ÿ˜–

I put three lots of asparagus out for sale this morning and they were gone in an instant, no wonder really when the shops are charging ยฃ3 a bunch and I am only charging ยฃ1 need to keep a better eye on prices I think next year. 

Friday: We have no hot water today, the immersion heater or the stat has gone not sure which, you would think with a plumber living in it would get sorted asap, not so, I feel for the cobblers children ๐Ÿ˜œ 

Discovered a bit of a mystery on my rounds this morning, a pile of white feathers and the electric fence down in the corner, my first thought was goose feathers but surely John would have noticed them last night when he locked up and would have said if the gander was missing. Seeing that the geese were all present and correct my next thought was one of the 3 white star hens that regularly get out of the orchard pen but they are all there too, it’s definitely not pigeon feathers all pure white, we don’t have doves, the fox has had something I just don’t know what or where it came from. Meanwhile when erring the geese out I spotted an egg that was not in the nest, my ideal opportunity to see if the others might be viable still. One goose is sat just inside in the nest, the others are out but just a couple of feet from me, I chuck them some feed to keep them occupied and keeping a bucket between me and the gander I run the gauntlet of the goose on the nest and grab the egg, not as easy as I make it sound I can tell you ๐Ÿ˜ The egg is cold so it’s either been pushed out or rolled out unnoticed anyway I take it away and break it open, there is an almost fully formed chick in there but the egg stinks suggesting it’s been dead for quite a while. I’m left wondering if all the other eggs are the same ๐Ÿ˜ž I think on Sunday if nothing has happened I will drive her off the nest and take my chances. To be honest we don’t need extra geese so they would’ve surplus to requirements and bound for the freezer so the only loss will be to the goose who has been sitting so long with no outcome.  

Pile of feathers in the paddock

Mystery solved, I went back to the orchard pen to feed the rats and noted that some of the hens were looking a bit worse for wear on their backs, that will be the pekin cockerel trying to mount them and because he is much smaller than them he is pulling out feathers that normally would not be harmed, then it dawned on me who the pile of feathers belong to ๐Ÿ˜ซ He had taken to getting himself out over the top of the pen over the last few mornings returning in the afternoon when I open the gate to go in and feed. 

Lovely weather today, planted out broccoli and cauliflower in the brassica cage which could do with being twice the size really. Planted out the runner beans and the dwarf beans including the ying yang ones, I have to put a wind guard round them up here until they get established as even a breeze has the ability to ravage them somewhat. Next will be the sweet corn planted in blocks so that they pollinate each other then the squash plants which will be planted into lots of lovely manure. I grew some sunflowers this year and they need going in the ground I will probably plant them near the sweet corn ๐ŸŒฝ 

Wild birds are making themselves known today, we had a kite swooping and hovering over the front paddock, the chickens and geese went into panic mode, a nest I spotted yesterday which was empty now has two eggs in there, Robins nest anywhere and this one has chosen my flowerpot rack, not sure it’s the best idea but I will do my best to make sure they are not disturbed, and the Swallows were soaring in the sky this morning, happy days to see them back already ๐Ÿ˜€

Saturday:Still have that cold wind and looking at the forecast it doesn’t look like it’s going to change direction until the middle of next week ๐Ÿ˜• No sign of rats this morning and they have left some of yesterday’s ‘feed’ so hoping that is the end of them. Muscles aching this morning from yesterday’s workload good job I am off to an auction today otherwise I would feel obliged to keep on working ๐Ÿ˜œ Johns first job is to sort out the immersion heater and then put up the new duck accommodation that we have had sat there for a few months. A nice shed that has a full height roof and door so I don’t have to bend over double collecting the eggs ๐Ÿ˜€I have a couple of people coming to collect veg plants this morning, I have lots of spare broccoli and cauliflower plants as well as cucumbers and dwarf beans from 50p if anyone wants any also tomato plants. Last of the big spenders at auction ยฃ2.20 for some stackable plastic trays, great for the veg garden ๐Ÿ˜€

Sunday: Where is the sun it’s been missing for ages. Well I wrote that this morning then it came with a vengeance lol, beautiful day if a little too warm for me by mid afternoon. 

I got the ride on out and cut some long grass, then the strimmer to tidy the area up a bit more, I was getting frustrated with machinery, first the mower wouldn’t start after I had used it for a while then got off to do something, then the strimmer did the same thing. User error on the mower as I had left the cutter engaged and the health and safety cut outs all over it meant it won’t start, however the strimmer was just being a pig! Then we had a visit from a cousin I haven’t seen for nearly 15 years, it was great to catch up and we whiled away a couple of hours yaking ๐Ÿ˜€ In the evening I decided I really needed to do some watering as the ground is so dry it’s unreal for this time of year, watching country file we might get some thundery downpours on Thursday and I hope we do, the ground needs a good soaking. John finished off the duck shed by putting a pop hole in for the birds to get in and out and I cleaned out the ducklings. Although the shed is for the older ducks we decided that initially we will put the ducklings in there and attach their run to the outside as they are making a right smell in the back. ๐Ÿฆ† 

Captured a pic of the ducklings all in a row ๐Ÿ˜€

Update on the goose eggs: The goose must have heard me saying I was going to drive her off because as I got the dustbins in this morning I noticed she had come out and joined the others. I nipped into the hut (I did have to get a broom to ward them off and then shut myself in while I retrieved them) by this time they were going cold and so I broke one open and it stank! They were all the same, they had been growing but at some stage they had died and so poor goosey has been sat on eggs that were never going to hatch ๐Ÿ˜”

Frost, a new gosling and willow weaving.ย 

Monday: The temperature has definitely taken a downward fall, hope it doesn’t last too long, I will be putting fleece over plants in the tunnels and greenhouse for the next couple of nights, I don’t want to risk losing any of the work I’ve already done! All is as per normal this morning, although I discovered that one of the geese is sitting on an empty nest! I’m guessing the other one has stolen her eggs ๐Ÿ˜” 

The ducklings are getting a bit big for their cage now and I am waiting for a metal run to arrive so that I can put them out during the day, they will still have to come in overnight but at least they will have a bit more space for a time. 

There is a bit of a lull in the veg garden now, the seedlings are all growing away and being potted on but not much is happening in the ground outside apart from the established permanent veg and fruit. There is plenty of blossom on the fruit trees and I’m hoping the frost is not too sharp this week or we could lose the lot, fruitlets are beginning to form on the pear, cherry and apricot trees, plum and apple are a couple of weeks behind, those are the ones most at risk from frost. We had no apples last year so I am hoping for a good crop this year, there are flowers on the citrus trees and the fig is putting on some good growth, the grape outside is looking healthy but the one I moved into the tunnel has died I think ๐Ÿ˜”damn it.

This afternoon Mia met the guinea pigs, she was a little more interested in them than Josh although she kept poking their eyes, probably because when she has a teddy or a doll we are always asking ‘where are the teddy eyes, or nose’ lol

Tuesday: Artic blast! They were not kidding when they said the temperature would plummet โ„๏ธโ„๏ธ hopefully they will rise again by the end of the week ๐Ÿ˜€

I had a crap night last night, I only say ‘I’ because John snored his way through it all, the dog was barking at something from 2.42 until 4.05 I know this because I looked at the clock every bloody five minutes. I got up a few times to look out of the window or turn on the lights, I couldn’t see or hear anything though. You can’t be too careful this time of year as we have a local ‘fair’ coming up and activity is usually higher around this event. However all was revealed on my rounds this morning as in the orchard pen are a pile of blue/grey feathers, and a blue hen with not much covering on her back! This pen has a six foot fence all round, it is wired and has (did have) netting on from the bird flu episode, the netting has been ripped away but the wire is intact, now I can only assume that for some reason the hen was sat on the floor by the fence and the fox has ripped out her feathers through the wire?? Most of the hens in this pen roost in the trees at night but this hen and her fellow ‘blue’ are quite large heavy birds and probably can’t get up that high, I need to make sure that tonight they are well away from any nasty sharp jaws. If this fox starts trying to dig in we will have to set the trap. 

Made a couple of fruit cakes, one for the freezer, one for Johns lunchbox and got some rhubarb and ginger jam under way, had a customer come to buy two chickens luckily they have been before because I had Mia who was fast asleep so I had to send them up the back to get their own lol, first time for everything.

The sky is as black as ink this evening! John just got the chooks fed in time before it started hailing/raining/blowing a hoolie hurry back to us Spring ๐Ÿ˜
Wednesday: A tad warmer today but the wind is still cold. We locked up the hens in the orchard last night, those that don’t roost in the tree anyway, fox was about but the dog only barked for a little while so I guess he went off to find an easier meal. We had a small amount of rain yesterday evening but nothing like the amounts we need to replenish the water tanks which are nearly empty, it seems it rains all around us in nearby towns and villages but not here. 
Thursday: Still a cold wind this morning, hurry up back sunshine we miss you. I had Mia overnight so she came and did the morning rounds as well this morning, I think the racket the birds make when they are let out amused her somewhat. Cleaned out the big ducks, got a couple of them limping, I think it’s the weight of the drake that is causing the problem, I can think what else it can be. Got the rabbits and guinea pigs to clean out and the little duckling that are not so little now. The run arrived so that I can put them outside during the day but the wind is too cold, I was hoping for a bit of warmth they are getting too big to be in the cage all day now. 

A ring on the doorbell and a customer tells me one of my chickens is out on the road, I go and look and it’s halfway to next door, I walk up the lane and by the time I get there she has gone through into the paddock, I walk back down to the farm cos she is heading home and by the time I get back round to look in the paddock she has disappeared probably back out onto the road ๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜ I’m not playing that game all day she will have to take her chances with the traffic or come home like a sensible chicken ought to ๐Ÿ˜›

Did a bit in the garden moving plants out to harden off etc, gutted to see that the frost has got my Kiwi again ๐Ÿ˜  that’s three years in a row and even though I covered it as best I could with environmesh. Going to have to think about moving it indoors but it has got rather large now, I may see of I can get a cutting perhaps and leave that one out whilst growing another inside. The potatoes got frosted too but they will recover, everything else seems ok. I’m thinking I need a poly tunnel extension at this rate ๐Ÿ˜€

My peas need to go in the ground outside but the chickens are going to decimate them so I have rigged up a bit of a fence to try and stop them getting to them, I think the time has come to re fence them much as I hate to they are becoming a pain in the veg garden and there is no point trying to grow all this stuff just for them to snack on! I have a helper tomorrow so I will get her to finish putting up pea netting and plant them up. 

Took the bull by the horns and got the electric netting up around the chickens, and set up a strip of electric fence along the orchard fence with a zapper attached to try and deter the fox, while i was doing that I found out we have a gosling ๐Ÿ˜€ so that was extra work sorting out chick feed and water for it. A good reason to net the chickens because they will pinch all the chick crumb otherwise, I also needed to put up a ramp for it otherwise we spend half the night, every night, trying to get it out from under the hut, I did think it was odd that the gander was staying inside today then suddenly they were all out with the new baby, there are still seven eggs to hatch and one of them went back to sit on them so fingers crossed we get more than one this year, I may turn the incubator on tonight just in case she abandons them in the morning. 

Feel plum tuckered tonight, back aches but had a good productive day. 
Friday: Looking forward to doing the rounds this morning and letting the little gosling out, the chooks are all captive behind the netting so it shouldn’t get hassled. I stood a watched them for a while then got some video footage, it’s hilarious when you watch for a while, either the gosling is off on a charge somewhere and the parents waddle to keep up with it and surround it to protect it or they wander off and it runs to catch up. Gotta love a day like today ๐Ÿ˜€ Just wish the ducklings had the same kind of freedom but sadly they have to be confined for the time being, the breeze is still coming from the North and so too cold for them to go outside yet. 

Had a busy day all in all, I decided to put the ducklings out after all, I kept a close eye on them to make sure they weren’t shivering, they weren’t, they loved it, even the rain ๐Ÿ˜€Lots of visitors for various different reasons today, one was my ‘man Friday’ come to help with the gardening, we got the peas planted, some potting on done, a bit of hoeing etc. Trying to round the ducklings up to get them back in was a mission I need to devise a better plan, the pen has 4 small doors but each time you herd them to one then go round they shoot off out of reach๐Ÿ˜ it took two of us which is ok if there is someone else around but on my own I wouldn’t be able to do it. 

Saturday: Did the morning rounds while John went off to get the feed, then I was off out for the day on a willow weaving workshop. Fabulous day, with a great tutor and some lovely people at the Lechlade Craft Barn. We made plant supports and then had a little go at being creative and getting the feel of how the willow bends and can be worked. I thoroughly enjoyed myself and now have all sorts of idea for the willow whips I cut down each year ๐Ÿ˜€ Back home in time to have dinner then off to a country wedding reception in a field, life is good ๐Ÿ˜€

Sunday: Life is a bit too good and I have a slight headache this morning from the frivolity of last evening ๐Ÿ˜› However, jobs still need doing and animals still need feeding no matter what. John did the bulk of the feeding while I sorted out the ducklings, I should have thought this through, they are now much too big for the brooder cage and they can’t be left outside all day and all night in the big cage, options are to put them in a stable but the possibility of a rat getting them is high, as is the possibility of Molly the yard cat finding her way into them and having a snack or two. In the end we bought the outside run inside, they have enough room in there and we will be able to plug the heat lamp in over night, when I say indoors of course I don’t mean in the house just in the back under cover bit.