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 😜In 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 😔 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 😝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 😝
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 😂😂😂
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 😝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 😀 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 🙄 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 😝 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 😖
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 😜
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 ☕️
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 😮 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 😜
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 😖 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 😔 Tired 😴 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 😀
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 😖
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 😝) 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 😀
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 😜 hatching eggs, live plants and pumpkins seeds, happy Friday 😀 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 😜 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 😝 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 😀
Bit of a Hokey Cokey sort of day with the weather today 😜 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 😖 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 😜😜 precious moments ❤️❤️❤️
The hen is sat tight on the quail eggs 😀😀😀
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.