Bird flu, gale force winds, snow, rain and a whole load of other stuff!

Monday: 15th Jan 2018 What a different Monday this week, last week it was dry and stayed dry all week which meant the ground got easier and easier to walk on, today a weather front has arrived like an unwelcome house guest and peed us all off, back to trudging, that’s the only word for it. Still, you gotta do what you gotta do and that the feeding and watering, at the moment I’m not letting the ducks out just in case we have a daytime fox, they are not nimble like the chickens and they wander quite far from any safety. The hens took one look outside, and if they could speak, no doubt heaved a collective sigh of ffs!

I wish I had my phone with me this morning, it’s never with me unless I leave the premises or take it out specifically to take photos but I need to rectify that as I missed a brilliant opportunity this morning to capture the buzzard sat in the front paddock. I’m not sure which of us was more surprised to see the other, but he continued to sit there for quite a few minutes while I spoke to him lol then decided I was too close for comfort and flew to the fence, sat there watching me for a bit before flying off. On a brighter note my new coat is indeed waterproof 😀 and I didn’t have to change layers when I got back indoors.

The subject I want to learn about today is tree tapping, I am going to have a go at this in the next few weeks so firstly I researched equipment both off the shelf and homemade, the off the shelf stuff is expensive for what really is simple equipment. Next make sure I identify correctly the trees I want to tap, birch is easy and I also have a sycamore that apparently tastes like butterscotch, but you can also do walnut so I may give that a go. The most important thing I needed to find out was what to do with the ‘wound’ after I had gathered any sap, it seems if you leave it the tree will heal itself eventually which is good news. Plugging the hole with objects appears to cause more damage and can even kill the tree in time.

Tuesday: I feel exhausted today after doing the morning rounds, I cleaned off the pol house floor, scrapping and lugging buckets of chicken poop is hard work, good job I have Mia today I can sit and play 😀 I feel like an irresponsible rabbit owner today as the rabbit that got out and we managed to recapture is nesting, that means babies again 😟 bad ownership, honestly they never got out for over a year then twice in the last few months, we still haven’t captured the other one yet so she will be raising a litter too probably, once is forgivable, twice downright stupidity.

I think, judging by the chicken feathers in the hay barn, we have had a daytime visit from the fox, the dogs were in yesterday during the heavy rainfall so the hens were vulnerable, I would keep them shut in but the area isn’t really big enough for all of them and they are used to coming out so when you open the gate to go in it’s like ‘schools out’ and they just spill out everywhere. They will probably be put back in the back paddock with mains electric on then we can clean and disinfect the pol run for the spring batch of youngsters due in Feb/March.

Got the dinner prepped for tonight, John is having shepherds pie and I am having bolognese with a sauce I made and froze from our tomatoes, garlic, onions and basil back in the summer, it’s delish and a good reminder to myself of the effort that I put in is worth it 😀 we are also having some of our plum harvest , Johns in a crumble but I have stewed mine with honey and ginger, they will be superb with some custard.

Wednesday: Today I have an appointment at the hospital so John did the morning feeding in order for me to get away early as the roadworks are holding the traffic up, what’s new. It was a slow process both on the road and in the hospital and eventually got back at 1.30. Fed the birds in the afternoon and had a quick look in on the rabbit hut and yep baby rabbits have arrived 😩 about 6 I would say, here we go again.

Thursday: Been awake since 4.30 finally decided to get up at 5.15 it is blowing an absolute hoolie out there and the roof sounds like it’s gonna come off any minute! Got up, turned the radio on, put the electric fire on and made a cuppa, at least with household noises masking the rattling it’s not so bad. To get up that early is not something I would do by choice lol but if I can’t sleep anyway there is no point laying there worrying.

The weather was totally wonderful after the winds died down, the sun came out, it wasn’t cold, it wasn’t raining just a lovely day. I decided after doing the feeding that I would get on in the garden, the 50m of windbreak arrived yesterday so what better day than today to do it. I had nearly finished and had a small section to do on the other side of the gate when I realised there was only one dog sat watching me, not again 😡 I then spent an hour looking and calling for her, a couple stopped and told me she was on the farm over the back from me, I went and retrieved her, the neighbouring farmer took my telephone number in case she does it again, the only consolation I could find was that I had my exercise for the week marching round looking for her. After I had secured them both in the boot room I got on and finished the job in hand, then went onto weeding the onions, covering the carrots with wire because the rabbit keeps eating them, in fact I spent a very pleasant couple of hours gardening including weeding the poly tunnel and transplanting self set beetroot. John came home at lunchtime, he had to cut up some more big branches that had come down in the wind last night and I needed to get on and light the fire, and prep dinner, so that was the end of my time outside. The muck I put in the tunnel at the end of last season seems to have done a good job on the soil, just needs a bit of breaking up and the cauliflowers I left in the ground have started to produce ‘mini’ heads 😀however the basil that was supposed to be for our climate has died off, never mind I will sow some more seed this year.

Decided, as I was inside, to strip the sofas and wash the covers, might as well hoover and polish and clean the bathroom while I’m at it 😜

Bio security measures are now in force across the whole of the country for bird flu, it is a legal requirement no matter how many chickens you have, they are not on lockdown but the area they are in has to be unattractive to wild birds 🙄 so no feed or water outside, minimum traffic in and out of the area, disinfectant foot baths, and keep the birds away from muddy areas ??? Now, I shall be following orders but some of these are futile, it’s mid winter, it’s muddy and what is the point of disinfecting my feet when I will be walking over muddy paddocks! Still the powers that be have spoken and so they who must be obeyed will be because I for one don’t want to be the chicken keeper that didn’t listen. To be honest they would be better off putting us on lockdown at least we know where we are with that measure.

Friday: Conflicting views online as to exactly what DEFRA want us to do, someone said they phoned them and they are expecting birds to be shut away but the statement they put out does not appear to say exactly that, typical gov dept! After discussing with John we have decided to house the ducks for a while, their run is pure mud and I can’t let them out now, the pol pen needs a clean so we will house those hens while we clean it and by then we should know for sure what is expected.

Meanwhile I started dismantling the fruit cage which as you can see from the video, if it loads ( it didn’t so will upload separately) is a mammoth task. The problem is because it has caved in it is at a difficult angle to get the wire off, everything is leaning on everything else causing obstruction and there is tension on all the wire. I finally started to get somewhere then realised I needed to get inside to cut the final bit of wire, the roof netting is still on even though it has collapsed so I had to walk across that then rip a hole in it clamber in and over raspberry wires to reach the bit I needed to cut, the netting was getting caught up in my welly buckles and my hair lol it was bit like getting caught in a giant spiders web 🕷

I was expecting a delivery of multipurpose compost and as usual everything happened at once, I called the driver to tell him to reverse into the driveway as he would struggle if he tried to reverse out onto the lane, he was lost, not far away so I gave him directions from up the road and just as he arrived and began to unload Micheal arrived with four bales of hay on his trailer, then an egg customer, then Sam and now we had a traffic jam in the driveway 😝

Spent a mad couple of hours with Shelley, Josh, Sam and Mia, well mostly it was Josh and Mia that were manic, we just drank tea ☕️

Quick update on the eco egg: I noticed that garments were not quite as fresh as they were when I started with it, they were clean but dull so I checked the egg and thought it might need some more pellets in but it’s still full. I decided that now and again I would wash some of the more soiled garments in conventional washing liquid, it’s still saving me money as I don’t use many, I also miss the fragrance of fabric softener but I am still going to give that a miss 😀

Saturday: Raining ☔️ John did the morning feeding while I took ibrufen for my arms and hands which clearly did not like me using the lump hammer and the fencing thingy to get the staples out. Such a pain paying for doing a bit of hard work, I used to be easily able to manage these jobs a few years back now I’m hindered constantly. We rounded up the ducks and got them into a stable, I sorted out a foot bath and we have to secure the stable from the fox, that will have to wait as John has to go round and see his mother. The battery on the car is flat, we got in it to go shopping last night and had to go in the van instead so that needs charging, we are going out for a family meal later but luckily Shelley has offered to pick us up for that.

I feel stressed as there are important jobs that either John needs to help with or do and we are not getting enough time to do them 🙄

A family medical emergency meant that I ended up eating salad rather than the roast I was looking forward to and as I type John is still at the hospital with his Mum. I have had to barricade the ducks into the stable, I thought about moving them back to their hut where they would be secure but I don’t want to keep messing them about so fingers crossed I have done enough to stop foxy getting in!

Sunday: Woke up to snow, it’s been a filthy day weather wise, snow, continuous rain, fog and all in freezing temperatures. Still jobs need to be done so we finally got the stable that the ducks are in fox proofed, and got the other stable (which is already proofed) ready to put the chickens from the pol pen in, then the pen will be ready for John to power wash when he has time. They are the only two lots of birds that I can’t feed inside which means the wild birds are having contact with feed and water which is what we need to prohibit.

As for the rest of the day, we still can’t get the car started so having to get someone to look at that, spent a pleasant couple of hours at Charlie and Maccas eating soup and cake and celebrating his birthday and then back home to feed the chickens and collect the eggs, stoke the fire before heading off up to the hospital to see Johns Mum, oh yes there is a blockage in the run off drain out the back that John is at this minute trying to clear before the back floods and we have water running down the inside wall of the kitchen due to the snow that was sat on the roof presumably, just another regular, manic, busy day at the farm 😜