Saturday, 16 June 2012

Goosey, Goosey, Gone-der : A General Farm update

Saturday 16th June 2012

A general update.
To my surprise I have sold one of the gang of three. A knock at the door from a very knowledgeable old couple with two geese eating their own eggs. Apparently a gander would help the situation. So that leaves two for Christmas.
The pigs are booked in at the butchers. I have changed butcher, as the last ones seemed to spend about ten minutes doing the job and I think they had their apprentice doing it with an axe. Result...traditional, rustic pork joints...with the emphasis on rustic. The new butcher was much more helpful.The boys are booked for 3rd September, just before their 6 month birthdays. Then two girls are going on 15th October. The last three gilts will get to stay a bit longer and will go off for sausages and bacon in the new year. All seven have put on a significant growth spurt in the last week.
Meanwhile, Gerald is still in the stables. I shall move him down to "team up" with Daisy in the next few days.

What's not happening on the chicken front? Well, most exciting news is that Chick of Elvis, our first hatched chicken, is a mum, making Elvis a surrogate grandma.

Chick of Elvis was sitting on seven eggs, so when I looked and found 2 chicks, one dead chick and NINE eggs my mathematical brain clicked into action! The other chickens have been laying their eggs in with her, hoping that she'll hatch them and do all the work!
That's good news though, since it means the laying situation is not quite as bad as we thought. I also found out from Ron, who bought the gander, that everybody round here's chickens are laying less at the moment. So it's not that we're doing something wrong.
On a similar note, remember those blue eggs that didn't hatch. I fired off a polite e-mail and found out that it was the cockerel firing blanks! I am currently trying to arrange some replacement, fertile eggs.
While all this is going on, the chicks at various ages continue to grow well and provide entertainment. The teenagers are pretty much grown-ups now and we have new teenagers. I did think abut letting them all out the other day, but the Indian Game chicks are still a bit small. Gerry has brought in young pheasants bigger than this before!
That's right, I did say lambs. We've got two Zwartbles on order for mid July. We'll fatten them up in the paddock and they'll be in the freezer by winter. More on these later.
Geronimo the cat, not Gerald the boar. We hadn't realised how much weight Gerry had lost until he got his appetite back! Always a fussy eater (no fish, no chicken, no pork, no beef), he has now decided he does not like biscuits, not since he has discovered pouches! It's great to see him happy and healthy again.
Birdlife on the farm is pretty quiet at the moment. I see the occasional Marsh Harrier over the fields and the Barn Owl passes by every couple of days. Most of the other birds are nesting and rearing young. I saw a gang of young starlings the other day and a family of blackbirds has been making sorties into the garden. Most singing has stopped, though the skylarks still shoot up into the air the minute the sun comes up and blast out their song. The chaffinch calls the same note incessantly from one of the Ash trees, where it can be seen flying into the ivy-clad branches with mouthfuls of insects and larvae.
At least two swallow nests in the stables have chicks, but I think numbers are down a little on last year.
Fruit & Veg
The veg patch extension, to eventually house the polytunnel, continues. Fencing is hard work, especially when it's dug in to stop rabbit excavating underneath. At least the ground is nice and soft at the moment.
My recent campaign against the slugs has vastly reduced their numbers but I'll need to keep it up. I've started resowing the veg which failed to germinate, but in general the veg is a frustrating experience at the moment. Plants need water and sun. At the moment, they're only getting enough of one of those things and growth is slow.
On a much more positive note though, I've started harvesting the Early potatoes. The Dunluces are the first to be ready and taste wonderful. New potatoes, cooked just after they've been dug from the ground, are a real treat. Who needs exotic?
And yesterday, four strawberries (and another four which the slugs found first) from the new patch.
The lean spell is coming to an end and the bountiful harvest is beginning.

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