Monday, 4 June 2012


Monday 4th June 2012
The sun makes a valiant effort to break through.
Sunrise is getting earlier by less than a minute a day as it approaches the turn. From 14th to 19th June it's at 04:34, then it gradually starts getting later again. Egg production is still worryingly low. Three of the chickens are in heavy moult and another is sitting on eggs. Given how well they laid all winter, and that they were almost laying one a day on the shortest day, I think their bodies must have been tricked by the warm winter. Perhaps now, finally, they've run out of energy and need a rest. Let's hope so.

Not long ago we had so many eggs we felt guilty if we did not eat at least two a day and make a batch of cakes at the weekend. But now they're all sold before they come out of the chickens. In fact, when laying is poor, we have to ration our customers. With a week's holiday, we get to eat more of our own eggs and I'm looking forward to it.

Our efforts at rearing more egg-laying hens are proving frustrating too. Although our hatch rate has improved considerably, it is looking like we have far more cockerels than hens! In general with livestock, boys are pretty useless and girls are what you want. All to do with testosterone (or whatever the chicken and pig equivalent is if it's not testosterone).

Sue reckons it's something in the water round here as there are far more boys than girls in her school too.

Heritage Food at Greeniversity
After yesterday's mammoth job, my body needs a rest, so it is most convenient that we have booked ourselves to attend a heritage food event in Whittlesey, promising elderflower delights and goosegrass curry....

... well, the event wasn't quite what we expected. We hadn't realised it was part of a fairly small jubilee fete, unfortunately slightly dampened by the weather.

We decided to give it a miss, and instead went to a giant Tescos! Much as I criticise the big supermarkets, there are many things which we can't produce for ourselves. It's not often that we go to big shopping centres these days, and it felt slightly strange. In fact, we felt a bit like those tribespeople from PNG plucked from their surroundings and airlifted into the hullaballoo of the Western world!

We did have an ulterior motive for our Tesco pilgrimage today. Swing-top bottles. A special offer meant that it's almost as cheap to buy them filled with Grolsch as it is to buy them empty! I'll just have to do my duty.
I noticed too that it is possible to buy lemon curd and marmalade for 22p and 27p a jar. I hate to think how they do it for that price. We pay a lot more than that just for the jars for our honey, jam and chutneys (when we don't have enough to re-use that is). It would actually be cheaper to buy these products and tip them away! That can't be right and it would feel very wrong doing this. I'd end up trying to find recipes to use loads of lemon curd and marmalade...

To go off on a tangent, that prompted me to google the famous nursery rhyme. Fascinating the information you can find at the click of a finger.

Oranges and lemons,
Say the bells of St. Clement's.

You owe me five farthings,
Say the bells of St. Martin's.

When will you pay me?
Say the bells of Old Bailey.

When I grow rich,
Say the bells of Shoreditch.

When will that be?
Say the bells of Stepney.

I do not know,
Says the great bell of Bow.

Here comes a candle to light you to bed,
And here comes a chopper to chop off your head!

This is actually a very lean time as the winter stores get low and we await the first crops with mouthwatering expectation. So we were a bit like kids in a sweetshop today! Not that I agree with flying food all over the world. Maybe as the occasional treat in our ever shrinking world, but it has become the norm and is taken for granted. 
Chicken talk
The Welsummers have grown at an astonishing rate and I was keen to get them outside today, while the weather held off, but the grass in the chicken area was truly like a jungle. So I attacked it for an hour with the strimmer. I was very pleased with the result. The chickens were not too impressed by the strimmer but I think they appreciated their new landscape!

With the disturbance over and the long, damp grass cut back, it was time to introduce the chicks to their new home and to the two French Copper Marans.

The 5 Welsummers (the large, darker birds)
and the four Indian Games
get used to their new surroundings and company.

Meanwhile, one of the teenagers has begun to cockle-doodle. Well, it's more of a croaky, muffled crockloooeeeuuuuuugh! If he had any sense he'd stay quiet and pretend to be a hen.
To end a very diverse day, I played chase with the pigs, trying to get photos of them charging towards me. This involves me running as fast as I can and turning to take a quick piccie before Daisy and her litter loom large. She moves with deceptive speed.

The pigs appreciated their rewards.

The day ended with an amazing moonrise, more than my camera can do justice too. A huge, orange globe in a velvety sky.

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