Monday, 17 February 2014

An unlucky rabbit's tail, a peacock and some very luck ducks

It was the rabbit which was unlucky, rather than the tail.

At yesterday's Veg Growers Group, we were talking about protecting early blossoms from wind and frost when somebody pointed out the need to pollenate the blossoms by hand, the ideal tool for this being a rabbit's tail. As a boy I used to have one of these, but goodness knows where it's got to now.
But in one of those unusual coincidences, Gerry caught his very first rabbit of the year yesterday and ran across the goose paddock with it clamped in his jaws, squealing as it went. He took it under the killing bush and proceeded to devour it, starting at the nose and ending at the tail, as he always does.
But one rabbit was not enough for Gerry yesterday. He got another! But his eyes were bigger than his belly and he left half, including a nice fluffy tail.




So I now have myself a professional hand pollenating tool.

In fact, the last two days have been very satisfying indeed.
For starters, the sun has been out, which raises the spirits somewhat.

Not only that, but I spotted a new species for the garden list. Several months ago a bird moved into Don's garden, across the road. We have no idea where it came from, but it has stayed. And this morning it had managed to cross the road and there, stood beside the roadside hedge, stood a male peacock!

Yesterday was also the third meeting of the Vegetable Grower's group which I run. It is going from strength to strength, to the point where if anyone else wants to join we will have to start up a waiting list. Veg of the Month for February was Jerusalem Artichoke and I spent the first half hour of the day digging up a pile of tubers to show, talk about and donate. I also divvied up some mangel wurzel seeds for the other members of the group. This year there will be strong competition for the Mangel Wurzel competition. I may even lose the trophy! We discussed planning the veg plot and rotating crops. And I enjoyed my first taste of goat - not curried but stroganoff. Delicious!  Also enjoyed some warm company and came away with half a dozen rhubarb plants.

I got home and decided to plough on with constructing a raised bed and a hot bed in the polytunnel. More on the hotbed in a future post. Only rapidly failing light stopped me completing the job.

I was a bit gripped off by Sue, who watched a Barn Owl quartering our land. This was pleasing news as I'd not seen one for a few months. The closest I'd come to one was Don telling me he'd found one dead in the ditch by the road.
The Little Owls are active too, calling loudly last night under a full moon. They will be thinking about nesting, so I am glad they seem to have stayed in the old Ash Trees for a second year.

Today I dropped the car in to the garage following my sliding into a kerb last week. Then it was time for a bit of an operation.
For we needed to capture the Cayugas and move them into one of the goose stables for the day. The reason? Well, Sue suggested that before sending them off to the poulterer's we should try to sell them. So I speculatively put out an advert and, so far, I have had three enquiries and today four lucky Cayuga ducks headed off to new homes, blissfully ignorant of the fact that they have just escaped death row. The £60 I received will make a welcome contribution to my poultry feed costs.
Plucked (not literally) from death row.
The Cayuga girls take temporary residence in
the goose stable, waiting to meet their new owners.

But, even better, the first buyer's ears pricked up when I told him that our rabbits were a bit of a nuisance, for it turns out he is a skilled marksman looking for somewhere to hunt. He will be more than happy to dispose of a few little bunnies for me and even to gut and prepare them for us. Result! I was able to reciprocate by informing him of a more local straw supplier charging half the price he has been paying! The farm will be happy for the extra custom too. So everybody is happy. Just perfect.

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