Wednesday 4th January 2017
Not unexpected, but today the Prevention Order was extended until the end of February. This is an attempt to prevent Bird Flu crossing from wild migrant birds into the domestic poultry flock.
Unfortunately it means that the poor ducks, chickens, turkeys and geese have to stay locked up for another two months.
They have actually settled down into their temporary accommodation now. The chickens are quite happen in the warmth and shelter. In grotty weather they don't do much when they are outside anyway, though I would like them to be scratching about in the veg plot unearthing all the bugs.
The turkeys have finally started coming down to ground level and the Muscovy ducks have started laying again. We are finding the odd chicken egg too, usually up on the hay bales.
Now that the lock down is extended, I needed to move the three ducks out of the polytunnel and in with the chickens. They enjoyed their walk outside for all of about two minutes!
I had a big swap around in the stables too, moving straw to where hay was and hay to where straw was. In the process I found one dead rat, two young voles and a whole pack of mice.
Rodents are a bit of a problem when the birds are kept inside and I will have to spend a little time laying traps and bait in the stables to make sure it doesn't get out of control.
One of the older hens has something wrong with her foot, so it is probably time for her to be made into a broth! The meat birds have finally began to fatten up - moving them indoors set them back for a couple of weeks - so we'll 'process' a few of those this weekend. The more we can thin down the numbers, the more straightforward it will be keeping them indoors.
Thursday 5th January 2017
Back at work today after Christmas. A bit of a shock to the system but I quite enjoy my job when the government is not telling us all that we're useless as a way of covering for its own ineptitude! The only trouble with working at this time of year is that there's so little time to get anything done on the smallholding.
This evening we were heading for the Cambridgeshire Self-Sufficiency Group's January meeting which turned out to be a very informative and entertaining talk on growing wood for fuel and coppice products. It was a chance to pick up some more Dexter beef from Paul (who played Santa in a previous post) too.
Saturday 7th January 2017
Hopefully the two lambs have come through. They are being nurtured in the stables, which is a bit of a squeeze what with all the chickens, ducks and turkeys in there too. Not only that, but today the geese were moving in, for with the lock-in extended their temporary accommodation thus far just won't do the job, especially once they start laying eggs and becoming more territorial. The mucky straw from the old shed went under the blackcurrants as a nitrogen-rich mulch.
And so today the stables underwent their third reorganisation. The lambs now have their own 'room' with one wall made of hay - an edible wall!
Seven of the chickens met their maker today. This should ease the overcrowding slightly. The old hen will hang for a few days before being turned into chicken soup. As for the others, we will take off the breasts, wings and legs. As they are not for roasting whole, they don't need to look perfect, so we dunked them in hot water for 40 seconds before plucking. This makes the job so much quicker, but you don't get quite such a clean finished product.