Saturday, 25 March 2017

Giant Eggs and PSB on the menu

Sunday 19th March 2017

Perky Turkeys
A few days ago I found a turkey egg sitting out in the open all on its own. We placed it into one of the houses in the hope that whichever hen had laid it would get the idea and lay any future eggs in the same place.
Since then three eggs a day have appeared buried in the straw. This morning I found two of the girls in the house laying. We want the older hen to incubate the eggs and we don't have plans to keep all three hens. But at this rate there will be a mountain of eggs before anybody decides to sit, so turkey eggs will be on the menu for a while. Once we reach the Easter holidays, one of the turkey hens will probably be on the menu too!




A Pruning Lesson
It was an early start today for we were off to Three Holes for the Fenland Smallholders meeting on pruning fruit trees. A bit late really, as I had already done all mine, but I thought I might learn something and it would be good to meet up with some of the club members.
Fortunately I found out that I did all my pruning correctly. 😁


A Pre-lambing Health Check
The good thing about an early start was that it left a decent portion of the day to get other things done. I wanted to check up on the adult Shetland sheep as the ewes are only a few weeks off lambing now. Main job was to give them a pre-lambing dose of wormer. Each ewe looks about the same size as last year, so I wouldn't be surprised if we get triplets, twins, a single and a zero again.
Rambo and his ladies, tightly penned for worming and inspection.
PSB!
We have a new crop to harvest. My attempts to grow brassicas yield slight improvements year on year. I never quite understood how long Purple Sprouting Broccoli took to give a harvest. It is almost a year since this beauty was sown, yet only now am I harvesting delicious purple sprouts. I missed some of the harvest but this year I shall be growing my PSB plants in a less hidden away location. I plan to plant them out into the broad bean bed once those plants have come out.

Monday 20th March 2017
Giant Eggs Galore!
As if a pile of turkey eggs is not enough, we are getting between one and four goose eggs a day too! That is a lot of egg.
We do our best to keep up, but one goose egg makes a large omelette for lunch.

Planting Potatoes in the Rain
I needed a hearty lunch today for I worked like a trooper in the morning, battling to get as much done as possible before the forecast heavy rain arrived. I didn't fancy another soaking, but more importantly the soil would become unworkable very quickly. I just about managed to get the early potatoes in, but I was drawing the earth up over them in a downpour.
I have planted Arran Pilot, which is my bulk standard early potato. I do find it stands well in the ground though. There's also Red Duke of York, my favourite early as it makes great chips. I've also gone for Duke of York, another variety which can be left to turn into a Main.
The advantage of the Earlies is that if blight comes early again then there should at least be a crop to be had.
No pictures I'm afraid as I had to make a run for the polytunnel and stay there, for the rest of the day was a day for the geese to enjoy.



A Splash of Yellow(hammer)
The afternoon was however brightened up by the sight of eight male yellowhammers feeding on the ground in next door's horse paddock. These birds are becoming scarce in our countryside now but they seem to like the horse paddocks. Their bright yellow plumage is enough to bring a little sunshine to even the rainiest of days.

21st March 2017
Conquering the Grass with Mr Mowtivator
Yesterday's wetness was forgotten today. The sun came out enough to feel on the back of the neck. The grass has been growing at an alarming rate this last week. I have learned from the past to take full advantage of any dry day to tackle the first mow. Miss the chance and a week of rain can leave you with an impenetrable jungle of grass which struggles to ever be dry enough to mow.
It is important to establish who is boss early in the season!
Starting up the lawn mower is always a dread. I do not pretend to be mechanical and if the mower doesn't work there will be no chance of getting it fixed in a hurry. I always do the first couple of mows with the hand mower. It is a more reliable and trustworthy machine than the ride-on. So out came Mr Mowtivator. Mr Mowtivator suffers from the opposite affliction to Mr Rotavator. The latter's engine always starts first time but has been racing apace. The former never wants to start after a winter of rest in the shed. I have to pull and yank the starter cord endlessly, experimenting with choke in, choke out, leaving it for five minutes, trying again... But eventually it splutters and burps into life and all is fine.
I had to wait until late morning for the dew to be driven out of the grass, but by mid afternoon, after four hours pushing the lawnmower, I had tackled the veg plot, the front lawn, the back lawn and the path through the orchard and young woodland. What a relief!
This year I want to treat my grass as a resource for mulching, though I am making the best of a bad job for I consider grass to be a curse. If there was a cheaper way of covering the ground I would. I wouldn't even have a problem with plastic turf, though the voles and moles might not enjoy it quite so much.

Into The Kitchen
That was enough of the great outdoors for the day. Time to hit the kitchen. This afternoon's delights were Portuguese Corn Bread (which did its rising while I was mowing), Spicy Vegetable Pasties, Walnut Cookies and Jerk Chicken - it was going to be Jerky Turkey, but we have run out of turkey breasts for the moment.

So there ends another three days of our smallholding adventure. No day the same. Always learning.

Monday, 20 March 2017

A New Comfrey Bed

18th March 2017
Re-reading the works of Lawrence D Hills (founder of the UK organic movement) has inspired me to make better use of my comfrey plants.
My established comfrey plants are coming up fast.

Half a comfrey plant will make many more.
They are of the variety Russian Bocking 14, which importantly does not self-seed all over the place. Instead you multiply it by dividing the rootstock. This is the time of year to perform this operation, just as the leaves of established plants are poking their heads up into the spring air.

It is achieved by simply plunging a spade into an existing plant. The considerable rootstock is surprisingly juicy and crisp. I like to leave at least half of the old plant in its place, but the other half can be subdivided into a dozen new plants easily. In theory, each small part of root will become a new plant, but I like to use a part of root which is throwing up new leaves. I think this may be the difference between a root cutting and an offset, though I may be wrong! Anyway, you can't really go wrong with comfrey.

I guess the only thing would be to establish a bed where you don't want it to be in a few years time, for the depth of the roots and the ease with which they grow into new plants when chopped up means that getting it out of the ground is almost impossible (repeated doses of weedkiller would have to be the solution I guess)

Today I used three of my established plants to create a new bed of 50 plants! The parent plants will be back to their best very quickly and by next year the young plants will have caught up with them.

Why do I need this much comfrey? Mainly as a natural fertiliser and as a compost component. Comfrey has extraordinarily deep roots which bring nutrients from way down. The leaves can be cut half a dozen times a year and if you let it flower it is much appreciated by the bees. I have planted a few in odd corners which I allow to flower, but the main beds I try to keep on top of cutting.

Comfrey leaves can be put straight into the ground under transplanted seedlings or laid on top as a mulch. They can be added to the compost heap or steeped in water to make a tomato feed soup. If I can grow enough, I intend to feed it to the chickens too as a once a week treat.

It took me most of the morning to create my new bed (much of which was taken up extracting dock roots and creeping thistle from the new site) which is down in the spare veg patch, next to the compost bins there.

While we are on the subject of compost, I now have a new source of horse manure. Next door have a fancy poo hoover and today I took delivery of my first poo, all nicely chopped up. It will be a fantastic addition to the compost bins, adding goodness and considerably speeding up the rate at which they turn garden rubbish into black gold.

Much of last year's mature compost went onto the veg beds at the beginning of winter. More specifically it went onto the beds where this year I will grow potatoes. It has been rotting down and being incorporated into the soil by the worms.
Today I took Mr Rotavator onto those beds and managed to turn them. Mr Rotavator has been a bit poorly of late. His engine has been running far too fast and threatening to explode! I have poked around a little bit and today he seemed to run fine which was a relief as now is not a good time for him to throw a sickie!
New potatoes and rows of turnip seedlings
doing well in the polytunnel
Double protection for the carrot seedlings
I was hoping to get my early spuds into the ground, but the heavens opened and drove me into the polytunnel. In there the extra early potatoes have already reached the surface. We should have scrummy new potatoes just as last year's stored tubers have run their course.
I sowed a new row of turnips too and resowed the carrots. For the second year in a row they seemed to disappear as soon as they germinated. I have taken the precaution of cloching the new ones in case it is too cold for the seedlings at night time. I have scattered some organic slug pellets in there too to cover that option.

The rain never stopped for the rest of the day. I did all the work I could think of to do in the tunnel and then retreated indoors.

The evening was spent at a Race Night (lots of gambling, drinking and eating, all in moderation of course) to raise money for Sue's school. They raised over £1000 which is not bad for a small village school. The money will be used to pay for the children to go to the pantomime later in the year. I reckon it should be Jack and The Beanstalk or Mother Goose.

Sunday, 19 March 2017

I know I keep saying it but.... SPRING IS IN THE AIR!

The customary annual almond blossom photo.
13th March 2017
The equinox is coming up fast and this is when the smallholding goes into overdrive. All the groundwork should have been accomplished over winter. Now the grass is starting to grow at an alarming rate, the soil is warming up, buds are bursting, birds are singing, poultry are laying, ewes are waddling.

On a good day I can get the rotavator into the beds. A string of good days and I will be dusting off the lawn mowers - what chance they work?

And today was one such good day. Buzzards circled in the sky, bees buzzed around busily and a chiffchaff sang all morning from the copse.

A weeping willow - just a giant pollen bush for the bees

 The day didn't end badly either.





Sunday, 12 March 2017

Taking shelter in the polytunnel

Plan for the day was to peg down the groundcover sheets between the raspberry rows and to mulch the canes with compost. But the rain put an end to my plans. I don't mind getting wet, but I was slipping and sliding all over the place. Some jobs are easier achieved on dry days.

Instead I retreated to the polytunnel where the mangetout that Sue planted back in January were ready for planting into the beds. About 80% of the seeds had germinated, which is good considering they were planted midwinter.
Hardest part of this job is erecting the pea netting, always a tricky and frustrating operation. So instead I decided to use the plastic mesh which I use for tree protectors. It was far easier to manage and should give a good framework for the mangetout plants to cling on to as they climb.
Before this though I dug out trenches and buried some of the compost mix which kept me so busy yesterday. It should retain moisture at root level as well as providing nutrients.



By next month we shall be harvesting delicious mangetout from the polytunnel, enough to keep us going all year. In less than three months these plants will have been evicted from the polytunnel to make room for young sweetcorn and squash plants.

Turnips 'Snowball' and 'Purple Top Milan'
While I was in the tunnel I tended to my turnip seedlings. They have come through well so I gave them a first thinning today. The same cannot be said of my early carrot sowing. As with last year, the seedlings seem to appear and then disappear just as quickly. I have yet to work out the cause. It could be slugs, but the tunnel population is very low. I am wondering if it is just the cold night air. The next sowing is due about now, so we shall see how they do.

Mid afternoon there was a break in the rain, though the sun never broke through. Sue and I lured the three Shetland lambs into a pen to administer their wormer and check them over. This was quickly accomplished and then Sue led them back to their paddock, transporting some mangel wurzels and beet nuts with her. I'm not sure she even realised that some of her load was being pilfered along the way!
Does Sue even realise what's happening behind her?
Final job for the day was to take the dogs out along the river. Boris has developed a habit of refusing to go outside on rainy days, but the promise of some dyke action gets him lively. There is one part of the dyke with particularly orange mud in the bottom. Boris considers it a great colour enhancer for his magnificent apricot coat!



Saturday, 11 March 2017

All Muck But Not A Lot Of Magic Yet

Saturday 11th March 2017
For those who enjoyed reading about Arthur's escapades,
here he is at the scene of the crime, the attractively named South Holland Main Drain
 And here's a spot the difference for you to play.

We have had a few trees topped off. They were looming over the neighbour's house (can't stand the neighbour, but not worth the hassle of a tree falling on their house!)
Anyway, I am hoping to effectively coppice them at head height so they thicken up at the bottom and remain manageable for me.
Meanwhile, I have a lovely pile of silver birch logs to put to creative use somewhere. I am thinking of a log pile by the new pond I am half way through constructing.

Main event for the weekend though is that tomorrow the four Shetland ewes will be coming down into the stables ready for lambing, hopefully in a couple of weeks time. As ever though, there is competition for stable space, especially with the chickens still in as a precaution against bird flu.

A new home for the laying flock.
I am hoping to be able to move them
outside in a few weeks time.
The main flock of layers, along with Cocky, had to vacate their stable and move into the smaller pad next door. In turn, the Ixworth trio have been allowed outside - to their great delight. There is a large chicken pen for them to scratch around in and nothing has been eating the bugs for three months. Chicken heaven!

The Ixworth trio enjoying the great outdoors.
With the Ixworths caught and moved, it was time for one of those glamorous jobs us smallholders just love - cleaning out the deep litter from the stables.



I don't want any sympathy, but I have just had my third bout of man flu this winter. Not many men even survive that sort of onslaught. What better way to get over it than to spend the day moving huge piles of compost around.
Sue emptied the stable, delivering barrel load after barrel load to me down at the compost bays.
I unloaded the straw and while I was waiting I mixed in the material from the other five compost bins. This was a killer of a job, but the mix of composting materials should come good once the weather warms up a little more. Most of it is destined to go onto the soft fruits to act as a mulch and to be taken down into the ground by the worms.

Boris supervises the compost mixing.

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

The Great Escape

Monday 6th March 2017
One slight whiff of freedom today and everybody decided to make a run for it!

The turkeys enjoying being back outside.
I still haven't thought of a name for the silver stag. Any ideas?
For finally the day has come around for some of the poultry to return to the great outdoors. I hadn't quite decided whether to try to drive the turkeys down the land in a group or to catch them individually and carry them. In the end my mind was made up for me as the two young hens were engaged in all-out last-hen-stands warfare when I went in to feed the chickens. I reached up, grabbed two legs and pulled both birds down from the top of the wall before carrying them ignominiously upside down all the way down the garden to their new pen.
Instead of being pleased with their new treat, they just carried on squabbling. I hoped that the extra space would help them to settle down, or that they would just get tired of fighting. They are both destined for the table, but it would be a real shame if this had to happen on their first day of freedom in three months.
Since I had now started the job, I caught the other two turkeys and carried them down too. They at least had the good grace to be a bit more excited about their new surroundings.

On a roll, I decided to move the three waddly ducks (as opposed to the Muscovies). This was easier, as I just herded them up the land to their new pen. They too were audibly and visibly excited to be back in the fresh air with grass under their feet.

While I was that way, I checked to see if yesterday's Stonechat was still around and to my delight there it was perching up on the fence posts from where it would dive into the grass before swooping back up to the next post in the line. I got far better views than yesterday of this first for the smallholding.

Stonechat territory

Since I was down the bottom of the land, I decided to move the sheep to the next paddocks. All I have to do is take down a small gateway of electric fence and they follow the bucket through to their new area and dive straight for the fresh new grass. I took the opportunity to top up their hay, water and beet nuts. It was at this point that I glanced around to realise that Arthur had disappeared. Learning from his escapade last week, Boris and I headed straight toward the dyke at the bottom of the land. Arthur couldn't have been gone longer than three minutes, so if he had gone that way we would surely see him running up the fence line or crossing next door's land.
Fortunately there was no sign. Arthur must have taken himself back to the farmhouse. I continued along the dyke with Boris, keen to check out a distant black object (I thought it might be a coot, but it turned out to be a black bin bag!). I raised my binoculars to check out the wild swans by the river and a wiry black terrier ran through my field of vision and kept going along the riverbank. It was Arthur and he was moving at some lick!
Boris and I ran after him as I called his name at the top of my voice, but Arthur just kept on running away from us. Goodness knows where he was going. I was now out of puff and had to slow to a walk. By the time we reached the river bank Arthur was a couple of hundred yards away but fortunately he heard me and stopped. He just sat there and made me walk all the way along to get him.
I was very cross and marched him all the way back to the farmhouse, barking at him. I had only left one gate slightly ajar for a couple of minutes and he had taken his chance to slip off. Lesson learned. From now on every gate gets firmly closed, even if I am working right next to it.
To add insult to injury, when I finally arrived back at the house my phone had turned itself Spanish, all the menus, all the messages! It took quite some time to turn it back to English as navigating the menus was somewhat tricky!

With that little escape effort thwarted, I let the geese out into the veg patch to trim the grass for me. They greeted the sight of the open sky with hoots and honks of delight. Letting them out onto the grass will save on the cost of feeding them while they were inside and I can move their water too as they spill it everywhere and it makes the straw bedding sodden.

I moved some sheep hurdles out of the chickens' stable too, to set up a run for the geese so I can keep the chickens extra biosecure. It was while I was doing this that I came back round the corner to find all the chickens, all twenty of them, merrily strutting across the yard, clucking with delight! The next ten minutes were spent in a comical chicken chase. It's not easy rounding up chickens when there is one person and about four ways the chickens can go. Fortunately they tend to stick close to Cocky The Cockerel, especially when they are curiously exploring new areas, so I focused on him and most of his hens eventually followed him back into the stable.

And finally, after a very eventful day, a nature note. Sue's bees have been flying for about a week now, only when the sun comes out and warms the hive, but today I saw my first bumble bee of the year.
With some of the birds out, bees buzzing and skylarks singing, it really does feel as if Spring is finally starting to nudge Winter out of the back door.
One of Sue's honeybees, clearly finding pollen somewhere.
The catkins are out and they love them.

Monday, 6 March 2017

Stone Me! A Farm Tick.

Sunday 5th March started miserably. Plans to finish the raspberry plot were put on hold, as was my plan to finish off netting an area for the turkeys to go outside.

Instead I headed into the polytunnel and did general tinkering and tidying. For whatever reason, there were birds everywhere on the smallholding today. Flocks of starlings and winter thrushes were wheeling around and the field next door held over a hundred large gulls - flocks of Black-headed and Common Gulls are usual but Herring Gulls, despite flying over in numbers every morning and every night on the journey to and from the coast, rarely set down in the fields.
View from the landing. I don't quite know what the attraction was
but congregations of large gulls are something of a rarity here.
I scanned through them with my binoculars but there was nothing unusual, though birds were constantly coming and going. With the weather deteriorating further, I abandoned plans to get much done outside and set the telescope up on the landing to continue interrogating the gulls. They were nice to see but there was still nothing out of the ordinary in amongst them.

I continued pottering in the polytunnel until I just couldn't stay cooped up any longer. The sun was putting in half an effort to break through and the wind had died to a gusty breeze.
I decided to tackle that netting.

Strictly speaking, the turkeys can go into a restricted range without it being netted. The problem is that I like my turkeys able to fly, which means they are also able to hop fences. In fact their favourite overnight roost site used to be on top of the stables. Keeping them in a netted area means I can control the environment more so, especially keeping my turkeys separate from wild birds.

Erecting the netting was tricky as every gust of wind conspired to tangle the net into the orchard trees. I had a frustrating hour of unsnagging before calling up the cavalry - aka Sue.

Eventually we got the netting stretched out and secured. We moved a couple of new chicken houses into the area and then propped the netting up higher using bamboo canes topped with tennis balls to protect the netting.

That was one more job achieved than I thought I would get ticked off today. Sue headed off up toward the Main Drain with the dogs and with the weather closing in again I decided to take a stroll up to the end of the land with the intention of checking out the buntings which congregate by the pheasant feeder which next door has put out.
The view back from the dyke toward the farmhouse.
There's a shower heading this way.
Unfortunately Boris and Arthur beat me to the buntings which duly flew off. They were mostly Reed Buntings with a couple of Yellowhammers thrown in. Instead, I spent a while surveying the trees I planted a few years back. It's a wonderful time of year with everything coming into bud, waking up after a long winter.
Suddenly I saw a small bird fly low through the copse and land low on a branch. I can't really explain it, but a birder knows from the briefest glimpse when something is different, and there was just something about the way this bird flew and the way it alighted that caused me to stop until I got a view.
I was very pleasantly surprised to find myself looking at a female (or maybe a young male) Stonechat. This species was on my radar for the smallholding, but after 6 years of not seeing one I had begun to give up hope that one would ever grace us with its presence. I suspect the bird was on the move and had maybe landed ahead of the shower which was about to come through. It moved quickly to the fenceline before heading off across Iain's field to the base of a hawthorn.
I did manage a couple of snaps, holding the phone up to the binoculars. In poor light with improvised equipment it was never going to win any photography awards. I did warn you!
These may not win any photography awards
but a birder might just about be able to make out a stonechat.
I was absolutely chuffed. Bird species Number 109 for the smallholding and the first new species this year.
The heavens had now opened so I headed indoors for a bacon sandwich and coffee to warm up. Sue was still outside with the dogs. They all returned rather bedraggled.

It was heading toward dark now, but one last blast of evening sun had me heading out to see if the Stonechat might have returned. There was no sign, though I did catch up with the buntings all gathered in a hawthorn and a Barn Owl put on a very good show.

Sunday, 5 March 2017

Blow The Raspberries!

When March comes in like a lion, it goes out like a lamb.

Let's hope so, for it has roared quite strongly so far.

Saturday 4th March 2017
A day tending to the raspberries. My rows of raspberries have wandered away from where I wanted them. What's worse, I've lost the autumn fruiting varieties in amongst the summer fruiters!
It's my own fault for not keeping them all under control.

I also made the mistake of introducing some tansy plants as a companion. They went mad too! Tansy has a delightful honeyish aroma and flowers prolifically, but when I originally read that it 'can become invasive' I just trusted to luck that it wouldn't on my smallholding. Mistake.
Nettles have also invaded to a lesser extent.

It looks a mess right now, but give it one more day...
Ideally the raspberries would have been sorted out before the end of February, but we are only a bit late and they are only just coming out of their dormancy. With the ground wet it is in prime condition for extracting the weeds. Even deep dock roots give themselves up without too much trouble.

But in the raspberry patch it's time for things to change. I'm putting my foot down. I have decided that henceforth neat, orderly rows are required, with mulch mat in between to hold back the weeds and to keep the canes in their place. This has meant moving raspberries from where I want paths and weeding the current paths, much of which is to become raspberry bed.

It has turned into a three day job (what with dodging the showers and fitting smaller jobs in between for a break) and I am more than half way through.

I have also decided to order in some new autumn-fruiting stock. Research led me to Joan J, the variety most people seemed to recommend for taste and yield. I have also ordered some All Gold, which bear yellow fruit and are supposed to taste good too.
I will carefully keep these varieties separate from the others. Besides, they need a simpler support system than the summer raspberries.


The second job for the day was to erect some heras fence panels to create a secure area for the ducks. These were well on their way to being erected before the early days of March unleashed their roar and I chose to lay them back down until I could secure everything firmly.
The ducks will be the first of the poultry to be allowed back out after an enforced three month incarceration courtesy of Avian Flu H5N8 and the Chief Government Vet.
Preparations are still ongoing to get some of the other birds out in the next couple of days. I am really looking forward to how happy they will be when they see grass, soil and sky again.

Friday, 3 March 2017

Living Willow 2 - A New Benchmark

Saturday 25th February 2017
The Good Samaritan
The day began with clearing the fallen trees without bringing down the telephone wires. It really was like tree surgery and my super-long-handled loppers were invaluable. The problem was that without them the only way to reach the branches I needed to cut first was to lean a ladder against those very same branches. I've tried that sort of thing before and ended up with my hand half-chewed by a bow saw!
Today's operation was successful, if a little tricky. With the telephone wire no longer under threat, there was just the small matter of a couple of rather large trunks leaning at an alarming angle. I couldn't even access the base where the tree had grown through the stock fence. There is only so much headway you can make with a bowsaw and a pair of loppers.
It was at this point that a passing Good Samaritan pulled up and produced a chainsaw out of his van. In a matter of a minute he had saved me at least an hour's hard work. It was nice to know that there are still people around willing to lend a hand.
I do actually possess a chainsaw, but I have not yet studied the instructions or been shown how to use it safely. I didn't think that using it at short notice and in a tricky situation would be a wise move. Better to learn when I have more time and in a more controlled task.
Goose eggs for sale
On a different note, the goose eggs are coming thick and fast now. We will have to start selling them as each one goes a long way! The duck and chicken eggs are coming thick and fast too at the moment.
Fried goose egg (L)   Eggs piling up (R)

Fougasse Fougone!
Fed up with clearing up after the storm, I decided to spend the rest of the day baking. I knocked out a multi-seed loaf, a couple of muesli breads, a rhubarb brown betty ( rhubarb from the freezer, but this year's will be ready in about a week) and three fougasses. Here they are pictured, except the three fougasses, which lasted less than an hour after coming out of the oven!!!

Sunday 26th February 2017
In between some frankly foul weather, there have been some fairly strong hints of Spring this February. Under one of the Ash trees, the border is subtly brightened up by the hellebores which are flowering beautifully.


I set about today's task, sorting the left over cut willow for my project.
Can you tell what it is going to be?


A couple of showers had me taking refuge in the polytunnel, where I have moved some of the hardier seedlings which I germinated indoors. It won't be long before the whole tunnel is jam-packed with young plants.



When the rain stopped I got back to the task in hand.
Can you tell what it is yet?

A Mystery Clutch
Along the way, I was distracted by a little weeding in the herb border. There I came across a clutch of mystery eggs. They are not guinea fowl eggs or duck eggs. If they are chicken eggs, they must have been there quite some time.
But there is another possibility, for Lady Penelope Peacock and her chick (now looking very much like Lady P) were hanging around the area. The eggs looked a little small, but just maybe they are the first eggs from a young female?



I got back to the project.
Can you tell what it is now?



Monday 27th February 2017

Elvis is broody again! If she stays broody, I will try to discover where the Muscovy Ducks are laying their eggs and sneak a few underneath her.

It was not a day for working outside. In fact, the dogs declared it an official laze indoors day.





Anyway, there was time enough to almost get the willow project finished. It just needs the seat rungs and the back woven and the bench will be ready, grandly overlooking what will be the new pond. If all goes to plan, the legs, the arms and the back are all planted willow which should root itself and spring into growth.

Tuesday 28th February 2017
A Few More Days of Incarceration
Today was the day when our poultry could, in theory, go back outside under some very strict rules. However, we have more gales forecast so I thought it wise to take down the netting rather than fix it in place. Without the netting, the turkeys would be sure to go a-wandering further than is permitted. Besides, I want to let the birds out over a weekend so I have time to keep an eye on things. They will just have to wait another few days.

I didn't mention it the other day, but I managed to jam a cut end of stock fence straight into my hand a couple of days ago. It hurt when I did it and bled quite a bit, but I thought it would heal fairly quickly. However, it must have hit straight against the knuckle, for it swelled a little overnight and was quite painful when I was working yesterday.
But last night it really swelled up (the picture does not show it at its worst), enough to force me into resting up for the day today.








Instead, I took the dogs out for a nice long walk.



And that, apparently, is the end of winter 2016/17.
Tomorrow, allegedly, is Spring.
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