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.
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.

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