Monday, 24 April 2017

Lambs, Broody Poultry and a Grasshopper Mangetout Guard.

I am beginning to wonder if we are ever going to get any rain. Every forecast of drizzle just fizzles away to nothing. I have even had to use the hose pipe on some of my newly sown beds.
This happened in April once before and I really struggled to get anything to germinate. I seem to remember it then rained every day for about four months. The year was a total wipeout.
On the plus side, I'm sure that won't happen again. When it finally does rain the soil will be delightful to work.

I left you with two lambs and a ewe with a yucky membrane trailing out of her back end.

We spent all of the Easter bank holiday worrying about her, waiting for infection to set in. But she just kept eating and was feeding the lambs well. The advice from a couple of vets, kindly offered for free, was just to keep watching, but when it got to the fourth day, with the bank holiday coming to a close, we had decided to swallow the expense and to call the vet in.
Late afternoon on Easter Monday Carol Ann from next door came round to offer a homeopathic cure - nothing ventured, nothing gained. As we tried to catch the ewe the membrane dropped out! It had simply not detached as it should and there was nothing more complicated to worry about. What a relief, for apart from that it had been a perfect Easter holiday.

The sheep are not the only ones with spring babies on their minds. All three turkey hens are sharing a nest, two goose nests are currently occupied by three geese and we have a Muscovy duck sitting tight in one of the duck houses. Add to that the clutch of Ixworth chicks we are rearing and the next lot coming along in the incubator and that's going to be a mighty lot of cute baby birds around the smallholding in a few weeks time.

It will provide us with a lot of tasty meat towards the end of the year too. Yummy!

Things are going pretty well on the growing front too. We already have rhubarb, asparagus and now turnips and mangetout on the menu. I have been working hard on looking after the soil, turning compost, cultivating and weeding. I am reshaping a couple of the beds and the chickens really appreciate the turfs I throw to them. Long term it creates a little hillock in their pen where they can dust bathe when it is dry and head for high ground when it is wet.

It's not often we have a bonfire, as not a lot goes to waste here on the smallholding, but there's not much use for old pallets and rotting fence posts, so an impromptu fire happened last week. We got rid of several year's worth of clutter and it was a good opportunity to incinerate some old raspberry canes and some apricot leaves afflicted by peach leaf curl. Sometimes burning is the best way to get rid of pests and diseases.
Looks like the trees we put in last year 
should give us our first ever apricots this year.

I have been letting the chickens out into the orchard when I am able to keep a close eye on them. It is lovely to see them enjoying the great outdoors again and hopefully all restrictions will be lifted very soon.

Sue has done a brilliant job with the polytunnel mangetout (she planted the seeds and bought the grasshopper to guard them against attack). The first pods are already appearing.

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