Tuesday, 15 November 2016

More Hens

You can never have too many hens. We went to a local market on Sunday and brought a pair of young Silkie bantams to improve our home hatching rates. Since we lost Ginger, the Buff Orpington, one of our first hens, her daughters have been trying and mostly failing to hatch chicks. They seem to be absent minded (or Dim as Tim calls them) and they get confused over which nest box is theirs and climb on top of a single new laid egg instead of their half brooded batch. The boxes are clean and vermin free and copiously dusted with diatomaceous earth so I think it truly is a mistake on their part. Also hens lay new eggs in the nest of existing half brooded batches meaning that I have to mark eggs so I can tell new from old and check them every day.
The new girls are currently in a large dog crate for a few days before being let out with the existing flock. I want to be sure that they are happy and eating and drinking well before they mix.

Yesterday we also killed and prepared our two young cockerels from the last batch of chicks. They had started crowing and shagging so they had to go before the existing cockerel killed or maimed them. The kittens are doing well mixing with the existing dogs but the Senior Cat is not very happy, he is not keen on the upstarts with no manners and is definitely not offering them his Werthers Originals. The weather is still good, getting colder but bright and the fire in the woodburner is now lit most evenings. There is nothing like a real fire.

Thursday, 29 September 2016

Kittens

We rather unexpectedly adopted two kittens yesterday. Our good friends had offered a home to an unwanted cat which produced kittens. They are both girls, the black one is Bramble and the tabby one is Dinah. We could do with some new blood as our 10 year old tabby Nosher is healthy but semi retired. The girls will hopefully keep us rodent free once they grow a bit and settle in.
Sam the terrier is frightened of them which is great and we will leave it a few days before they meet the big dog.


Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Autumn Creeps Up On Us

The weather is cooler which is wonderful. Work has picked up on the land as I sort out the rampant tomatoes and get some brassica seedlings planted in the polytunnel. Last night we ate the first parasol mushrooms of the year and we have been eating blackberries for some time now.
Some of the trees are turning colour already and my rather fabulous kahili ginger is flowering for the first time, several sweetly scented plumes of flowers. I was rather surprised that it settled here as it is native to India.
I have dried the nectarine crop as they weren't very sweet and had split, they taste much better dried. We have also had our first decent hazelnut crop. Not tons but more than the two nuts we got last year. It is very exciting now that the forest garden is starting to crop. We also tasted autumn olives for the first time, they are not olives but species of Elaeagnus umbellata and they are sharp but tangy and we both like them.
As ever we are overwhelmed by pears and apples. We are picking some to store in boxes and I intend to dry some and make compote from others for breakfast with yogurt. This all takes time and has to compete with all of the other tasks for attention. If the pigs had not escaped they could have helped us manage the fruit better. Finally we now have two sweet white turkeys stalking the orchard. I will get a better picture of them when they are grown a bit.
Happy harvest to you all. Mother nature is indeed very bountiful.