Tuesday 31 January 2017

Fleece and Eggs

I have had a great few days with my bestie friend, we spent two days in the cabin sewing and chatting, Martin took us out for dinner on Saturday night, he cooked us a lovely venison roast on Sunday, Monday we headed into town to Books for free so my friend could choose some books to take home, we then popped along to browse some antiques and bumped into Bovey Belle a fellow blogger.
The afternoon was spent spinning, A friend gave me a very cute little spinning wheel, his mum had gone into a care home and he was wanting a new home for the wheel, as soon as I saw it I knew it was perfect for my friend, I already have two so didn't need another wheel.
My friend is thrilled to bits with it and looking forward to learn to spin.
I have been spinning myself this afternoon, Lambert's fleece 
 we carded some up yesterday
 Its coming on great 
My friend went home today so its time to get back to normal
This is our egg record for the month
132 for the month, they have been laying really well, we only have 11 layers and there are all in there first year of laying, each week throughout the month the number of eggs is increasing.
Tomorrow is the first day of the new month and I will be starting to sow some seeds, I have held off this month but now its time to get going.


Friday 27 January 2017

The Dove Saga Continues

After the sad loss of mama dove to the buzzard at the end of the year, followed by the loss of her babies, I had all but given up on the doves.
We started with 7 back in June, one tragically died after falling down the chimney and we were not aware of were it was until it was too late, we fitted a cage to the chimney so they was no repeat of this event.
We have then lost another 3 to the rouge buzzard that has been hanging around.
The three remaining doves I thought were males,  doves pair up for life and after the loss of his mate our male would be farther mourned the loss of his mate, then after a couple of weeks I saw him wooing and cooing at one of the others, I was wrong we have another female, his wooing worked and they have set up home in the same pop hole that was used before
 Here she is going in, this past week the wooing and cooing reach a peak and they have been nest building

You can just see her sitting on a nest and she has two eggs
The father is the one perched just above, the third dove on the roof I also now think is female otherwise they would have paired up.
She only leaves the nest briefly to feed and when she does the male guards the door way.
She started sitting on Wednesday 25th Jan, 14/15 days incubation 9th of Feb eggs are due to hatch, I am keeping everything crossed that this time they have success.👌🍀🐣
I wont be around much until next Tuesday, my best friend and sewing buddy is travelling up with Martin tonight to stay the week end, I am so excited,😁😵 I haven't seen her since last summer, we chat every week on the phone, Martin has offered to do the cooking so we can have a whole week end together chatting and sewing.


Wednesday 25 January 2017

Martin And Sol

Martin and Sol had a day out on Monday
The sun was shining 
They had a walk up Pen Y Fan
Here are there photos

Monday 23 January 2017

Finalising Plans And Parsnips

I have re-drawn the garden plans so many times I have lost count, 
yesterday I finalised them and committed them to the back of the diary.
 No more changing my mind now.

Poly Tunnel 1 also called the Citrus house, with its row of citrus trees down the middle, It will mainly house the tomato and peppers this year, the onions should in out in time for the peppers, I am also going to try a mushroom bed in here, I shall be starting that in a few weeks time. This poly tunnel has my potting benches, and out the front is two herb beds.
 Next spot along is the four outdoor raised beds, were I rotate the growing.
Then its the fruit cage, still some space here, I am thinking perhaps a couple of dwarf peach trees but still undecided.

Then Poly Tunnel 2, this is more of a working all year round poly tunnel, in a few weeks things will be starting here, there are 4 pallet collar beds running down the south side that will be used for squashes, and two outside the door that are being prepared for carrots and parsnips, new this year I am trying some peanuts. In two of the corners are grape vines tat are being trained across the crop bars and struts.

Yesterday I took up some Parsnips they have done really well,
 No roast parsnips this time
I made up a pot of Spicy Parsnip Soup for lunch
 I have never done a parsnip soup before, it was a lovely tasty thick soup, a Jamie Oliver RECIPE
Now I just have to finalise a list of seeds I want to get to try, there is so many to choose from. 👩

Sunday 22 January 2017

Surprise Visitor, Preperations and Harvests

The past few days has seen some glorious weather, frosty mornings blue sky and sunshine, I have been busy preparing the poly tunnels for the upcoming growing season
 Poly tunnel 1 has red and white onions growing down the left hand side, I have set up a bed at the end for potatoes, the middle bed is filled with citrus trees, with parsley, coriander and oregano growing amongst them, the right hand bed down the far end still has some chinese cabbage and chop suey greens, there is also a small bed of strawberries and a few radicchio lettuce, the top end that is all slabbed is were my work benches are, this poly tunnel gets used for overwintering plants too.
 Poly tunnel 2, the right hand side one lonely celery plant left, there is a grape vine at each end of this bed, I also have a plan for the pallet bed at the end.
The left hand bed still has some beetroot and pak choi that we have been using through the winter, the water barrels have been set up on a new stand and I got them filled yesterday. I have a compost bin to empty and this will be dug into this poly tunnel, you can just see through the plastic the four raised pallet beds outside the tunnel, these are on the south side and will be used for growing squash, the beds have been filled with manure and soil and have been kept covered over winter so the worms can do there magic.
 The growing areas are all done ready for another year, weeded, empty beds covered, there are four rotational raised beds outside, the far end one still has some brassicas, bed number 2 has some Swiss chard and beetroot, bed number 1 has leeks and garlic, brown onions will be added to this bed.
In the front is a double length bed with permanent planting of asparagus and globe artichokes, there is some Jerusalem artichokes in there which we are harvesting they will be then re-located to a new area were they can multiply as much as they want and be used for animal fodder as well as few for us.
All ship shape and Bristol fashion, except for the fruit cage. I have ordered a load of membrane that will go down in there and be covered in wood chip.
Over the week end I harvested the Yacon that was growing in the poly tunnel, it was a massive plant and produced 7.5kg (16lb) of tubers, and a lovely big crown of growing buds.

I also harvested the last of the Oca we had some for dinner last night in a stir fry with some of the pak choi, Chinese cabbage, chop suey greens and onions from storage. I will keep some of the tubers for growing on again.

When Martin went to check the fox trap yesterday morning that was set up over in the gorse field, he had a surprise visitor in it.

A Badger, we have seen evidence of badgers in the fields, it is the first time I have seen a live one, he was released and scurried off into the gorse at some speed, I didn't realise how fast they could move.
That's my news up to date again.

Friday 20 January 2017

Big Green Monster

Martin came home last night, an extra long week end for him on the ranch, he brought with him a big green monster.
 A fork lift was used to get it on his pick up, we now had the problem of getting it off and it weighs in at 195kg, there was no way we were going to lift it off between us, my maximum lift is 30kg.
 Martin is good at problem solving, the pick up was backed up to a sturdy tree, he fixed a pulley in place

 Rope was fastened to the tractor through the pulley and attached to the green monster, Martin backed the tractor up enough for it to raise said monster up off the bed of the truck, and with the tractor taking the strain
I drove the pick up away slowly, monster was now unloaded
 using the linkage it was driven down the field, connected up and put to work
 Big green monster is a PTO driven chipper, we can now clear the mountains of brush we are accumulating from reclaiming the hedges. A great bit of equipment that will be of great use to us time and time again.
 The wood chips are all getting used in the growing area, to cover all the pathways, as a mulch in the fruit cage and anywhere else I want it.
 within a couple of hours working together we filled 3 bags with wood chips and that was from the smallest pile of brush. 
There is still mountains of the stuff.
Its been a glorious blue sky sunny day, we sat in the sunshine and had bacon rolls for lunch, it was hard to believe its January.

Thursday 19 January 2017

Chicken Health

I haven't done a post before on the health matters of the chickens, probably because there hasn't really been any health issues to post about, there still isn't any health issues but when worming them this morning I thought I would do a post on how I deal with health issues.
 Worming is fairly straight forward, I weigh out the amount I need for the amount of birds I am worming, I use Verm X it comes in a pelleted form so very easy to dispense, as the amount of birds can vary from month to month new ones added, roosters dispatched, I cant work with a set measure, 2.5grm per bird for 3 days once a month is the recommended amount.
so for my flock of 14 its 35grms, rather than mess about weighing it out each time, I mark the scoop
 makes it all that little bit easier, also Martin then knows if he is on chicken duty what the amount is he has to give, to make sure they all get some, 
I throw it down in the run before they get any fruit or veg, when they are first let out, this way they all run to eat what they think is a treat, (sorry for the bad photo sun was in the wrong place) you can add it to there feed but as I keep the feed containers full they have layers ad lib, I need to make sure they are all getting the wormer and not just some of them.
I like Verm X because

 There is no egg withdrawal period, nothing worse than having to throw away a weeks worth of eggs
 It is based on herbs, no nasty chemicals
 Approved by vets, speaking of which as much as I like my poultry, I would never take a chicken to the vet, to me they are not pets, if it is injured and not going to make a recovery it would be dispatched, in the past 5 years we have only dispatched one chicken with health issues and that was a prolapse, something that would happen again and again and put her at risk of being attacked by the others, chickens are really nasty to each other at times.
Our egg laying chickens have either died of old age at about 7/8 years or being killed by predators.
Every three months the chicken house gets treated for red mite,
 nasty little insects that hide by day in nooks in crannies, then come out and feast on the blood of chickens when they are roosting.
We also add louse powder or DE powder to nest boxes, bedding. and sand boxes.
Grit they have access to at all times, we just top up the container in the chicken house.
 When they are going through a moult I add apple cider vinegar to there water
 easy to make out of apple peelings and cores.
Access to clean water is essential, our chooks get rain water as do the other livestock from the rain catchment systems,
giving them access to fresh ground is also essential, at the moment we have to jig the run around, when we move them to new quarters later this year there will be rotational runs or them, I will also be planting shrubs in there runs or them. Unfortunately we cant let them free range because of the buzzards, but I do what I can to make sure they have a good environment to live in.
 It all gets written on the wall planner so its easy to keep on top of it. It is also there for us both to see so there are no errors in who has what and when.