Category Archives: poultry

Winter

The seasons have slide their way smoothly from one to the next here; the mornings have a chill to them and I had began leaving for work in the dawn light before the clock change. The harvest moon bought with it heavy rain and winds to bring down the first swirls of bright yellow, orange and red coloured leaves and since Samhain some of the dark evenings have held the promise of bright frosty mornings but as yet first light has only revealed rain soaked grounds or views hidden beneath a layer of mist.

Changing forest; October 2013

Changing forest; October 2013

The sheep have busied themselves searching out acorns before the wild boar begin to creep closer to the village edge in search of easier foraging and trips out with the goats have been spent underneath the sweet chestnut tree searching out the larger nuts before the goats snaffles them up. Sweet chestnuts are my old nanny’s favourite autumn treat.

Garden

At the end of September I spent some time reorganising my front garden to make it more of a usable space instead of an ‘unfinished projects’ staging area. I cleared the spreading mass of alpine strawberries, cut back bushes and removed a compost bin from the only area of soil and found space for two raised beds. These were filled with home made compost, leaf mould and well rotted manure from the patio’s potato buckets and now boast a mixture of cauliflowers, purple sprouting and leeks. On the table in the kitchen there are paper bags of onion sets to fill in the gaps.

After more alpine strawberry clearing I have managed to turn the rest of the ground I have between the steps and the patio into two separate-but-connected areas; one has been planted with kale (which I hope will recover from the caterpillar attack) mixed with wallflowers and I shall add garlic to the area. The other patch is defined by being between a winter flowering heather and the new raised beds; this area I have added spring bulbs to borage and self-seeded feverfew amongst a few paving stones I have added for access. In the spring I plan to sow poppies, sweetpeas and sunflowers and hope some of them survive the slugs.

Livestock

During the summer we have downsized on the number of goats we have and thankfully have managed to find lovely homes for the three ‘rescue pet’ goats we had. We now have our six breeding females and a meat wether. It’s so nice to be able to spend time out on the greens with them without having to arrange for two people to be there. The reduced feed cost has also meant that we have been able to think more carefully about the feed we use and have changed to a goat mix that has no GMO ingredients; something we are trying more and more to be aware of in all areas of our purchases.

Bella and Broiny grazing the green back when with had some sun: August 2013

Bella and Broiny grazing the green back when we had some sun: August 2013

Earlier in the year we had scab in our flock of sheep, the better summer we have had has helped them recover but it has meant that none of the fleeces have been suitable for sending off to be tamed and so we are keeping everyone on for this winter. (Fingers crossed it will be mild and they won’t need too much extra feed.)

My new chooks; roosting for the night: October 2013

My new chooks; roosting for the night: October 2013

During some time off work in September I also got myself some chickens for the garden at my house. I had been toying with the idea of getting myself some hens for a while, there is nothing like collecting your own eggs from your own garden. Me and mother had gone to collect some hens for her and in amongst the barn of fowl to be rehomed were three small black chicks. I wanted them as soon as I saw them and so they also came back with us.

They have already grown a lot since I first got them and are much more use to people, where they came from was an amazing place where the chickens were safe to just run free (seemingly no fox problem there) and in the spring a lot of the hens had gone off to nest and returned with their chicks in tow a few weeks later. The fourth hen I have I don’t think has anything to do with the  chicks but they were quick to follow her lead and she is very pretty.

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Once upon a time, many moons ago…

I was learning to knit again. It was on this day in 2008 that I posted my first proper blog post.This is my second blog, the first one was very much a warm up to this one. And having spent some time reading back through my posts I thought I had posted most of it on this one any way, and all not that long ago either! I began blogging in November 2007 with this: 

A place to begin…Last night I finally got the push I needed to start off, I was on a forum and someone said that they would love to follow something like this, there are already loads of popular TV series, books and magazines about self sufficient so that must mean that other people are interested to. So this is my two pence worth to add to. My idea is very simple: produce as much food for myself as is possible with what I’ve got, that said I already know that it isn’t as simple a task as it sounds. I also would like to learn how to live as cheaply as possible and make some money from the things I enjoy doing.

 What I already have/where I’m at: I already keep goats, two of whom are in milk but I’m not milking them at the moment for no really reason other than the fact that I haven’t sorted myself out into doing this. I have quail; I got some for my last years Christmas present (in April, but I said I wanted to wait to get what I really wanted rather than having something else) from these there is one male left and I brought four more the other day, two females and two males and I brought 24 eggs, 12 of two types, for hatching from ebay last night, they should arrive on Tuesday next week.

 I’m a vegetarian, but others in my family eat meat, and I’ve got most of a vegetable garden up and running now but ‘the family’ have just been told that we can use part of a field we keep donkeys on as a vegetable garden as well which is quite a big space. I’m going up there tomorrow to start clearing the ground and covering some of it with manure ready for the summer.

 “The Family”: that is me (eldest daughter) my parents, my two younger sisters, a younger brother and my boyfriend. ‘The Family’ also includes a whole host of dogs, cats, ponies, donkeys, cows, sheep, chickens, ducks, rabbits and a guinea pig. I don’t think I’ve left anything out but I might have.

 So there are a lot of us, some useful others not so useful. I plan to be adding more very soon and to start adding some photo’s when I’ve got to grips with how to do things on here.

I changed blogs as I wanted to have more control of the way that it looked, and in particular a banner that I could add my own photos to.  A train track in the middle of nowhere is nice… But it wasn’t really what I was looking for. 

So what has changed since my first ever blog post? Well, I have almost finished my first own-spun and knitted project… more details coming soon. 

I have grown my own potatoes for the first time, and leeks, and carrots, and some other thing too; I have made butter and cheese from our own cows milk and cream. I have started keeping chickens, and am having another break from keeping quail, mother has the remaining trio that I had. 

‘The Family’ has grown, my baby sister will be eighteen this summer, we all have boy/girlfriends and although we are all still one big family it feels like we are also splitting off into our own little families as well. 

I am a published magazine writer… Twice. 

I have a much better job and am in much better health then I was back then. I have survived no less than two redundancies. I have become much more of an ‘outdoors’ person, even in the pouring rain I am still happy enough (cue a week long down-pour, sorry) and have much more of an idea of who I am and what I want to do. 

All this sounds very fluffy and… Picture prefect, but the thing is the milestones for ‘this kind of life’ are more woolly or yearly events than anything else. Lambing is followed by shearing, sowing time is followed by the growing season, followed by harvest time… Each year starts with hopes and dreams of building on what has been started the year before, which is followed by successes and failures, wet muddy times followed by the smell of grass cutting and fat happy animals sun bathing. It is a circle that keeps going and has no really ending. 

So here I am again, writing a blog post, in the middle of lambing. It has been raining outside and it is probably not all that different to the very first time I put fingers to keyboard for the first post of this blog and that is just fine by me…

It happened again

Snow - 18th February 2010

Well, we are one of the worst hit areas of todays snow and the world outside is now white once again.

The sheep are already feed up and waiting at the gate for us to get on and do something about it. The geese (still no gander) are shut away again with chickens of all things, what do we think they are? And the goats are stood in the house looking out with “if you think I’m going out in that you can forget it” looks on their faces.

The pigs, however, where having mad races and were happy enough when I took them some extra bedding just before it got dark.

My seed orders have arrived though, just waiting on the seed potatoes now.

Mindless, idiotic acts

Tuesday night we had a phone call from the police, a donkey had been reported as being loose in the village, was it ours? It most likely was, as far as I can think ours is the only in the village so we went off to search for her which didn’t take long as someone had tied her to the field gate… It would of been helpful if they can called to let us know she was there as if the police had managed to contact us then she might have been there all night. Everyone knows who’s she is and where we live.

When we got home the geese were out, or had been let out after they had been put to bed at dusk. The two females were there making a fuss at the gate as they know they shouldn’t be out at night but no sign off the gander. We searched in all the places he might have hidden himself, then all the place that he might have wander off to, then all the hidden places again, then further a field on foot and by car. Still no sign. We searched all the hidden places again and then check all the other chicken houses and his house just incase… still no sign.

There was nothing more anyone could think of to do other than hope that he came home in the morning. He didn’t. The next morning the postie joined us in our search whilst he did his round of the village. Still no sign and he is still missing.

We haven’t seen any sign that a fox has taken him so all we can hope is the he was stolen and is living a nice-ish life somewhere else. Hopefully.

It makes my blood boil! What the hell was the point of letting out our geese, they’ve never done anyone any harm. There is no point, none at all. As much as I remind myself that the world is full of nice people, there are still some f***ing idiots out there too.

28th December 2009

Cows eating hay - Christmas Eve 2009

Well, that is Christmas over with for another year, and it passed in an unremarkable but pleasant way. The snow and ice stayed around to make it a white Christmas day but then cleared on Boxing Day to give a few days rest before the four to eight inches of snow that is forecast to fall tomorrow morning reaches us. The week between Christmas and New Year feels a little like limb and seems to last longer than it really is.

Donkeys eating hay – Christmas Eve 2009

On Boxing Day I got up to find that we had had a fox attack during the night, some left dead, two injured and others fine still in their house. Unfortunately I think it was my fault as the door wasn’t done up properly. The two injured ones are in the house by the stove and doing ok.

 Other than the fox attack it has all been quite, I got some lovely presents including a jacket and a woven scarf or wrap. I got my new camera but they sent the wrong model, the one up from the one that was ordered, but it doesn’t record sound so it is going back.

Silver Dorkings

There is another Silver Dorking egg hatched in the incubator, we’ve moved the last chicks that were left in our room outside a few weeks ago.

It had become so normal to have one kind of bird or chick, quail, gosling, etc. making a noise in the room that I almost didn’t even realise  when I heard the first cheeping that is was coming from the incubator at all.

A new chick hatching has bought up the question again about whether our bigger chicks are girls or boys…

Silver Dorking chicks are ‘sex-linked’ which means that they have different markings for girls and boys when they are born. I think from the markings that they had when they were born were boys, but now that their feathers are through I’m not so sure as they look more like the hens feathers then the cockerals.

Any way, whatever the two older chicks are, the one in the incubator is the other sort!

Loose ends

Well, the cows have gone and life is carrying on as it does. We are starting to think of what to get next, as we do enjoy the cows milk we will get another one, it is just a matter of what and when.

There have been other things that have happened in the last week or so that I have meant to post about but not had chance. All of the girl goat kids have been disbudded so as they don’t grow horns, they are growing well too. ‘Greedy Boy’ has not been disbudded as as he is not pure bred he is a meat kid so it will not matter so much if he has horns, where as the girls will mostly likely become milkers when they are fully grown and it is not a nice job teaching a large female goat to stand to be milked if she has horns, even if she doesn’t mean to catch you with them.

The goslings and chicks are also doing well and are big enough to move out of the brooder this weekend. I’m also trying to have a clear up and sort out inside, I have far to much ‘stuff’ that I just don’t use or need and it is stopping me getting to the things that I do use or would use if I could get to it.

Last Sunday there was a special LETS meeting, it was nice to have a meeting on a weekend afternoon whenyou haven’t had to rush to get things done because you’ve been at work all day but there was a disappointing turn out. A small amount of trading went on but we ,mostly sat around chatting and drinking tea. I didn’t bother getting most of the things I had taken out of the car so I still have boxes of ‘stuff’ sitting around that I’d hoped to of got rid of by now. I will take it to the meeting next week and then maybe take the rest to a carboot sale.

We lefted the first garlic on mid summer, it was some of the self sown patch so has been in the ground for at least six months or more but was very disappointing. It haven’t started to split into a bulb yet. We also harvested some potatoes last week which were also disappointing, not many at all. 

The weather is very hot, which is making getting things done during the day difficult but it’s slowly getting done. The weather is meant to break over the weekend so it’s best just to enjoy what we have now and try to arrange the day so as we are not out during the hottest parts

In the brooder

Ok, I didn’t manage to keep up with my intention to keep a recorded of what eggs went into the incubator but things have been moving pretty fast. I didn’t even really manage to keep track of the dates that different eggs were put in there either so every so often there has been a nice surprise of finding a chick of some sort or a pipping egg when checking on the incubators, in spite of that though we had done pretty well on the hatching front.

There is a Muscovy duckling/chick (?) who is the oldest, as it is the first one we have hatched out I’m guessing it is a boy. There is two Silver Dorking chicks, Silver Dorkings are ‘sex linked’ chicks so they have different markings when they hatch, from the pictures that I’ve seem on the internet they are both cockerels. There is a little white chick that was hatched under an Indian Game hen, they seem to sit ok but aren’t very good with there chicks afterwards we took the chick away as she was pecking at it.

And lastly there are the goslings, who are all doing well.

Left in the incubator there is the last of the goose eggs, that I don’t think are going to do anything but I wanted to given them a chance, some other eggs that were under the Indian Game, which I also don’t think are going to do anything but again want to give them a chance. Two Call Duck eggs that are due to hatch in a week or so, and some more Silver Dorking eggs that went in yesterday.