Sunday, 8 November 2009

A Winter's Tale

Nothing much to report really. Winter seems to be on its way with lots of rain and clouds but the occasional bright sunny day to cheer us up.

The new hens are really big now and we still don't know if we have one or two cockerels. they are standing up for themselves against the originals now and they all share the feeder and are often to be seen wandering around together as one flock.

We have made a temporary pen for Alario behind the barn. As he is the male who causes trouble if he has to share a paddock with other males we try to graze him in areas that would otherwise be wasted. He is right next door to the other males but we keep their hay rack and water well away from the fence so there is not much chance for them to get too close.

Before we open the gates in the morning and when they are closed in the afternoon we are letting the rest of the boys graze along the drive. It is good grass that would be strimmed if they did not eat it. Unfortunately they also seem to like browsing on Mike's young fruit trees, so he is not best pleased. I told him they need pruning this time of year but he is not convinced.

We have completely run out of males for sale now. The last two have been bought by a school as part of their new farm project. We are keeping just one, who shows signs of being a potential stud male. I am a bit worried about introducing him to the other males as usually we have several so that they stay in a mini herd within the bachelor herd until they are old enough to hold their own. I hope we don't have to keep him in another separate paddock. At the moment he is in with the young female weanlings.

The main herd have moved down to the bottom paddocks for the winter. Unfortunately the recent wet weather has made it rather soggy down there but there is still plenty of very good grass for them. The forecast is better for next week and the area drains quickly so we are hoping that they will be OK. They can see us coming from quite a distance when we walk down in the mornings with the dogs. They come galloping up to the gate in the hope that it is feeding time. Sometimes it is but usually I go down later in the morning or Mike will take some down when he tops up the hayracks.

A lady in the village has just bought some alpacas from a local farmer who wanted to "get rid of them". She phoned us for help as she was worried about them. I went round to see her and was able to reassure her that they are in good condition but she has very little land so it might be a problem through the winter. When they have constructed a suitable catch pen I am going to visit again to do a proper hands on condition check and show her what they should feel like so she can monitor their progress herself and adjust their feeding regimen accordingly.

She has five wethers and one entire male,but they seem to be used to running as a bachelor herd and get on with each other. They also seem quite relaxed with people so she will cope well.

The nights are drawing in and the chickens often put themselves to bed before I notice that it is getting dark and time to shut them in.

We have started to use the central heating some days now which is cosy when you come inside having been in the FRESH air all day, but makes it hard to stay awake in the evenings. Or maybe it's just our age?

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