Saturday, 28 November 2020

Hens and things

 Well so far no news on the trees to be pruned by Hi Line.  Probably much more important jobs - or maybe they have decided that no work necessary after all.

Bad news - there is an outbreak of  avian influenza (bird flu) amongst wild birds and some big flocks of domestic poultry in the UK so we have had to keep our "free range" hens under cover and make sure that they have no contact with wild birds and that wild birds cannot access their feed or drinking water.

They are used to being completely free  in their field in the daytime and only being shut in at night.  They seem to be quite happy at the moment and even when I go through the gate into their pen they don't really make much effort to escape.

 Keeping the hen house and pen clean is more difficult than usual because there are 33 chickens to work round.   So far no real problems but also no idea how long the nationwide restrictions will be in force. 

Everything else seems OK - apart,of course  the restrictions due to the Covid 19 pandemic.  We are very lucky that our lives have not changed very much as we spend most of the time on the farm and all the usual chores still need doing.  We miss going out for the occasional meal or  trip to the seaside but it is a small price to pay compared with the problems some people are suffering.  One of us does the weekly shop and we have a local village shop and a small farm shop close by.  Because of our age we are advised to minimise contact with other people so cannot be much help to others.


What do you want to do ?
New mail
What do you want to do ?
New mail

Saturday, 14 November 2020

Torrential Rain

 We are still waiting for the Hi-Line workers to come and deal with the over hanging branches that they want to remove.   Cannot blame them - at the moment we are having wall to wall non stop heavy rain.  Not much fun when cleaning out the chicken house or clearing the yard  but those jobs still need to be done.

Our young hens are laying plenty of eggs but only the older girls lay full size eggs.  We sell the smaller eggs at a low price (80p for half a dozen) and they seem to go well.   They are too small to boil and put in an egg cup but ideal for poaching or frying - just need to use more eggs per meal.  It will be quite a few weeks before the young hens start laying full size eggs.

 I filled all the hay racks up with fresh hay as  the few alpacas we have left will spend more time in their field shelters during this weather and eat hay instead of grass.   The chickens also like the hay racks as they make a nice cosy place to lay eggs.  they are free range so when collecting the eggs to sell at the farm gate I hve to check in quite a few places to make sure none are missed.

 I usually take the dogs round the farm in the mornings so I can check the boundaries and make sure there are no problems and also check up on the two male alpacas who live in the lower field .  This morning they had to make do with running around in the field near the house.  They still managed to get quite wet but at least not muddy too.

 We will be catching up on indoor jobs today.  Mike always has a few projects on the go in the barn. 

Although I closed the shop at Christmas last year, I seem to be making quite a few sales online of our remaining alpaca socks and hand knitted hats and mittens. There is not very much stock left but it is nice to see that it is selling rather than going to waste.

Wednesday, 11 November 2020

High Wires

We are awaiting a visit from the Hi- Line engineers as we have electric cables on our land and from time to time they have to come and carry out mantenance or cut back tree branches which might be in danger of interfering with the cables and thus with the local electricity supply.  The weather has been quite bad today so we are assuming that their visit has been postponed for the time being.

During the winter farmers are allowed to cut back hedges and trees where necessry.  In the spring and summer this work is not allowed  as it can interfere with the nesting birds and other wildlife.

Nick,our once a week helper, is very knowledgeable and skilled in farming matters.  Mike first met him when he attended a hedge laying course where Nick was the teacher.  Hedge laying involves partially cutting the main stems of the hedge and weaving them to make the hedge more solid and encourage thicker growth thus making a very effective barrier around fields and between farms and again,providing wild life habitat.

We only have a few alpacas left as we are no longer trading so the four girls share a paddock with the chickens as they are good guards and will give a strong alarm call if they see anything to worry about (such as a fox thinking of dinner).  It is quite a high pitched sound like a series of short screams from the back of the throat.

We let them free range over a couple of fields during the day and in the evening they respond very quickly to the noise of the feed bucket being shaken.   They literally run through the gate in a race to see who gets to the feeders first.

The chickens put themselves to bed in their shelter at dusk and I go over with my trusty dog Ted and shuth them in - after a quicjk count to make sure none are missing.   There are 33 at the moment. 13 older hens and the rest are youngsters only just starting to lay very small eggs.