Thursday, 28 May 2009

One of our chickens is broody. In fact she has been broody for a long time. Way over a month now – despite assurances that it is a 21 day cycle. Nothing will part her from her little clutch of eggs in the nesting box – she has to be physically removed every so often just so we can clean out the coop (and so that she gets some food and water…and we can get to the eggs!). Whenever we move her she squawks and protests until we let her back in the nesting box. We obviously haven’t been moving her quite often enough as today we discovered TWELVE eggs underneath her! No wonder our supplies were running low. Contrary to her macho name (Defender), she is a really motherly bird and we are sorely tempted to put a few fertilized eggs under her just to let her fulfill her maternal instincts. However the thought of producing a baby cockerel soon brings us back to our senses - our suburban neighbours really wouldn’t thank us for that one!
Let's hope she gets over it soon...

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Gavin's early demise

Sorry to report that Gavin met an early grave. Despite the valiant group effort in making him, he just didn’t quite cut it as a scarecrow. We tried to attach him to some poles at the field – but he was just too floppy after getting soaked by rain. Looked like a very sad crucifixion – dropping off his cross pathetically, bedraggled before he’d even been exposed to any further elements. We didn’t think he’d make it (let alone scare any birds) so we put him out of his misery. Sorry, Gavin.

Until Gavin Mach 2, made from straw, appears we have a ream of twirling CDs which seem to be pretty effective as bird scarers. Apart from a few beans we haven’t had too much damage so far - fingers crossed, touching wood and all of that. Our broad beans have really come on and the potatoes are looking fantastic (I would hope so after 3 back breaking hours of weeding at the weekend!). We also rotavated quite a large area and put in all the pumpkins and squashes that we have been lovingly growing under glass in the back garden. Delighted that there has been a torrential downpour this morning which will give them a good watering in. Shock horror - we have a gooseberry bush showing its first gooseberry. Let's hope we get to eat it before the birds do... where's Gavin when we need him?

The sheep are settling in well to their new home. They are getting more and more used to us and they now run up to the gate when we arrive (on the look out for food, of course). They had been booked in for a haircut on Friday and we were looking forward to seeing sheep getting sheared but sadly this was cancelled at the last minute due to the sheep shearer’s generator breaking down. Secretly quite glad about that as it gives us a little longer to work out what to do with the wool from seven sheep. Haven’t quite got to grips with the idea of drop spinning or weaving just yet. A friend is going to be teaching us the art of worming the sheep on the 12th June ( I think the biggest part of that is being able to round them up in a pen - should be a complete laugh!). Once they are in the pen they'll need to be fed the wormer, I can just imagine what an orderly queue they'll form for that...

In about 2 weeks the bacon from our "pig share" should be ready. It will be fantastic to have our own bacon as a permanent fixture on the menu. In fact the whole "meat share" thing has grown out of control (in a very positive way)...but that is a long story and deserves a post of its this space for details.

I'll also do my best to get a few pictures of progress across all fronts on here in the next few days. to battle the weeds, see the sheep and feed the chickens...

Sunday, 17 May 2009

Look who's arrived...

Well well well - sheep have arrived! We were expecting another two weeks, but the farmer phoned yesterday and asked if it was possible to deliver the sheep today.
Complete and utter blind panic followed and we rushed around like mad things getting the last bits together.
We went to the field this morning and managed to get the electric fence up in the pouring rain (we will be splitting the field in two for now), fill up the water trough & put up the last bit of netting fence. All of this was going on while the farmer was calling and saying that he was getting closer.

In the end we made it and the sheep are now happily in their new home - let's just hope that they don't try to escape too soon.

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Pork is back on the Menu!

Yep, finally we got the pig…or should I say PORK, all beautifully butchered and packed. We went up to Norfolk to collect it– pork roasts, sausages, chops, ribs and all sorts of other cuts that we were slightly less familiar with. Have to say our first pork chops were truly delicious. Unlike pork from the supermarket, the chops are not neatly trimmed, and if you cook them with the fat still on they stay wonderfully moist. We haven’t had chops for five months so it felt like a real treat. Another few weeks and there will be bacon in the menu (hallelujah!).

On the animal husbandry front all is going ahead with preparing the field for the sheep. We have just had the fencing put up and it now seems pretty escape-proof.

Sheep are renowned for their ability to get through gaps and wander off into neighbouring gardens and roads, but we are now happy that they will be secure as possible. Just have to sort out the water supply and shelter now. The sheep certainly won’t be short of food – look at the height of that grass!

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

Meet Gavin

This is Gavin - the latest recruit to our Tiny Farmer project. The munched edges of our courgettes are evidence that we have a bit of a pigeon problem on the field. So we had a craft afternoon with the children and they came up with this scarecrow. He is made from old tights stuffed with newspaper and is sporting the kids old PJs, shoes, scarf and hat. For some reason they decided to call him “Gavin” and soon he will be doing his bit to try and frighten the birds (currently he is sitting on the sofa, giving us a fright every time we enter the living room!). We have also strung up some old CDs in between the fruit bushes and the beans. Hopefully that will annoy the pigeons.

There is non-stop growth on the field at the moment. The potatoes are going mad – which, of course, means more earthing up…no small task with twelve rows of spuds to contend with! We have the backache to prove it.
Also put in a couple of rows of carrots (a lot easier now we have cultivated the soil and are using a seeder) and transplanted the courgette seedlings.

Sadly the raspberry canes do not seem to have taken. Not sure whether they will revive next year or not, but they are looking like dead twigs at the moment. The same cannot be said for the asparagus – which is growing uncontrollably. Is it meant to be that tall?

Will report back on Gavin’s progress…