What the heck happened to the temperature, the weather God clearly took 1 March seriously and turned the cold air on!
I'm on two sets of clothes per day, something warm for when I drag myself out of bed and something cooler for when the sun heats up about 9.30am, about when I'm running around feeding and watering the mums and their 36 chicks. We seem to be the proud owners of a bunch of hens that take great pleasure in playing hide'n'seek with their nests, hence why we have had hens and chicks emerge from the undergrowth with ridiculous frequency. I thought all the girls were going into their moult and the fertile season was at an end - well it appears it is for many, just not at our place!
I was somewhat relieved after selling 22 pullets and thought that was the end of the young ones for a while... famous last words. It is worth noting that I have since discovered 3 more hens hiding with eggs so suspect my problems aren't over yet. My good husband is past the eye rolling stage and is now starting to ask some serious questions, as well as reminding me of my self chosen total number of hens... which reminds me of a sign board I saw the other day which said "When in doubt... mumble". There is a fair bit of mumbling going on. My housing shortage for mums and chicks has reached crisis point - and having being firmly told it was my problem to sort, I did - my neighbour is making some fabulous little houses... pictures next time :-)
This blog comes after a long radio silence - I've thought about writing this a lot but life went crazy and I could never find a good time (plus I have to negotiate computer time!). So today I got inspired, while simmering a pot of Jamaican Pineapple Jam, to catch up on where we are at.
Rod & Rodney, our new romney rams, arrived in January and are having a ball with our romney ewes. We opted for romney rams this time so we can breed our own replacement ewes. Our main mob of ewes are 5 this year so another year or two will see them out and our new girls will take over. What this means though, is that any orphan ewe lambs born this year will have to be bottle fed until weaning at 3 months old so I know winter this year will be spent making marmalade and bottle feeding lambs...
This is our first summer where the grass has died. We've had days where we watch the yellow and blue rain clouds on metservice head towards us, we've rubbed our hands together with excitement at the pending rain, only to have it part like the red sea as it reaches us. Oh the disappointment.
With no real rain on the horizon we made the decision to send half our steers off to sale, and while it was a disappointing result under the hammer, I guess that's the nature of farming - you take the good with the bad.
The orchard and vege garden have been very productive, in fact so productive that it has been an effort to keep up with it all. "Be careful what you wish for my husband said", I hate it when he's right. After peeling numerous buckets of peaches to preserve, I got smart and ordered a dehydrator. Love it. I've since dried peaches, tomatoes, figs, bananas and apricots. Great to store as a snack for the rest of the year (well actually I can't see them lasting more than a month or two the rate we're going). My 38 tomato plants also produced well - apart from eating fresh, we have semi-dried tomatoes in olive oil, frozen chopped tomatoes and frozen roasted tomatoes with garlic, tomato relish and tomato and chilli jam. The best of all, however has been the Damson plums. I've got good stocks of Damson jam, Damson Farmhouse chutney and lashings of Damson gin - I think I'm going to slur my way through next summer!
My newly created garden, planted in September last year, has grown amazingly well but with that growth comes a whole lot of cutting back. I'm now the proud owner of a number of roses but I'm sadly lacking in knowledge on how to care for and prune them. Madam President has kindly offered to come and help - I love my mother-in-law!
Another busy few months ahead, but plan to be better about my updates...