Well the Summer has now well and truly arrived with a vengeance! The past week, the temperatures have soured up in to the late 20's and the youngest goslings have all suddenly become fully feathered since the heat lamps were turned off at night.
We have over the past week, taken to letting both dogs sleep on one of balconies, as the recent hot nights have made them so very restless.
Freddie has had a countless number of cool bathswith the hose pipe and to help protect him from the heat, the bees and any biting flies, he has been wearing his fly rug, mask and been doused in fly repellant every day.
With the comfort of the ducks and geese in mind, I have also added some extra bathing ponds in the paddock and orchard for them.
We have extended the chicken run into the woods, partly to give them some additional shade, but also to give them some new areas in which to forage whilst we have the ex-bats here. It is nice to see them eagerly run into the woods every morning when I let them out and even more fun to see Pat doing his best to run around in between the trees and bracken trying to catch them!!
To help him with his quest, I endeavoured to buy him a large butterfly net, but when I saw how small they were and listening to him describing what he needed, I decided to purchase a fish landing net. When it arrived, to our suprise, it was larger that a football net and decidedly the only way in which it could be used, would be to open it up on the arm of a crane and drop it from a great height. Not one of our better buys!
The 100 ex-battery hens arrived with us a few weeks ago and are this weekend in the flow of being rehomed. We were lucky not to have had any casualties in the last two weeks that they have been here, other than the one which seemed to have a mind of it's own and decided to clamber through the boundary hedge and into the path of an oncoming tractor.
We have since done our best to keep them within the boundary of our fence and in doing so, have erected a 10 foot scaffolding net around the front of where they are kept. This has made a great difference.
The hens are getting more used to perching now and every evening we have found more joining the others on perches and less huddling on the floor in the corner. They have all learned to put themselves away at night now and wait patiently for us to do our obligatory evening round of what seems like endless door shutting.
We had both forgotten since having the ex bats last year, how little they are used to using nest boxes when they first come to us. Every day we are finding more and more places into which they have laid their eggs. These seem to be getting further and further away from their coup, which on the positive side means that they are gaining their confidence to free range further afield, but on the negative side, means that no where on our land is out of limits! Favourite places have included behind the dung heap, in the reed bed, under a wheel barrow, in the stinging nettles, the bramble hedge and to our amazement, also in an upright flower pot!!! Hours upon hours of fun!
The pigs seem to be growing up very quickly now.They are already eating a whole scoop of feed twice a day and they are now getting through an alarming number of bags of pig nuts each month.
We have been letting them free range in the paddock over the past week, where they have been enjoying playing games of tag with the dogs.
Today, they helped me in the paddock with my poo picking - needless to say, with the two dogs, both pigs, one of the cats, Freddie and Oscar our neighbours dog popping in to join the party, not much poopicking was done in the end (as you can see by the discarded wheelbarrow in the picture below!)
I was far too busy playing with the animals and taking photos to finish the job in hand, which I have promised myself I will do later this evening when it cools down a bit and all our animals have been put to bed!
August 2010 THE PIGS GREAT ESCAPE!!
The pigs went AWOL since our last update. I was quietly tapping away on my "comforter" (laptop) as Pat calls it. It was around 10am and I was still wearing my pj's when I heard Pat bellowing at me to go and help him outside.
Rushing outside fearing the worst, with thoughts of him being trapped under his tractor, or having been kicked to the ground by Freddie, he informed me that our neighbour was shouting across the paddock that the pigs had escaped and were in their back garden.
Pat raced to get the Landrover and shouted at me to fill a bucket of pig nuts and go and look for them down the track which runs parallel to our paddock and leads past our neighbours house and up towards the main (ish) road.
Without having the time to derobe and dress more appropriately, I pulled on my boots and grabbed the bucket of pigs nuts. Racing up the track at full pelt in my p'j's I found myself wishing I had trained more regularly! Cursing the pigs under my breath between my gasps for air and trying to avoid getting hooked up on the brambles, I at last reached the road. I stood there calling the pigs and shaking the bucket, much to the amusement of the passing traffic!!
When I had got my breath back and thought more logically, I realised that there were no pig tracks leading to the road and that the pigs must have veered away from the track and into the neighbouring woods. I retraced my steps back through the undergrowth towards the neighbours house, where I could see her standing at her front door looking very amused. In the garden behind her house, I could see the pigs busy rooting up her garden, thinking to myself "this will wipe the smile off of her face"!!
One shake of the bucket and the pigs obligingly came to heel and happily scampered after me back down the track. I'm still amazed that they have better recall than our two dogs!!
Needless to say, we have now secured the gate on their pen, which in turn has stopped Freddie the horse from letting them out when he uses their post as a bottom scratcher!!
JESS HELPS US PROVE THE POWER OF HONEY
Jess also gave us some concern this month, when a lump which had been on her leg for sometime and which had slowly got larger. We took her to see the Vet, who informed us after taking a biopsy that it was nothing other than a blocked oil gland. (I knew that she had needed a bath!!) A few days later, this appeared to have become infected. After squeezing out vast amounts of pus, Pat fitted Jess up with a honey poltice, which we hoped would remove the infection. In order to keep this in place, we bound her up with a bright red bandage, making her look like she was wearing a bright red pair of pants!
Suprisingly, when we examined her just a day later, we found that the swelling had gone completely. We returned Jess to the Vets, who apologised for having given her an infection when he took the biopsy sample and who gave us a course of antibiotics for her to ensure that the wound was clean. He commented that he has in the past used honey for it's good medicinal qualities. Jess is now fully recovered and back to her old wiley ways!!
The month of September is now upon us, it has brought with it noticably colder mornings and darker evenings. Last week was the first time this year that we lit the fire in the living room and in readiness for more fires, we have now almost filled the log store up with log roundels.
Yesterday Pat, our Daughter and myself ran a stand at the local Challock Goose Fair. The weather was on our side; warm and dry and a good day was had by all. There was a good turn out and we met a few of our past customers and some other very interesting people, all of whom commented on what a great stand we had. Pictures to follow...
This weekend we are extremely proud to have been invited by Hever Castle to participate in their "Taste of the Garden" week. Our exhibition boards will be there from today through until Sunday. On Saturday 18th and Sunday 19th, we will be on hand to answer questions and give out information and advice in relation to Honey Bees, beekeeping and raising poultry. Something which we are very much looking forward to doing. Hopefully the weather will continue to be kind to us!
The pigs were returned back to us in their new form of sausages, bacon and gammon last Friday. The day we took them to the Abbatoir was quite traumatic for both of us and since they have been gone, we have had people enquiring after their whereabouts, including our neighbours, who had apparently become very attached to them!
Pat was suprised at how many pork, leak and apple sausages we had acquired from both pigs, but added that the guy at the Abbatoir had commented that they were a little overweight. We were puzzled as to how this could have happened as the pigs were fed a carefully weighed ration. Unbeknown to us, in addition to their measured quantity of daily feed, they were also being fed daily by our neighbour who was feeding them with his vegetable scraps - no wonder he is missing them!!
On a darker note, last night our honesty box had a second visit from a "not so honest" person, who decided to help themself to all our honey and eggs without paying. They even took the tray that the produce was sitting on. It is disgusting to think that there are some people who can stoop so low. We don't want the audacity and selfishness of one individual to spoil things for everybody else, so we have decided that the egg honesty box will stay and continue to provide produce for our neighbours and passing trade. However, it will now be resited in a less obscure and more well lit position and will be being closely monitored by us, our neighbours, our new cctv system and the local Police.
Hopefully the person who has done this will soon be caught, as research has shown that those people who start off stealing relatively low cost items, do often then go on to targetting more valuable items.
Until my next update, take care