Friday, 18 November 2016

Comings and goings

Although the weather has turned colder, the work in the garden continues. Not at such a speedy pace, but we have achieved quite a lot in the last month.
 The tree surgeons have done a splendid job, taking out five spindly sycamores at the back of the piggeries and one rather beautiful sycamore which unfortunately was going against the front wall of one piggery. We have kept the huge trees on the right of the photo and most of those on the left.
  I've continue to be surprised at the difference it makes, with a new sense of space and openess.
  And it creates an ideal space for some of the chickens to live in. We plan to move the Australorps to this area so that they can clear away the weeds and gorge themselves on the grubs and bugs that have been living here relatively undisturbed.
 At the start of the week was the Supermoon. It was overcast and cloudy as the moon first rose, but as it got higher in the sky the cloud cover was less and I took this photo of the moon over the sycamore trees and barn. I was rather pleased that I managed to include the lights of the Severn Bridge at the bottom of the photo.

 Inside the house, the latest chicks to hatch are doing well. The smallest one is a little Jersey Giant that is about two-thirds the size of these two. It had an issue with its umbilical cord when it hatched and I imagine that as it has survived a week, it will make it to maturity. But, I'm not holding my breath, these little chicks are vulnerable and their immune systems aren't fully formed yet, so there is every chance that the smallest, weakest one may succomb to infection. Usually by a week old I would have transferred them to the nursery pen in the stable, but as they were a very late hatch, I'm going to keep them in the warmth of the house for an additional week or so to give them more time to grow some feathers and get stronger.

Today two new Jersey Giant pullets arrive on the smallholding. They are coming from the breeder that we have had hatching eggs from, the girls are surplus to his requirements and very much wanted here, so it's a win-win situation. These girls will join our tiny flock of white Jersey Giants to help us increase the flock next year and to offer hatching eggs for sale.

Jersey Giants are lovely birds with docile, gentle temperaments and although very big, they have a grace to them. They were bred to be large meat birds, similar in size to turkeys but without all the gobbling noisiness. I now have two bloodlines of white Jersey Giants which means that their offspring should be strong and healthy (and we hope happy) birds.

My friend Kayt mentioned that she would be happy to have more chickens and I know that her girls also live in a large open space, so I asked her whether she wanted some of the hyline girls that we have here. They are producing far more eggs than we need for the kitchen and if we aren't careful, we will end up with too many birds and far too many eggs. So on Sunday she is going to have half a dozen of the layers that we have here to add to her flock. I know that her birds have stopped laying at the moment, so I'm sure she will welcome the eggs that our girls are laying.

I have started to think about ways to sell our surplus eggs, vegetables and fruit and to that end, today I will be researching and start approaching local food outlets and also finding out whether I need to register as a food business, take out specific insurance etc. if we find somewhere to sell the surpluses. As there isn't a huge amount of produce to sell, it may not be economically viable, so today's research will be to find all of that information to be able to make an informed decision.

And before I start the research I think it must be time for a cuppa!
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