Friday, November 25, 2011

Donkeys and Ducks

At last the donkeys arrived on Tuesday, we had thought of several names for them but as soon as they were in our field they looked like a Pippa and Pea, short for Sweet pea. These were our fist thought of names after we had gone to see them at the farm. The foal(Pea)is about seven weeks old and is the image of her mum and whatever mum does the foal has to follow suit. Although we went to great care to build a nice stable for them, so far, apart from food they seem determined to ignore it although we have had some heavy rain. Today is however bright and sunny although windy.We had been told that Pippa has been used to being handled but the lad for whom she had been bought had lost interest in her, so far we have not been able to handle her, she will come for a bucket although keeps her distance until she feels we are at a safe distance, we had been told that all donkeys will sell their souls to the devil for ginger biscuits, maybe we are the wrong sort of devil as that has not worked! although as soon as it was thrown on the ground, at a safe distance from the 'Human' she ate it with relish. I think we might be going through quite a few packets of ginger biscuits! Pippa seems to spend most of her time looking over the hedge, maybe looking for her elder daughter, unfortunately we didn't feel that we could take on three donkeys, after all we're not as young as we used to be, and we only have one and a half spare acres of land, the rest is for the veg and fruit growing plus the hens and ducks.
Yes, we now also have the ducks, we had planned on having just the three, one male and two females but the farmer gave us one for luck, well lucky for us maybe but not so lucky for the spare drake who will become a Sunday diner sometime.
So now we have the complete live stock entourage, hens for both meat and eggs, rabbits for meat, ducks for meat and some eggs, donkeys for the manure for the veg and fruit, the small orchard is planted so hopefully within the year we will as self sufficient as is possible with two acres of land.

Sunday, November 20, 2011


When we moved back here we had said that we would not have any four legged animals apart from the cats and dogs, although we have kept goats for the last twenty plus years, after all the upset with what had been our goats in Spain we just did not feel we could ever have them again, there is nothing more upsetting than seeing animals that you have loved and cared for met untimely deaths.
However, one of our neighbours suggested that we have a couple of donkeys, of course he just happened to have some for sale, they were lovely, but he was asking far too much for them so we said no. We then went to the donkey sanctuary and arrangements were made, however after waiting for nearly two months to be inspected we phoned to find out that the lady in charge is now working on her own and had no idea when she would be able to get to us, so a few phone calls to friends, we knew someone would know of donkeys somewhere, and at last we have found what we are looking for. Hopefully they will be delivered the early part of this week, a mare five years old and her six week old mare foal.
Although Simon had said we would not have ducks again the farm where the donkeys are happened to have Muscovy's for sale, so a house has been bought and more fencing ordered and more live stock.Not my idea this time!
Not content with the animals we already have I thought it might be nice to put up some bird feeders, it took a few days for the wild birds to suss them out but now it seems as though we are feeding a whole forest of birds, we have six type of small birds vying for the feeders and they are consuming half a kg a day of peanuts, I guess they know when they are onto a good thing.
The birds that feed with us are Coal Tit, Great Tit, Blue Tits and the Marsh Tit, Chaffinch and Dunnock, we also have Wagtails but they don't go to the feeders, so far we have seen no Sparrows or Wrens.


It's always nice to have visitors it means we have to take time out and we get the chance without feeling guilty to revisit favourite places and to explore new ones. Carrowkeel in Co. Sligo is an ancient burial ground dating back to over 3000bc, throughout Ireland there are so many interesting ancient sites to visit but the West of Ireland is littered with passage tombs.
Then there is the coastline, beautiful sandy beaches, rocky ones and some great surfing beaches, one of our favourite places is Lissadel, again in Co.Sligo and now quite a distance to travel, it is known for it's mussel beds which are supplied to the better restaurants.Unfortunately on this visit it was getting late and I had no bags with us in which to collect mussels and I'm sure our friends would not have appreciated wet mussels in the boot of their posh car, so it calls for a further visit soon to collect a feast.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Gardening from scratch

A few more pictures of the four month old garden, spring time it should look wonderful I have planted around three hundred spring bulbs so far.

It feels like spring

The weather continues to be great, tomorrow the forecast is 17c, not too sure what that is in old money, 60 plus anyway. The birds seem to think it is spring time and this week I saw rooks arguing about whose nest was whose, they appeared to be doing some nest repair work.
Our new fruit trees arrived and seem to be very strong and healthy,Simon spent today getting them planted and staked, we have some chestnut saplings also waiting to be planted, we are not too sure how they will do here although a friend had planted a small woodland area with them and they seem to be fine although I doubt they will fruit for us, which is fine as neither of us are that keen on the nut, the main use for them will be, hopefully coppicing,I should say pollarding as this is how they are normally treated.
The newly created flower beds are now completed all at the back of the cottage,it's hard to remember how the land looked before we arrived, basically two fields either side of the house, one side is now producing veg and of course we have the poly tunnel there and now the newly planted orchard.The other field is the same apart from the stable for the donkeys who have yet to arrive.The back of the house was just stoned, it's amazing what a difference a few flower beds can make.
All our roses are doing well and are still blooming, even roses in the hedge row has had a second flush of flowers.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Autum Time

The last week has been beautiful, a couple of light frosts and apart from one day and mild, this has enabled us to get quite a lot of work done outside, more garden area created, wind break fencing erected and a donkey stable completed. Next job will be planting the fruit trees which are now on their way from the nursery, so we are hoping that the next few days stay dry so we can get them planted.
We have been debating the best way to protect all our soft fruit from birds, the latest plan being to erect a home made tunnel frame and cover this with bird netting, this should give us the hight as well as protection. The other thing that we will have to give consideration to is protection from carrot root fly next year, apparently it is a problem in our area, still I have a few months to think about this one.