Sunday, January 25, 2015

Spring can't be far away.

The first snowdrop.
There are signs that spring is just around the corner. The branches on willows and the dogwoods are becoming brighter as the sap starts to rise.
 The first snowdrops are opening up
and the first primroses are in bloom. All positive signs that spring can't be too far away. Our drakes are all showing off to the ducks, but so far no duck eggs,
La Bresse cockerel.
the spare cockerels had started sparring with each other so have now been put into a bachelor house, without hens to fight over they now live happily together.
Two very handsome Black Copper Maran boys.
We had a near disaster a few days ago with one of the Copper Maran pullets, clearly she was a favourite with the lads, Simon found her when he went to lock up, trampled into mud, unable to move and totally hypothermic. We quickly washed her several times in warm water to try to get the mud off of her, but I was afraid that in between washes she would get even colder so we dried her as best we could with the hair dryer trying to brush the rest of the mud out of her. Feathers take a very long time to dry, so she was placed in a box of warm straw and left by the range to dry off.  A few hours later she was standing up and taking notice, we kept her in her warm box for the next couple of days in a spare room. She has now returned to her flock, none the worse for her ordeal. From this experience it was clear that the spare boys would have to be rehoused until we either sell them or put them in the freezer, which would be a pity as they are pure bred birds and
                  very good examples of their breed.
Broad bean seeds have now been planted in root trainers and are in the propagator, these are our own seed saved for last year. Some  early potatoes saved from last year had chitted so they have been planted in one of the beds in the tunnel, we have tried doing potatoes in bags but have never had a decent crop. The peach tree which became too big for the sunroom was relocated into a far bigger pot and put into the polytunnel, the buds are now beginning to swell, hopefully we will have as good a crop as we did last year.
The land is still too wet to start preparing for this years crops so we will just have to be patient, plus we need still more scaffold boards and compost to complete the new raised beds, now that the mushroom farm that we used has closed down we are wondering if we should get a seven ton load delivered from the remaining farm's contractor, we can easily use seven tons over the next couple of years, I guess it will depend on how much he charges.
Misty and Freddy get some rest before their next escapade.
The two kittens are now seven months old so it was time to get them to the vets to be neutered. We are very impressed in how our vet did Misty, the little fluffy black girl, her scar is little more than a quarter of an inch, with just two stiches, the ends of the stitches are not even visible so no chance of Misty removing them, unlike other cats that we have had done these two didn't  suffer any ill effects at all, tearing around as soon as they were home like a couple of lunatics, unfortunately this entailed skimming up the curtains together. Curtain poles are not designed to carry a combined weight of fourteen pounds of swinging cats, both the curtain pole curtains and kittens ended up on the floor, another job that Simon has to sort out.
Tess remains very tolerant of the puppy who has now had her vaccinations,
she allows her to sleep on top of her and
I want that bone!
even to remove food from her mouth, considering how greedy Labradors are we find this remarkable.
No peace for Tess.
Meg, although so small does have a short fuse, she allows no one near her food, and is none too happy if Robson  the very elderly Jack Russell tries to take over her bed, Robson also has a short fuse but only one tooth so he unlikely to do her any harm, maybe just teach her some manners.
Tonight is Burns night, as Simon is half Scottish I suppose we should be celebrating with haggis and swede, especially as Robbie Burns had written a poem about Simon's great, great, great grandfather, 'Death and Doctor Hornbook', an openly rude poem, decrying John Wilson's abilities as a healer, in fact he was a school teacher. They remained friends despite the poem!  Instead of the  traditional meal  for the celebration,  we will be having leg of pork, but maybe Simon will raise a glass of whisky to his memory.


  1. I would go for the 7 tons of mushroom compost if I was you. Especially if you can get it tipped near your veg plot. Then you can cover it up and get a wheelbarrow or bucket full when you need it.

  2. The way we are set up Dave would not make it possible to have it near the veg plot. Our land is set either side of a driveway, one side is the permaculture side, where we have planted lots of fruit trees, the hens , poly tunnel and veg garden, tall hedging all around and willow archways that lead to the various parts of the garden. The other side of the drive way is our donkeys field, just over an acre, this is where it would have to go assuming tractor and trailer can get into the field through the field gate, it would be a tight turn. We will have to go and see the guy to see how big the trailer is.

  3. I think you are about a week in front of us on the snowdrops and primroses. I should definitely have listened to you when you said don't bother with autumn planted broad beans - ours were doing OK till that wet/cold slap in January and now are a sorry wash out; just a few survivors. We will not do that again. Good rescue on the trampled hen, poor thing. We will soon be sorting our Buffs - 3 boys onto 3 girls is not really on! Love the pics of the pup sleeping ion top of Tess.

    1. The primroses have been out for the last couple of weeks Matt. When we did the experiment with autumn and spring planting we found that neither suffered from blackfly, and both flowered and cropped within a couple of days of each other, the overwintered ones produced just .5kg more pods over the same number of plants, so really just not worth while. Hen has recovered but is staying away from the remaining cockerel, I'm not sure if she is laying or not, 5 out of 6 Maran eggs today, so the missing one could be her or one of the others having a day off. Try advertising your spare BO cockerels on donedeal, it only costs 3 euro.

    2. Good idea. What kind of price? .... and I seem to recall Birthday greetings may be in order? If so, many happy returns.

    3. I went with €15. I have already had the first 2 muppets - one lady saying she'd seen the advert and wondered if I knew whether the Roscommon Bring-and-Buy was still on in all the 'weather' and the 2nd a lad blizzarding me with texts asking did I mean €8 and could we meet at €10. Love !!!

  4. Love that pic of Tess with the puppy on her back. Gutted to hear of the closure of the mushroom tunnels in Keadue. Was planning on getting a load of compost...

  5. Tess is fantastic with the pup. We are going to get a price for 7tons of compost delivered, if it's not prohibitive that's what we will go for, a real body blow with Keadue closing.

  6. If i wasn't enjoying the harvest so much (tomatoes everywhere) i'd wish spring was approaching just so i could do it all over again. Ha Ha. I love Meg for a name. So Irish and so so cute. Labs are certainly the most amazing breed. I am currently part of a fund raising team for a beautiful assistance dog named Hank that has been allocated to the daughter of a friend. Have you got a spare $22,000. It will be so worth it, they a beautiful together. Maddie is only 5 and has Cri Du Chat Syndrome.

    1. We called her Megan which I think is Welsh, but Meg is easier for her to remember. Tess is just fantastic with her.

  7. Hello Anne
    Oh it was wonderful to see a hint of spring. We have lots of snow on the ground so spring is a long way away. Tess is such a wonderful dog they way she has accepted Meg so lovingly. The two kittens I can imagine the trouble the two of them get into. Sam is one and has yarn from one end of the house to the other I have separated Elliott from the flock and its working out well. They cannot trip him or eat his food but they can both see each other. Glad your hen survived the boys admiration. Glad all is well in your part of the world.
    XXX Carole

    1. So glad that you escaped the heavy snow fall that was predicted, six inches is not too bad, glad all is well with Elliot, the kittens work together as a team, definitely a case of double trouble.
      Take care and keep warm.