In this months Country Chronicles Jodi is gearing up for lambing and planning to get chickens, and discusses breed options and housing..

I actually cannot believe that it is the beginning of April already, I have no idea where March went!

I hope you all had a lovely Easter, Easter isn’t the happiest time for me, Easter 2010 was when my Grandad sadly passed away. He was a very important person to me and taught me a lot of what I know about building etc. Although he is missed beyond words, I know that he is very proud of all of the things I have accomplished in these last few years!

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The Ladies on fresh grazing

I expect that many of you have finished or are coming to the end of lambing, but I am just about to start. My ewes started bagging up a couple of weeks ago, this means their udders started to fill with the very important colostrum ready for the lambs come the 10th April.

The sheep overall have been relatively stress free, I had one with a minor prolapse, this particular sheep is extra cuddly and affectionate when outside of a pen, but as soon as she knows you’re going to do something with her, she immediately becomes the devil sheep and will not cooperate! This in turn meant that she came down with a touch of hypoglycemia/twin lamb syndrome, but fortunately she was able to be sorted with a couple of doses of Glycerol+ and she was right as rain after that. The second ewe, also got a touch of twin lamb, I believe from the stress of having to be moved fields so I could get the prolapsed devil ewe in for assistance. Again, a couple of hundred millilitres of Glycerol+ later she was happy!

As I mentioned last month, they have not been scanned as I was unable to find a replacement when the lady sadly let me down, so at the moment I am having to judge what they’re carrying and I think I sort of have a good idea of what I am expecting from them, but watch this space..

 

Bess' Training Ring practically complete!

Bess’ Training Ring practically complete!

Bess’ training ring is now up and running! She is a very intelligent pup even by collie standards and I know it won’t be long before she is flying through training and moving on to work them outside of the pen.

I taught her the flank commands a few months ago so I will be interested to see how she gets on in the pen. I will keep you updated on her progress as the months pass but if you would like to have more regular

updates on any of the subjects I talk about please feel free to follow my blog.

 

The Lamb Taxi

The Lamb Taxi

I mentioned last month about building a lamb taxi! This has now been completed and actually works, although I do need to screw a cuphook into the front to tie the rope to as it tends to tip up as you pull it due to where I’ve had to tie the rope for the time being.

I’m very pleased with it. I always love it when I have a picture in my head of what I would like to build and always manage to make it exactly how I saw it in my head! I always encourage everyone to try to do simple things themselves, you never know you may surprise yourself..

 

Chicken Shed Master Plan

Chicken Shed Master Plan

 

 

The last week of March was filled with big jobs, after about a year of being without chickens, we have decided to get some more. We have a lot of problems with foxes and badgers when it comes to chickens.

We have an 18ft shed which is where the chickens used to live, it has a large outdoor run which we built specifically to keep them safe from predators.

After a few years, the badgers eventually managed to break into it and we have had to go back to the drawing board with regards to how it is set out. I have decided to build a couple of enclosures inside the shed, with perches and nest boxes etc for them. I will deck out the floor and a short way up the wall with aluminium sheeting to keep, particularly squirrels, from gnawing their way in. The run will be repaired and I will install an electric wire all the way round the outside to stop foxes and badgers from getting near enough to cause destruction. Come back next month for updates!!!

With regards to chicken breeds, we are looking to get some purebred/unusual types, we’ve had the usual Sussex, reverse Sussex, ISAs, maran, cuckoo, skyline and bluebell, so now we would like to have something a bit more exciting!

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Clockwise from the top; Barnvelder, Black Copper Maran, Partridge, Volwerk, Swedish Flower Hen, Speckled Sussex, Welsummer, Rhode Island Red, Cream Legbar and Buff Sussex.

They all range in the amount of eggs they lay and also what colour eggs they produce. But they’re all so pretty! I’m sure it’s definitely a case of incubating our own on some of these breeds! I am looking into purchasing a larger incubator. It won’t be the first time we incubator eggs ourselves but the incubator we have isn’t really big enough.

 

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We had a very exciting moment the other day when we saw the elusive white squirrel! This is a terrible photo but we were a fair way away and this was the best I could do!

 

 

 

A joint of our lovely outdoor reared, rare breed pork!

A joint of our lovely outdoor reared, rare breed pork!

 

 

Our three Berkshire gilts went off to slaughter, so we now have lots of fresh outdoor rare breed pork both to eat and to sell! As much as I’m not the biggest fan of pigs, they do taste good! We now have one Berkshire sow and 9 growers, which are Berkshire x Gloucester Old Spot, left here at the farm.

 

 

 

Mumma Pig and her youngsters

Mumma Pig and her youngsters

 

 

 

As we have had some trouble with flooding in the pig’s field, which you will be able to see from the photos, we are looking to sell all these on in order to sort out the pens, with a view to getting some more in the future. So if you would like any pork or live growers please let me know!!

 

 

 

Kitchen Garden Snippets:

  • Make sure all climbing plants sown are supported with canes, even if they don’t seem long enough, they will need to be trained to grown around the canes and this is best started as soon as possible.
  • Take out all seedlings which are not growing sufficiently as these will most likely not come to fruition and all attention should be given to the decent, well growing seedlings.
  • Try to keep on top of weeding in the beds, even the smallest of weeds will be taking nutrients from the surrounding soil which should be going to your lovely veggies.
  • Start to harden off the seedlings you will be planting out this month, as long as it’s not raining heavily/frosty/snowing etc, it is a good idea to bring them out of the greenhouse or wherever you have been cultivating them, and give the opportunity to acclimatize to the outside world.
  • For things like the squashes, they are best grown under cover, such as in a polytunnel. They also need to be watched as the fruits start to grow as if they are left in the wet soil they will start to rot before they are ripe enough to pick. This is avoided by putting things like straw underneath them.
  • You will also need to plant all your fruit bushes into the ground if you have some which you do not want to grow in containers. Make sure they are watered a few hours before planting so they’re not thirsty. You will need to water them daily or possibly every other day (depending on the weather). Once it is established and has taken root, it will begin to take what it needs from the ground around it.
  • All seedlings and immature plants need to be watered daily. Do not saturate them as they will become waterlogged and will effectively drown. Little and often is the best way.

 

Hint of the month: The Slug Saloon: Slugs are one of the biggest pests’ growers face. So, you may use pellets or a salt trail, but I have a strange solution to this issue and it involves getting them drunk!

All you need is a clean jam jar or similar (without a lid), the cheapest beer you can find (Slugs don’t have the most defined taste buds) and a curved roof tile or something that can act as a lid but which doesn’t cover the top completely.

Dig the jar into the soil, have the top so it is about an inch above the soil level. Fill the jar to just under the brim with the beer and place the curved tile over the top. Done.

Check it every morning and you should find some very happy slugs floating in the jar. Dispose of the contents far away from your beds and set it all again!

Thank you for reading,

Jodi

April Aims:

The list of vegetables I gave you last month will still apply to this month, some of the vegetables you sowed undercover can be planted out now, along with the following:

Sow Outside:  Fennel • Rocket • Swede

Plant outside: Radishes • Winter Cabbage • Artichoke

Sow/Start Undercover: Butternut Squash • French beans • Pumpkin • Runner beans • Summer Squash • sweetcorn • Cucumbers • Melons