Tuesday, 8 July 2014

July Update

We have one broody hen sitting on eggs for the last week. I have marked them but I am finding it difficult to remove the additional eggs that the other hens are laying in her box. 
She doesn't appreciate my interference!
Last week we forgot to close the door on the hen house. A fox came and climbed the stairs and pulled four hens from their perch. Hubby was so annoyed in the morning! We have decided to change the design of the stairs to make it fox proof. It is inevitable that we will forget to close the hen door once in a while. 

The mart is held on Wednesdays in our local town, I will go there tomorrow and buy more pullets to replace these. Our egg supply is getting worryingly low!

We started to harvest the new potatoes in the veg garden as we need them. I made a lovely seafood chowder yesterday using our veg and herbs from the garden, fish that we caught last month and our new potatoes . It tasted so good and didn't last long.

I have started to harvest the soft fruits before the birds get every last one. They are busy pecking the young apples and pears from the trees and doing all sorts of damage. 

I checked the mating nuc on Friday. The queen cells where due to hatch on Thursday. Every cell was hatched in the four chambers and I could hear but not find the virgin queens. They make a strange high pitched sound that has a pattern similar to hens clocking. I even found that the workers behaved very different. They all were wiggle dancing on the frames and making a strong hiss sound while being very calm and gentle.
I will leave them alone for the next two weeks as they seem to be doing well. At that stage I will be looking out for eggs and a chance to mark the queens. The weather is promising for successful mating flights.

The cow was ai'ed about five weeks ago. I had marked in my diary when she was due to come into heat again. I was pleased when this date had passed with no signs of heat. A few days later I noticed that for a few hours, the bullocks showed interest in her and a couple tried to mount her although she wouldn't stand. This passed as quickly as it came.
She could be pregnant and that was a false heat! We will have her scanned in the next few weeks to confirm, but the vet tells me that it is typical for a cow to have a 'break through heat' in early pregnancy. 
A typical heat for her lasts about three days. A day coming into heat, a half day at standing heat and a day coming out. Fingers crossed she took to the Angus straw.

We are going to England at the end of the month to holiday and visit friends for four days. I can really see the disadvantage of having so many animals as it can be difficult to get someone reliable to look after them. Especially if you have a cow in milk!
In the future it will suit us better to holiday during the winter when the cow is dry and the farm is sleeping!


  1. The more animals you have the harder it is to get away, but the more you need a break, it's sods law isn't it.

    Sensible to plan for holidays during the winter when everything slows down a lot. We were very lucky when we were at full capacity with pigs and chickens that my Mum and Dad could step in to help. Now we have no one able to do that so we will have to make different arrangements once we start having animals again. Or hope my youngest son finds a girl friend that loves the countryside!!

  2. We are lucky that our youngest daughter moves in with (over the years) children and dogs. We no longer keep milking goats, which I know she would struggle with now that she is in full time work. The chickens, rabbits and lambs are (fairly) easy, It is the greenhouse watering that is the biggest chore I think and keeping the eggs in order . oh yes and dealing with people calling for eggs and sorting out swarming bees... I could go on. Bless her!

  3. We have the same problem with holidays! Except our farm never seems to sleep. Wonderful potatoes!

  4. Luckily we can give the horses and dogs to my sister to mine. It is easy enough to get a neighbour to feed the hens and pigs but..... a milk cow!!!

  5. When my mother was terminally ill last year it was difficult for me to leave the farm, although I did manage to get back to England (we are in France) for a few days, but could not get back for her funeral. It is the way of life on a smallholding, and knew that my mum would understand this. Hope you have a lovely break in the UK.

  6. I only have chickens and two white fluffy dogs and we find it hard to get away . livestock must make it very difficult, but I'm sure it is worth it in the long run....I would love more land for animals...love all the tips on your blog...I am doing a course on bee keeping in Sept to see if I am up for it...you are very hands on with your bees...not sure if I can manage that but will see how it goes

  7. Thanks Suzie, I enjoyed your blog. Full of interesting ideas


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