Thursday, 23 July 2015

First swim watched by Bruno

Today the ducklings went in the kitchen sink for the first time. Just a little warm water. Bruno was fascinated by them. I put them in again this evening with slighter deeper water but they could still stand on the bottom. They were diving under the water and shooting along underneath. Very comical to watch. They did a lot of preening too which is good as that will get the waterproofing oils going. I will now give them two or three swims each day. They are two and three days old now! They have already outgrown the box and are now in one of my big plastic craft boxes. This has steep sides so they will not be able to get out. The three day old duckling already has the beginnings of wing feathers appearing. I had forgotton how quickly they change. It is a privelege to be able to raise them like this.
Yesterday I had a good sort out of cluckingham palace. The Old duck house has gone. I have put a ladder  in for them to reach the beam which they like to perch on. Most of the hens and one cockerel worked out how to use it but the two big boys had to be lifted up! Hopefully tonight they will all manage it. I also turfed out broody hen as her house smelt awful. She had broken an egg which had coated the others along with chicken poo. I had to throw them out. I cleaned the house and once she had gone back offered some new eggs. She rolled them under her and has been sitting ok since. In about three weeks if the eggs are fertile some chicks should hatch. I love looking after the poultry.
Generally things are ticking over well which makes a change.

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Look what has arrived

I had a quick weekend with my daughter in the UK, which is why I have been quiet. I arrived home yesterday evening. When I went to check on my family I found a fluffy yellow duckling running about the duck area. When I checked the eggs another had pipped. The first duckling I brought in and put under the heat lamp. We have lots of crows and buzzards who would take a small duckling. This morning the second duckling is nearly out so has also gone under the lamp. I hope to keep the two safe. I have done this many times before so know things can go wrong. Ducks are careless mothers so I have no problem taking these two. If any others hatch I will decide then whether to take them.
I will keep you posted on how they are doing.
Also my bee hive and gear is here. We are both very excited and are looking forward to building the hive. Another chapter in our lives begins.
We are having a big push to progress the cave ready for daughter and hubby. I am so looking forward to having them here.

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

This and that

 so today I finished my second dress, finally winning the battle of the zip. It is the same pattern as the first, in a different colour with different trimming. At some point I will sort out a photo!
Also I have taken the decision to address my weight gain. I threw my toys out of the pram about eight months ago after a lifetime of weight watchers and have eaten whatever I wanted. This has resulted in me gaining more weight than I wish to confess to! All you need to know is I am no longer the size 10 I was! I am not bothered about getting back there but would like to be a comfortable 12 which I am struggling to get into. I will not go back to weight watchers and will never again buy any diet food. So I have signed up with My Fitness Pal, a free calorie counting app. Today I have stayed with it so day one done. It will be a slow process but I know if I stick with it the pounds will fall off. I may mention my progress from time to time but will try not to be a diet bore.
The other big thing for today is my inheritence money came through from dad and I have bought a starter kit for our bee keeping. I am very excited about this as it is something we have wanted to do for some time. I also feel it is something positive to spend the money on. I will  update this venture as  it happens! I have chosen a flat pack hive as it was cheaper delivery to France. I also thought it will help us learn about the hive whilst putting it together.
P has worked well in the cave and is beginning to look like a house. Daughter will be very pleased!

Sunday, 12 July 2015

say hello three of my four new hens. Due to the cockerel problem and my complete inability to dispatch any of my family I decided we needed more girls. So off to the market last Thursday. I impressed myself with how I managed to ask for and choose my new hens! I was even able to ask if they were female! I did get a dirty look at that as on the whole all are. I have though heard of expats being given boys! Possibly a case of if you don't give the impression you know what you are doing you can be fooled! They have settled in well and seem to have attached themselves to my pure bred Buff Orpington boy. I originally chose the Orpingtons as they are docile and I had no experience in handling them. I also started with four girls and one boy along with an incubator. I bred ducks and chickens successfully and gained valuable experience in handling them. Due to needing to mix the blood I have introduced different birds over the years. With the inevitable visits by the fox I have stopped naming my birds and am happy to mix in market hens.
Typically, when I put the new chickens in the barn I noticed a hen in a nest box.....sitting on eggs. I risked my hands to mark the eggs and remove some. She now has 5 eggs to hatch which I don't mind. I will have to get my head around dispatching any boys once big enough as cannot cope with more.
The hens all lay in one box which is why I have marked the eggs. I also cleaned out the other nest boxes yesterday hoping to encourage the girls to use them. I do not want to risk being attacked every day by a broody hen!
I now need to sort out the geese. They need water to sit in. I noticed at the farm supply shop we recently visited, some large water containers. They are big round things designed for cows etc to drink from. Perfect for the geese. It will mean as well I can clean it out easily and keep the water fresh. So I am saving my €'s !
Ducks are loving the pond and are a joy to watch diving and preening! A real stress buster.

Wednesday, 8 July 2015

And the fruit just keeps coming

sorry no picture today. Fruit is coming in fast now and my freezer is filling. I have been given lots as everyone has excess. I have made 6 jars of blackcurrant and 6 of cherry jam. It has been cold today so I lit the Esse and did us spag bol but not enough time to make more jam.
My squash plants have flowers so I am hopeful!  All the peas are in now and most of the raspberries. I have autumn fruiting raspberries too so something to look forward to. Tomorrow I will be given another big bucket of blackcurrants.
My first dress is done, been worn and washed and survived! Second is underway.
Pond is now cleared. Will patch it tomorrow and install the new pump then wait for lots of rain. It seems to have taken ages.
Still trying to finish sorting things after losing dad! Despite the 'tell us once' scheme pension and disability allowance have still been paid. I just want it over with.
Been feeling quite low today but I guess that will continue to happen for a while. I need to get stuck into a big project to keep me busy. Will give it some thought.

Thursday, 2 July 2015

first fruits ( and veg)

First peas picked today,lots more to follow. Also picked lots of raspberries which are in the freezer now. I will pick some each day as they ripen and add them to the bag ready for jam making. The red onions are looking good and I have two small cauliflowers. I love collecting home grown fruit and veg. My thornless blackberry is growing well and is covered in small green berries.
Tomorrow I will attack my veg patch with weed killer to clear the paths between the beds. Then I can hand weed the beds to give the veg more room. I have a few areas around the garden that are covered with brambles despite constant cutting back. It will be weedkiller there too.
My 3 cockerels have been fighting today and they are all bloodied. One of them has seriously injured one of my girls. As much as I love having chicks running around I cannot cope with this. The cockerels will not be replaced. Each year I will buy a couple of point of lay hybrid hens at a market to keep the eggs coming.  I have a friend who will dispatch a cockerel for me if I ask. It will be difficult for me to do but I cannot stand by and see the girls suffer. I only brought a cockerel in because I thought the girls would not lay without one. I know better now but these boys are home grown. I should have dealt with them last year when they were young enough to eat. I need to change my softness towards them!
Tonight we went out to our favourite pizza place. P is 59 today! Where did the years go?
Not so hot today and an almighty thunderstorm this morning. More water to bail out of the pond, tomorrow!

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Project pond

Sorry no picture but thought I would report on progress. First, it is so hot here it is impossible to be in the garden during the day. Work has to be done early morning and later in the evening. There is now just a layer of about 6" of sludge. The sun has evaporated the remaining water. We are due rain overnight which could affect this. It will now need two of us to finish the job, one to be in the pond filling buckets the other to empty the buckets. The ducks are using the plaster trough for now. They take turns at sitting in it to wet their feathers. It will be lovely to see them in a clean pond. We have a new pump on order. Our plan is to put gutters on the big barn at the front of our property that will feed a 500l water butt. We will pipe this water down to the pond. We will then dig a trench for a pipe so that excess water can empty into the orchard. This will give the pond the flow through it needs. It will also keep the orchard watered. This will probably have to wait until Autumn as there is no way I dig trenches in this heat.
My dressmaking is going well. I sorted out the tension on my machine and corrected the zip. I now have a dress with just the facings and hem to do. I think I will put a bit of lace trimming on too. I am confident now I can make most of my own clothes again. It is a good feeling.
I am not doing much crochet as it is too hot. The blanket is very big now so I think it will be done for the coming winter.
When it is so hot it is impossible to remember how cold it can be. The idea of having the wood burners going seems crazy. I feel the same in winter about summer. I love the way seasons are so strongly marked here. The barley and wheat is almost ready so the combines will be out soon.
So the year marches on.