Monday, 18 January 2010

After the Great freeze...the Big Thaw

The snow stayed on the ground for 24 days before finally melting, in the process it managed to turn to ice and then deposit great sheets of the stuff through my greenhouse roof shattering six panes of glass and covering the fig and the overwintering geraniums in shards of glass.

The ice on the track still remains in places, at one point the track was like a bob sleigh run with ice three or four inches thick, treacherous underfoot and difficult to  move about on. The chicken run is still a quagmire with icy puddles remaining. However the chickens have moved on and have been adopted by a friend and are now happily living at Earlshall Castle  in an oak wood with three big cockerels and 60 other hens for company. I was finding looking after them just too much due to my incapacity with my ongoing arm problems. I may get some new hens in the summer once we have had a chance to look at the drainage of the run and maybe install some boards for walkng on to keep me out of the slippy zone, having mild panics about slipping since my Lucian banana adventure. Am actively looking into getting a pig to rear on for 20 weeks for some good home grown pork and bacon for the winter, the run is large enough and the stock fencing pretty strong so it would make a good short term home for said pig!

The doos are as prolific as ever and I have had to remove 5 eggs this year alone. Two are now happily sitting on plastic eggs none the wiser. I am going to have a go at selling on any youngsters that we do get and will convert the little Hilton Chicken House into a temporary house for them.  At the last count I had 21 doos, more than enough for a garden like ours. I am having to rethink the feeding strategy as the hopper which was a good idea for holidays now never stays full for long as all and sundry are feeding from it, a new lighter coloured pheasant has joined Percy with the limp and we have also had a weasel and a rat. Herb saw the rat off with a well aimed shot, it leapt a foot into the the air before it succumbed!

The veg garden is still producing stuff and today I picked two lovely cabbages destined for tea tonight, the red curly kale looks healthy enough but has not grown overly large. The sprouts are coming to an end but we still have plenty of gorgeous leeks for cock a leekie soup! If only I culd persuade someone to like Jerusalem Artichokes, just have to store them until the pig arrives!

Today it is like a spring day up here, blue sky and sunshine and we have not put the heating on for the first time since we got back from St Lucia. I will light the fire later as it is bound to get chilly  later. Snow forecast for later in the week, ho hum, life goes on!

Friday, 1 January 2010

Happy New Year from the Menagerie!!

Christmas came and so did the snow. We had a fairly full house for Christmas with Mum, Stu and Sam and Sarah and Fiona and Nicci and Carmen popped in now and again too. All that was missing was our Soldier, out being a Bah Humbug  in Afghanistan. Stu built the Snowman above in his honour it is a Snow Muz!

We all  had a ball, no fights, apart from snowball fights. The boy Cousins decided that the girl cousin should be treated appropriately and everytime she left the house she got snow down her neck! Boys will be boys!

The doos seem to be really enjoying the snow, it makes them slightly less of a target for the hawks although just this morning we saw a very graceful Peregrine swooping low over the garden, it set the doos up but they all seem to have come home. The doos have definitely not read the Dove book as since December 1st we have had five babies with more on the way if the bonking is anything to go by. We are going to remove all the eggs that get laid from now on, a bit of a task for me as I am still unable to fully use my hand despite being out of plaster for two weeks. The doves continue to take daily baths in their drinking water even when they have to break the ice to get in!

The chickens are still laying well and loved being looked after by Fiona over Christmas. They are totally free ranging at the moment as Roly is in Kennels!

Moonzie is looking lovely at the moment although the ice is treacherous, the track is like a bob sleigh run.
The one thing we have noticed with all this freezing weather is the fact that many more animals and birds are in the garden. The pheasant and hare are regular visitors, as are the hundreds of Fieldfares, a sort of Scandinavian Thrush. We also have a pair of woodpeckers, all the usual suspects and today for the first time spotted a weasel darting about under the doo cotes. We think it was a Weasel and not a Stoat. The difference being a weasel is weasily recognized while a stoat is stoatally different!! There has been a fox  prowling about too but so far he has steered clear of the chickens, we saw 6 deer in the field beyond the orchard the other day too so the cullers never managed to get the lot.

That is about it for today, it is still way below freezing so no chance of me venturing too far and there are masses of left overs yet to be consumed, I just love left over Moet accompanied by left over Quality Street.

Happy New Year!