“Well, the weather certainly improved towards the end of the week – and thank heavens for that! It has been so wet here. Fortunately, although we are near the river, our land is quite free-draining. Dan lifted the rest of the potatoes, so they have dried on racks ready for bagging. Next year, we will REALLY keep a good note of what we planted.
The vegetable garden looks quite bare now the potatoes are up, but there are still many vegetables in the ground. The red cabbages look good and I love it braised with apple and raisins and spices. The Savoy’s look well, too. I’m not so sure about the sprouts and the broccoli but they might be okay. Dan’s leeks look great but I can’t decide whether to lift the carrots and store them or leave them and use them straight from the ground. I suppose that will be okay if the ground doesn’t freeze on a day we need root vegetables.
The greenhouse is all but empty now; there are two pathetic tomato plants, some aubergines and a few peppers, plus my newly planted salad, of course. I think a hen may have snacked on my spring onions! The greenhouse is, literally, green, so we’ll take it apart and wash all the glass this year. It’s one of these jobs (like most jobs) that aren’t as bad as you think it’s going to be.
Like weeding the flowerbed under the living room window. I have been putting this off for months, or maybe years, but I finally made a start this week. I’m ashamed to say that I took three wheelbarrow loads of weeds out – it looks terribly bare now. I will have to prune the roses so that I can finish the weeding, which is a shame as they still have some flowers on them, but I have to keep up the momentum. I was pleased to see that the soil was in great condition, with loads of worms and beasties. These did take a bit of a hit, as the hens were “helping” me.
The pigpens have dried up well; the pigs don’t mind the mud but it makes moving about in the pen difficult for us and we have regular episodes when it feels like a wellie is coming off in the gloop. The pigs are in good condition – at slaughter, we would want to be able to feel the backbone if we press firmly on the back. If we can’t feel it at all, the pigs are too fat and we’ll cut down on food for the last month or so.
The Hubbards are now in the freezer. This batch was a bit disappointing for some reason – they were quite variable in size and two looked like they had been maize fed, which they weren’t. We need to think quite hard about whether we are going to continue to raise our own or simply buy from a reputable source. We had three 70 mile round trips to pick up the day olds, deliver the grown birds for slaughter then pick up the dressed birds. I’m not convinced this is cost-effective.
As well as the Hubbards for the freezer, I also brought back ten Warren pullets. We’ve used all sorts of ways to introduce new hens to the flock, but this time I decided to put them straight in with the rest and hope that Hector would sort out any bullying. I held the Warrens in a run immediately adjacent to the main hen house until all the other birds had gone to bed, then opened the pop hole and let the Warrens in too. It has been pretty trouble free. Next morning the old girls piled out, while the Warrens made a more tentative exit. For the first few days, they stayed pretty close to the house, so getting them to bed was easy. They are now ranging a bit further afield, but we’re making sure they are all tucked up well before it gets dark. We haven’t caught the fox, which in some ways I’m quite glad about.”