About a month ago we had a series of mink attacks which have left our poultry stocks pretty low. It has take us a while to write this up as it was really upsetting and stressful. The mink came back over a series of nights and took all of our Kahki Cambells, two Muscoveys, two chickens and our bunny Mac (very sad to lose Mac as he was a pet, still can’t talk about it much). It was devastating. Every morning we would go out and find more dead stock.
We bought and set a trap, but we obviously put it in the wrong place. Eventually I think the mink just moved on. ( Or maybe was caught by something else). We are now just left with Sheep, Muscovey ducks and our geese. We haven’t rushed out to buys lots of new stock because we wanted to be sure that the mink wasn’t coming back. Also, as you will see in the next post we have had some good news, two of our Muscovey girls have hatched large clutches of new ducklings.
This is a summary of the soay lambing this year:
23rd April – twins, 1 gimmer, 1 tup, born to Ellie
28th April – single tup
2nd May – single tup
3rd May – twins, 1 gimmer, 1 tup
None are tagged as yet as our tagging applicator broke so we’re awaiting delivery of a new one. All are healthy, growing, and doing everything they should be. Interestingly, this year, all are dark brown, there are no caramels.
I can now answer that question as I am a compost millionaire, with more compost than I know what to do with. It has only taken me five years to master it, but hey ho. The secret recipe is below
1) Chop everything up small with a sharp spade or similar. This helps it to rot down quicker, but more importantly enables you to fork it and turn it over with out finding massive weed ‘spiders’ that get tangled to everything.
2) layer it up so you have carbon stuff and nitrogen stuff…dried and brown stuff mixed with green leafy or grassy stuff.
3) water it
4) turn it
The last one is the most important. If you do this it will rot down super quick (3 months), if not, it can linger around for years.
I have dismantled and rebuilt all of our 5 compost bins. The previous incarnations had been in situ since we moved in 5 years ago so were beginning to rot. I have moved them up and changed the design slightly to accommodate better compost making.
The main difference is the open fronts. This is to make sure that they can easily and regularly turned. Closed fronts encourage over filling and no turning, which means the matter does not break down.
Are sometimes wrong…
This week, a couple of days ago, was forecast to be very grey and overcast, possibly with a bit of rain. It really irritates me, along with the rest of the population obviously, when there is a surprise good weather day and I have to go to work. Not yesterday (or today, and fingers crossed, the rest of the week!).
The potatoes are now into the top bed (A) and we have done half a bed of Agria (nearest the house) and half a bed of the other one, which I’ll have to check the name of when I go back out tomorrow. All from our friendly potato farmer, Jamie, in Lincs.
The next bed down (B) which will have the fruit group in I this year, has been dug over along with some compost and we’re putting old straw and hay on it to mulch it and suppress weeds until we plant into it in June.
After one incident or another, where clipped wings haven’t done the job for example, we have ended up with a bad drake to duck ratio. We’re down to two Muscovy drakes (Orlando and Othello), three Muscovy girls (Vita and the two chocolate girls) and one runner drake (Linford). This is not helpful really, especially given Linford’s tendency to actually get on top of Orlando when he mates with Vita. All a bit messy. So today we went to Melton Fur and Feather market, hurray! We have to avoid going very often because we are ver easily distracted into buying things we didn’t go for. And today was very busy and there were lots and lots of possibilities. One way of curbing our enthusiasm is to only take a limited amount of cash. We had £50, which was good because this prevented us from buying a pair of peacocks, which went for £100.
What we actually bought was not at all far off what we intended to buy, which was ideally, more Muscovy girls. What we came home with was a very sweet Muscovy girl and four fairly entertaining khaki Campbell girls. After a showering of lice powder and a wing clip, the Muscovy girl (from now on to be known as Violet…) has been added to Othello/chocolate girl gang and the khaki’s (no names as all identical) have been put into the area with Orlando, Linford, Vita and the chickens. This has blown Linford’s mind a bit as he can’t cope with not being nosy and checking the new girls out but not having Vita (who couldn’t really care less) with him all the time. So basically he’s just running aback and forth for now.
We did nearly also buy a girl Indian runner and some hatching eggs but came to our senses.
Everyone seems to be settling in fine.
This is one of the two times of year when pretty much every bit of electric fence, every bit of housing, every water and food station and therefore every animal is moved from the now a bit tired winter ground, to fresh new pasture which has been rested for a good few months.
So, following harrowing of the fresh new bits, on Saturday morning, all of the sheep were wormed and hooves trimmed as needed and then moved over to the lambing pasture, ready for the girls to hopefully lamb in the next couple of weeks. This is a mixed blessing for Rambo who can’t wait to get to new grass but is always very annoyed to find he can’t just go everywhere he likes. This is the only time of year when they are completely penned into a relatively small area, which helps us to catch and tag the lambs and check them over when they arrive.
The poultry are now all under the tree and have been split up into three areas; the geese are separated, Othello is in with the two chocolate Muscovy girls and the random collection of the two chickens, Linford, Orlando and Vita are all in together. And Mac has been moved too. And they all look pretty happy and are certainly quieter now they don’t have to defend their patches from anyone but us…