Let's have a little wander around and see what's been happening around the croft lately.
In fact - not very much has been going on over these last few weeks. The short days had us rushing around to complete the daily chores before darkness fell. Also, the weather has been pretty inclement, so those odd jobs - roof works, fencing repairs, little construction projects and such like have had to be put off for now. The animals have been looked after, of course, but apart from that - rain has pretty much stopped play.
The ditches and drains are full and overflowing...
and we are squelching around in deep mud. A few really hard frosts would be helpful - I think we have only had one light dusting this Winter. Ah well, we have to work with what we have I suppose, and I certainly don't want to bore you all with my weather grumbles.
So - let's be cheerful - there are many reasons to be. Look at this garlic! How fabulous it is. I couldn't get a closer shot, as the door to the growing shed is blocked off to keep the cows out. They managed to squeeze in and eat all the kale and spinach and salads. See that incriminating hoofprint in the middle there? Luckily they knew how important the garlic is. I am so pleased with this result - I think this could be my best ever crop yet.
And I am pretty sure that is new lush grass growing. This is the front field, which has had a good rest from grazing over the Autumn and Winter. The sheep will be coming back soon and will go there for a few weeks, before the lambing starts.
Still in the front field, the fencing has been completed and a nice shiny new gate swings in the top corner, replacing the old one at the bottom. A handy dandy tap has been installed too - not that we need water right now, but we do get the odd dry spell - usually a Tuesday in early May ;-)
Mick is enjoying his training - here he is showing off his - stay, come by, stop and stay routine. He has been back to his old owner for a session with some sheep and did very well. Our friend, who put us on to Mick in the first place is keen to train his dog alongside John and Mick, and already there is vague talk of obtaining some hog lambs for both dogs to work with. Hmmm - we'll see just how vague that turns out to be.
Delia and Baby have weathered the Winter reasonably well. On dry and sunny days they can be seen down the back field catching what rays they can, or they might agree to walk across the road to the front field for a nibble at the fresh grass. Most of the time, however, they have elected to call room service, and stay put in their warm, dry shelter up by the barn. And, lets face it, given the choice - who wouldn't?
Mind you, the back field is not the most inviting of places right now. The drainage ditches have been dug, but there is mud everywhere - thick, sticking, wellie sucking mud. The field is draining, we can see that, but there is just so much water lying around right now - did I mention the rain..? Nevertheless, we are confident that some growing will happen here later on in the year. We have a tractor and a plough so...
Did I mention mud? Yep - the pigs are indeed swimming in it. They still have a few dry bits, amazingly, but most of the time they are jumping up and down in their muddy puddles - when they are not escaping....sigh.
To tell the truth, I have not enjoyed having pigs as much as I thought I would. Aside from their full time escapology act, I just have not bonded with them. A good thing, really, considering the pending outcome, but I am sad about it too. They are lovely animals - look at that face in the previous photo - how could you not respond to that?. It's just - well, there are many reasons and I will be writing a separate post about them soon.
We still have 4 hens - although we nearly only had three. On the morning of Christmas Eve, before Mick arrived, John opened the door to find a strange collie with one of our girls in his mouth! Feathers were everywhere and this dog was really savaging her. It ran off as soon as he shouted (we had got into the lazy habit of leaving the gate open), but we thought she was gone. Not so - those pizza girls are tough chicks. We brought her in for some first aid - all the feathers were off her back and she had some deep wounds, including a really nasty one under her wing. I gave her some rescue remedy, and we kept her in a box in the back lobby for a few days. She was eating and drinking well enough, and her eyes were bright. I didn't want to put anything on her wounds, so I just misted the general area with tea-tree and lavender.
After a few days, she seemed to be improving, and wanting to move around, so we began putting her outside during the day in our neighbour's cat carrier. Our main worry was that if she went back with the others she would be attacked. They have never been an aggressive group of hens, though - unlike some we have had, and I was pretty sure she was the leader, but still, I was worried. I needn't have been. She was accepted right back in to the flock. For the first few days she stayed in the hen hut, only coming out to feed. The other hens stayed in with her too, but I never saw any sign of pecking or bullying. She has made a remarkable recovery. Her feathers are coming back in, she is out everyday, scratching around with the others - and she is laying again!!!
So - what are the plans? Quite a few, in fact. It is seaweed collecting time again. This year it will be going on to the planned raised beds up at the house. We are hoping that a small greenhouse or polytunnel will be in place very soon, to get us going with the fruit and veg for this year. A much larger one is in the long term plan. Ploughing, then sowing oats, potatoes and grass for hay - more laying hens and possibly some birds for the table - lambing in the Spring - the list keeps growing. And there is an exciting development in the pipeline just now, only I can't tell you about it for a few weeks.... I will as soon as I can though. xx