I’ve not written about our menagerie of animals recently, so thought I’d put on a few photos. Not of the chickens, though. They are going through their annual moult and look pretty forlorn and bedraggled. They also lay less during the moult, so we have less eggs. Our ancient, grumpy but beautiful hen has hardly laid at all this year. She is a Wellsummer and lays gorgeous deep brown eggs. We have seen rats recently (always a problem with chickens or compost) and the boys have made an ingenious, hopefully rat proof, chicken feeder, off the ground and covered from rain. They saw the idea on the BBC series “Victorian Farm”.
Our pigs are faring better. They are at my favourite size. Big enough to be patted, ear scratched and even sat upon by small children, without being so big I fear for my toes! It’s fun to feed them windfall apples, which they crunch away at happily and noisily. Dancing Toes collected a whole pile from our orchard area, and I think the delight was equal between her doing the feeding and the pigs doing the eating.
Our bees are currently queen less again. We think the new queen (we know there was one as there were larvae) must have swarmed but left behind some worker bees. My Bee Keeping Buddy opened a queen cup and therefore helped a new queen to emerge, but when we checked a few weeks later, there were no eggs, which meant no queen. Bee keeping is as much an art as a science, I feel, and we are certainly enthusiasts rather than experts. So, I think a kind, better-than-us, bee keeper is going to give us a frame of eggs, or even another nucleus. So, we will hope that works. The picture is of our small hive with one super on the top. The idea is that the queen lays in the brood box, and then there is a queen excluder in between that and the super, which only worker bees can fit through, thus allowing honey only to be made there. However, I forgot the put on the queen excluder; but as we now have no queen, it sadly doesn’t much matter at the moment.
The sheep in the field have been shorn recently…. which Sparkly Eyes observed “Mummy, the sheep have been skinned!”
Our fruit cage is a tangle of both weeds and fruit. Fortunately, there seems to be enough goodness in the soil to enable both to grow in abundance, and we’ve all been picking gooseberries, black currants and red currants. The girls in particular, and their friends, are very keen pickers, and their berry-stained mouths are testimony to it!
Our veg patch hasn’t done too well; partly due to chickens escaping and eating the seedlings; my pea seedlings seemed to be in the favoured area for dust baths. But, Dancing Toes has grown some pretty flowers, and Sparkly Eyes dropped a packet of seed by accident, and it has turned into salad. We’re also digging up potatoes, a job I love; it’s like finding hidden treasure.
I’m teaching Dancing Toes how to knit. Several half-finished teddy scarves. And I crocheted these flowers with wool that needed using up for our door wreath.