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West of England Goslings

West of England Goslings Update

West of England GoslingsI went on one of my regular trips to our neighbour’s farm two fields away, for the usual chinwag and cud-chew over  a strong cup of tea. The “I’m just popping round to the farm for ten minutes” type of visit that Suz knows full well may be the better part of an hour or more. But today was a special day, as two of the West of England goslings being sat under a broody bantam chicken had hatched! Luckily I’d take my camera and managed to grab some images that are just too cute – proud mum and huge children!

West of England GoslingsOf course, it didn’t stop there! The new broody banty setup had increased the hatching rate to a ridiculously high level, surpassing everything Pete and Rob had experienced in the past. It’s a magnificent site, with West of England goslings at every age waddling around, like a mini, ever-so-slightly less vicious Jurassic Park.

2016 goslings west of england 3These goslings were about two weeks or so old, and have been moved to one of the heated coops outside, so they canchoose to run in the sun if the day is warm enough, or retreat to the warmth of the coop if they so choose. It also gives them a chance to mix with the main flock of geese, some of whom are no doubt their parents.

West of England GoslingsAnd then of course you have the teenagers – these are eight weeks old now and are part feathered. Like every teenager, they prefer to hang out by themselves, probably listening to awful music and muttering under their breaths about how fuddy duddy their parents are, or how annoying their younger siblings are turning out to be, and they were never that bad 😉

Fruit, Grass, Chickens & Walnuts

It’s one of those posts! You know, the sort of post that collects all the lost things that wouldn’t make a post in and of themselves, but I find interesting enough to want to make a note about them. So here goes!

2016 gooseberriesPropogating gooseberries – it’s easy! This is one Colin, my father-in-law taught me. If you have access to a gooseberry bush, and you’d like another, just cut a 12″ twig off and stick it in the ground! Winter is the time to do it, when everything is dormant – the two green twigs on the left are simply twigs cut from a gooseberry bush on the left, and the two more developed plants on the right are branches cut from an existing bush! The reason we did this? Well – we had a bush but the pruning regime wasn’t right for us – they branched out too close to the base, and had thrown up a lot of new stems. Doing what we’ve done here we can propogate the plants, and form them to a more open bush style, which will hopefully be easier and less painful to pick from!

2016 fruit bedThis next image shows the cleaned soil of the main fruit bed. The currants are coming along nicely and we’re going to eventually fill the larger bed with strawberries, but this year, whilst we’re still cleaning it of the random docks and nettles that were brought in with new soil, we’re using it to grow some veg. Here you can see Smiler has laid out lines for his onions, with some yet to be filled with some of last year’s garlic we still have hanging up.

2016 new grassGrass! As you know from a recent post, we’ve grassed over half of our allotment (sniff) as we’ll hopefully be without a kitchen for a good portion of the harvest season – how’s that for timing! Two weeks ago I sowed a ryegrass/clover mix, and today this happened! First thing in the morning there was nothing, and a good day of sunshine after the rain and we’ve almost an inch of growth – fantastic! We’ll be playing cricket on it in no time 😉

2016 pear blossom Pear blossom – it’s beautiful isn’t it?! What amazes me with pears is that their blossom clumps are huge in comparison to the other fruit types. My fear is that we’ll have a frost or two before they open, killing them off, which is what I think happened last year. The apples tend to come out later, but we seem to have more varieties of plums, pears and cherries that are early starters – bad move possibly, but makes it quite exciting to see if we’ll get any!

2016 chicken dirt bath 22016 chicken dirt bath 1Chickens and their lice baths. Chickens are reasonably good at keeping their lice populations down to manageable levels themselves, if given the right space. Luckily, the bare earth beneath the fruit trees is the perfect location for an impromptu dirt bath, so we sprinkle some food grade diatomaceous earth in the hollow to help the chickens with their task.

2016 walnut bud 2And finally – walnuts! These buds with the pine cone pattern will eventually form the male catkins – I have no idea what the female buds look like yet, but no doubt we’ll get some again this year. In the photograph showing ‘normal’ smooth buds, the white patches beneath the new buds is where the leaves were last year and have since fallen off and healed. I have my suspicions that the larger buds on the end might be flower buds, but we’ll have to wait and see. Now, reading up on walnut trees started to get me a bit worried – walnut trees produce a substance called juglone, which inhibits the growth of other plants, even killing them. Particularly susceptible are apple trees – yikes! Before reaching for eth chainsaw, I 2016 walnut bud 1read a bit more on the subject. Apparently the drip line is worst affected, that is any ground beneath the leaf canopy. Now, we planted Broadview, a compact cultivar, which has a 9m height growth if left unchecked, and a 6m spread, which is only 20ft or thereabouts, which is a 10ft radius around the trunk. Our closest apples trees are around 30ft from the trunk, with their roots ending up with a 10ft distance between themselves and the roots of the Walnut. So I won’t panic just yet – the MM106 apple trees might be dead by the time the walnut reaches mature size, and worst case scenario, we end up with some nice walnut wood!

Hay Cutting

2015 Haycutting 2And here it is – after four hours of cutting the grass is done, and the tractor is wheeled off for a service as it feels as though it’s running a bit hot.

We were torn between cutting now or leaving it longer. We have a 5-day window of decent weather to make the hay in, after that it becomes unsettled. As the grass is already a good length, it was decided to cut it now before it started dying off in the base. The only issue is that it’s recently rained, so cutting was hard work, and the ground is still very moist to start with, which is no help. We’ll turn it tomorrow, with the forecast being good, and hope that it starts to dry out.

There’s Grass!

Yesterday I thought the field looked a bit whispy, but then figured it might be my eyesite playing up, so I hopped over the fence to get a closer look and sure enough we’ve about 1″ of growth of grass! Fantastic! Everyone told us if the weather held up for  a week or so we’d get growth before Christmas but I always try and prepare myself for the worst so I’ll always be pleasantly suprised 😉

Now we only have to see the indent the flock starlings and occasional pigeon cluster have made!

Woohoo!