Tuesday, 23 December 2014

A Christmas Surprise

Firstly I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and New Year. It's been so long since I have written and life like everybody's is very hectic. We now have another gorgeous granddaughter who arrived very late and then very promptly last month. But I felt I must write and let you all know what has been happening in the orchard and to say that I haven't by any means forgotten you. I will have many new posts to share with you in the new year. I lost one of my little bantams and was sure she had come to a sad end. But surprise in one of the little hutches  that was being disused for winter. A wonderful sound of little cheeping could be heard and to our amazement their was my clever little bantam with 7 little chicks all fluff up, 2 little black ones and 5 little yellow ones. The weather has been very mild although we have had a couple of severe frosts she will have been very cosy though in her little rabbit hutch.

Life seems full of happy and sad days, l lost my very friendly Mr. Goose last week he seemed to be struggling when walking, seemed to be getting better and then went downhill very quickly. His ladies miss him and have been abit naughty particularly one, when going to bed at night. I think they just miss him. I felt quite a bond with him and he would follow me around the orchard always being friendly never aggressive. I will now have to find another handsome boy for them.

Saturday, 21 June 2014

At Last A Gosling

Our lovely goose has finally got some little baby goslings, yesterday she was very hissy when I change her water and I was so surprised to see one fluffy little baby and another this morning. She had been so determined to hatch a baby and has been sitting since the 7th April. We sadly saw 3 dead babies weeks ago and realised that nearly all the19 eggs she was incubating were being eaten by something. We have meshed the door so she can still see outside while being protected from outside predators. So far these babies are doing well.

Monday, 5 May 2014

Two Broody Geese

Just a quick post to say it is day 27/28 tomorrow of Mrs Goose sitting on 19 eggs and now our other goose has decided to sit on quite a few of the eggs, which she has also helped lay, as you can see in the picture.
The average incubation is 30 days, so hopefully we might have a few goslings. Geese are not mature until they are 2 years old. I have 1 gander who is 2 and 2 females that are 1 year and Mrs Goose who is 2 years old. So we are waiting to see what happens. It would be good to have something hatch as although they are doing what comes naturally, it takes a lot out of them. They have to be checked to make sure they come of the nest to eat and drink although I do put food and water in their house. More fresh meadow hay has been added and now we will wait and see. She has now become a bit hissy. Today we had a buzzard flying over-head this always happens when we are due a hatch.
Hope you're having a good bank holiday weekend.

Sunday, 4 May 2014

Kylie, The Lucky Little Chick

This is a continuation from my last post. These  pictures were taken just a few days ago. Kylie has done really well in the incubator. She has fed and drunk well, is very perky, so we have taken her to the broody coop, put her in with her mum and her siblings. It was quite dark outside and immediately when she chirped Mum responded calling her. She joined the other little chicks under her fluffy protective wings, secure,  warm and cosy. Well hopefully all will be well and we have given her a
good chance.

A few pictures of little Kylie

Kylie has been with Miss Broody for few days now and all is well and seems to have been accepted as part of the family.

A happy Miss Broody hen, Kylie and her siblings

Monday, 28 April 2014

I Will Survive

Miss Broody with her baby chicks- Saturday morning

Saturday early morning my best little broody mother hen hatched out 2 fluffy yellow chicks. She's a good old girl and will sit on anything when she has sweet wild flower meadow hay and the April downpours arrive. She basically doesn't like getting her little feet wet or muddy. She is an excellent protective mother has hatched a number of baby chicks, has taken over as foster Mum with the ducks and in the past has hatched 2 goslings.
Anyway this time she didn't know if to sit or play outside and was in out, in out all the time, so I left her in the main house rather than put her in the maternity ward. Anyway after lots of too-ing and fro-ing she decided she was going to sit on 2 eggs, she also decided to poach (sorry wrong word) take a few of eggs from the next nest box, beside her. Anyway to cut a long story a bit shorter by Saturday afternoon while we were out she decided to abandon the 5 remaining eggs, when we got back they were stone cold. We candled them and some looked quite clear. But 2 were quite full so we decided to give them ago in the incubator. This morning we picked them up to bury them and cheep cheep one was peeping at mid-day a little wet chick emerged. I can't see any peeping in the second egg but will give it another 48 hours. So what do I do now? Put her under miss broody tonight or do I become mum?
We have called her Kylie, why?  after her song I should be so Lucky. If the other hatches she will be called Gloria after the song and title. Any ideas if they are cockerels?  Life is full of surprises. Sorry about the quality of the photos but they weren't easy to take and had to be taken instantly.
Have a super week.
Sarah xx

Lucky - newly hatched in the incubator 

Wednesday, 16 April 2014


Wishing you all a lovely Easter

Hello Friends
Just to wish you all a lovely Easter from us all in the orchard. I hope it is a special time with lots of good memories and fun for you all in your parts of the world. Everything in the orchard is bursting with life with lots of flowers and blossom. We heard the first cuckoo of the year yesterday and the first nightingales last weekend. My little hens are enjoying the sunshine and dust bathing below the apple, pear and plum trees. The sheep are in the orchard with the chickens and are getting on really well although baby Cherry lamb enjoys chasing them. She now has her jewellery in place (ear tags) and her tail is just hanging by a thread.
Here are a few pictures of around the farm.
Sarah x

Wallflowers that smell divine

Comfrey that make a wonderful natural fertiliser

Stocks that smell gorgeous

One of my favourites Scabiousa

The lovely Anenome

2 of my girls enjoying the Spring grass

Little Cherry - her tail hanging on by a thread

Bluebells popping up in the meadows fields and wood

Shadow and Mittens asleep in the sunshine

Monday, 14 April 2014

Easter Chicks

These are the little mixed chicks hatched in the incubator they are now 3 weeks old and doing well. There are 12 altogether.
Yesterday as it was nice and warm they had there first trip outside in the orchard. I put them in a indoor rabbit cage within a cold frame so that they were nice and warm and not in a draught for a few hours. They really seemed to enjoy flapping their tiny wings. It is so good for them to be in the fresh air as it encourages feather growth. 

Saturday, 12 April 2014

Mrs Goose

This is Mrs Goose she is a Embden about a year old. She has been happily laying eggs for over 2 months now. Usually she enjoys having a bath on her own stretching her wings, but the last few weeks she has been allowing Mr Goose to mate with her while taking her morning bath and between them making alot of waves and splashing.
She has now decided over the last few weeks to bury her eggs in a large nest which they have built together with meadow sweet hay and their tummy feathers. She is now sitting on 17 eggs which the other 2 geese help egg sit while she has a walk around the orchard and has her bath, a tasty nibble of lush green grass and the odd treat of apples and mixed corn. Walking in the orchard by the goose house a peculiar noise can be heard as she spends hours just turning her eggs.
So hopefully towards the beginning of May more babies will be arriving. I will keep you all posted if they hatch.

Monday, 24 March 2014

Haircut for the Orchard

Another busy weekend in the gorgeous spring sunshine. Saturday was a good day to start pruning the old orchard trees with the sap starting to rise. Many are very old which we inherited when we moved here. Over the years the views on pruning fruit trees has changed, such as keeping them a goblet shaped and being able to throw your hat in the centre, tying the lower branches down so they will produce more fruit laterally.  But really in the past our little old trees have had a thrashing from the elements and each one has had to be treated differently, some lean with all its branches heading north due to the wind, while others head east. Anyway nearly all have had a good haircut and will soon be decorated with blossom, before producing us with the gifts of lovely sweet apples. We couldn't just chop purely to make a good looking tree they need looking after like someone needing individual tender care.
Well I'm off to make an apple crumble, thanks to our  wonderful little trees  still rewarding us with stored fruit throughout the winter.
"An apple a day keeps the doctor away".

Waiting for a haircut 

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

A Lovely Spring Surprise

From my previous posts you will know how much I love my three lovely Southdown sheep Petal, Blossom and renamed Flower.

Flower, Petal and Blossom

The last few months have been a joy looking after them. They have at times been a bit cheeky managing to walk through the sheep netting which we don’t always put electricity to it, as we have stock fencing around the perimeter of the field. The netting is handy to just keep them moving onto fresh grass within the field and to protect newly planted fruit trees and to stop them wandering into the dew pond, which because of the wet weather can fill up and get muddy very quickly. We decided to move them into the old orchard on Saturday morning to keep the grass down as it is quite lush now and with all the daffodils out it looked really idyllic. Anyway I got up early on Monday gave them some of their favourite sheep nuts and fed the hens and geese in the orchard, went inside to make my hubby's breakfast. It was such a lovely morning we decided to have our coffee and croissant outside and watch the sheep and hens in the orchard. Then Oh dear something clearly wasn’t ok with Flower, she was bleating and looking very uncomfortable with mucus coming away from her rear end. My hubby and I are still very much novice shepherds with lots to learn. Petal, Blossom and Flower which are only shearlings are not due to go with the ram until next November, so we thought we had plenty of time to study and learn about lambing. Since they arrived last October they have never been near a ram, but quite clearly Flower had come to us with a liaison with some handsome ram that found her irresistible, as 20 minutes later out popped a very tiny very beautiful lamb which we have called Cherry.
 I don’t know who was more shocked Flower or us. It was a bit touch and go as I suppose she is a very young mum and although attentive we thought she was a bit reluctant to feed her lamb. But we have made a maternity ward for her with lots of fresh hay and treats and have also given her the option of using the polytunnel if it rains.

Flower in the labour  ward
Now I was panicking is that it or is there 2 more or maybe shes dead.

After a wash and brush up water and sheep nuts

Baby Cherry enjoying the Orchard and Sunshine

Cherry is still very weak but I hope she will be ok she is so pretty and has the most delicate bleat. It has all been very unexpected but we coped and hopeful she will be a happy fine ewe, for our new flock we can keep. She is very special to us being our first lamb and such a surprise. Gosh I feel so attached to her it would have been upsetting to have had to part from a baby ram.
Well I'm off to read up on tail docking and ear tagging, don't know whether I will be able to watch this.

The First Weekend in March

It has been a little while since I have written this but have had a few problems with my internet the last few weeks. So I thought I would still publish it.
The feeling of spring is here at last. The lent lillies are appearing, blossom is on our new little almond tree. The geese are building nests in the meadow hay and the chickens are laying. The owls are hooting and tweeting in the night and the bats are fluttering about in the lighter evenings.  Frogs can be heard from our spare bedroom window, early in the morning. How lovely to look out of the windows and see the wild pheasants and red legged partridges scratching for corn. So yes it's finally arriving hurray. Having said that we have had some extremely cold nights with sharp frosts, so my little almond and apricot trees are wrapped up warmly to protect their blossom.
We have had a very busy weekend planting a new hedge. We wanted a hedge that would attract as much wildlife as possible. So we have planted hornbeam for colour, hazel to attract the nut lovers, our own grown willow and ash cuttings and what we hope will be a very pretty rose billowing through.
We have planted eighteen fruit trees mainly eaters, 1 cooker and some plums in our front field. Alongside our kitchen garden we have planted crabapple hedging, so I can in the future do some grafting with our really old unrecognized varieties of apples in the orchard on the rootstock. I hope all is well in your part of the world and I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Lots of Frog Spawn

Plenty of Goose Eggs

My Little Almond Tree Prunus Dulcis

At Last Blue Sky

Saturday, 8 February 2014

Storms Ahead Again

Thankyou for visiting me. Oh dear another severe weather warning. I have stocked my fridge with 2 cooked chickens ( not one of my girls I must add) homemade vegetable soup made with my soup maker which is brilliant and a real star gadget in my kitchen. Made 2 loaves of bread, lemon curd made with a goose egg, summer damson cordial for a warm up drink, lots of stewed apples and pies, have plenty of extra milk and ham. Cooked loads of new potatoes and made shepherds pie and extra mash. Hopefully this will be enough to get us through up to 5 days without any power (for the third time this winter)  stranded by fallen trees and flooding. I'm not being pessimistic I was a girl guide and am prepared this time. Living out of town, in a very rural location being all electric and surrounded by rivers has now told me not to take chances. Luckily our house stands high up which it good as we are surrounded by babbling brooks. My little hens  are all tucked up and cosy, the geese and ducks love the water and the sheep are close to the house so we can keep an eye on them. The Farm cats are supposed to stay outside but to my better nature are spoilt rotten lying on the spare bed. I am very worried about my little rescued kitten Sooty, I haven't seen him for over a week now and although he disappears from time to time he doesn't stay away for this long usually. He has a special blanket that he sucks everyday due to being separated from his mother so early in life. I have rung the nearest Vets but they haven't had any cats brought in hurt or abandoned. I do worry the worst this time.
Torches are charged, extra blankets and candles in place, chain-saw ready for action, washing up to date.  At the moment the sun is shining brightly but the wind is trying very hard to blow it away with gust outbursts. I am not being fooled by the sunshine again, it could possibly be very frighteningly different very soon. Take care and hope you have a happy safe weekend.

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

The First Book Of The Year

I don't have much time to read during the day, but due to the bad weather I chose to read this book The French Gardener by Santa Montefiore, Its such a lovely book I was spellbound and I just couldn't put it down. I thought I would share it with you, it's so good to have a book that you become so absorbed in with the characters lives. A lovely easy read with lots of charm, of secrets, romance and passion, set in a rural country village with a good story line.
It would be good of you to let me know if you have read this book and your thoughts. I hope you get the chance to read a copy.
I would be very interested to know what you are reading, it's always nice to get a recommendation. Happy reading. 

Saturday, 25 January 2014

Happy New Year

Hello. It's been so long since my last post.
I hope you had a very Happy Christmas with lots of good times with your family. My Christmas was strange without my lovely Mum who I miss so much.

We had power-cuts and were cut off from getting to arranged get togethers on certain days because of road closures caused by flooding. But it was nice to see most of the family and to be cosy warm and dry inside and listen to the rain thrashing uncontrollably outside and burning christmassy smelling candles. Hooray signs of spring are awakening with bulbs pushing their pretty little faces to say hello. The cockerels are frisky and my little hens I'm sure are thinking of making little nests in the sweet smelling hay cut from last years flower enriched meadows.
Well this last couple of weeks we've had a lovely surprise in the goose house a perfect oval white egg and more over the last few days, they might not be gold but they are so good to find. I have made goose custard and apple and cinnamon cake. Blowing the eggs beforehand to decorate for Easter. Traditionally a goose will not lay until Valentine's day, so clever girl or girls.So we have a new addition to the orchard a lovely handsome gander who will hopefully produce some lovely little goslings, they will keep the grass down in the old and new orchard and keep his ladies happy as he escorts them on their waddles around the meadow.
This weekend we have been outside cutting hedges and removing brambles around the garden, to keep it tidy. I have been pruning the gooseberries and currant bushes and planting the cuttings in the intensive care bed so we can try and make some fruit hedges.
We also have bought a Stella cherry tree, she will keep the other trees company in the old orchard with I am sure will be dressed in her lovely pink blossom and will be enchanting and will attract lots of lovely bees and wildlife. Well do visit me here in the orchard it's always good to hear what adventures you are having and I will let you know what is happening in our part of the world.