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1st: Poultry 2nd: Dogs 3rd: Rhea 4th: Rhea 5th: The Land 6th: Dogs and Cats 7th: Goats 8th: Dogs 9th: Sheep 10th: Wildlife 11th: The Land
12th: The Land 13th: Cats 14th: Rhea 15th: Sheep 16th: Rhea 17th: Rhea 18th: The Land 19th: The Land 20th: The Land 21st: Garden 22nd: Dogs and Cats
23rd: Alpaca 24th: Alpaca 25th: Dogs 26th: Fruit and Veg 27th: Goats 28th: Rhea 29th: Dogs 30th: Goats
 
1st: No waste
Having picked and then de-stoned all our plums, the chickens were the lucky recipients of the waste! There were maybe around 150 ish in total??? All now cooked and frozen to have in yogurt and crumbles!!!
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2nd: Untamed
They may have untamed, neutered coats, but Buzzard and Dragonfly still are wonderfully good looking!!
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3rd: Don't forget the adults
As last year, we are giving shredded lettuce, spinach etc to the rhea chicks on a daily basis, but every now and again, we take some up for the adults too. David braved their beaks as he allowed them to peck the whole lettuce straight from his hand, at which point they dropped most of it and ate from the ground anyway!!
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4th: We all stand together
The latest rhea chicks are inside 24/7 until we are happy they are strong enough to cope the demands of the weather and long grass. Rather sweetly, the older ones who are already outside (although in at night) have started to spend time by the pophole. Are they keen to be with them we wonder, to protect them? The feeling is mutual for sure as this photo shows!!
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5th: Rotational grazing
Although we have more 4-leggeds on the land this year, the grazing is going better than last. The fields are being grazed much more evenly and we are finding that in moving the animals on every 3-4 weeks, the re growth is equally even, resulting in thick swards of grass with very few weeds. Since the late spring, the weather has been perfect for growth and as such grass has not really stopped - this has undoubtedly helped too. And of course the stock LOVE a new field of grass and so we have some very chunky lambs and shearlings.
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6th: Feeding time at the zoo
With six cats and six dogs, feeding time at Cadbury Cottage is a military op! All takes place in our utility room, 2m by 6m with work surfaces on each long wall. The cats get fed first - they 'mill around' whilst we put the food in the bowls and are NOT allowed to start eating whilst this is done. We keep saying we should video this one day so we can see how well it goes!!! We are not sure who is the loudest: Pickle, our six-month old male who continuously cries till his face is in the bowl, Salt who tries to lick the fork and manically meows when we tell her not to or Nay and Chili who growl at each other in their bid to be nearest as the serving our gets done? Mustard's mission meanwhile is to lick the empty sachets or tins whilst Pepper sits beautifully, like the perfect Pepperpot she is. (It's nice to have at least one.) When the bowls are ready, the cats leap to their set places on the work surfaces and we put the bowls down. Instant peace!!
The dogs meanwhile have been very patient as they claim every inch of floor space ensuring that we trip up at least twice as we move between bowls and feed bins and the fridge. Dragonfly is on biscuit-on-the-floor watch (she is usually disappointed), Buzzard simply lies flat out, taking full advantage of his old age in knowing we won't ask him and his aching legs to move, whilst Roxy and Sparrow try to sit nicely but find their salivating tummies get the better of them and so instead start to bounce. Stonefly and Firefly pretend to be good until we turn around and catch a front paw on the work surface.
The dogs are fed in the kitchen so bowls are carried through, we take three each, place in the waiting 'space stations' with a stern 'wait' and then before any of them break rank, we give the command to start eating - this was set years ago using the rather unimaginative and bland phrase: 'Go, on then..'
In between times we will have checked the cats haven't started to steal each others' food back in the utility room and that all empty tins and sachets are washed and recycled as appropriate before they are carried off into the wilderness by animals unknown (or known). As the dogs finish they are sent outside and only allowed back in once all bowls are empty, said bowls are then all licked to death, as are the mats on which they sit, ears (the dogs not ours) and any other surface that has even the minuscule of a chance of having any remaining food left in it!!
As the cats then disapear to find their pudding outside and the dogs to annoy the roosting pigeons in the garden, thoughts then turn to our food -our priorities as always: animals first, humans last!!!!
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7th: These three...
.. they tug at the heart strings - they are so chilled and care-free - it's a joy to own them.
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8th: Down by the river
Another outing to Heywood and these three were so tired at the end, they leapt in the car with no bother at all and stayed there panting whilst Lynda and I carried on chatting!!!
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9th: Pasture fed
These lambs have had no additional feed at all since being born and they are doing so well. If we were still raising animals for meat, we would be very excited at the carcasses they would be giving us - as it is, we look in awe at their fleeces and wonder at the beautiful rugs they may make next year!!!
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10th: More wildlife
We have started to see hedgehogs at night - this one was actually discovered under pallets during the day when we were doing some mucking out - we were very careful to put him/her back in the same place. The swallows meanwhile have now all fledged we believe - we think we have had three broods this year!! These two are one of the pairs of adults, still sleeping in the barn at night!!!
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11th: Just look at that
We get a lot of sky for our money here in North Devon!!! Just beautiful!!!
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12th: Just checking!
White Toe takes his job as Head of Quality Control for the Department of Blackberry Picking very seriously indeed.
And my goodness, what a fabulous year it is for blackberries so far. We have had lots in the garden as well as the smallholding. The garden brambles get grubbed out as they get over and then fed to the goats!!!
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13th: Mega, mega cute!!
Mustard and Pickle: best friends forever - we hope!!
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14th: And then there were six
We sold another of our white male rhea last week and so are now down to three males, three females. We are much happier with this ratio and whilst we have had no real aggression at all between the males at mating time, we do wonder of fertility may actually increase because the males won't need to compete so much. It has not really got much beyond 50% this year!! We haven't had the best hatching rates either, worse than last year in fact, but the reasons for that aren't quite so obvious!!
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15th: Family
Father, daughter and mother and the resemblance is fairly obvious. Ms Brown is not however as friendly as her mum, but is more like her dad. And yet Muckle, one of our Shetland ewes, always seems to pass on her friendliness to her offspring - her shearling ram is the most attention-seeking sheep we have ever raised and will stand by one's side expecting a continuous head scratch, pawing your side if, at any time, you dare to stop!!!
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16th: Heartbreak
As alluded to a couple of days ago, we have had another hard year trying to raise the rhea, loosing up to 50% at each stage of the incubation process: so half of the eggs have been fertile, half of those then failed to grow and of those that made it to lockdown, only around 2/3rds externally pipped. We hatched 15 in total and to date 11 are still alive. We lost two very weak ones within a few days of hatching and two more at a few weeks old, to causes unknown. Within the 11 remaining we have had gurgly throats, leg weakness and watery poo. All are now in the new barn as below and each day, we give them access to the viewing area for a few hours. We decided to no longer allow them to mix with the other poultry in case they were picking up bacteria or parasites from the ground or the birds themselves and have also now thrown a variety of medication and treatments at them including fluvenvet for worms, tylan for respiratory issues, probiotics for their digestive system as well as additional vitamins and calcium. Fingers crossed, all 11 are now doing well with the older white being a particular success story. S/he was barely standing at one point and yet now each day, her/his walking gets better and better! The last to hatch was also incredibly weak, hardly raising its head for the first 48 hours and yet is now racing around like a trouper!!! We are not sure why we are finding it so hard to raise these birds and are questioning our plans for next year...
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17th: Cheery
A bit of cheer after the woes of yesterday - seeing all the chicks tuck into their greens each morning is a joy - it's a relief to see them start their day like this - as well as being mega cute to watch!
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18th: So lucky
This photo for us, sums up all that is perfect about being a smallholder....
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19th: Willow: as useful as grass
We have a lot of willow growing on our land and we often cut it down for the goats, both because they adore it and because willow benefits from being cut back. Once the goats have had their fill, the branches then become firewood, kindling or, as in the case below, woodchip!! Here we have chipped a few branches straight onto the ground by the Goat Field water trough in a bid to keep it mud-free in the winter. We will find out how well this goes in a few months!!
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20th: Stunning
We are being treated to some stunning sunsets this month - this really was this colour - and all viewable from the study!! It's a nice backdrop as we eat our dinner!!
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21st: Sights and smells
The garden has been a fabulous place to be this summer: full of colour, insect life and beautiful smells. It's all a bit rough round the edges and the nettles, brambles and bindweed do their best to get in the way, but we are just about managing to keep it looking okay!! It's nice to garden occasionally too - a lovely contrast to mucking out
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22nd: Off they are off..
This is an expulsion of dogs from the gate - captured via a quick burst of video shots - it's technically pretty poor but it has all six dogs in shot with smiles on their faces... we love it!!
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23rd: Evening sunlight
The object of their curiosity was a cat - everything was gathering as supper time approached - the alpacas hoped they were going to get lucky too!!!
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24th: Expressions
Pasiphae!! Just love that white curl!!! His fleece features in one of our most recent rugs.... we must get a photo or two!!
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25th: Squirrel Watching
It's been a good year for the squirrels, we are seeing them on an almost daily basis as they raid the hazelnuts and beech nuts in our garden and beyond. Watching them is Roxy's number one favourite occupation!!
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26th: Keeping On Top
The allotment hasn't been great for vegetables so far but the soft fruit bushes have been amazing. Part of the success has been down to us keeping on top of the weeding and strimming such that the bushes aren't having to compete for food and water! We also gave them a lot of muck back in the winter/ spring!! Today we undertook a slightly overdue strim and began to add more muck again so they will be nicely mulched for this autumn/winter. We are planning to grow a lot more next year, adding both more of what we have and some different varieties. We may even look at getting a nut tree or two. The plan is to be self sufficient in soft fruit if we can - as well as the satisfaction of eating our own, it should save us a fair amount of money too as we were spending anything from £5 to £10 a week on softy fruit with James from Simmons!!
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27th: Sweet smelling bay
We have two bay trees/bushes in the garden and both need regularly trimming - cue happy goats who are more than willing to clear up all the waste branches. We wonder if it makes their breath smell nice as the fragrance as we carry it to their paddock is utter heaven!!
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28th: Wet
Today was a proper 'wet' day - it rained on and off all day and it felt like autumn has truly arrived. The adult rhea were their usual non-plussed selves and stayed out all day, eating and wandering as usual and, as the photo shows, showing no compulsion to wipe mouths or comb hair!!!!
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29th: So pretty
Mustard was a very pretty kitten and is growing into a very pretty cat - she also has a character to match!! They are an utter joy to have, these cats.
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30th: Spot the goat
We aren't entirely sure the goats slept in their shed last night!! There was no sign of their usual nightly poo and as we woke up to find them in the hedgerow and they didn't emerge all day (foregoing both breakfast and supper), our conclusion was that there had been hedge bound for well over 24 hours now!! Tonight we checked their whereabouts after dark and yep, sure enough, they were hunkered down under a load of brambles.
We 'think' we are okay with this!! They have gained access over the slightly wobbly fence and can get back but are obviously choosing not to. The hedge will benefit from some goat nibbling - and it is saving us on feed bills - but of course the worry is they might 'pop over' to the other side, which isn't fenced and so would give them access to John's field. Tomorrow we may need to see if we can entice them back with some goat mix....
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