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<< April 2022 May 2022 June 2022 >>

1st: The Land 2nd: Poultry 3rd: Dogs/ Cats 4th: Rhea 5th: Fruit and Veg 6th: Poultry 7th: Wildlife 8th: Poultry 9th: Dogs 10th: The Land
11th: Cats 12th: Rhea 13th: Fruit and Veg 14th: Rugs and Fibre 15th: Sheep 16th: Wildlife 17th: Dogs 18th: Wildlife 19th: Poultry 20th: Alpacas
21st: Fruit and Veg 22nd: Rugs and Fibre 23rd: Rhea 24th: Alpaca 25th: Poultry 26th: Wildlife 27th: Sheep 28th: Alpaca 29th: Rugs and Fibre 30th: The Land 31st: Fruit and Veg
1st: Still Feeding
It's the 1st of May - and we still seem to be feeding our sheep and alpacas!!! The grass isn't quite growing fast enough - and yes they have hay and yes, they do have some grass and yes we are softies. AND, it's been a miserable wet day and somewhat cold for May, so.....
Feeding time also gives us a chance to check them all at close quarters and with some golden oldies in the flock (Mrs Brown, Mrs White and Pluto), it's good to keep an extra special eye on them whilst the weather is still making it's mind up whether to be spring-like or not!!
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2nd: Freedom
And they are out: Flockdown has ended - it's been a VERY, VERY long 22 weeks!!!!
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3rd: Best buddies
Someone is getting just a little too big for her cage- but she loves it so much, we cannot possibly take it away... She also loves Pickle, they really are best buddies
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4th: First rhea chicks of the year
We thought these guys weren't that interested in putting in an appearance... so we gave them a small amount of help last night and were delighted when three of them decided that the world was an okay place to emerge into after all.....
Out of all the hatching we have done over the years, young rhea win hands down when it comes to cuteness but also vulnerability!!! They need a fair amount of encouragement to start eating and also space to exercise and strengthen those leg muscles.
The help we gave them was to actually make a small hole in the shell once we had seen they had internally pipped. Advice is often to do this so that the chick doesn't run out of air before it manages to break out! It can take several days for them to emerge and when they do it is with an extraordinary 'incredible hulk' moment - they literally burst out by heaving and pushing and pressing their whole bodies against the shell. They don't have egg teeth and don't unzip themselves in the way that chicks, ducklings etc do.
Sound on when you play the video - but you may not want any dogs in the room, it drives ours crazy! This is actually the sound of 'stress' and it's a noise we hear a fair bit in these first few days as the rhea adjust to being in the world and working out where their siblings are and where they feel safe. After a few months, their vocal cords no longer allow them to make this noise, after that the only sound they make is the wonderful boom of the male.
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5th: Strawberries
Soft fruit does really well on our land - last year from just half a dozen strawberries,12 raspberry plants, two loganberries and wild blackberries, we had enough daily fruit for our cereal (including all that we froze) from July/August right through to April this year. We have planted loads more this spring, including blueberries, gojoberries and honeyberries and tonnes more raspberries. And here we are in early May and the strawberries are excelling themselves. The plant pots by the way are there to help lift the ripening fruits off the ground and away from those pesky slugs - although these are in raised planters in our greenhouse so that helps a bit!!
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6th: Enjoying her freedom
So this hen (and she is not alone) is celebrating the fact that flockdown has ended by heading across the the lovely grass filled poultry paddock and spending the day 'inside' the barn!!! Seriously, there is no hope!!!
AND she is messing up the previously tidy goat bedding....
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7th: A sting in the tail - or head!!!
In Jack's words: This morning as I walked up to our veg patch which borders the hives, I heard an awful lot more buzzing than normal. I looked over the hedge to the sight of a huge swarm hovering above the road. I headed over towards them, gesticulating wildly to David back the other side of the hedge in the veg plot as I wasn't sure which way the bees were heading. For a while they seemed to stay half over the road and half over the hedge. There were thousands of them and the noise was really intense and loud.
Just then Carolyn Bailey Kokta drove past, stopping to ask about the swarm and then as a few outsiders buzzed around her bonnet, asked if we should move down the road a bit.
'Oh no, it's fine' says I!!
About 90 seconds later my newly permed hair was full of bees, and yep, I was stung. I also found that the poor bee who had stung me, wasn't minded to then fly off, and as such I ended up whipping off my top, right there in the middle of the road, in a futile effort to dislodge the poor chap(ess).
After checking I was okay, Carolyn, sensibly drove away, whether due to the sight of me in just a bra and trousers or because of the bees... well, the jury is out!!
I headed back to our veg plot with a mournful 'David, I've been stung' only to find I could still hear the sound of buzzing. Said top, having been replaced, was quickly whipped off again!! Poor David - in other circumstances, it might have been quite a sexy moment.... And it doesn't end there. We retreated to the house so the sting could be removed and anti-histamine cream applied, before later heading back out to finish planting the raspberries that several hours earlier had seemed such a simple job!!
We had almost finished when low and behold, the sound of buzzing once more began to assail our ears. We looked up and there there were, thousands and thousands of them. We think they had disappeared and come back with reinforcements. Over the hedge they came, flying low and level and heading straight for us. I am not ashamed to admit it.. we ran....
This afternoon, when I was invited to inspect the hives (which incidentally we don't think were responsible for the swarm), I was persuaded to put on a bee suit!!! I have never been sting before and had been quite proud of that. At least my first sting was quite a spectacular event!! Whether Carolyn will recover remains to be seen
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8th: Beauty
Sometimes, it's good to stand back so you can truly appreciate how amazingly beautiful your animals are.
This is a Columbian Blacktail, a hybrid chicken (a result of breeding a Rhode Island Red father with a hybrid mother of two strains of Light Sussex). They are the classic stock layer: 300 eggs in their first year, friendly, resilient and not known for going broody! We have four in our mixed flock of just under 30 birds and they are invariably at the front of the queue when the corn jug or fresh greens appear!!
She is utterly gorgeous as we are sure you will agree!!!
And since flockdown has ended, seeing her and her pals outside on fresh green grass is an utter, utter joy AND their yolks are definitely now more yellow!!
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9th: The river
A fabulous river walk with Fire, Dragon and Roxy - and Lynn - the dogs excelled themselves 'and' we met other people and dogs
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10th: It's growing
Proof, should we need it, that the grass is finally growing!!
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11th: Hard life
It's a terribly hard life being a cat at Cadbury Cottage!!!
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12th: Way to the hearts of our rhea
Two weeks old and these guys can pack away two bowlfuls of greens every day. It is a mixture of lettuce, dock and dandelion - so the good news is that we get to weed the garden as well as save on feed costs.
They aren't the most efficient eaters, as the video shows, nor the tidiest - but every last piece goes by the end of the day! Could watch our baby rhea for hours (and quite possibly do..).

13th: Before and After
It's a shame to mow all those buttercups but this year we really do need to stop them spreading into our fruit and veg plots, 'and' the about to be sown flax beds
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14th: Flax
We are about a couple of weeks behind where we want to be but following on from yesterday's entry, these are our flax beds on our allotment and tomorrow the seeds go down - it's about a 16-week growing process so fingers crossed for the weather to do what we need it to do... Our ultimate aim is to weave a rug with our own linen warp this winter!! We have no idea if we will manage this but it's going to be a lot of fun trying. Our biggest challenge is going to be keeping the creeping buttercups at bay whilst the flax gets established (hence the mowing yesterday)!!!
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15th: Mrs Brown and Mrs White
Mrs Brown and Mrs White are both 12 years old. They have, over the years, given us 31 lambs between them, and we have a daughter from each in our flock today.
In the last 6 months they have really, really started to show their age: Mrs B. has a permanent limp now due to a dodgy joint. She has a toe that had an abscess that gives her jip still. Mrs W's hips are a tad creaky and her fleece is really uneven now. They spend a lot of their days lying down.. When the feed bucket appears mind you Mrs B. in particular is up with the the youngsters and they whoop with joy as much as any of them when we open the gate to a fresh field of grass.
It is very likely they may not make another year and it is even more likely that we will be the ones to make that decision.... a decision that bizarrely feels harder than it does with a dog or cat because sheep mask their aliments and aches and pains very well.... Metacam and the odd AB does a job but not for ever!
These two are our first ever sheep, it;s going to be hard!!
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16th: Magical Wildlife
Sometimes life is about rugs and weaving and alpacas and sheep, and other times it is about rescuing a slow worm that has possibly be injured by one of your cats and left outside the utility room door.
It had a cut half way along its body but it looked as though it could heal and so to help it along its way, we put it on top of our raised beds of strawberries in the greenhouse, away from cats and anything else that might do it harm (including puppies - who bless her, was the one to alert me to the slow worm's presence in the first place).
We watched as the slow worm proceeded to bury itself in the warm soil and hoped it planned to stay there till tomorrow, resting and recuperating.
It will then be very welcome to spend the day hanging around eating any slugs or snails it can find.
Did you know that slow worms are ovoviviparous, which means that they lay eggs internally. The eggs hatch inside the female and the young stay there for a while, living off the yolk of the egg before then being 'born' as live mini slow worms.
Fascinating and beautiful creatures!
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17th: Sibling Play
This month we have had the joy of visits from two of Otter's siblings: at the start of the month, Bonnie Orange can over and today we had the joy of also seeing Elsa for a hour or so. As the pictures show, all three are like peas in a pod!! Seeing them together and watching as they got over their initial shyness and then started to play, was utterly wonderful. And my goodness, they played, and played and them played some more. We could have stood for hours watching them - oh hang on, we did - LOL!!! 
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18th: Red Deer
Every year at this time, we are visited by a Red Deer stag and his ladies. Usually there are three or four females, this year we have seen up to seven. The noise he makes is extraordinary - and it is worth watching the video to hear that alone - alongside some beautiful evening birdsong!
We love seeing the deer, the farmer on whose crop filed they run is possibly not quite so keen - the agriculture/ wildlife mix is a fine balance for sure.
(Please forgive the questionable technical quality - Jack was slowly sinking into the compost heap on which she was standing, and by sinking, we mean sinking 'and' then sliding... and then she got wedged in the stock fencing behind. David Attenborough she is not!!)
And a PS, if you have dogs, you may not want to play the sound with them round - the sound of the barking stag drives ours utterly bonkers!!
19th: Napoleon
Spare a thought for poor Napoleon - he only has his two ladies and both are broody. This basically means he gets to spend his days keeping vigil by the nestbox... and of course they aren't laying and we have taken all their eggs away, so it's not as though he has imminent fatherhood to look forward to.....
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20th: The Suri Boys
Our Suri Boys: bold, brash, noisy and hooligans, the pair of them. If there is trouble they are in the thick of it! They do of course have gorgeous coats but we only get the pleasure of working with these every two years, as they don't grown long enough in a year to either need shearing or to be of a good enough length to work with. Unlike the Huacaya, their coats don't get thick, they get long. The Huacaya's get so thick you can virtually bury your hand in them. If we didn't shear them once a year, it would become a real welfare issue
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21st: Happy growing
A happy few hours on the allotment and in the greenhouse today, planting more seeds, loving the growth on seeds already sprouting and removing any 'sprouting' we don't want - principally creeping buttercups and docks. So far this year we have 'happy growing' and we are determined not to let things run away with us...
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22nd: Seedlings
Oh wow, six days after planting and our flax seeds are starting to show - give it 4ish months or so and we may be making our own linen... keeping everything crossed!!!
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23rd: And then there were seven
We have had four more rhea hatch in the last couple of days and we have watched with delight as the older ones teach the younger ones how to eat. There seems to be no pecking order with these young birds and they very quickly become a bonded group. We are delighted with out hatching so far this year.
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24th: Getting ready for shearing
Thanks for this Pasephae - LOL
25th: Nesting
Talk about making the cosiest nest ever!!
Sadly though, we don't want her to incubate any eggs so for all her hard work and patience, we keep taking any eggs away (and they are mainly chicken ones anyway)...
Muscovies do make the best mums ever - in previous years our girls have hatched two, sometimes three broods - and when a brood can be around 15-20 ducklings, that is a LOT of ducklings.
When we ate meat, the boys (who matured in around 12 weeks) would go in the freezer and the girls would be sold on. Nowadays we just have three females and two males who we adore as characterful pets, with the added bonus of giving us a load of eggs for the dogs. (Not that this one is laying now and won't again till her 'I-want-to-be-a-mum' hormones have disappeared and her 'laying' ones have come back.)
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26th: Yellow sunshine
One of OUR absolute favourite flowers - the Welsh yellow poppy. From May this beauty fills our garden and when WE say 'garden' WE mean our gravel paths as that is where it seems happiest. We basically let it do its own thing though always feel a tad guilty if we end up pulling any up... but sometimes, we just have to.... we do still need a bit of path to walk on after all.
wE can honestly say that seeing these standing upright and proud in the summer sunshine, 'always' gives US a lift!!
Isn't is amazing how plants have that power?
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27th: Shearing 2022
Shearing 2022 is now complete and we couldn't be happier. Sara Cartwright and Az Hattie were their usual amazing selves and got through 12 alpacas and 15 sheep in around six hours.
We now have a shed full of fleeces waiting to be transferred to our fibre room once we have had a good look through them, discarded any really dirty bits and then weighed them.
On the alpaca front, Venus and Mercury treated us to a bit of screaming (sadly, a sign of stress, the only cure being to get their fleece off them as quickly and safely as possible) and Callisto to a bit of grumbling but Io, Iocaste and Neptune were so relaxed they almost fell asleep with their heads in Sara's lap!! Alpacas need to to be 'tied' down to be shorn which isn't dignified, some resist and some accept but the fleece has to come off either way.
On the sheep front, Miss B and Miss Whalsay were both terrible wriggle monkeys whilst Bressay decided she no longer recognised her cousin Whalsay without her coat and so proceeded to biff her away. This is common after sheep are shorn, they really can no longer recognise each other and it can take a while for normal service to be resumed. The situation is worse if there are ewes and lambs - and can be very noisy. One year we had to lay the fleece on one of our ewe's back to convince her lambs it really was their mum.
And now the excitement of more rug planning begins....
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28th: Post-shearing treat
The post-shearing treat was to have the gates opened to a fresh field of grass. Most of the sheep went through before the gate was even half open. The alpacas took a little longer (there were right at the other side of their existing field)... watching them run towards us was poetry in motion mind you!!!
And then there was Hegemone who got taken short and had to have a wee-wee break half way across.
We panned the camera away at that point to save his blushes!!
29th: Still growing
Our flax: day 12 (this picture was actually taken yesterday)
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30th: Buttercups
We have let the end of the poultry paddock do its own thing, the birds don't come down this far so we have 'gifted' it to the buttercups.
It is a truly fabulous sight, and one we can see from our office doors too!
I imagine the invertebrate life is buzzing - literally...
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31st: Pears
It's going to be a good year for pears!!
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