The chickens love eating the fallen blossoms when I first let them out in the morning. It seems an odd choice for breakfast. I would like to think that the chickens know what they need to eat to lay the best eggs, but I've seen them eating Styrofoam so the jury's out on chicken logic.
I've finished netting over my expanded vegetable patch -
I'm nearly finished manuring and digging the two new beds now. A continuous fortnight of good weather has helped. I had to stop digging after I went to a Zumba class. The class looked like fun and I figured I could use the cardio to balance out my muscle bulk from activities like flipping sheep and digging. My sciatic nerve didn't agree and now I can't sit down without causing a shooting pain up my leg. I'm writing this post standing up at the kitchen counter, and my onions are definitely going to get planted late this year.
The upside of not sitting down is that lots of little jobs are getting done, where I would normally flop down in front of the television and squander that time watching re-runs of 'Columbo'. The dogs get extra long walks, and I even found time to slap a coat of fresh paint on the cupboards in the kitchen, which is also my temporary study until I get better.
The quail have started laying and I have to hunt for their well-camouflaged eggs hidden in the deep straw bedding -
quail egg compared to chicken egg
Susan is broody. I replaced her clutch with five Buff Orpington eggs -
I don't mind hatching a few more dual purpose chickens. A few days ago my neighbor Simon asked me to dispatch Trevor, his Buff Orpington cockerel. He brought round a bit of the cooked bird for us to try last night. There wasn't a huge amount of breast meat but the legs were large and the bird was very tasty. A bit gamey even. Simon says that was probably a reflection of Trevor's personality. I won't mind so much now if a few boys hatch out in Susan's brood.
The pheasants have started laying in their pens, and we began collecting the eggs this week. There are 32 pens, each pen holds 65 hens and 8 cocks. I'll save you the math: 2,080 laying hen, 256 breeding cocks. The pens stretch the length of the field -
On top of vegetable plots, egg picking, and dog wrestling matches, there are still deer to harvest. Thursday was the end of doe season, and Friday was the start of roe buck season. I still had one more doe to account for, and I went out every night this past week to try and bag her.
A deer ride through the woods - a good starting place
A fresh pile of deer scat, still warm (yes I touched it...) I walked on and hoped to run into the beast, but saw nothing. In desperation, I sat above a deer trail with good views and a good back stop (for the rifle bullet, should I miss). I sat until it got dark and the pain from sitting got the better of me -
You can just make out the path - look through the top centre square
Nothing. No does before the end of the season. I will have to tack that one onto next season's cull plan. I hope I have better luck with roe bucks this week.
I did find something else, something disturbing and unwelcome -
It's a home made ball bearing. I found it under a tree where pheasants roost. Poachers shine a light into treetops, to spot pheasants roosting. They use catapults to fire heavy ball bearings at the pheasants, knocking them off their perch, dead or close to it. No gun shot to give yourself away, and minimal disturbance to all the pheasants which can be noisy when alarmed. Poachers can develop frightening accuracy with a catapult.
We've found other ball bearings in the same area, so we'll be extra vigilant now. I'm happy to stand watch. Anything to avoid sitting down.