And there's no point going in the garden. The vegetable garden is shocking this year. My beans and squash are way behind. My only good harvest this season may be tomatoes and cucumbers from the greenhouse and fruit from the orchard. Only the weeds are flourishing and it's too wet to walk on the soil and sort them out. It happens like that some years.
Molly likes having office days too -
She "doesn't do rain".
We just finished taking off this morning's hatch of partridge and pheasants. My job (and it's my favourite!) is helping stragglers out of their shells. Here's a short video showing a partridge needing a little help -
I'm only doing it one-handed because I have to hold the camera
In an average hatch, we probably help out about 100 live pheasant and partridge chicks. About half of those survive, so over 12 hatches that's about 600 extra live chicks. Partridge chicks, though smaller, are tougher than pheasant chicks and more of them get up on their feet.
Not a lot of hatcheries do this. Some even feel that it's pointless to rear anything but the strongest chicks. We have to pull out and box all the chicks at a fixed time, so some of the chicks, although strong, are just late.
Mike usually gives these chicks, which we call "wets", to youngsters who like to raise a few for themselves or to young keepers starting out who can do with an extra few free chicks (each chick costs about 70p to buy normally).
When I help the late chicks out of the shell, I try and leave a bit of eggshell on the bottom. This encourages the chick to kick off the shell and help strengthen its legs and straighten out its body after being curled up inside the egg -
The wets go back in the warm hatchers for a few hours together to dry off and gather their strength while we clean down, disinfect and prepare the other chicks for shipment. It gives the wets a bit of extra time to recover.
Other babies this week include two healthy ewe lambs from Friendly ewe -
This one's for your Janice!
Friendly ewe has mastitis in one side, so she's short of milk to feed twins. I bottle feed the lambs a couple times a day to top them up, but they stay with mum for everything else.
I looked back in my breeding records and see that I noted both ewe 0007 and Friendly ewe had mastitis previously, hence they've both lost one teat (the teat is hard and won't produce milk again). I gave them a free pass from ice camp because 0007's fleece is excellent and Friendly ewe is, well, friendly. Still, they both gave me 3 new ewe lambs in total so it's worth a bit of bottle feeding on my part.
Ewe 0042 is still left to lamb. I turfed her out in the field a few weeks ago but it looks like she's getting ready to lamb. Finally. I'll bring her back in to the barn and hopefully by the end of the week I will be done with lambs. I will not lamb this late again, if I can help it.
The other reason for having an office day is organise my paperwork for my accountant. Yes, I have hired a farm accountant now, which is a good sign of progress.
I'm also meeting with the Agricultural Mortgage Corporation tomorrow, to see if I can get a loan in principle against Milkweed & Teasel, our farmland in Dorset. We have found a farmhouse and 11 acres locally that we're going to make an offer on when it goes to auction in July. We may be quickly outbid which is fine, but Mike and I are now concentrating on selling our land in Dorset and buying a farmhouse with land as our final home, here in Wales. The search may take a year or two, which is also fine.
Of course, I will keep you posted. Until then I will keep expanding our small farming operation here. And paying taxes I hope!