It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen. … Sorry about that got a little carried away! It is April however and still a little nippy in the morning, but the afternoons, now they are a delight!
This time of year is one of our favourites here at Olive Tree Farm. The clocks have moved that little hour forward, but it really makes a difference with the animals, the crops and the flowers in the garden. The Olive trees have all been pruned ready for late April early May when they will hopefully flower as well as the last couple of years. The vegetable beds are producing a mass of brassicas, salad leaves and carrots. The herbs are also coming along well and we now have for the first time Dill and Comfrey, both looking bright and strong. As well as the dill and comfrey, we have lavender, mint, fennel, parsley, rosemary and thyme, which will certainly enhance both the cooking here and Emma’s lotions, potions and teas. It is quite astounding what a difference the addition of fresh herbs make to food.
It isn’t just herbs that Emma is nurturing either. Weeds are also on the menu. It used to be a real problem here with nettles. I don’t know what your garden is like for these pesky weeds, but ours is full of them and thanks to Emma’s research they are now put to good use. She has been pulling them up, hanging them and drying, ready to add to her herbal washes. Once properly dried the stinging is no more, although she has stung herself on a few occasions during the testing of them! Once completely dry, they are crushed and added to the animal feeds as extra nutrition. She also makes a sort of herbal tea which is used as a hair, scalp and body rinse. All these old fashioned remedies and tonics seem to be coming back these days and as the research goes on, it is quite amazing what you find on your doorstep that years ago was a prized find!
Egg production is currently at an all time high, and the count for the past 4 days has topped 100 which is the most we have ever had. If you read last months article you may remember we told you about our Khaki Campbell duck sitting on eggs. Sadly nothing happened. We waited a few more days than normal, but still nothing, so we removed them from the nest. It was such a shame to see when we candled them (this is done by holding up the egg in a dark room and shining a torch through the shell) none were fertile. She is only young, so plenty more time, but after sitting for a month it is quite heart breaking that she never got her ducklings.
As for the blue eggs, we only got 8 in the end. This is proving to be a bit of a mystery. We feel that there should be more and have been looking under trees, in the grassy edges of the veg patch, and even in the hay stack to see if she is hiding them. We have spotted her dashing out of the veg patch on a number of occasions, so perhaps she has a stash of them hidden in there. They do have a slight green tinge, so maybe they are well camouflaged; if they are there, perhaps one morning she will appear with a trail of chicks behind her which would be great to see!