It has been more like Spring rather than Autumn here at Olive Tree Farm, and its not the weather I am referring to.
A few weeks ago we had an unexpected visitor, a female pigeon. We already had four pigeons, for no other reason than our son Nick really likes them. Our new visitor quickly took a shine to our male. The flying display she put on for us and him, were quite something. She swooped around showing off her skills and it became obvious this was to impress her new found friend. Their courtship was short in the scheme of things and they quickly got “married”. It must have been low key affair as the only thing we noticed was a little nest, tucked away behind the aviary, with 2 bright white eggs lay in it. We weren’t sure how many days they had been there, but both parents were very attentive, taking turns keeping the two eggs warm.
About a week after we had spotted the eggs, we realised they had hatched. The two chicks were a sort of mustard yellow colour and I have to say, they were ugly! Our hens chicks are just the cutest thing ever, whereas these were all beak and pretty scruffy. The parents took it in turns to feed them and it was seeing this, that made us realise why they had such a huge beak. Whereas a chick pecks around and feeds itself, in the pigeon world, the parents eat seed and soft plants and regurgitate a sort of milk to feed them, hence the large beak which enabled to parents to put their beak down the babies throat to feed them.
After a bit of research on pigeons, we found out that they usually only lay 2 eggs at a time. Once hatched, one will be male and one will be female. It has been fascinating watching them grow, and also, watching how both parents took such an active part in looking after and feeding them. Just over 3 weeks on they fledged. Now beautifully feathered, their beaks no longer looking out of place. It has been such a treat to be able to observe something, that would probably usually happen on top of a huge building or in a tree as with a wood pigeon and you would never see it.
Our other “Spring is in the air” experience, involved pigs. One of our young female pigs had given birth to a daughter just over 3 months ago. We were surprised at the time that she had only had the one, but she grew well, and quickly, probably because she was the only one in there. Mum was looking quite portly. She seemed very greedy, more so than normal, and the baby was no longer feeding from her. Imagine our surprise when a couple of weeks ago, Greg went up on the Sunday morning for the usual morning feed, and there she was lay in the sun with 5 piglets. We couldn’t believe it! Usually we can see the signs, but we had totally missed them this time. Her other piglet now seemed quite big next to the new ones, and she was lay with mum, keeping the new arrivals warm. It was a lovely sight. It was also very funny though, when we spotted big baby tucking into milk when it was feed time, she is obviously making the most of the extra food supply!
So other than pigeons and piglets, that is about as exciting as it got, other than we have been busy planting the vegetable patches again following our duck attack when they ate everything in sight. We have grown quite a few things by seed, but have also bought a lot of the plantlets from the farm store here. People often ask us when is the right time to plant, so if I haven’t already mentioned it previously, watch out at the markets for when the plantlets are for sale. That is the indication that the time is right. So far we have planted, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, brociflower, squash, cabbage, lettuce and garlic and there is still a huge amount of space to fill. And it is now “Duck Proof” … We hope!
Our next mission for this month, will be the Olive harvest … We can’t wait to see how much we get this year. Some of the trees are absolutely laden and almost touching the floor. We will let you know next issue how it all went! See you next month!