Thankfully the weather has cooled down a bit over the last couple of weeks and this has enabled us to start work on winterizing the animal housing. We have been making sure that all the houses are fully waterproof and draught proof and will provide good shelter for the coming colder months.
Our chicken numbers have increased by quite lot during the summer.
One of our neighbours keeps a breed of chickens called Sussex and he was keen to increase his flock. We agreed to incubate 24 eggs for him and in return he would give us 24 eggs to incubate for ourselves. In total we were able to hatch 16 chicks for him and 14 for ourselves, so it worked pretty well for us both. The Sussex hens are large birds and good layers so they should provide us with both meat and more eggs through the winter
We also purchased 12 Double Laced Wing Barnevelder eggs from a breeder in Murcia and managed to hatch 8 chicks from them. The Barnevelders are a beautiful bird, who lay gorgeous dark brown eggs with small speckles on them. As a special breed, we are breeding the Barnevelders to sell, to local chicken fanciers.
Our flock of ducks has increased to 7 Aylesbury and 2 Muscovy and although their egg production has been a bit sporadic we are hoping that once they are settled (it seems to take a while for ducks to settle) we will have a steady supply of duck eggs.
As you can imagine the increase in livestock has meant building more pens and houses and this has kept us pretty busy over the last few weeks.
Our initial winter crops are in the ground and were looking pretty good, until the chickens found a weak spot in the fence and proceeded to eat most of the broccoli, cabbage and carrots one afternoon. To put it mildly, this was a little upsetting – but chickens will be chickens and if they see something green they will try to eat it – therefore it was widely agreed (and seconded by the chickens), that it was my own fault for not securing the fence properly in the first place.
I have now secured the fence properly and thankfully the plants seem to be making a bit of a comeback and we will be planting succession crops over the next couple of weeks.
We have also started a new venture – hand painted, rustic, wooden signs.
We have been collecting old bits of wood for ages with a view that we would do something with them at some time – and we struck on the idea of rustic wooden signs. The lovely thing with wood is that every piece is different and therefore unique. Once the wood is sanded to a smooth finish, a slogan, saying, business name or really, anything a customer wants, is hand painted onto it and then 3 coats of varnish are applied.
We actually sold the first two signs before they were finished through our facebook shop and have just started on a commissioned piece for a customer in England. We will be selling the signs at a number of craft fairs and local events and there are examples on our facebook page (in the products section,) together with a few other products that are in the pipeline.
As I write this article it is absolutely throwing it down outside with some much needed rain and so our work on the animal housing will have its first test – fingers crossed!
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