Springing into life …
The arrival of spring has seen an explosion of new life on Olive Tree Farm.
First to arrive were 5 baby ducklings that were hatched by their mum. It was her first time and she was originally sitting on nine eggs. Only 5 hatched but what a sight it was to see mum and 5 babies emerge from their house one morning. The babies immediately headed for a puddle on the soil and proceeded to have a quick bath, whilst mum stood guard. The male duck wandered over and we watched with some trepidation, because we had heard that male ducks often attacked their babies. As it happened he touched all the babies with his beak and then, seemingly satisfied, went to sit with mum.
The ducklings are incredibly adventurous and were soon finding their way around under the constant and close supervision of mum and dad.
A close second to the arrival of the ducklings was the birth of 4 piglets a few days later. The piglets are always a joy to watch. Our pigs are truly mini pigs, the parents stand at around 45 centimetres high, and the babies are probably around 10 centimetres when they are born. Small as they are they are full of life from the start. Pigs are very clean animals and the mother brings them out at the earliest opportunity to show them the corner of the pen that she uses as a toilet. From that moment, that is where they go.
Two days after the pigs, 7 baby rabbits appeared from the burrow. They were so small that they looked like hamsters. The last litter of rabbits were quite big when they emerged but the weather was much colder then and this litter seem to have decided it was warm enough to venture out a couple of weeks earlier than their siblings. The tricky bit now will be to catch them before they find my vegetables, but until then it is lovely to see them playing in the early morning sunlight.
If all of the above wasn´t enough, 3 Chinese Painted Quails appeared in the aviary together with 2 beautiful diamond doves, both to first time parents.
Phew! Almost forgot – we also hatched 4 Sussex chicks and 3 Barnevelder chicks in the incubator.
So, in less than 2 weeks our livestock increased by 28, fortunately the better weather and longer nights gives us more time to deal with them all.
The warmer weather has also kick started our Aylesbury ducks who have finally started laying and we are getting 2 eggs a day at the moment, hopefully the other 5 will soon follow suit soon.
Our goslings are looking wonderful after their shaky start and are endlessly entertaining. They still come to us for a cuddle which is great, and we are hoping that our constant interaction with them will keep them as tame and friendly as they are now.
Following the loan of our neighbours billy goat, one of our goats (Lolly), is definitely pregnant, with at least one baby, which will be due in early June so that will be another first for us and we are looking forward to it immensely.
We have also been busy with planting and have been able to get most of our seeds in the ground, albeit a little later than we would have liked.
The recent rains and the now rapidly warming ground is already producing results – radish, beetroot, sugar beet, parsnips and carrot seeds, planted on Tuesday were already showing by Saturday – incredible!
The tomatoes, lettuce, cucumbers, peppers, onions, kale, courgettes, sweet corn and leeks are looking strong and will benefit even more with a good soaking when we irrigate this weekend.
The new and enlarged vegetable area has enabled us to leave room for a secondary planting over the next couple of weeks
So, everything seems to be back on track after some difficult months during the winter – hope I haven´t spoken to soon.