With Spring just around the corner, as usual, it is all go here at Olive Tree Farm. We have had some very mild weather which seems to have confused a lot of the plants in and around the farm area and garden. But we were surprised that the Almond trees have flowered at exactly the same time as previous years, despite having read that in many areas they were blossoming around a month earlier.
Every year as the Almonds blossom, the winds come and it is heartbreaking to see the petals fly off as if it were a snow storm, and then later in the year we find less nuts as were hoping for. This year though, it flowered after the main winds had passed and although it is windy today, they are holding on well as they have only just opened, so it will be interesting to see what we harvest later in the summer.
Last month we told you about our rabbit breeding programme. Well, so far, all 25 babies are doing well. They are eating an enormous amount of food as you can imagine, and the first lot of kits are huge! Whilst we do forage for a lot of wild free food for the animals, the rabbits are fed pellets bought from our local farm store, and cultivated greens. Just in case you have rabbits of your own, it is important to note that there is Myxomatosis in and around this area. So please don’t collect wild grasses, as you can pass on this horrid disease and infect your own rabbits.
On the goat front, we are pleased to announce the expected arrival of at least one baby, due in just a few weeks time. Molly, our black goat is looking huge, so we are rather hoping that she will have 2 kids. Fingers crossed that this time we have at least one female as we would like to increase milk production so we can make our own cheese, and we can’t keep a Billy as we have no spare pens. We will keep you posted on this over the coming months.
Our chickens are laying like crazy at the present time, despite the cold weather. We are now collecting up to 18 a day, which is quite incredible. We were hoping that one of the chickens might just go broody, but no chance! So we have filled up the incubator for the first time in almost 12 months and hope to get a good hatch. They have only been in for 5 days at the time of writing, so we aren’t sure yet how many will be fertile, but on a positive note, when we gave some to a friend that wanted to incubate some, they all turned out to be fertile when candled. On day 9 we will take a light to each egg and hopefully see the embryos developing through the shell.
Our team of ducks are also on the increase. One of our females Muscovy’s which hatched last spring, laid 10 eggs in her box and has been sat on them for around 4 weeks. So we are now keeping an eye out for the hatchlings which should be with us over the next week or so. Muscovy duck eggs take 35 days to hatch as opposed to other ducks taking around 28 days. The mother duck has also started collecting eggs in her box; so far there are 4, so we are going to leave her with them, as she was a great mother last year raising 7 chicks through to adulthood.
Greg has been working hard in the vegetable patches and has planted extras of various things that tend to get used more in the kitchen. So carrots, onions, spinach, parsnips, radish and lettuce plantings have been doubled or quadrupled. We are also looking at planting Yuca which is not quite the Yucca you might be thinking of, but a fantastic root vegetable eaten as a staple alternative to potatoes in South Almeria. You can make chips with it, use it in stews and soups and even make desserts using it, so as our attempts at planting the usual potatoes have failed miserably over the past few years, we are rather hoping this might be a good option?
That’s about it for this month. We look forward to bringing you lots of “baby” news in April, so make sure you catch up with us in the next edition!
If anyone is in Arboleas on a Saturday morning by the way, we do have a stall on the Los Llanos Market every week. We always have some eggs with us as well if anyone fancies treating themselves to some. Plus we have a huge range of lovely handmade gifts including our up-cycled pallet wall art, olive wood candle holders, organic cosmetic made using out own olive oil, pet healing oils and of course bottles of our own oil, which we must say is rather tasty! Hope to see some of you down there, do come and say hello!