2016 – May

Spring has sprung!

As usual nothing ever stops here at Olive Tree Farm! With spring in the air, the animals are increasing in numbers on an almost daily basis, with birds being the main culprits.

The chickens which we told you about last month have grown rapidly and a few have already gone to their new homes. However, as if we didn’t have enough chickens, we decided to test a theory regarding the shape of an egg and whether it will hatch as a male or female.

Apparently if the egg has a pointed end it will be male, if it is round at both ends, it will be female. So bearing that in mind, we selected a number of our Barnevelder eggs; we marked them with an “F” and an “M”, and put them in the incubator. Sure enough 20 days later they started to hatch, and it looks as if the theory is correct. You can tell from the feathers on the tips of the wings for just the first 3 days whether they are male or female, and from checking them it looks like we should have 2 males and 8 females.

Our other bird experience involved Turkeys! We had discussed having turkeys for ages, so when our friend offered us 4 eggs, we couldn’t resist giving them a go. We candled them a couple of weeks in, and disappointingly, it looked as if only 2 were fertile. We left them all in just in case, and on the morning of day 28, we were greeting by chirping. A few hours on, and egg number 2 popped open.  Unlike the chickens, to sex a turkey, you hold them gently by the head, and let the body dangle. If the legs dangle it is a female, if however the chick draws its legs up towards the body, it is a male, so after a quick check, we are the proud parents of 2 female turkeys. All we need to now is try to find a male!

We also did our quarterly chicken baths for our main flocks, to keep on top of any possible outbreaks of mites or lice. It is done in 3 stages. First a warm bath of water with the addition of apple cider vinegar and salt, the second was warm water, washing up liquid and peppermint essential oil, and the third just warm water to rinse them off with …. It seems to do the trick, and the bonus is that the hens absolutely love it.

So after all the bird talk, here is an update on everything else going on here!

Lily or little goat is doing great. She is now 8 weeks old, and although still feeding off mum, she is also eating a lot more solid food. The first few nights of separation were heartbreaking. Lily really wanted her mum and cried and cried. As hard as it was though, we persevered, and over the course of 4 or 5 nights she finally settled down without getting too upset. So Nick has been on a milking mission, and we are getting upwards of 2 litres a day, so eventually goats cheese might just make it onto the menu!

All Greg’s hard work in the growing areas has also worked well. We have enjoyed many a meal lately using all our own vegetables. It is surprising actually, how tasty a meal can be using just vegetables, plenty of herbs and spices and rice or pasta. So although we are not vegetarian by a long chalk, it has been lovely to make good use of our own produce!

 

Our fruit trees are looking good as well. We have lots of Nisperos ready for picking, which we will make use of in chutneys and jams. The plum tree which we planted last year has got its first fruits on; not many, but they are there. The pomegranates are absolutely full of flowers, as are the lime and grapefruit trees, and we have fruit forming on some of the grapevines.

And last but not least, there are the olive trees. This year they are absolutely full of blossom. They have grown well over the past couple of years, so if the amount of blossom is anything to go by, we are rather hoping for a bumper crop later in the year. Time will tell!

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 our 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!