As usual the heat can have a devastating effect here at Olive Tree Farm. Not just for the crops, but also the animals.
We do not usually breed the rabbits at this time of year due to the heat, but after having had 3 escapees, 2 females and 1 male, the inevitable happened!! Despite them only having been out for about 3 hours, rabbits being rabbits (need I say more?), meant more rabbits. Of course, we have the rabbits for a reason, but we still want them to be happy and healthy and when it is hot, it is not good for newborns.
We added extra shade to keep the fierce heat off the adults and were constantly freezing bottles of water so they could lie next to them. It’s hard to tell if a female rabbit is with child, so to speak, until you suddenly realise they are pulling fur to make a nest. One of them surprised us one morning with 8 babies and later in the day the other female also delivered 8. We rotated the water bottles constantly so there was always something cool for them, but the heat was far too much. One by one we lost 6 from just one of the mums. We brought some of the babies down to the house in the hope we could keep the afternoon heat off them, and then returned them later in the day. Rabbits only feed a couple of times a day so this pattern seemed to work. The mums were not bothered at all by this and just took them back and fed them, which was a relief, and in the end we managed to keep all 8 going with one of the parents. The other female had just the 2 left, and so far they are all doing fine and growing well.
Our other nightmare was water! If you read our last article, we talked about the new irrigation system that was being put in place. We had no choice over this whatsoever. The new system was coming into play, and if we wanted it, we had to pay within a set time frame, or, you missed the opportunity completely. We discussed it at length, as it was quite a big investment. The final decision was yes … It had to be! During the period of time it was all being worked on though, we had no irrigation water. Together with the heat and no water, the crops suffered badly. Our focus was mainly on the olive trees, but thankfully they were OK. The crops however slowly started to wilt. Day by day we could see more damage. There was nothing we could do. And then to add insult to injury, the ducks found a way in. All sixteen ducks to be precise! The upshot of this was, just days into finally getting our water back, the ducks finished off the last few plants that had survived, apart from tomatoes!
We had been thinking about giving the vegetable patches a bit of an overhaul. The ducks made that decision for us. The only good thing about the ducks eating so much of our food was, they left us a few presents here and there, in the form of an egg. They took a bit of finding, but at least we got something back in return! So, we are now left with absolutely nothing growing, apart from cherry tomatoes and weeds; why is it that weeds seem to survive whatever life throws at them? Over the next few weeks we have decided to let some of the pigs in and they can clear it properly, weeds included. We can then start again ready for winter. It is frustrating though, when you think about all the time spent working on it. Never mind, we will bounce back, and are looking forward to getting a nice selection of new crops on the grow once again.
Many of our readers mention our exploits when we meet them. We also have a fabulous following on our Face Book page. Over the years the family have pulled together to make the best out of our life here and it hasn’t been easy; there are probably quite a few people reading this, nodding their heads in agreement! After talking about it at length, we have decided to put our stories from over the years into a book. It will be while yet, before it happens, but we have a fabulous selection of stories to share, some funny, some sad.
As well as tales about our animals, the book will contain all about finding our home and creating Olive Tree Farm. A large family needs feeding, so there will be recipes interspersed throughout the book and photographs (we have thousands to choose from) … As we say, it will be a little while before it is all put together, but it is on its way, so will keep you posted on developments.