Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Autumnal scribbles

Cotoneaster laden with autumn berries
Summer theoretically arrived as a large moist patch over the UK and then promptly left. Autumn has been a heatwave and only now in mid November are the temperatures slowly heading to where they should be. It has been until the last week amazingly mild. Saying that I have just come in from walking the dogs and although no jacket was required gloves were and there was a distinct hint of chill in the air. Wonderful, I need some realistic seasonality.

There is an incredible amount of berries festooning all the bushes this year and the colour of the leaves has been truly one of the best years I can ever recall. However not quite cold enough yet to see any winter thrushes to take advantage of the bounteous berry harvest.

Summer has also not been best either with a continuing battle with my spondyloarthropathy/gouty arthritis and uveitis. Once one seems okay, another kicks off so some of the projects I had planned have been shelved and work at the allotment again has suffered.

Despite this the chickens have gone through the normal cycles of chickendom. We had a very odd period of almost eight weeks with no visible eggs. As the girls had the run of the garden during the summer and early autumn they had access to lay in a nestbox in the garden shed however nothing in the shed and nothing in their normal chicken house? I did think at one stage the eggs were being stolen by some wild creature as Tallulah (she of the thin eggshells) was most definitely laying somewhere. However a good clean out seemed to reveal the problem - the eggs were being broken in the nestboxes. The lump that Tallulah has underneath her has grown, she seems very happy as ever and apart from the lump and an occasional mucky bum she looks in wonderful condition (she is now familiar with the hosepipe and hair dryer for that quick chicken makeover) however I do think that whatever that lump is it does affect the way she produces eggs. The last couple of eggs that have been laid by Tallulah that haven't been already broken are so fragile that they normal break when you pick them up. So much for trying to aid her with added calcium in the diet. At the moment we will leave her but as soon as she looks the slightest bit uncomfortable then down to the vets I think.

Anyway Harriet to the rescue as she is now laying her regular 5 eggs a week. Nothing from the Sussex girls as both are going through a major moult at the moment.

Good to see Stella
In October we went and spent a week in Cheshire and took a visit to the lovely Sue and her Mum at Victoria's Poultry. As ever they were incredibly busy and doing a major overhaul of their waterfowl area. We even got to see Stella, the Buff Orpington we hatched took back to Sue. Needless to say we came away after a great morning with dreams of all the new chickens that we wanted! Max and Millie our naughty dogs came along and actually I was quite amazed at how well behaved they were.

So its now dark when I leave for work in the morning and dark in the evening when I get home. The winter run is now in its fourth? year so no more garden time for the chickens however they do have their luxury winter home. Super skylon, nestbox in the sky has been reinstated this year along with "The Terrace" a row of three outdoor nestboxes so that should stop any squabbles over laying space!

Harriet happy in Skylon
And finally - a bit of sad news. After eight years of happily keeping our goldfish in the pond we had a raid from a heron who has wiped out most of the fish - they are in shell shock at the moment and hiding at the bottom of the pond but but I think we have lost 10 out of 15 including Mr Swishy our original fish - 9 years was not a bad inning for him.

Okay folks - Christmas ahead, brace yourselves for 6 weeks of marketing hell and just to let you know I have already seen a Christmas tree and lights in the window of a house in our street and its not even "Stir Up Sunday" yet.

Happy Christmas (just teasing, hopefully a blog before then!)

1 comment:

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