Tuesday, 26 July 2011

The Turkeys

Here they are, they are such lovely little critters and so busy!  They run around their little brooder at such a speed and then flop and have a kip and then up again running around, cheep,cheep,cheeping all the time.  They love being picked up as well and will nod off to sleep if you put them on their backs and tickle their tummies.  I think probably because we've been told and have read that you have to wrap them in cotton wool a bit until they are older and stronger because they tend to die from the slightest draft, we are being quite protective of them, we dont want to lose these like we did the goslings.  I cant wait to find out what sexes they are but apparently you cant tell till they are a few months old.  We took the Light Sussex chicks up the the barn yesterday so the big brooder on the windowsill is now empty so these little guys will be moving into new quarters today, more room to run around in!

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Nursery

Here is the nursery in the spare bedroom.  On the right is the guinea-pig cage with the five Light Sussex and on the left is our original brooder which has 4 baby turkey poults in it!  They only hatched today and they are soooo sweet, huge eyes!  There are two more pipping in the incubator which hopefully should come out tomorrow and then its just waiting to see if any of the rest hatch.  I will take some pictures tomorrow when these four are up and about.

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Turkeys pipping

Its that exciting time again.  We have 12 turkey eggs in the incubator and they have started pipping so soon we should have baby turkeys in the spare bedroom as well as the Light Sussex chicks.  We are keeping everything crossed we get a good hatch rate and that we get males and females so we can keep some for breeding and fatten up the rest for Christmas!

Plucker

We have invested in an electric chicken plucker and used it for the first time this weekend to pluck one of the cockerels we have been feeding up.  It was amazing!  It was so simple to use and the bird came out lovely and clean apart from a few feathers on the wings.  We had roast chicken for dinner last night, the brown meat was a bit tough but the breast meat was lovely.   Nigel said he wished we had got a plucker sooner, definitely a good buy!  We bought it from Ascott Supplies in England, I googled it and even with the delivery charges it was cheaper than buying it in France, it came within a week of ordering as well so we were very pleased.

Light Sussex Chicks

Last week we acquired a batch of Light Sussex chicks.  We started off with 8, unfortunately 3 didnt survive so now we have 5 doing well and growing by the day.  I was taken up to St Brieuc by a friend to the big Emmaus centre up there.  I could have spent loads in there, there was so much stuff and so cheap, but I restrained myself and got a few large frying pans, the deep kind, which are great for feeding animals up in the barn and the best bargain of all, this guinea-pig cage.  They are so expensive here in France and I got this cage plus all the pans for 10 euros the lot.  I was really pleased!  Its perfect as a brooder and fits lovely on the spare bedroom windowsill!  Unfortunately the weather hasnt been at all good lately so we are keeping these chicks down here with the heat lamp until they have got their feathers, we dont want to risk losing them up in the barn.  At the same time as these chicks we got two Faverolle cock chicks, they were a bit older and have their feathers so they are up in the small brooder in the barn but they still seem to be cold and are huddled together under the lamp.  One of them was sneezing to start with, it was so funny it sounded just like some of the female tennis players at Wimbledon when they serve.  It seems to have stopped that now thank goodness.  Although they seem to be huddled together a lot they are still eating well and are growing by the day, I think they will be big birds - we got them for feeding up for the table.

The Geese Have Gone!

Yes, I'm not at all sorry to report that we have sold the geese!  Those lovely little goslings in the video below got too big for the cage so we put them out with the big geese.  As soon as we let them out one of the big females started attacking one of them but the bigger of the two males saw her off and seemed to be protecting them.  The next morning one of the goslings was dead.  The other seemed to be doing well, it was inseperable from the big male and seemed really strong but unfortunately after about 3 or 4 days it too hit the dust.  We were both very upset and decided enough was enough.  This is the second year now they havent produced anything for the freezer, ok they are good guard geese but to my mind they were more trouble than they were worth.  They absolutely scared me to death, they were so aggressive, I admit I probably showed my fear and that made them worse with me.  So I put them on leboncoin and they sold almost straight away.  This morning I went up to see to the animals giving Nigel a lie-in for the first time in I dont know how long ( I was too scared to go into the main pen to open the barn doors before because of the geese) and it was so lovely to go through the barn into the field without fear, it was so quiet as well (well apart from the ducks!)

Saturday, 2 July 2011

Lovely Cauliflowers & Bumper Fruit Crops



We are really pleased this year because we have finally been able to produce some nice cauliflowers, they are absolutely beautiful and the leaves were really huge and made brilliant meals for the bunnies!  They are all picked now and have been blanched and are in the freezer.

We have also had bumper crops of fruit - the redcurrants and loganberries are all picked now and the first crop of raspberries has finished.  We have enjoyed some lovely raspberry and loganberry trifles and there are plenty more in the freezer.  I've made one batch of spicy redcurrant sauce which has gone in the freezer and will go lovely with most meats.  It was really easy to do, I just cooked them down with a little water and red wine vinegar, a bit of "lite" sugar, some powdered ginger, a couple of cloves of garlic, some chilli flakes and a load of onions.  It tasted gorgeous and had a real kick from the chilli!  I think I am going to make redcurrant jelly with the rest because that can go in jars and can be used to make sauces.  I've still got a box of loganberries left over from last year and as my loganberry jam went down so well I think I'll make more of that.

The blackberry bushes are full, although they are far from ripe yet, plus our one apple tree down in the orchard is full of apples,hopefully they will all be ready around the same time and then I will stew them all down together and put in the freezer ready for pies and crumbles - yummy!  We had a blackberry and apple pie from the freezer last night after dinner and it was lovely!  We also have two trees full of pears, one William and one Conference, they are still very small so fingers crossed they plump up and ripen nicely.  Dismal failure on the cherries and blueberries this year, oh well there's always next year.