Late Spring 2016

Spring has been slow to appear and it is only in the last week that daytime temperatures have climbed out of single digits. So much so, that the soil temperature has been too low to sow vegetable seeds. The potato sets were planted last week and the vegetable seeds will be sown this, and will include peas, carrots, parsnips, beetroot, runner beans, green beans and courgettes (brought on from seed in the parent’s conservatory). The asparagus is at last coming through and is ready for harvesting every 2 or 3 days.

Two weeks ago the first swallow appeared, and this week the remainder of the flock arrived. With limited time to raise their broods before their return to Africa they immediately started work on repairing their nests and making ready for egg laying. This week, they can be seen every day flying into the sheep shelter to their nests where the female sits. Incubation takes between 10 and 21 days, when the young will be seen being encouraged to fly.

In the last week the cuckoo has made its presence known, being heard from the CL and at Felbrigg. Indeed the Felbrigg cuckooed incessantly last Thursday and could be heard for a full hour while the dogs were walked.

The flock of hens was recently increased by 10 to 25, as some of the existing hens are quite elderly and non-productive. Indeed, in the last week, the number of hens dropped to 24 with the demise of an elderly hen. The hens are completely free range and are allowed to live their lives to the full and as long as they are able, without fear of culling. The 10 new additions are point of lay hens from Breck Farm and in a matter of days increased egg production to 16 – 18 per day. The hen hutches have also been moved to the bottom of the field, which is better drained and so hasn’t become a muddy quagmire, like their previous abode. The next job will be to renovate and paint the hutches, which are showing the effects of the inclement and wet winter weather.

The sheep are decidedly woolly and will be sheared this weekend. As shearing is imminent they have not been treated with pour-on to protect them from blow flies. So with the warmer weather they are regularly inspected to ensure they have not succumbed to this particularly nasty parasite. Hampshire Down ewes and hens, with hutches in the background are pictured below: