Summer has at last arrived!

The jackdaws young have fledged and the adult barn owl has taken back ownership of the barn owl box. We have seen the adult and the juvenile barn owl (which we rescued), on several occasions in the last 2 months. They have been seen gliding over the fields hunting for their next meal and also sitting on the fence posts alongside the caravan site. It is good to see the adult owl back in the box. And occasionally the juvenile has roosted in the cart shed beside Stables Cottage, leaving its tell-tale pellets.

A family of sparrow hawks has a nest in the large oak overlooking Orchard Cottage, and they can be heard most days, and more recently seen as the adults teach the young their craft. Swallows have nested in the sheep shelter and can be seen entering the shelter at speed as they dive out of the sky. It is amazing how they manage to stop so quickly from a high speed swoop and almost hover as they turn up to where the young wait. Patiently the young swallows sit, peering over the top of the mud nest, for their parent to deliver the insects caught on the wing. On the ground, a family of partridges and a family of pheasants are frequently seen wandering across the fields and gardens, and taking to flight when disturbed.

Two weeks ago we took our four ewes by trailer down to the Norfolk / Suffolk border, to be served by the breeder’s rams. The breeder bought an additional ram at the recent Stratford sales to ensure that the good blood lines were maintained. The ewes will return in-lamb in 4 to 6 weeks, once their pregnancy is confirmed. The lambs will be born early, a week or two before Christmas. The two ram lambs have remained at home with us and are enjoying the new grass which is growing through after the paddocks were topped. We have decided not to show them this year as neither is up to scratch. Muttley, the better of the two, would be worth showing if the he had not worn the fleece on his neck away when he was younger by pushing his head through the stock fencing for the greener grass. The fleece is growing back but he still has a sizeable bald patch. Joseph looks good, apart from his front legs, his knees are rather closely set and so he looks rather knock-kneed. So we will wait until 2013 to show our to-be-born lambs.

Over the last few weeks we have has been building a hen house to accommodate 9 additional hens and increase our flock to 12 so we will have sufficient eggs to sell to our guests. The hen house was finally completed last week and at the end of last week we collected the hens from a local chicken farm, which buys in ex-battery hens. Considering their previous home, the hens are in pretty good condition, although they do have bare patches with no feathers, and their tail feathers are stunted, but these will soon grow back. Most amazingly the hens must have been standing in their droppings, and in the recent warm weather as their droppings baked hard onto their feet, and had to be prised off. The hens are now settling in to their new home and becoming accustomed to having grass under their feet. The first night we needed to put all 9 hens into their new house, now they are all finding their own way home, with one exception, who continues to nestle under the hen house. And yesterday the hens laid their first egg!