Archive for January, 2012

clearing the bramble patch and having a bonfire

It’s turned quite cold, but still it’s not raining or snowing at the moment, so Neil has taken the opportunity to go down the woods and continue with clearing the bramble patch.  He made a big pile of brambles ready for burning.

Neil with a big pile of brambles

And yesterday he decided to light the bonfire and get rid of these brambles.  The wind was a bit all over the place so the smoke did blow around rather.

The bonfire gets underway

There was a dead elderflower tree in the patch that Neil is clearing so he had that down yesterday.  There are some quite big logs which when cut up, split and dried out will make great firewood.

Big log ready for cutting up

Unfortunately I have gone and got the first cold I have had in 2 years since we moved here, so I have not been outside, but stayed in the warm and am cooking up a nice beef casserole for dinner.  Good job we don’t have any B&B guests at the moment as I wouldn’t want to be sneezing in front of them!!
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RIP Black Rock Hen

One of our Black Rock hens has died.  I went down to let the hens out of the hen-house early this morning and there was a lot of commotion in the hen-house.  They all came tumbling out except for one hen who was lying in the straw in the nest box.  I could see from how awkwardly she was lying that there was something wrong. When I touched her I realised she had died in the night.

 This particular Black Rock had lovely markings with a gold necklace of feathers round her neck.  But she had been poorly for some time, she would stand there all hunched up and not interested in food.  When we threw corn all the others would come running and she would just stand there taking no notice. Nor was she laying any eggs.

There’s not much you can do when a hen is poorly.  Taking her to the vets would be prohibitively expensive and not worth it for the cost of a chicken.  That may sound a bit harsh, but they are not pets, they are here to produce eggs.

So now we are down to 15 hens. Neil removed the body from the nest box this morning and took it down the woods for the “fox removal service”.  All just part of nature’s food chain!!

Now the nest box is clear and the others can get on with laying eggs.  So when we get some lovely guests for our B&B in Buckland St Mary, they will have fresh eggs for breakfast.

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The hens are a funny bunch

The hens are a funny bunch.  We have conditioned them like Pavlov’s Dog, so that when they hear our feet on the gravel outside the back door, they think it means we are coming to see them with food and they rush down the field, wings flapping, running madly and wait at the fence edge nearest to us.

hens waiting for food by the fence
At lunch time we throw them bread and corn and they go mad for it, especially the bread. They pick up one piece and run off with it, so none of the others can have it, eat it , and then come back for another piece. When all the bread is gone they start on the corn.  They  have “layers pellets” on free demand 24/7 in the hen house, so they can get those at any time.

Hens pecking at bread and corn

Unfortunately they poop in the nest box too, so we have to clear the poop out everyday, but sometimes the eggs are a bit dirty on the outside.  We get all shades of brown, including pinky brown, and then one white and one blue from our 2 cream legbars.  All these lovely eggs for our B&B guests’ breakfasts.

Eggs in the nest box

Today we got 12 eggs from them, but the other day it was 14 which is our record from 16 hens.  I love going down to the nest box and peering inside to say what they have laid us.  
14 eggs laid the other day

The other funny thing about the hens is when they to go to sleep. They take themselves up into the hen house at dusk and we have 4 perches in there for them.  But they don’t stand 4 to a perch, they huddle up together and some go in the nest box and about 7 squeeze together on the first perch and the rest behind.  I think they huddle together to keep warm, but they do look funny.


The hens all huddled together at night

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Down in the woods

The wind having dropped and the weather being mild this weekend we have been working down in the woods.  On Saturday Neil went down with his chainsaw and cut down various branches and then sawed them into useable chunks for the woodburner.

Neil with his chainsaw

Today he started work on clearing the bramble patch.  This is a large area of brambles that is totally inaccessible due to the growth of the brambles.

Bramble patch in the woods

Neil worked away with his trusty Stihl Brushcutter all afternoon and cleared a patch but this will take several days as it is quite a large patch.  We will then need to gather up all the brambles to burn them and then sprinkle a weedkiller such as “Round up” over the area to kill off the undergrowth.  Eventually this area will be ready for planting out some new trees, called “Whips”, which is time will grown into mature trees to provide wood for us to burn in the future.  So this is all part of a 10 year plan.

Neil starting to clear the brambles

Meanwhile I have been foraging the woodland floor for twigs and small bits of wood that will act as kindling.  I managed to fill 5 bags, so that will keep us going for a while.

Five bags of kindling

It’s good to be able to get outside this early in January.  Last week the wind was howling and the rain horrendous, and this time last year, we still had very cold weather, so it’s a bonus working outside this weekend.

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New Year

Firstly Happy New Year everyone. Hope 2012 brings you everything you wish for yourself.

We went to Buckland village hall on New Years’ Eve for a meal and party.  There were about 90 of us locals, and we had a DJ to play  us the conga and the chimes of Big Ben when it reached midnight. We had balloons and party poppers and those balloons that you blow up and let go and they whirl all round the room!!.  Here is Neil with one he blew up.

Neil with a whirly balloon

There was dancing, mostly to some oldies, but it’s all very high tech what a DJ does these days, as its all on computer, no discs or CDs anymore.

Some of us dancing on New Year's Eve

Then at midnight we let off party poppers and a net of balloons came down from the ceiling, then we all sang Auld Lang Syne. So here starts 2012. 
We woke on 1st Jan to an overcast day and decided to go for a walk up Staple Hill again.  By the time we got there it had started raining, but we pulled our coats and hats around us and walked anyway.  You couldn’t see much of the view for the rain.

The woods in the rain at Staple Hill on New Years Day

When we got home we decided to chill for the rest of the day, so we sat down and watched a couple of movies.  Very relaxing. 
So here’s to 2012, we hope for a busy season of B&B guests.  come and visit us

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