Boring title, hopefully the blog will not be as boring as that! As the title says though, this is a general update.
On Sunday (in the pouring rain I might add), Chris checked and cleared/strimmed the site where the outlet from the septic tank goes, apparently that’s all ok. So, sorted now until it needs emptying again, hopefully in a couple of years.
In relation to the chickens, we dispatched two out of the three cockerels in mid October and they’re now in the freezer.. We now have two hens and one cockerel left. I don’t think I ever blogged about it…I’ll refrain from putting the photo’s up.
I won’t go into too many details, but this time we used what’s known as a killing cone and a bolt stunner, (as opposed to the only other time I’ve done it where I pulled the neck). You then cut their heads off or bleed them very quickly after stunning them. The cone is literally an upside down cone attached to a wall or something and you put the chicken in upside down with it’s head poking through the bottom of it. It’s meant to be a humane method and the idea is that as they’re upside down in the cone, you can put them up there for the whole process and take them down when it’s all sorted. Being upside down is also supposed to keep them calm and stop them flapping around.
I’ll mention this in case anyone has Buff Orpington or large fowl and is planning on despatching them, they’re so big you have to make sure they don’t throw themselves right out of the cone. I think that’s enough detail, unless anyone wants more – message if you do! Chris did the deed this time and I was very proud of him, he had never done it before.
I did the preparation, I don’t mind that bit at all, I find it quite interesting really. I did it all with the instructions up on the laptop in front of me on the table and the chickens are now in the freezer. If you did it regularly it definitely wouldn’t be that much of a big deal (the prep that is, I don’t like the killing bit, but I suppose I’d be weird if I enjoyed it). From what I’ve seen on the smallholding facebook groups there’s quite a few people who get broiler chicks and basically keep them until they’re the right age and then slaughter them, often for their own use. I’m not sure how it works out financially, the chicks are cheap but you’ve obviously then got the feed to supply etc. I might sit down and work it out at some point. But a lot of people seem to like doing it because they then know how they’ve been kept and again it’s the whole self sufficiency thing. I’ve got a feeling the rules will be very complicated if you want to sell them once slaughtered. I don’t think we’re going to do it, but it’s always something to bear in mind. The others seem absolutely fine, we will be getting others, but we’re going to wait until the spring now I think.
Chris is making a shelter for the remaining chickens from steel, he’s been welding a frame up and he has corrugated sheeting for the roof. We just need some dry weather for a weekend and then he/we can get it up and welded in place (mainly Chris, but a bit of me too). Photographs to come when it’s up. Buff Orpington’s are heavily feathered, so they can stand the cold well, but are not good if they get very wet as they then get too cold. We’ve tried tarpaulin on top of the run but it just ripped off during a storm, so the shelter is going to be really good.
Winter is definitely coming, there’s a much colder feel to the air, it’s been raining a lot again too, everywhere is very soggy.
I’ve cleared most of the polytunnel, but we do have some lettuces, brussel sprouts, turnips and leeks left which is really good as we still have a little bit left to harvest. There’s a lot of slugs too, I need to do something about them. Maybe beer traps? I don’t want to use pellets. I left the chilli’s up as well as we haven’t really had a lot from them for some reason this year and they were still growing, but it looks as though they’ve come to a standstill, so I’ll probably take them down soon. There’s a few green chilli’s on them (they’re meant to be red), but I’ll still use them. I’ll try to start them earlier next year and see if we get a better crop. There’s also some lupins, a few sweet pea plants and some honesty, Sweet Williams and wallflowers in pots, which will stay there until the spring and then (hopefully) be planted out. There’s also some really tiny pea plants outside that I planted late in the year, but they have flowers on them so you never know!
As predicted on the last blog, the wood I chopped has lasted until today, I think it will be gone after tonight. So tomorrow will be another wood chopping day I think, well, it will have to be, it’s meant to be a dry one tomorrow, so I hope that holds out.
We’ve just come back from the chickens again, it was actually really stressful, the youngest decided he didn’t want to be there and was screaming, the eldest was constantly calling the dog and talking. I had trained the dog (albeit by accident) to wait in a certain place when I do the chickens, but J was running around and calling his name so that put paid to that. Then, that was stressful because I kept having to check where the dog was. The trouble is, if I don’t keep an eye on him he runs off and there’s loads of sheep around us so it isn’t a good idea for him to disappear really. He has done it a few times and I don’t want him to do it again. But it got better, he didn’t disappear, we came back, put the dog in and then it was dusk so we stood around the back of the house on bat watch. We didn’t see any tonight, but it was fun. I love dusk, it’s so calm and gorgeous, I suspect this is a common love. It’s one of the times when I find it’s easier to sense God’s presence. Littlest loves it too, he kept screaming bat! whoosh! and then didn’t want to come in. He is in though, I had to bribe him with a bat video on YouTube.