Monday, 25 May 2009

Another course at Hopesay Glebe Farm

We ran another day class here yesterday where thirteen keen organic gardeners came together to learn about and discuss small scale organic vegetable growing. I've published notes on the talk I did at
if this doesn't work click on the title of this piece and that should take you to the notes.

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Vegetable progress

The weather is OK this spring, we have had enough water and some sunshine so things are moving along well enough. So far we have finished planting onions and the first crop of beetroot and the outdoor early spinach.
In the tunnels we are experimenting with runner and broad beans under polythene, so far growth has been slow and seems to be tied closely to soil water levels. We initially had a problem with pollination of the broad beans but increasing relative humidity seems to have improved the set. we will see the jury is still out on those protected crops.
Other tunnel crops such as early spinach salad leaves and lettuce are progressing well and ready for harvest while the fine beans are established and seem to be making reasonable progress.

Thursday, 7 May 2009

Lambs at last

First lambs of the season, this one had a bit of a struggle with two legs back, he was the second lamb and was taking too long when we spotted a nose and tongue no feet. We pulled the ewe up by her hind legs to allow the lamb to slip back and Nicky got the two legs forward and assisted the birth. Pretty soon he was up and about, as soon as we see lambs have taken colostrum we are happy to leave to get on with bonding.
Mother ewe licking cleans the lamb and tells her which is her lamb, as she recognises them from their smell from now on.

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

First graft of the season

We graft into queenless starter hives which after 24 hours are united back with the queen above a queen excluder. Here the queenless starter is the single box on the left which will be united with the double hive after cells have been started.Simple top bars are used to which we attach the plastic cell cups. This bar had 9 from 16 accepted, not brilliant but OK for the first graft of the season. The accepted cells have wax drawn out from the cell edge.
Inside the cell the larva can been seen surrounded with larval food supplied by the nurse bees. The cell on the left of the picture has been drawn out but there is no larva present. Presumably rejected after it was started.

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

We have a Duck

Our neighbors "kindly" brought a duckling round that their young dog had in its mouth. I think we must be seen seen as some kind of Dr Doolittle characters. Well it was obviously only a day or two old, its parent I think was taken by the fox that killed our chickens. They love Duck. So we took it assuming that it had been so stressed and chilled that it wouldn't survive the night. We put it under a broody hen, not expecting the duck to imprint on the hen.
Well here we are 3 days later and it is alive and well and thinks the hen is its Mum and the hen seems quite happy with her new charge.
The duck is a Malllard so will presumably fly off once it has fledged but time will tell.

Sorry about the quality of the photos, it is remarkably difficult to catch the little bugger while it is legging it round the crate as the hen gets frantic.

Millies' progress

Millie is about 13 weeks now and has at least doubled in size, she is interested in chasing chickens and shows curiosity towards sheep, she has only seen them through the fence and it will be a couple of months before I introduce her to sheep.

Fox Attack

We have just had our first fox attack for 3 years, he killed 17 birds and left 16 laying in the field which resembled the day after the chicken war. He chased and killed birds all over the field in broad daylight and must have been in and out in 20 mins.

Our main hope now is that the remaining flock don't go off lay as a result of stress
The game keepers have been less active recently presumably as a result of the downturn. I,m not sorry that mass slaughter of pheasants is being reduced on these huge shoots but it does mean that we will have to be more professional with our protection of the hens.