Monday, 24 June 2013

New Gates at last....

Ever since we arrived and renovations were started at Cloghermore, the gates were always in plan to be replaced. They were corrugated sheets placed onto a steel frame painted black and had certainly seen better days. Every time they were opened something would fall off or you would loose skin, or trap fingers. They didn't fit together, had to be blocked with large boulders and I am surprised they have lasted this long. The wind has tried to dispose of them on a couple of occasions, lifting them off their hinges and depositing them in the field opposite, but they have continued to do the job.
A few years ago Diz asked me what I wanted for Christmas and I said 'new gates'. My mistake was I never specified which Christmas! Needless to say I never got them for that Christmas or any of the following.
Eighteen months ago, Diz got the steel for the frames and a neighbour welded them together. Twelve months ago I managed to paint one side, as we also got the wooden planks to go over them, which I also stained.
These gates have caused a great deal of amusement between us and our neighbour who has been waiting for a couple of years to have the right weather to get the remainder of his driveway and yard concreted. They have joked between them that he will get his concreting done before the gates were put up and visa versa. Before Diz went back to the UK in May this year, I made an effort to get the other gate painted as we had some dry weather, but it didn't happen. Too many other dry weather jobs to be completed first.
Then suddenly our neighbour started to make Diz aware that he would be completing his concreting in the next few months as he was getting ear ache from his household and the mickey taking increased between them. Then while Diz was away the neighbour told me he was hoping to get his concreting done at the end of May and would we be able to give him a hand. I won't repeat what name Diz called the neighbour, but he was rude (all in good fun of course). The neighbour said he would help hang the gates, much to my delight, but that he would have his concreting done before we put our gates up. And he was right.
Diz spent the day helping him tamper the lorryloads of concrete down and I raked it into position. There is always a bit left over, so Diz said to the lorry driver that we could put the remainder in our gateway opening, which would fill in the dip left from when the road was done last year. The first I knew was when Diz and the driver appeared. I told Diz that the old gates would have to be taken off otherwise we wouldn't be able to get them closed and they would get cemented into place, something I definitely didn't want. 'It will be fine', he said and when the mix was sloshed into the opening it was very obvious it wouldn't be.
The mix had been made very wet so it would go where it needed to go to fill holes. Which also meant it went into places we also didn't want it. Rocks were moved, and anything else which we didn't want to be a permanent feature.

The old gates were thrown to one side and we now had a big opening filled with concrete. Keeping the chickens and dogs off it was going to be a challenge. The chickens always escape at the first opportunity of an open gate and the dogs would find it equally enticing. Jes was first, but not sure about the grey stuff stuck to her paws up to her ankles and was less impressed with water being sloshed all over her legs to wash it off. But at least the concrete had been christened.
The neighbour said he would be over the following week to hang the gates for us, so I made sure it was painted and Diz welded the hinges on ready. Diz was going to be working, but the neighbour said he was fine to do them himself.
There was a lot of swearing and cursing as he found the pillars fell in opposite directions and were different heights, which was only to be expected from an old property.
Diz had also made the gates slightly smaller than we had expected, but it all worked out in the end.
Once the frames were up the neighbour asked for the wood, which we were not expecting him to do and after a very short argument I allowed him to fit the wood. Glad I did because it wasn't straight forward and he knew what he was doing.
Diz returned home just as he was finishing and what an amazing job he had done. We were both delighted they had turned out far better than either of us had expected them to.
This is the inside, with a level driveway.

And this is how they look from the road side. They are lovely to open and close, no fighting with them, no scrapes or cuts, they glide and lock open or closed, bliss. They certainly put a smile on my face.
The two of them now comment 'nice gates' and 'nice concrete'.

Stell & Diz

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

More new arrivals

This time it's the Turkey's, Bourbon Red's. After last years experience of double breasted bronze turkey's we decided to try something different. These are a pure breed and slow growing which I am led to believe makes a better tasting bird. We had 18 eggs delivered a month ago and 17 were fertile after candling, all we had to do was get them through hatching. After 28 days there were a few small cracks and a lot of wobbling eggs, but nothing had hatched. By 28 days there should at least have been one out, so we thought 'here we go, difficult birds'. Finally one made a bit more of an effort, but needed a bit of assistance to finally burst out of the shell. Then the next few made it on their own, probably encouraged by it's noisy mate.
After three days and only 7 hatched we were beginning to think that the rest will have died in the shells or if they do make it out there will be problems with them. I checked the eggs and found two to be making noise, so the rest were removed and the two were left to see what happened.
One started cracking and after seven hours, I assisted its escape. There is always a risk with doing this and no guarantee the bird will survive. Thankfully all was well and it has continued to develop fine. The second one cracked and again assistance was provided. This time the poor thing had been wrapped up in it's shell for a lot longer than normal for hatching and it's legs were just not able to straighten and hold it's body weight. Therefore it was dispatched. Sad and very annoying, but the risk taken with hatching eggs.
The remaining eight were transferred to the brooder run in the shed for their continuing development.

They have already developed little characters and I love watching these birds grow, I can't wait until they are running around outside and the boys start to display and strut their stuff. It will be a fun 6 months.
Eight birds will probably not be enough for our Christmas orders so we have managed to source some Norfolk Black day old Turkey Poults. These will be delivered next week and will be added to our brood.

We'll keep you updated with their progress.
Take care
Stella xx

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Can you make me a cake???

A friend was going to be celebrating her 60th birthday, so I asked her partner if he would like me to make the cake, which he agreed. 'Can you do a cat theme?' Thinking I had loads of time to make it and ice it, suddenly it was ten days before the event and I hadn't even baked it. Once the cake was made I 'played' with it each night until it was finished.
I was delighted with how it turned out and had great fun making it. And it tasted superb (if I do say so myself). The birthday girl was very moved when she was presented with her cake and didn't want to cut into it. She was soon persuaded by the crowd, but did save the cats.

New Arrivals

It's been a slow start for chicks this year, but we are starting to get there now. A week ago we had 5 chicks hatch for a Light Sussex mother. We were delighted to see two Indian Game chicks in amongst the 5, they have been very difficult to hatch over the past four years.
Mum and babies are doing very well.
We now have a total of 28 chicks and have two more broody birds with a total of 18 eggs due to hatch in about ten days and a further bird just had thirteen eggs placed under her. We are on Turkey watch with 17 eggs due to hatch today in the incubator. Once the incubator is free we will put a further 24 chicken eggs in and that will probably be it for this year.

Our other new arrivals are this years piglets. Kip and Jes were both keen to meet our new four legged friends, but as per normal Kip gets 'bitten' by the fence and won't set foot anywhere near the pigs because 'the pigs bit her'. Jes did get a slight zap, but has been so lucky not to get a good jolt. Her tail has wagged against it, she has rubbed against it and she is still oblivious to how much it will hurt. She is so keen to lick them just like she does the sheep, but can't get close enough.

We picked them up a week ago and one escaped out of the box into the boot of the car, which was a challenge to get it back. And of course they had only been in their pen 2 seconds before they tested the fence, shot through it and we then spent the next two hours chasing them round the field. After stopping for a spot of lunch we had another go and got them back into their pen which they promptly got zapped, shot through the fence and the chase started again.

They finally settled down and now have respect for the fence, staying on the right side of it. They are getting into a routine and seem happy enough. They are eight weeks old and are a Gloucester Old Spot cross Duroc cross (we think) Tamworth. We are very late this year, but will hopefully be taking them to slaughter in 4 to 6 months. I have been collecting stale bread and cakes from work which will help with the feed bill. They have a very sweet tooth and fight over the cake scraps!
They are very nosy and like to keep an eye on what I am doing when I potter around the polytunnel.

Diz has named them Spotty Bollix and Ginger Bollix. Enough said?!