All is well at the moment, out on the farm. That bad Winter we were concerned about hasn’t happened yet. In fact, yesterday was the hottest February day on record. Tracey is  already muttering about opening the swimming pool early. We were in Braunton on Sunday and there was a magnolia tree in full bloom! Our grandson, who was surfing with his mates at Saunton beach, said the water wasn’t very warm, but the Southerly wind coming up from Africa was very pleasant. This time last year we were preparing for ‘The Beast from the East’ to visit and busily waxing our toboggans. Now I’m about to wake the lawn-mower up from it’s annual hibernation. As I walked across the ponies field early this morning I was treading in divots and seriously considering having a go with the tractor and roller. I let Matey and Sampson have a bit of a gallop up over Long Walk when I exercised them earlier and when I looked behind we had kicked up a cloud of dust. I’ve had their rugs off during the day because they were getting sweat rash. Long may it last – or will the Russians get involved again ……..

 

Spring is definitely in the air already. Our second broody hen is due to hatch out tomorrow. Number one produced three chicks early in February and managed to get them as far as being released into the chicken run at about three weeks old. After a few days they began to disappear, one by one, during the night ! The mother hen would find a ‘safe’ and quiet corner in the chicken house, before the others turned in for the evening, and settle down with her chicks underneath her. They would generally clamber up through her feathers, under her wings and pop their heads out to keep an eye on things. A pesky, treacherous, rat would creep around behind her, sneak underneath where it couldn’t be pecked, grab a chick by its foot, drag it out and leg it. Mother hen wouldn’t do anything because of protecting her other offspring. I have increased and upgraded the rat prevention system, and Misty and Rosie have increased their patrols and vigilance. Hopefully the next brood will fare better.

 

The ducks have started to lay eggs again, but not until the sixteenth of February. Two days late, which given the mild weather, is surprising. Mind you, I don’t feed them layers rations during the Winter. I wait until they start laying. I suppose if I fed them before they were due to start laying…….there’s another example of the classic ‘chicken and egg’ quandary. Or even ‘ duck and egg ‘……

 

The geese have behaved themselves very well all Winter. Last year we brought in two new Ganders, Ghengis and Ghandi, to replace Syd, who had a bit of a problem with a fox. We also introduced a new Goose to accompany Hilda. Two ‘duos’ should have been a nice, efficient and smoothly run system. Unfortunately, Hilda suddenly died after a couple of weeks, which left us with an incorrect ‘trio’. They have co-existed all Winter very happily, until last week. Things have suddenly changed. The goose ( as yet un-named ) is about to/or has just started to lay eggs and she wants them to be fertilised before she lays them ! The ganders have started the goose equivalent of the rutting season. They are now beating the living-day-lights out of each other, in order to claim mating rights. The goose (let’s just call her Goosey for now ) is far from impressed. She would much rather spend some ‘ quality time ‘ with one or other ( or even both ) of the ganders than watch them beat each other up all day and probably all night until they are to tired to ‘ perform ‘. Needless to say,’ Instagran’ has flown to the rescue and I think that as I am writing this a suitable replacement has been located and arrangements are being put in place. Another goose should be winging it’s way over tomorrow and we will return to two proper ‘duos’. Peace and harmony should be restored.   Simples.

 

‘Waste not’ and ‘Want not’, our two Gloucester old-spot X Oxford Sandy and Black pigs are going to be ‘leaving us’ shortly. That means the farm shop will be fully stocked, ready for the new season, which starts next week. A couple of weaners will be arriving shortly, so there will be another ‘Name that Pig’ competition in the offing. Perhaps a ‘Name those Geese’ option as well. I’m sure some of you will have some choice choices !

 

The Winter maintenance on the holiday-lets is finished and the deep clean is under way. Several new projects are in the pipeline for outside. More details on that next time.

 

We still have some late availability for weekends , short breaks and holidays for March, so if you fancy a family-friendly farm break, contact Tracey or see our web site, info@northbradburyfarm.co.uk.

 

Right, I’d better see if I can get ‘Trusty the Lawnmower’ going again. It decided to eat it’s drive belt just before lunch-time…….must be sulking because I turfed it out so early in the year.

 

Cheers for now, Farmer Chris.