Blossoms in the orchard

The weather is warming up and spring is in the air.  The fruit trees are blossoming and the bees are humming.  It’s so beautiful.

Last week I sprayed the fruit trees with a copper based spray to prevent leaf curl.  Hopefully it works.  I hate leaf curl.  It looks really wrong so I hope the spray hurts.  I haven’t done it before so we will see what happens.

Image

Image

We have used espalier method with the apple trees and some of the stone trees.  In hind sight they should have been further apart but we were told because they were dwarf trees they would be fine.  What wasn’t accounted for was the fact the orchard is where the cows used to stand and poo after being milked and over the years there is lots of fertility.  The trees have exploded out of the ground and their growth far exceeded our expectations.  This will be the first year we will get fruit so it’s a bit exciting.  I did get nectarines start forming last year but the birds got them before we had a chance.  We don’t have long now to get the net over the top or it will be the same story this year.

I’m not sure whether to limit how much fruit they produce or just let them go.  I have heard that it’s best to only allow a few fruits the first few years and you will get bigger fruit?  Will have to look into it a bit more.  Next project will be looking into preserving the fruit and maybe making jam.  Haven’t done much of this before so it’s a bit daunting.  One step at a time…….

 

Advertisements

Winter Pruning Completed

Image

Image

Pruning is finally completed and trees are now ready for spring.  This is the third year so we can now allow the apple trees to flower and fruit for the first time.  It has been so sad picking off the apple blossoms.  Apparently they will produce better if you don’t let them fruit for the first three seasons.  It has been so hard!!  I felt so mean.

I had a lovely number of nectarines last season and the birds ate them all.  Next job is to get the cover over the orchard so we can actually pick fruit this year!  We have had citrus – lemons, limes, oranges and a few mandarins.  I also have some lemonades just about ready.  Our mulberry tree got flattened in the torrential flood rain.  That was a bit sad. 

Bring on spring!  Can’t wait!

My Dream

We are all on a journey, the journey of life.  My dream, my goals, my hopes are not just about weight loss.  12wbt is changing my life and my habits and giving me control in areas of my life that previously had none.

This journey is not just about 12 weeks.  It’s my life.  It’s about changing my lifestyle, not just for 12 weeks but for the rest of my life. 

We live on a dairy farm and have had many opportunities to better our life and have let them pass us by because we didn’t have time or our priorities were elsewhere.  I wish we had done all this earlier but we didn’t so there’s no point dwelling there.  Instead, it’s more important to look ahead and plan for the future.

We have created a farm within a farm.  I now have a strip of land sectioned into six areas.  Four of them are used for the sheep, one for the goats and the last is where we have planted fruit trees.  I also have chooks and the ducks are in the orchard.

I have a veggie garden which hasn’t reached it’s full potential.  I’m not a natural gardener so this is a big learning curve.  I’ve extended it to a second area to grow potatoes, cucumbers and zucchinis.

My goal is to be self sufficient.  Meat – lamb, beef, chicken.  Goats – milk and cheese. Eggs and milk.  Make my own butter and yoghurt (already do yoghurt and ricotta cheese and sometimes fetta).  I need to plant more veggies and herbs this spring and plant enough to freeze not just to eat as we harvest!

I would love to have bees but haven’t been able to work this in yet so it’s on the list for later. I have a lot to learn and a lot to do.  As time goes on I’m sure there will be more ideas and more projects (much to my husband’s dismay although he has to admit he has enjoyed the projects so far) and hopefully we will be closer to being able to provide for ourselves.

 

Our first egg!

We got five Indian Runner ducks in February of this year.  They are now 6-7 mths old.  There are two drakes and 3 ducks.  Very cute.

The ducks have taken residence in the orchard.  They are such creatures of habit.  If you change the water bowl, they won’t use it.  If you put something new up there, they won’t go anywhere near it for days.  It’s quite comical to watch them.

I wasn’t sure when we could expect our first egg but I didn’t think it would be before spring.  It has arrived!

Image

So exciting!  Cooked it up for hubby but I can’t say he enjoyed it haha.  Bit too strong for him.  I’m going to try the eggs in baking and see how they go.

We need to get the orchard covered not only so we will actually get fruit this spring but also because the duck eggs are being stolen and eaten!  Looks like crows.  Rude!

Image

This is Darkwing our first laying duck.  She is the queen.

Image

They have grown so much.

Image

February 2013:

Image

How small were they?  So cute!

Image

Now, they have grown and the egg laying has begun.  I’m not going to breed them at this stage as these are siblings and I don’t want to change drakes.  I like the unit as it is.  They are a very close-knit and I don’t want to break them up.

Just have to wait now for the other two to start laying 🙂 go ducks!!

Allie

I just found this photo of Allie when I first got her.

Image

Such a cutie and quite neat.

Image

Image

Image

Now her wool is so long!!!! She has dredlocks.  Obviously she has grown as we all are apt to do but still so very cute. Love her to bits!

My little sniffer sheep 🙂

My beautiful girls

Image

I was going through some photos and found some of my light sussex chooks when I first got them.  They got sick not long after they arrived and I had to fight to save two of them.  They are so beautiful.

Image

They have grown so much and are now laying.  I have also added a very good looking rooster – Mr Steggles and he looks after them splendidly.

Image

They are doing really well and starting to lay an egg a day and the eggs are increasing in size.  They have such personalities and provide a lot of entertainment.  One of them persists in pecking my pants and trying to eat them – without much success I must say.  They gather round my feet in anticipation of what I am about to give them.

Funnily enough I am allergic to chooks but as long as I don’t pick them up and get their dust or fluff or whatever on me I am ok.  I would hate to be without chooks.  I have 4 different groups of chooks but these are my favourites 🙂

Allie – my beautiful romney

I brought Allie about 18 months ago.  She will be two years old on the 9th of August.  She is a beautiful romney ewe with long wavy white wool (although hers is mostly a faded reddy brown colour as she persists in lying in the dirt!) and is often covered in grass and bits of straw.  I have no idea how she manages it.  All the other sheep always look so much cleaner and quite neat in appearance.

She would be one of my favourites.  I love all my sheep.  Allie is my only romney ewe.  The ram is also romney.  I have four dorper crosses, three dorper cross witterpoll and two black faced suffok.  All coloured – Allie is the only white ewe.

Image

You can see what I mean about things stuck on her and dirty.  I call her my sniffer sheep.  She always comes over and has a good sniff of anything new.

She was too young to lamb last year and they only season once a year so this year was the year!!!  I was so excited.  I kept watch every day to see if Henry (the ram) was showing interest.  They generally season from March/April?  So they lamb mid-September after they have been shorn.

I saw Henry try and do his deed a few times and as he jumped, she ran!  I despaired of her getting pregnant!  Then on the morning of 20th July we found her with a little lamb.  A girl.  No wonder she wouldn’t let Henry do his thing.  She was already pregnant!  So here she was with all her wool – nearly to the ground – and a little baby.

I went to town and saw the lady I bought her from to ask if the lamb would be able to find the teat as she is so woolly.  No.  So we got a shearer out who crutched and clipped her hoping to make it easier for the lamb.  We were concerned that the lamb hadn’t had a feed but he looked at the lamb and assured us that she had and was fine.  Checked that afternoon and the lamb was running round with mum and all looked ok.

The next morning she couldn’t lift her head and all most definitely wasn’t ok.  We raced and got a container and bottle with teat and proceeded to milk Allie and feed her lamb.  We continued this all day and by afternoon she was standing.  My husband rigged up a pen in the shelter with straw and we got her food and water and sheltered them there.  By the next afternoon she was happily suckling her mum with a little assistance and we thought we had won the battle.

About 3.30 the next morning my husband woke me.  He had been bringing the cows home (we are on a dairy) and stopped to check on lamb and thought she was a little cold.  She was standing up and looked ok but he thought it might be best to put her in front of combustion stove and give her some fluids and then take her back up to Allie when it was warmer.  I sat with her for four hours until she took her last breath.  I cried and willed her to keep breathing – even tried mouth to mouth – to no avail.  I was devastated.

I found out that if lambs don’t get that first drink within 4-6 hours of being born they run a high risk of developing clots which kill them a few days later.  Allie’s lamb died on day 3.  She taught us a lot and the next time Allie lambs she will be penned right away so we can monitor lambs feeding – especially if she hasn’t been shorn.

I thought I would have to wait another 12 months before she would lamb again but there is a possibility she could go into season this week.  Fingers crossed!  Have to give her a bit of a trim so Henry has a clear shot!

IMG_0023

I was so proud of her.  I’m sure she knew something was wrong.  She let us milk her and try to get her lamb to suckle.  She never gave up on her and stayed by her side.  She was a bit distant for a few days and I didn’t think she was going to forgive us.  Thankfully she has and once again comes over for a head rub and a back scratch.

That was the first lamb we have lost and it had to be the one that I had most looked forward to.  Allie is such a character and hopefully everything will go ok next time.  We won’t be trusting of opinions next time – we will want solid fact that lamb has suckled!