Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Unwelcome Noise

Young white rooster at 4 months.
There is a sound you don't really want to hear at this time of year from a small holder chicken flock and that is the young, quavering try-out "Cock a Doodle Doo" of an adolescent rooster practising his new vocal skills. You don't want to hear it because it means that one more 2015 hatchlings has grown up a boy instead of a useful, replacement, egg laying hen. That can only end badly for him in a flock which already has a good pure-bred cockerel and a useful p/b heir.

Poppea finally gets a bit of that beef.
Being a hybrid there would be no market for him (It's difficult enough selling p/b roosters for the simple reason that roughly 50% of chicks are boys but people go for more of a 7:1 ratio in the adult flock. I'm sure you can do the sums). Unfortunately his path lies down the plucking and freezing route but he's young and will be a nice tender bird so he won't go to waste. That was this morning when we both heard the unfamiliar crowing (obviously we are well used to our two existing roo's and the noise they make) coming from the yard, when we knew most of the chooks were out front, so I nipped round and there 'he' was, looking a bit self conscious, the only bird on the scene.

The two new 'windmills' at Roosky Farm now complete and
spinning away in the brisk breeze. Blues skies and puffy cumulus
He is the white chick from 'Hen and Two' hatched at the end of June, so he is about 4 months old. When we look at him now, of course, we can see that he does have a very upright stance, more so than the other chick, who is buff coloured but with a dark tail. Ah well, no need to react just yet. We still have plenty Hubbard meat in the freezer and he can put on a bit more weight before he gets into any fights with our main men.

Tomatoes still ripening well in the polytunnel.
Meanwhile, our amazingly merciful late season continues to delight. The dry, settled weather collapsed a bit over the weekend into showers and breeze but for the most part the sky has stayed blue with just puffy cumulus shower clouds and warm sunshine keeping us up at 14ºC day times and 7 or 8º at night. As is the way of these things, it will probably get announced as the warmest driest October for yay amount of years. Our polytunnel continues to pump out very flavoursome tomatoes and the veg plot is doing chard, kale, mange tout and a few last broad beans. The weeds, of course, are also growing to forest proportions.

Cowslip flowering in October. 
In the front garden bed a confused cow slip has come into flower. Just today some pelargoniums we bought admittedly very late and quite small and backward opened their first flowers. We watched them sulk all through July and August and began to worry in September whether they'd manage to do anything before the frost wiped them out.

Pelargonium doing a good effort. 
In October we saw flower buds forming and for days now we have been seeing them show colour at the bud tips and have been saying, "One warm week is all they need, you'll see!"

Dylan, Suffolk Down lamb born in June
Other than that, not much to report as we continue to wind down a bit into autumn. The sheep are enjoying a bit more fussing and human contact now that young Rambo has gone home and does not try to monopolise all the forehead scratching and chin caressing (Yes, we're ruffty tuffty, hard nosed shepherds alright!) and also lets me into the field with the ewes. I have gone back to coming into their field with the feed as opposed to lobbing it over the fence, and they all come over for a fuss and a gentle 'lean' on me. Dylan, the June-born lamb who came to us with his Mum, Myfanwy is 4 months old now but still not big enough to 'finish' so he's good for roughly Christmas before he becomes an issue. They are a happy little flock and doing a good job on trimming the front lawn, the East Field and, soon, a new bit which we will fence in to let them tidy that up.

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