Wednesday 22 May 2013


Today, the 22nd of May is our 'G-Day', the first day that any goslings were likely to hatch. So far no sign of any activity but I am told that, as happened with the chickens, they can have hatched but be kept a secret by their Mum for a couple of days - you might see and hear nothing. I have crept in and sat very quietly and listened but there are no new noises. Ah well, we are nothing if not patient, so we are leaving them well alone and allowing Nature to take its chosen course. Our friend Carolyn, just down the road, has had 6 goslings from 6 eggs 2 days ago, so we are a bit envious. We are also told that our problem of failing to separate the girls and allowing the egg 'borrowing' to occur might evolve into arguments over the new babies. This can go badly wrong for the babies, as you can imagine, but we are clinging to the belief that it's a bit late to separate anybody now, and that these two sisters have been nothing but amiable and nice to each other for the 4 weeks of sitting, so might just carry that into Auntie-hood.

Meanwhile our suspected barren hen, 'Baldy' gets a reprieve. The stock pot is back in the cupboard. She laid an egg! Fair play to her. She laid another this morning, so we hope she is back on line. Mind you we have not yet had that 3-egg (100% productivity) day  as one of the other girls took a break. You should always listen to your known experts - Mentor Anne said all along that William would not be 'treading' Baldy (and making her bald) if she was infertile.

The chicks are now at 4 weeks and have that amusing, half feathered, 'threadbare' look where you can see their reptilian ancestry shining through. Looking and strutting about like mini velociraptors and having all the experts having a punt on sexing them, which is notoriously difficult. Are tails up or straight backward? Is that a bit of a comb forming above the beak? Mentor Anne is going for 4 and 4, 2 roosters, 2 pullets among the buffs, my Sussex a pullet, The La Bresse cross a rooster and one of each in the Jersey Giants. Place your bets, ladies and gents.... the wheel is in spin!

In the orchard the apple blossom is just now starting to open so it is at that dark pink stage where only the backs of petals are visible. These are only young trees so we are pleased to have any blossom and we are not expecting any fruit. When the wind is less fierce we are getting a fair few bumble bees coming through now and the odd hover fly. I have not seen any honey bees and Anne tells me that Irish Bee Keepers are reporting 76% hive loss this winter on account of the hard weather. We'll see this year as the year in which the new trees got established and hope for a sensible season in 2014.

Diversifying our orchard a wee bit, we found in a local Garden Centre, and planted a hazel nut tree. The fruit tree layout was originally going to by 4 rows of 5 trees but we found that there was room for a 6th row at the north end, still giving clearance to the hedge line. I will do a line of nuts and other non top-fruit along here where their bushy shape will not detract from the plan to be able to look down avenues of blossom across the neat goose-grazed grass. Everything in its place? We had intended to get some hazel and nut trees from the 'Million Trees' project but it all seems to have gone a bit quiet in that department and the latest email update had them including escape clauses like 'trees will be made available as funds are obtained'. Reading between the lines it seems to have stalled and run out of money and trees. Ah well, the 27 we planted here are now breaking bud. We gather 'they' managed about 100,000 on the day which is, at least, 100,000 trees in the Irish landscape which would not be there but for the programme.

In the 'allotment' things are looking pleasingly weed free. We have decided to attack the enormous task of weeding in the same way I do pond digging - trying to achieve an hour every day, which translates into 2 big 'Curver' buckets onto the compost. Nearest to you in the picture is last year's rainbow chard which has amazed us by not bolting away to flower and is continuing to give us good yields. I have now got peas, broad beans, 2 kinds of artichoke and 3 of potatoes breaking the surface plus lines of smaller seedlings which I need to protect from the hens dust-bathing games.

Finally, with the grass growing like billy-oh and us not yet ready with multiple-gosling lawn mowers I have had to fire up the lawn mower to stop it all getting away. Carolyn has now sold the 4th horse (a 'big' ( i.e. normal sized) Irish Cob called Sam) so she was able to drop by yesterday with a third lunge rein, one each for 'our' three miniature horses. I was therefore able to 'deploy' my three mini-horse mowers today on the three reins , 2 in the Primrose Path and one on the front lawn under the trees where I daren't mow for fear of cutting into tree roots. We needed 3 reins because the three horses fret if they can't see one another and mess about trying to gallop up and down rather than settling down to eat the grass as intended. You can't just take 2 out mowing and leave the 3rd in the field. It was fun and games this morning in Liz's absence, trying to get 3 head collars onto 3 horses and then get them all tethered. I am not an experienced horse-manager and I think they spotted that!


Mr Silverwood said...

Should have sent up Em-J, she is an expert now at tacking up horses

Anne Wilson said...

28 -35 days for geese to hatch, hatching can take 3 days from pipping, your geese are young they will be more fertile next year.

Matt Care said...

Thanks for that, Anne - we are being patient but it's not easy is it. I feel like the anxious father-to-be pacing the corridors!

...and Mr S, we certainly need someone. Yesterday I grabbed the first horse, Romeo, bribing him with a Polo mint (as advised) and then slipped his head collar on completely upside down so that he had 2 leather straps across his eyes like some kind of gimp suit! Poor little fella, and him the 'alpha' horse, too! The look on him was priceless and I felt suitably told off.

carolyn said...

So sorry matt, I never thought to show you how to put headcollars on lol, 2 of our goslings disappeared yesterday can't find any sign of them anywhere. Carolyn

carolyn said...

Sorry matt I never thought to show you how to put a headcollar on lol, any sign of goslings?

Matt Care said...

Not a bother, Carolyn. We managed in the end! No goslings yet, Day 30 but we're cool. The books say 28-35 days, so we're not concerned yet - just impatient!