Video: Smallholders Diary: June 09, 2009

PUBLISHED: 12:55 09 June 2009 | UPDATED: 10:56 04 May 2010

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THE last week has been the hottest thus far this year, and if the weathermen are to be believed we can look forward to more of the same. The advantage of this is great for the plants in the greenhouse and polytunnel, which are growing at an impressive rat

Smallholders Diary

THE last week has been the hottest thus far this year, and if the weathermen are to be believed we can look forward to more of the same. The advantage of this is great for the plants in the greenhouse and polytunnel, which are growing at an impressive rate, although at the height of the sun you can't spend too long in there. Of course, the down side is the constant watering.

The chickens and pigs can only take so much sun before seeking the cover of the shade. The chickens help to keep themselves cool by dust bathing whereas the pigs wallow in their mud pool.

The pigs are great diggers and are currently excavating large holes throughout their run, quite often all we can see of them is the rear half sticking out of the ground, as the rest of their body is submerged in a hole they have dug seeking out roots etc. It's amazing how effective their snouts are at digging holes, they manage to toss out large amounts of earth in their quest for a tasty morsel.

The eight chicks are doing well and have now lost a lot of their fluffy down which is being replaced by feathers. They continue to exercise their wings and can often be seen squaring up to each other, no doubt sorting out their own particular pecking order. It's still too early for us to tell how many hens or cockerels we have, we are obviously hoping for more of the former. We have now removed the two surrogate hens from the chicks and put them back in to the main run. This didn't appear to cause any great problems, although one of the hens keeps in close vicinity to the chicks at all times.

Last week we took delivery of another four chicks that had been hatched in an incubator by a school as part of their curriculum. Normally the chicks are returned to the farm that supplied the fertile eggs, however, this year the farm didn't want the chicks back, so we volunteered to take care of them. These new chicks are about 10 days younger than our own, and are therefore that much smaller. We did initially tried to get the two surrogate hens to look after them along with the other eight, but not surprisingly they were rejected. Now having removed the two adult hens from the small run, we have re-introduced the four chicks. This seems to have worked out although they do get picked on from time to time.

We don't know what sex or what breed they are. They are certainly different in appearance to our eight Light Sussex chicks insofar as they are all a different colour; they have a much smaller statue and have feathers on their feet. It will be interesting to see what breed they eventually turn out to be.

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