Sunshine and showers. Proper April weather here. As we draw towards our third anniversary of life here we are given alternate glimpses of the promise of spring and summer to come – long endless days outside getting stuff done, achieving, being productive, combined with winds with sufficient force to cancel ferries, blow things across the croft and necessitate tying up the wind turbine, rain and hail storms to drench us and drive us back indoors. The temperature veers between t shirt weather and requiring the fire lit in the space of half an hour.
I have personally hit one of those overwhelmed by too many things to manage to achieve even one of them walls. I need to write lists, prioritise and regain my mojo. All of the things on my list are those I love doing and enjoy but instead of productivity and merrily ticking things off I have defaulted to baking and paperwork and researching on the internet, all important but not the sort of things which net the results we need to move forward. The resultant cookies are nice though! I think the upset of our rhythm of the shocking news of last week coupled with the distraction of our first visitors of the year (my parents were here with us for Easter, lovely to see them but a distracting reminder of the life we left behind which can take a period of readjustment to come back from) plus a visit from some blog readers (*waves at new friends*) which is always a surreal but very 21st century experience. Particularly remarkable as this blog reader also knows another set of blog readers we met in real life but through a totally different avenue. A very small world with so many coincidences. We were curious for details of their life in Australia while I imagine seeing for real the world I have painted pictures of with words for the last 3 years was a strange experience.
Meanwhile back in our real world we have been getting bits and pieces done. The bird house 2015 is nearly complete – a walk in large house with nesting boxes and perches ready to pen the chickens and ducks overnight so we can collect eggs is now ready for the final touches of a fenced run. I removed the netting from the herb spiral, dug over the soil and removed the weeds leaving just the rosemary, lavender, mint, thyme, oregano and comfrey. I am planning to take out the comfrey and move it nearer to the walled garden. I am unsettled by the lack of seedlings in which is due to the loss of the polytunnel. I have been looking at geodesic dome plans and would love to build one but am being realistic about the scale of such a project while we have a cob build to be getting on with so will hopefully dedicate a day with Ady to constructing a cold frame or two this week from scrap materials we already have and get at least some stuff sown ready to move across to the raised beds in a month or so. I can then tick off growing for the time being which will be one task back in hand.
We have two broody geese sitting on eggs. One has a pen around her, the other is still in the open but both are still spending portions of the day out grazing. Goose eggs are incubated for about 5 weeks but we will need to pen the whole area before the goslings hatch to ensure a better survival chance than last year. We also have a broody duck – sitting on about 9 eggs, again still dashing off once a day for food and drink so will need penning maybe next week. We have at least one broody chicken, rather cleverly she has managed to make her nest within the fruit cage so is utterly protected from crows and ravens so we’re leaving it to it. We will need to sort out chicken proofing that cage though before the bushes start fruiting. I had high hopes of a broody turkey as I found her nest with 8 eggs in it and was very excited but went to check it yesterday only to find it empty! It seems the crows or ravens had also spotted it despite it being pretty well camouflaged from the ground. I guess a birds eye view really does help!
The piglet count steadily declined from our initial 11 to 9 within 24 hours. A further 24 hours saw another 2 lost bringing the number to 7. The runt of the litter at that point was a spotty little one who was struggling to go to the toilet. We observed this but hoped it would pull through, a day later it was also dead and with a bruised and swollen abdomen we assume was not properly formed internally somehow. This brought the litter down to 6, which while very sad seems to be a very manageable number for Barbara who is doing really well with her reduced brood. There are 4 boys and 2 girls – one pink and five spotty. The single pink one (a boy) is the current runt and is less than half the size of the largest of his siblings but is able, determined and adventurous. All six are now out and about exploring, up to mischief and very cute. While at 2 weeks old they are by no means passed the challenges of early life they are all doing well so far.
As I sit typing the wind is howling around the caravan rattling walls and driving down the temperature. The ferry tomorrow is cancelled and the river is running high. It’s hard to believe that four or five weeks from now the midges will be here.