What a change in the weather over the past weekend. We have had a lot of the ice, which is pretty much everywhere we have been walking, gradually melt, so that in some spots, but not nearly all, there is now bare ground. The sheep do not like the ice at all, the cows avoid walking on sanded ice and insist sometimes on walking on unsanded ice, slipping and
falling in the process, one horse carefully avoids the ice and the other avoids the snow and secure footing and must be led out of her predicament. Everyone though, including us, has managed quite well. Back to winter on Wednesday. The warm spell does not really decrease the amount of firewood burned but does make the house and yurt a good deal warmer and more comfortable.
The chickens especially liked the warmth and on Monday and Tuesday wandered quite far from the chicken house, scratching for edibles in newly exposed grass and a few even made it up to the horses area to scratch for bits of horse processed and spilled oats and corn. They are now laying in the region of 60 % which is somewhat
lower than I would have thought. Nights have been cold still and Tuesday was the only day when they had everything; sun, warmth, still air and bare, not snow-covered, ground, all at the same time. The chickens are all doing well with now sign of frost bitten combs or wattles, feet look good and all are well feathered. The three year old birds look just as good as the one year olds. We have only lost one bird,
a hen, back in June. She was found dead outside
with no apparent cause. I would suspect that she had a genetic weakness, perhaps in the heart or something similar that meant a short life for her. If we had lost more we would have had an autopsy done to determine cause but with just a single bird, we do watch everyone else extra carefully for a while, there is nothing really to be gained from an expensive autopsy.
The kale is mostly now looking very brown. The leaf undersides are still green but the brown on the frilly edges is now so prevalent that little green is visible when the plant is viewed at a short distance. It seems to be that the kale is not lasting near as long as I would have expected, but the winter has been a bit more severe from the kale’s viewpoint. There
seems to have been a lot of high winds, large and numerous temperature swings, and colder than usual temperatures. I think all of these factors contribute to shortening the time that the kale stays green and fresh looking in the open garden. I can’t really see any differences in the keeping qualities amongst the five kale varieties we have. Four of
them are just variations on the dwarf curled scotch. These four are very similar in appearance and need a close comparison to see much difference so really they are all the same. The red variety might be a little less affected but I’m really not sure and a sixth variety, red Russian was smaller, less mature and perhaps not comparable and I’ve forgotten to look at it lately anyway.
Birds again. We are mulling over the possibility of getting some chickens and turkeys in the spring and raising them until early fall, September, probably October, for meat. Some turkey we would hold for Christmas. Let us know if you might be interested, how many chicken, how many turkey. This is for whole birds and chicken will likely be in the range of four to six pounds and
turkey from 15 to 25 pounds. They would have access to a large grassed area every day, locked up securely for protection from coyote, racoon etc. each night, and would be fed straight grains (wheat, oats, corn or /and barley in various combinations) but not necessarily organically grown unless we can find a reliable local supply at reasonable prices. We
would not feed and prepared high protein processed ration.
We are just testing the waters here to see what demand there might be and then we can decide just how many we could raise.
We have heard of sightings of Snowy Owls, south of Burford, just west of Scotland and also very near here, at the airport somewhere. We have been keeping our eyes to the skies, and hydro posts, trees etc. but have not seen any. Just this week though, my cousin’s husband Tim Thorington, took these photos of a Snowy Owl at Leslie Street Spit in Toronto. Tim is an avid birder and on his frequent walks keeps a practised eye out for birds and other wildlife and just interesting things to photograph. Tim has a good camera, knows
how to use it well and knows the birds. He takes really wonderful photos. Thanks for sharing your photos Tim.