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Welcome

Sow The Seed follows the ups and downs of me, Helen and my husband, Simon - a couple trying to live a simpler life in south-west Wales.

I hope this blog will not only be a good reference and diary for us over the coming years, but will give helpful advice and tips for people trying to do the same thing, or dreaming of doing the same thing.

Find out more on how we got here.

What’s Happening Today

Tasks: Sowing; pruning; weeding; pottering

Harvesting: Cucumber, lettuce, radishes, strawberries, broad beans, potatoes

Eggs this year: 394 (hens) 317 (ducks)

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Archive for the ‘Ducks’ Category

Rabbit proof(?) fence

It seems we may finally be coming out of the long, wet and cold winter, and spring is on its way. The rabbits certainly must think spring is in the air, as the rabbits are doing what they do best, and breeding like rabbits. Our rabbit problem is progressively getting worse, and while one or two in the fields can be tolerated, when they start to cause havoc in the garden, particularly the veg garden then it’s war!

When I checked on a row of parsnips and carrots I’d sown a few weeks ago, which I had been protecting from the cold with some fleece, I found a number of rabbit holes and tunnels underneath, soil everywhere, and most disheartening the rows of seedlings tossed around. I had found a similar situation a week before with the potatoes I had planted out, again under fleece for protection, but that wasn’t quite so bad as the potatoes can be fairly easily be replanted, but germinated seedlings will have to be resown.

Rabbit destruction

On seeing my frustration, Simon set out on Saturday morning to construct a rabbit (proof?) fence around the veg garden. We had a number of fence posts and a small roll of chicken wire already, so we’ve utilised what we have available. The fence doesn’t need to be particularly high (we hope we don’t have jumping rabbits), but the important thing is to make a skirt around the fence so the rabbits can’t easily burrow underneath. We also need to get in and out of the veg garden, so we need it a height we can easily get over. We managed to get three sides done, including using the duck’s electric fence as one side, and part of the polytunnel as another side. We didn’t have quite enough materials to go the full way round, but it’s a start. The rabbits are still getting in, so we will definitely need to close off every side before I can start sowing again.

This weekend also saw the loss of our first duck (other than Mr Duck, who flew the nest of his own accord). We’ve had them now for nearly 4 years, so they haven’t done too badly, but one of them could no longer walk. She was in a sorry state, pulling herself along with her wing. So we decided it was better to put her out of her misery than let her suffer any longer. So Simon did the deed, and we’re now down to two ducks. We would like to get some more poultry, probably just chickens, but while the avian flu lockdown is going on, nowhere seems to be selling young laying hens. Hopefully when the lockdown is lifted there will be some available, so we can boost our number again.

We’re both looking forward to some nice spring weather, and getting on with the year pest and trouble free… wishful thinking perhaps!

Three ducks in happier times

Reunited again

Reunited again

We received a call one morning last week from our neighbour: “have you lost a duck? There’s a duck sitting on our driveway”. Sure enough, Mr Duck was missing from his run. None of the ducks are tame, so we weren’t sure how we were going to get him home. The initial attempts to try herding him back up the road just scared him, and he ended up flying over the hedge into the next neighbours garden and disappeared (he’s very well camouflaged). This wasn’t going to be easy. The neighbour spotted him later in the day (or his dog did), so we tried again to capture him, but he just disappeared into the undergrowth. The best thing was just to leave him, and see if he made his own way home. After all, he’d managed to fly out of the run, so there was no reason he couldn’t fly back again.

Sure enough, the next morning there he was back with his ladies. However, being a dumb bird, he hadn’t quite managed to get all the way home, but was pacing up and down the fence, inside the goats field, quacking to his ladies. The goats were curious about what this strange creature was in their field, and kept going up to him and backing off again. Mr Duck didn’t seem bothered and continued to call to the ducks. We managed to herd him slowly back through the gate and into his run, to be reunited with the others. A lot of head bobbing followed, and all was well again.

That night we went out to capture him, so we could clip his wing to stop him escaping again. It’s always a bit of a trauma trying to capture the ducks, but by using a sheet we managed to secure him and clipped his wing feathers (just on one side so he can’t fly away). We’ll do the other ducks as well, but there should be no reason for them to fly off without Mr Duck leading the way.

 

Water, water everywhere

Water, water everywhere

The last time we had a completely dry 24 hours was the 2nd November 2015… and it hasn’t stopped raining since! This may be about to break, with cold and dry weather forecast for the end of the week, but I won’t hold my breath until I see and hear the evidence for myself (the rain has been waking us up every night). The ground is sodden, with springs popping up all over the place, where the ground can no longer take any more water. The ditch in our bottom field is now a proper stream, being fed by a number of springs, including the one in this picture, where two springs merge. At least we know some of the drainage work we have done over the years is working, with water being channelled away off the land into the streams.

Fir branch duck island

Fir branch duck island

The wet ground is making it hard to do anything outside. The areas we walk often, particularly to and from the animal houses, are thick mud. We’ve had to lay some temporary plastic garden track in one area, as it was getting hazardous to walk on the slippery mud. The animals don’t like this wet weather at all – even the ducks. The other day I found one of the ducks sleeping on top of a tiny mound of grass, with a moat of mud around her. I assume this was so she didn’t have to sit on the cold wet mud. So we’ve put some fir tree branches down for them, both to sit on and lay their eggs (their nest hollows had filled with water too). The branches act as a protective mat from the wet ground, and so hopefully this will make them feel more comfortable.

We don't like getting our feet muddy!

We don’t like getting our feet muddy!

The goats, needless to say, are also pretty miserable. They don’t like getting wet and will do their best not to get their feet muddy and wet. We’ve put down some paving slabs between the field gate and their house, so they (and we) have got somewhere mud-free and dry to walk. Luckily the field is well drained, so it’s not getting too muddy, otherwise I don’t know what we’d do.

The chickens seem least affected, continuing to peck about and keep out of the wet when it rains heavily. They don’t seem to mind the wet too much, and are continuing to lay well into the winter.

The UK record for the longest period of rainy days is 89, a record achieved in 1923 on the Isle of Islay. Eglwyswrw, a village in Pembrokeshire, about 20 miles from us, reported it had had 75 consecutive days of rain (on the 8th January), so perhaps the record is about to be broken. But I’m sure, like us, the villagers would rather this was one record they didn’t beat.

Modified version of the Summer Polaroid Pics template