Definately a drake amongst the ducks

Definitely a drake amongst the ducks

I can’t believe it’s October tomorrow, but it hardly feels like it given the warm dry weather we’re having. It was reported today that it was the driest September in Wales since 1910 (when records began), and I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s one of the warmest. We’ve been reaping the benefits of this warm spell with a bountiful harvest of fruit. Our (relatively) new apple trees have produced a good amount of apples, given their age, so much so that the Lord Derby cooking apple tree broke one of its branches under the weight of fruit.

We’ve now had our ducks for 2 months and there’s still no sign of eggs. One reason for this is that one of the younger ducks is a male! He started out looking no different to the females, but as he has matured he has developed a curled tail feather, orange legs and a greenish tinge to his head feathers. He hasn’t shown any other male traits,  but this may be because the females aren’t laying yet so he’s not getting the signals! Anyway, we don’t want it to get this far as these are his sisters, and so we need to get rid of him. Unfortunately, as with so many animals, the males are unwanted, unless they are needed for breeding. We haven’t decided whether he’s for the pot or we’ll try to find him a new home. We would like to find a home for him if we could swap him for another female, as we’ve invested time and money in keeping him.

The chickens are going great guns, laying good-sized eggs now (so we’re not sure what we would do if we had duck eggs as well). Even Matilda, our oldest chicken, is laying again. One of the young chickens decided to go broody last week, which is unusual in such young chickens, and especially at this time of the year (usually it would be in Spring). She tried to stay put on the nest, puffing herself up to fill the box, and everytime we approached she would try to peck us away. Apparently the way to stop them going broody is to get their body temperature down, so each time she went back on the nest we dunked her backside in cool water. Not quite the Ice Bucket challenge, but near enough for a chicken! It took about 3 days of dunking before she stopped, and so far it seems to have worked.

I’m now starting to get ready for winter, digging over beds and adding compost and manure which can be worked in by the worms over winter. I’m also sowing more green manure than I have in the past, partly because I’ve got seed left over (Caliente Mustard), and also because I thought I could get it to germinate quickly because of the warm weather. It’s already in flower and the bees are enjoying a late crop of nectar. I’ll be able to dig it in before covering the beds with plastic so it can rot down over winter.

Autumn is starting to make itself evident, with leaves falling and nights getting colder. It sounds like the weather is about to turn next week, so it will be time to think about lighting fires and hunkering down for the winter. Let’s hope it’s not as wet and windy as the last one!

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