Saturday, 17 March 2012
No sooner has the farmer finished spreading the slurry from our neighbour's slurry tank than the 'big one' arrives. Yes, the farmer has hired the giant muck spreader for the day in order to attack the 'muck heap'. This is the serious stuff piled up in the field since he cleaned out the loose housing half way through the winter. When he did this, if you remember, the cats were mightily put out as they used to sit in the loose housing watching for any little mouse that dared to show its face. They also knew that manure of that depth heated up, so it was a nice warm place to sit on a cold day.
Since it has been lying in the pasture the sheep have been using it for climbing practice. Any day now they will be going back to the fells, so they need to perfect their climbing skills again having spent their entire Winter on flat ground. So today, when Tess and I walk round the fields, we shall have to watch where we go, otherwise we shall be hit by flying muck.
Rabbit holes are multiplying daily and baby rabbits are appearing. The two are connected as rabbits usually scrape out a new hole for breeding. Their Winter quarters will have become quite smelly and rubbishy, so new beds are needed for the birthing of the litter. I think all animals are the same really - gettings one's quarters ready is an instinctive part of the breeding process.
The marmalade I made has been put away in the cupboard. There is something quite satisfying in stacking six jars away in the jam cupboard. It is a bit of a chore to make and even more of a chore to wash up the preserving pan afterwards but putting the marmalade into the cupboard makes it all seem worthwhile.
My four cockerels remain shut in their housing. They seem quite happy although they are quite aggressive when the farmer goes in to feed them in the mornings. The trouble is that they eat such a small amount and therefore they are not getting fat. The question is - what do we do with them? Do we kill them one by one and put them out for the fox - Mrs Fox will have cubs now and will always be on the look-out for food; do we kill them and prepare them for eating and then casserole them - that way it might not matter that they were skinny - or do we kill the four all at once and bury them? One thing is for sure - I have asked around and nobody wants a cockerel, we can't let them out because they would just fight their father for supremacy over the hens, and we can't keep them forever. A dilemma. What is the answer? Solutions on a postcard please.