Easter chicks

We have the first births on the croft this year! The eggs that we put in the incubator three weeks ago have started to hatch, so far we have nine chicks.

Update – we have a total of twelve chicks hatched, ten of our own and two Rhode Island Reds out of six from eBay.  None of half dozen Light Sussex eggs, also from eBay,  hatched. 

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Starting to look verdant 

Despite the bitterly cold wind outside the polycrub is taking on a predominantly green hue as opposed to brown earth. The seeds have mainly sprouted, tatties are showing through and the rocket is growing faster than we can eat it.

We had the first spring cabbage with our Sunday roast and very nice it was too. Lifted the remainder of the over wintering carrots from the rigs that were worth keeping – they’ve done really well, we’ve been eating them since September. 

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Blending colours

I’ve been playing around with my mini louet hand combs to see how versatile they are in terms of colour blending. I initially got them to help remove the many neps I seem to get in some of our fleeces, but they are actually invaluable for fine colour blending. Its a real pleasure working with them and I feel inspired to blend many more combinations – 

So I start with some fleece I dyed earlier, lashing on the colours in layers and begin blending.

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It took about 4 goes of transferring the fibre from comb to comb, then I was left with lovely fluffy pink clouds of soft stuff ready for spinning

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This is the leftover ‘waste’ full of neps and other stuff!

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Hatching eggs 

Set 24 hens eggs in the incubator – 12 of our own plus 6 Rhode Island Reds and 6 Light Sussex which we bought off the internet. They should hatch in 21 days.

Eggs ready to go into the incubator

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More seeds sown 

Spring seed sowing starting to ramp up. The following seeds sown in modules in the polycrub :

Dwarf sweet pea
Tagetes 
Marigold 
Zinnia 
Cosmos 
Viola
Lobelia
Heliopsis 
Pea – Hurst’s Greenshaft 
Dill
Parsley 
Tomatoes – legend and gardeners delight

Seed trays

The seeds planted earlier are all germinated, although they are still fairly small. The over wintered spinach beet is now ready for picking and eating 

Spinach beet ready for picking

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Willows for fuel 

We are reducing the size of our rigs for growing vegetables as they are going to be made into raised beds, so we have a bit of space fenced off from animals with reasonably good soil. In order to utilise this space we decided to plant some willows specifically for harvesting for fuel for the range. Ordered up 3 varieties of willow from south which arrived on Friday and when the weather improved slightly on Sunday we planted them out.  They were just pushed through some weed suppressant fabric, which was pegged to the ground, so that they have a bit of head start on the weeds. If all goes well we should be cutting some willow to burn is a few years time.

As you can see from the picture the ground is very wet at the moment – makes working outside very difficult , if not impossible. Hopefully we’ll have a spell of good weather soon and the ground will dry out.

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Blackcurrants and willows

3 years ago we took cuttings of blackcurrants (well prunings really)  and shoved them in the ground. Most of them rooted successfully and having survived pigs and turkeys it is time to move them. We planted some of them outside of the pig area to act as wind break / screening,  along with some willows which had been growing on in the old polytunnel area.

The three largest blackcurrants were planted into the fruit area on a bed that used to house strawberries. They were joined by a gooseberry bush. 

So in a couple of years we should increase our fruit harvest. 

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Mirrie Dancers

Mirrie dancers (aka northern lights, aurora borealis) were out in force tonight. Perfect night for it – moonless and virtually cloudless

Mirrie Dancers-2 Mirrie Dancers

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More seeds sown 

The beds in the polycrub are starting to get filled. Planted the following rows of seeds today along with a couple of rows of red onion sets:

  • Carrots – Early Nantes
  • Beetroot –  Moneta
  • Spring onion – White Lisbon 
  • Swiss chard – Rainbow 

Also sowed the following seeds in pots for planting out when they have germinated and grown on 

  • Lettuce leaf – gourmet 
  • Celeriac – Prinz
  • Leeks – American Blue Flag 
  • Leeks – Bulgarian Giant 

The white stuff in the picture below is crushed egg shells sprinkled over the seeds to keep the slugs at bay

The radishes have germinated,  so should be eating them in few weeks and the autumn planted shallots are coming on nicely. 

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Carding and cowls

Beginning to work my way through the fleeces I dyed earlier with my new mini louet hand combs and my trusty jumbo drum carder. I blend the separate colours together until they form a pleasing colour (to my eyes) combination, full of neps I know but for this particular yarn they add just the right amount of texture –

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Once spun this is what these lovely batts turn into – not sure where to put these yet Etsy or Folksy or sell them locally.

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