Thursday, 23 July 2015

Another broody!

Yes, we have another broody!

This is our 4th - the first successfully hatched 3 chicks, the second 5 chicks and the third just two.

In between times we hatched out a big batch in the incubator. 15 hatched, and 11 have survived so far!

Trouble is with broody number 4 is that our eggs are no longer fertile as we had dispatched the cockerel, so a quick shout out on our local Devon Smallholders Facebook group and I found someone local who had some hatching eggs. So, a quick dash up to Woolsery and I bought 5 french maran eggs. The lady I bought from said that a broody will sit on an odd number of eggs, so I couldn't have six, I had to have 5 or 7, so 5 it was!

Who knew!

Wednesday, 15 July 2015


Blooming animals are forever picking up ticks - just found a fat juicy one behind one of Lladdies ears. The 50p tick remover that we invested in several years ago has well and truly paid for itself. I think this year that is Lladies second, Gizmo has picked up four, Pepper one and Hilda the cat has picked up three.

Luckily though, no humans have picked up any - always wearing boots or wellies and jeans, very rarely have any bare skin showing. If you do get bitten by a tick be aware of Lymes disease - Many people with early-stage Lyme disease develop a distinctive circular rash at the site of the tick bite, usually around 3 to 30 days after being bitten. This is known as erythema migrans. Follow the link to the NHS website for further symptoms and as long as it is picked up early it is treatable.

However, it doesn't appear to infect the animals - it is just an irritant whilst it sucking their blood.

Monday, 13 July 2015

We have rain..

In fact we have loads of rain, the type of rain that gently comes down and soaks everything. It's good because it soaks into the soil instead of running off and flooding places, it's also good as we fill up our water butts with, in some case much needed water. It's also good in that the vegetable plot won't need a good soak for weeks, but....

It's not so good, because it is summer, and we need sunshine to ripen my tomatoes, amongst other things, so please can we have some more sunshine!

Thursday, 9 July 2015

Two's company, three... a crowd.

Until recently we had 4 dogs and with the recent passing of Cookie, our 14 year old Samoyed, we now have just three.

Lladdie & Gizmo (a border collie and a springer spaniel respectively) are both three years old and have plenty of energy and while they do not always get on, do play and race each other around our fields.

This chap ...

Pepper, our 10 year old springer X is feeling a bit left out - poor thing. He misses Cookie dreadfully as she has been there all his life until 2 weeks ago, and he has no one to play with.

I actually feel really sorry for him!

Friday, 3 July 2015

I think we are winning the war against rats... least in the meantime!

This warm weather has seen an explosion in our local rat population. Whether we like it or not rats (and mice) like to live close to us humans as we regularly leave food out for them to eat. Whether we feed the wild birds, leave cat food out for the cat, or drop some rubbish near our bins, all of these things attract rats.

In our case, it's our chickens!

There has been the odd hole appear in their run (they have a large outdoor run, some 40 metres by 20 metres) but this summer they seem to have multiplied out of control.

They didn't seem to like the poison put down for them in the run and seem to avoid going anywhere near the bait stations. The rats then seemed to build a nest in one of our clumps of pampus grass which is just outside the chicken run and we seemed to have two populations, so something had to be done.

We changed the bait in the bait stations, we moved them closer to the pampus grass, the dogs got a few as they seem to be very bold in coming out to scavenge, and a friend in the village lent me their air rifle. Yesterday we had someone come around and remove the pampus grass, and that seems to have reduced the numbers still further.

A few dead rats have been picked up and disposed of - Pepper managed to kill a rather large one last night - but the sight of them scurrying around when we go in to feed the chickens has stopped. phew....

I didn't manage to shoot any with the air rifle, I am obviously a bad marksman, but I got close a few times and that scared them.

Our baby chicks are safe as they are small enough for a large rat to decide to have for tea!

Monday, 29 June 2015

In North Devon - come and say hi!

Do you fancy experiencing some time with our llamas?

What we offer –  Up to two hours of our time, both Vicki & Kevin will show you around our smallholding, and giving you the opportunity to get up close and personal with some, if not all of our llamas.
  • First, we’ll do a short introduction, including the essential health and safety rules. We’ll give you some history of llamas in general, some useful facts about the way they will behave, and what you should expect from handling them.
  • Next, we’ll bring some of the llamas up to the holding pen, where you can all get to say hello!
  • Here, we will show you how to halter the llama, and each member of the party (one at a time) can groom a llama and have that one to one photo opportunity.
  • Next, we will take two llamas for a short stroll around their field and you can have the opportunity to lead them.
  • On our return, it will be treat time, the llamas will be rewarded and you’ll have the chance to give them their treats.
  • Then, a chance to wander over and see our other llamas, our goats, chickens, and we may even be joined by the cat!
  • A quick, but thorough wash of the hands and it’ll be time to say goodbye!
Who do we offer this to? – We can cope with a minimum of 2 people and a maximum of 6 people. Any child under 16 must be accompanied by a full paying adult!
When do we offer this? – We offer this experience on weekday afternoons, except Mondays, although during the summer holiday period we are happy to do this at weekends. Booking is essential! The experience is, I’m afraid, weather dependent, if it is too wet, neither the llamas, you, or indeed us will enjoy it, so please bring some nice dry weather with you!
How much? –  £15 per person, children under 16 will cost £8 each. Please note that children under 10 will NOT be able to fully participate, they will only be able to groom and feed the llamas from outside of the pen and through the fence, and will not be able to walk their own llama (they can walk with the llama while a responsible adult holds the lead).
How to book? –  Check out our website -
Essentials! – Please come prepared, it doesn’t matter what time of year it is but sturdy walking boots, trainers or wellies will be required – no flip flops or beach shoes – if a llama steps on your foot it will hurt!

We’re ready – are you?
Llama experience

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

14 chicks have hatched so far....

3 weeks ago, I set 24 eggs into my new incubator.

The eggs just fitted in, and here we are on day 22 and we have 14 chicks hatched out.

5 of the eggs were not fertile, a poor showing really by the seller, who I will contact, not that I expect replacements, but at least she will know that I wasn't happy.

14 of the chicks hatched out, so far, with one having juts pipped, so I hope that will be 15 at least.

7 hatched out yesterday, on day 21 and have been moved to the brooder.

You can see 5 of them here, popping out to see the world. The other two are under the brooder (the big yellow thing at the bottom) - this brooder can take up to 20 chicks so, the rest will join them later.

The other 7 or 8 are still in the incubator where they will stay until they are all dry and fluffy. Chicks can stay in there for over 24 hours with no food and water as the yolk is still giving them sustenance and the incubator warmth will ensure that they are kept at the right temperature until they are strong enough to check out the real world.

Those born under the broody - we had two broodies this year, one hatched 3 and the other 5 - would stay under mum for those 24 hours before popping out.

In some respects those born in the incubator have a cosier life than those born under a broody, but at least mother hen knows how to look after them.

The 4 eggs that have not yet pipped will stay in the incubator for another two days to see if anything happens, if not they will be presumed dead in shell :-(