What a difference a year makes!
We started out on an exercise to avoid mowing our paddock and to provide some eggs (and as it transpired some poultry) for the table.
So in late Autumn 2012 we were busy putting up new stock fencing etc.
Primarily to allow the Chickens to free range in relatively safety but also so we could consider a suitable type of four legged lawn mowers. A single Horse or Pony that we could ride and or Alpacas were high up on the short-list but at hundreds to thousands of pounds each they proved a little too expensive.
On Jan 1st last year we bought four Soay Sheep that became seven with the fantastic arrival of three lambs in the spring, as well as a couple of Shetland Ponies, and we had great fun acquiring the three Geese and hatching loads of chickens later in the year. We did not add to the Ducks we already had as eight of them (now seven) have proven more than enough for a good supply of eggs and muddy puddles........Ducks like mud!
All was going well until November when Karen was diagnosed with Cancer, and following successful surgery earlier this month she will soon be undertaking a course of Chemo then Radio therapy.
That however has forced us to make some sad but necessary decisions as Karen will need looking after and a lot of rest for the next few months.
So on Sunday I took all our Ewes to Linda (who we originally bought the Ponies from) in Wem and I have advertised Mars and Leo on Preloved. If I can't home the then I think they will be off to the slaughter house...........lets hope not.
I will possibly be looking to re home the Ponies as well although they are much easier to manage than the sheep as they are completely portable on leads! David dutifully tends to them daily, they have almost munched their way through our neighbours field so we will be bringing them home shortly which will make them easier to look after. This wretched heavy rain is a repeat of last year and does not bode well for our paddock however last spring looking at the muddy expanse I had no idea if the grass would ever recover, this year I know differently!
The Ducks and Geese can pretty much fend for themselves so we will keep them and the Chickens I look after during my lunch breaks.
With hindsight buying several more birds from Oswestry auction in October was a bad idea as right now we could do with fewer chickens but it does not take that much longer to look after them all plus if they become too much trouble then there is always the freezer for some of the older ones that seem to think not laying eggs is an option :)
We are also slowly eating the roosters we hatched out in May! That has proven to be an experience as this time last year we had never killed and eaten anything home grown ever! Now as our summer chicks grow we are seeing the results lovely blue and white eggs to go with the varying shades of Browns from the hens and something nice for dinner from the Roosters and even the odd Rabbit.