Thursday, 29 August 2013

Delightful Daffodills

No matter the weather - daffodils make us think of sunny days ahead. 

For us on this side of the world spring is starting - although today is a slip back into winter temperatures.

Bring on the sun!

I'm linking to Today's Flowers

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Wood pigeons doing the spring fling

New Zealand native wood pigeon.

I have been enjoying the antics of the wood pigeons over the last few weeks.  They move into the orchard and surrounding trees over late winter and through spring to early summer.  At this time of year they are eating the leaf and flower buds and blossom on the trees.  Luckily I have enough trees that they don't destroy my fruit prospects for summer!  The males are doing great acrobatic aerial displays, trying to impress their chosen lady, who sometimes joins in.

 The wood pigeon, or Kereru as it is know here, is a very large bird, approx 51cm from beak to tail.  They can weigh 650g and are very noisy flyer's.  I think it takes quite a bit of wing power to get that body airborne.  They often fly quite low, just getting over the roof of the house or top of the trees.

They are very important to our native bush as they are the only bird capable of eating the large fruit of some of our native trees.  Without them distributing the seeds around, the bush would not be able to regenerate naturally.

I think they are awesome birds to have around and welcome their presence when they arrive each year.


Saturday, 24 August 2013

A dogs life in the country

Being a dog...

A farm girls best friend.

Luke - ready for action
The dogs on the farm have a good dog life.  They get to run without leads, sniff and track all sorts of interesting things, chase rabbits and hares and each other.  Sometimes they even catch dinner.  It's so nice to see them being dogs.

Better than dog biscuits!
 I go for a walk some days and get so much enjoyment out of watching them.  I can only imagine what it is like to have a nose that is so sensitive and can distinguish so many different scents.  I have seen them track my path if I have been outside and they didn't know it.  They follow my path to the vege garden turn around and follow it back to the house, realize I am back inside and settle down for a doze - until the next exciting thing happens.

I have noticed that it doesn't take long for them to recognize the difference in car sounds.  After hearing a new car a couple of times, they know who it is and not to bother barking at it.  Although sometimes they bark just for fun.
Beau cooling off after a run around
Luke and Beau have started a little howl-a-thon when my husband leaves for work in the morning.  For a big dog Beau has the highest pitched voice when he is singing - I'm sure the neighbours love it at 6am in the morning!  On the bright side they don't bother with the morning chorus on cold wet mornings - they are not silly - there's another day tomorrow.

Off home - it's nearly dinner time.
What a great life...

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Late winter's floral masterpieces

Flowers in the garden.

A frolic through the garden (or more of a stroll really), shows spring is well on the way.

Divine Daphne

More Polyanthus

Jockey Caps

Cherry blossom

A Tui enjoying the Almond blossoms

Sunday, 18 August 2013

Lambing is off to a good start

A week of lambing.

The lambs are arriving in one's and two's.  We have had no problems since the first set of twins and the weather has been good.
It's nice to enjoy the scene of happy ewes with their babies.

About 30 lambs so far and still quite a few to arrive.   

The weather has been very spring like this weekend, although living at the bottom of the North Island we have been shaken a bit with the latest earthquakes. 

The lambs start nibbling at the grass within a few days.  These two are about 4 days old and are enjoying a fresh paddock and the last bit of sun at the end of the day. 

Thursday, 15 August 2013

Scenes on the Farm

Lambs, Dogs, Views & Reflections.

Some interesting views on the farm.

A lambs eye view.

Harvey's view from his new paddock.

Ye old shed.

The old shed, still hanging in there after many decades.
Luke - A dog's view of his world.

The view from the top of the hill.  A great place to spot anything that needs to be chased.

Reflections on a cloudy day.

A nice reflection that caught my eye on the way home.

Chicken Introductions

The Chicken Team

This is Lacey.  she is the boss and is the most verbal chicken in the orchard.  She is a mixture of all sorts but I am guessing she has leghorn with that floppy comb and also maybe Wynadotte which has given her the lacey bib.  What else is in there is anyone's guess.  Lacey lays pinky/brown coloured eggs - I'm not sure if this is from a certain breed or not.

Next up is Beauty.  She is another mixture of all sorts.  She is the oldest chicken I have now and I don't expect many eggs from her.  She still looks good and has earned her retirement, so her job is to help keep the orchard healthy.

I have four Hylines which are a commercially bred small sized chicken which lay lots of eggs.  They have leghorn in them and are crossed with other commercial breeds, different mixtures depending on who you ask.  Not my favourites I must say. Yes they lay eggs but I don't think they have the equivalent of one brain between all four of them.  Quite scatty.  When they need replacing I will be heading to the more old fashioned original breeds, who still have their natural characteristics and personalities.

Two of my new Langshans.  These are lovely and are laying large brown eggs most days.  They have a lovely quiet nature, great personality and are perfect backyard chickens.

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

The Lambs are outdoors and doing well

The lambs at 3 days old.

The 2 orphan lambs, now pets called Dougal and Harvey, have moved into a little shelter in the paddock. They instinctively know to curl up inside on the straw at night and when the weather is bad even though they are only 3 days old.  They are both doing well and love to run up and down the hill when they get the chance.

The dogs have been introduced.  Both are great with all the animals on the farm including the cats, chickens and pet lambs when we have them.  Luke is my dog and he is sharing his home for a while with Beau who is my son's dog.

Luke - I have a lamb touching me ... if I ignore it, it might go away.
Beau - Just checking them out.

Sunday, 11 August 2013

Lambs in the woodbox

The first two Lambs

I said bring on the babies in my last post and the first 2 arrived today.  Unfortunately the ewe had problems and didn't make it so I am starting the season with 2 orphans.  It's not the ideal start but who can resist these little faces.

Luckily last week I had bought some dried colostrum and milk powder, just in case I needed it.  I have learnt from experience that if you are going to get an orphan it will be late in the day or on a Sunday when the rural supply stores are shut.  Now I am always prepared.

These 2 are twin boys, named Dougal and Harvey by my daughter before she headed back to school.  Dougal is in front, he is the biggest and first born. They are at present sleeping on a bed of straw in the wood bin in the garage, warm and dry and out of the cold wet rain which has arrived today.  They were helped into the world by my son - it was his first delivery, well done!

They look very healthy and have got the hang of their long legs and how to balance on them.  They have got big voices and I hope they won't be singing during the night.  I'm off to give them their last feed shortly.

No other lambs in the paddock yet but I won't be surprised to see some more each day from now on.  I hope the sun starts shining again soon. 

Friday, 9 August 2013

A check up with the sheep

Ducklings 6, lambs 0.

I went off to check the sheep to see if the lambs had started arriving but found ducklings in the pond in the paddock instead.  The first I have seen for this year. Spring must definitely be on the way.

No lambs have arrived yet but it should be soon, maybe the first ones next week.  The ewes are looking good and the weather is certainly warming up, although we can have the odd nasty spell in August so we won't call winter over yet.

Elena decided to come and check out the camera.  She shouldn't be having a lamb because she is not quite a year old yet, although she is looking rather round and teenage pregnancies have been known to happen.  Maybe she's just eating well.

This is my lovely fat Molly.  She was the last one to lamb last year but I don't think she will be this year.

Bring on the babies!!!

Thursday, 8 August 2013

A little feathered encounter

Silvereye or Wax-eye

I saved a life today.  This little New Zealand native bird called the Silvereye or Wax-eye flew into the window and crash landed beside the pond.  I went outside and picked him up and held him until he got it all together again.  Then after a wee pep talk I put him on a branch out of cats way.  He kindly posed for some photos which was great because you can never get close enough to these super fast moving little birds.

They are smaller than a sparrow, about 12cm long, and move around in flocks.  Apparently they have a brush tipped tongue (although he wasn't up to showing me) and mainly eat insects, fruit and nectar.
I think he's just about over me now - looking bright eyed and ready to depart.

He was soon on his way joining his group who were busy in the next tree.

Any day you make a difference is a good day!

Link to  Wild Bird Wednesday

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Chickens in the Orchard

Free Range Chickens

I have kept free range chickens for many years.  I enjoy their chatter and excitement over each new thing they discover and the very verbal acknowledgement as they congratulate themselves for laying an egg.  My chickens live in the orchard which works well for everyone.  I never have problems with Codlin Moth on the apples or other chewing nasties on the other trees.  The chooks eat all pests and fertilize as well.  In return they get anything that falls off the trees.  They love the first apples they get and plums and peaches too.  Not only do my little feathered gardeners keep the orchard running but they supply eggs as well. 

Black Langshan Chickens

I bought some new chickens recently after deciding to go back to the heritage breeds as I need replacements.  These three are Black Langshan chickens, an old Chinese breed with feathered feet.  They are very calm and lovely to have although they can be a bit slow to learn at times.  Langshans lay approx 150 brown eggs each per year and are a reasonably big bird. They stand very upright and look quite tall.  The Langshan was imported to the UK and USA in the 1870's from China and were very popular as a dual breed bird, however today they are a bit rare and can be hard to find.  I am glad people are working to ensure this beautiful breed carries on.

This was when they first arrived and were shut in for a few days.  They were the easiest chickens to introduce to the rest - no fighting just calm and dignified. 

Venturing out under the watchful eye of Luke, who ran into the picture at the very last second.