Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Saturday June the second

I haven't a clue where this place is exactly but thanks to the auspices of the Welsh Perry and Cider Society, this event. The Welsh Perry & Cider Championships 2012 is going to take place here. Ynysddu RFC, Saturday 2 June 2012
I'm sure that I'll be able to find it.
Yours truly is going to enter some cider in his first ever attempt at showing cider. I'm obviously not expecting to win or anything silly like that. In truth, I'll be happy if I come away not having poisoned anyone  and I'll be even happier if by some fluke my fellow cider makers deem it remotely drinkable.
From now until then the pressure is going to be on as I'll be beavering away trying to blend my various batches into a drinkable brew. All good stuff but I suppose it would be helpful if I had a clue as to what I was doing.
I've a couple of friends who I can ask for advice and the weekend after next, I'll be taking some samples of the cider that we've made down a cider maker to see what we can come up with.
I'm obviously going to be entering the novices classes and to do so, you have to present five gallons of cider brewed in Wales to the judges. The cider has to be in  either in whats known as a polybag or a polybarrel. There will be classes for dry, medium and sweet cider. I'm hoping to enter the first two classes.
I'm looking forward to the weekend and meeting fellow society members and after having had the odd swig of the stuff that we made last summer and autumn, its obviously the social side of the event that I'm looking forward too rather than the actual competition. Wish me luck!

Thursday, 9 February 2012

They're eating us out of house and home!

There was a cruelly cold wind blowing around our house today and we didn't have dozens of wild birds visiting our feeding stations, we had hundreds.
There were five different species of finches feeding at any one time. Unfortunately the batteries on the camera conked just as I was getting started but I did manage to capture these images before the lights went out. 

I had to fill the bird feeders up twice today but it was well worth the effort. It was just a shame about the damned camera.

Sunday, 5 February 2012

Today !

First of all, let me say that I've been extremely lucky and as far as I can see, get the pun ? My eye seems to be OK.

Yesterday was a complete right off, it simply poured down with rain from dawn to dusk and beyond. This morning is another day and the weathers fine, so I'm going to put a second brood pen of Light Sussex together. When I say this, I mean that we're going to put a fifty metre enclosure of electric poultry netting up, move a shed and then, under the cover of darkness, I'm going to catch four hens and a cock up and put them together for the season.
This is how things went on.

Look! No snow ! We took these pictures today, this is where I decided to put up the new pen.

With non too willing help from young Rob, we soon got the fencing up. We used wooden posts on each corner and fastened the electric netting posts to them with bailer twine. By doing this we were able to get some real tension on the netting without it coming into contact with the posts.

 Here's the pen completed.

On Monday, we put the Chicken coop in to the run and picked the birds up that evening. Here they are.

The four ladies. These are super big hens that I hatched from eggs that a friend from Cambridge sentto  me. They are from her parents birds and are a utility strain that they've kept for thirty or so years.

The cock has a bit of age about it now and is one that I swopped with a Yorkshire breeder a few years ago.

This is the second  of two pens of LS that I have, The other one, consists of a brother of these hens running with some of my original birds.

Thursday, 2 February 2012

February and its bitterly cold!

The beginning of February and its a bright sunny day but bitterly cold! Our little weather station gizmo thing was showing the temperature outside this morning as being below minus four degrees. At the moment, I'm having to top up our wild bird feeders up twice a day during the cold snap and early mornings see me tripping the light fantastic in my dressing gown and slippers as I defrost the water fountain with a kettle of hot water.
Food wise, we feed peanuts, niger seed, sunflower seed, fat balls and household scraps. The birds really appreciate our offerings and reward us by giving us a fantastic daily display. If I'm honest, I'm really quite proud at the number and variety of birds that I was able to enter in the RSPBs Garden Bird Survey over the weekend.. There were quite a few species that I wasn't able to enter though, simply because although they're here most of the time, they didn't put in an appearance during the hour when we did the survey. I was tempted to cheat but resisted.

They say that familiarity breeds contempt and just before noon today I had proof of it. I'm a stupid old fool, I took a shot with an airifle at a rat inside a wooden shed. I missed it and the pellet rebounded off the planking and straight into my right eyeball. Needless to say, it hurt and I was very shocked.
I couldn't feel or see any blood and  and nor thank god could I feel any obvious hole in my eye. I think that the pellet must have dropped down to the floor after hitting me.
Immediately, my eye was very painful and it watered like mad. It became very sensitive to light and my vision was fuzzy. I locked the dogs a way and drove myself to the doctors. That wasn't easy.
I told the receptionist that I'd been hit in the eye with a pellet but still had to wait for half an hour while the doctor continued looking at bunyans etc. Eventually, I was ushered in to the examining room where the doctor was unable to work the 'little torchy thing' to examine my eye. She eventually decided to send me to the eye clinic because to quote her," You only get one chance with an eye"
I left my car where it was on the GPs carpark and thankfully, my mate Pugh drove me to the hospital. I was there for four hours and had a real good examination. I have some bleeding at the back of my eye and I may have scratched the lense.
I've returned home with four different lots of drops to put in my eye, including steroids and anti biotics. I'm booked in to return to the hospital next Monday but if in the meantime I see any floaters or flashing lights, then I've got to go straight back to casuality.
I'm not out of the woods yet, but hopefully, this idiot has been extremely lucky. At the moment, my eyeball is throbbing, it feels as though I have gravel under my eye lid and I have a thromping headache. If things don't get any worse, then I'll be extremely happy.

Monday, 30 January 2012

Sunday! A Horrible Wet Day.

Yesterday, the weatherman said that we were down for heavy snow but instead, it poured down with rain all day and needless to say, it was bitterly cold with it too. By mid morning and two lots of wet clothing later, Karen and I realised that the writing was on the wall and decided to down tools and to go out for the rest of the day.
We made our way on to the Isle of Anglesey and did a grand tour of the garden centres and farm shops.
One of the farm shops that I've long promised myself to visit,was Hootons at Brynsiencyn. It was freezing inside there but it was well worth the chill. As a change from many other shops, I was pleased to see that the majority of their produce was produced either on their own farm, or at the very least by fellow producers from the island.
One thing that caught  my eye, was a tray of a dozen minute quail eggs and the price tag of £2.30p. They had beautiful patterns on the shells but there was very little of them. I've never eaten quail eggs and I was wondering what  they taste like and what you would do with them to merit the price tag? 
In an effort to get rid of a seasonal glut of eggs from our chickens, last year saw me making a largish amount of pickled eggs. Infact, I ended up making a massive amount of them. They were delicious and  over the space of a few weeks, I ate the lot. I kept them in the cider shed and scoffed one everytime  I went in there. Most days, I visit the cider shed three or four times a day and they were in far too handy a place for my own good. IMO, although pickled eggs taste lovely, they should come with a health warning, or at the very least, an explanation as to the workings of the Beaufort Scale.
It got to a  stage, the rest of the family tried to make me move out into the cider room. Pickled eggs and cider? A terrible combination!
Thats enough of that I think, back to Hootons. They were selling half a dozen small pickled eggs in  nice hexagonal jars for £2.35 p. and maybe, the next time that I make some, I should aim at farmgate sales, rather than home consumption.

While we were on our travels, we called we called at 'Farm and Pet Place' in Llangefni to get pigeon corn and dog food. We had time to kill, so we had a good look around. In the poultry department they had a small number of books for sale. One in particular that took my fancy was 'Free Range Poultry' by the late Katie Thear. I liked the look of it and thought that it might prove to be useful but wasn't prepared to pay the £23.00 asking price. When I got home, I found it on ABE books and bought a first edition for 64 pence plus a couple of pounds post and package.

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Welsummer Chickens. Lead me not into temptation!

Welsummers? Lead me not into temptation, well not too much anyway and please Lord, let my wife Karen say yes!  
Through a friend, an opportunity has arisen where I might be able to lay my hands on some top notch birds. If this comes off and my plans come to fruition, then these new  birds will be from a breeder who is having to come out of keeping chickens due to his ill health but it will involve a fairly long journey. Infact, it will be a full day job and probably a stay out over nighter.
The chap exhibits his eggs in some of the big shows and his Welsummers are reknowned for laying extremely dark brown eggs that he does very well with.
I've promised Karen that I'm going to stick in future to keeping just the two breeds, thats Light Sussex and Welsummers and that I wont diversify into anything else but surely, if thats what I'm going to do, then its only common sense to keep the best that I can get isn't it?
Assuming that I get these birds and that they do lay really dark brown eggs, I think that its going to be an exciting and interesting exercise trying to maintain and hopefully go to build up from their current standard. The best laid plans of mice and men eh?

Tuesday, 24 January 2012


Blimey, two posts in a day, this blogging must be addictive.
I've just had a real bit of luck. Earlier today, I bumped into an old shooting friend of mine and had a chat with him. During the conversation, he asked me if I wanted a chicken shed? " Not for nothing mind" he said, so I was a little sceptical when I went to his place to have a look at it. I needn't have worried, it was virtually a brand new and one size up from these sheds that I already have.

It'll fit in very nicely with what I already have and at a £100, I don't think that I can go wrong. I'll be fetching my new shed on the trailer towards the weekend.