Friday, 19 October 2012

Rain, chicks, pig's head

It is raining this morning. Knew it was going to because the Pyrenees have been clearly visible for the last few days. Tall and dark they look upon the skyline, not pimples in the distance, but not so big as to obliterate all. All summer long they have been hidden by haze and clouds and I have not seen them, but I am aware that they are there because they dominate even when unseen. And there they were yesterday, no haze, just a clear view but not so clear as to see individual shapes upon the slopes, but sufficient to see some of the larger contours. There was even a faint dusting of snow on the highest peak, a portent of the winter to come. 

When the Pyrenees are seen with such clarity, then rain will fall, and a lot of it. Summer is over, the harvests are in, time to shut down and recover from the efforts of the year, the temperatures are starting to fall, and grain prices have doubled. This is worrying. Last year we paid 120 euros for a ton of maize, this year it is 240 euros. Apparently America and Russia have had bad harvests. I am not sure if the global economy is such a good thing when bad harvests in other countries produce an upsurge of prices in a country which has had an excellent harvest this year. And this price increase will affect the price of food for everyone everywhere.  During the year we get through four tons of maize at least. A small amount when compared to others. But for us it is a concern. For those others it must be a massive worry. Ah well, c'est la vie.....

And I saw the Pyrenees yesterday, and it is going to rain, so I can worry about the Sheep Barn getting a wet floor again, and poddle through mud, and tuck up in doors, and not go out to make hay again this year but to be glad that we have a barn full of DIY hay, and look forward to starting the winter digging, of which there is a humungous area to work over. 

Re: the pig head wrapped in a plastic supermarket bag and lying at the bottom of the freezer: Need to sort it out. Don't like it being there. Chatting to a choir friend about the head, and she offered to sort out the head for me. She said she could make brawn out of it. Don't fancy a pot full of brain, not at all do I see myself eating even the tiniest piece because that is what I thought brawn was, cooked brain. Apparently it isn't. Apparently it is also the tongue and cheeks and any other bits of head meat but not the ears, they are separate delicacies but not for us because Bools and Gus are going to have them. It does not seem quite so bad that everything is mixed up, brain, tongue, and all. Still don't think I will eat it. Glad my friend has offered to do the task. Glad that the head will get out of the freezer. Glad I am a smallholder. But I still don't like mucking about with heads. 

Re: the hen and eleven chicks found in the ditch several weeks ago: Why is it that those chicks prefer not to eat grain. Three different types of chick feed mix have I bought. Nope. They won't eat any of it. What they prefer is my bread. Or pieces of lamb or pork. Or weeds from the garden. Or pasta. Anything, but not grain. Have I spoilt them by widening their food palate? In the beginning I fed them chopped up boiled egg. Perhaps this is what started their dislike of grain. I did put chick feed in at the same time, and they did eat a little bit but not much. Now they don't eat any. Instead they kick up a hell of a ruckus every time they see me. They are getting bigger. Their 'I am hungry' chirrups are getting louder. I think that we shall soon let them out of the run they are in, just to get some peace. They are no longer cute little bits of fluff. They are changing by the day. They need to get out into the world. They need to take their chances, just like the other hens do. In other words, they need a life. 

Re: The absence of a cockerel who does the job: The hens are scattering. No longer do they move about as a flock, although do come together to rest. They also seem quiet, almost dispirited. The Cockling is showing no effort to come into his own with them. Yesterday someone mentioned that he didn't have a cockerel. Last night someone emailed me to say that they had heard about the demise of Orpy and that they had a Faverolle cockerel who needed some hens. It would seem that the Universe is providing us with a solution. We don't want to put the Cockling into the freezer because he is the son of Orpy, so we can rehome him and get a brand new hands on cockerel which will bring in new blood to the flock. Sorted.


rusty duck said...

Great solution re cockerels. Lets hope he turns out to be 'hands on' indeed.

Food, Fun and Life in the Charente said...

Oh I wish I was a bit closer, I love brawn. My Mum used to make amazing brawn with a head and a trotter. I would happily buy the head off you.

So far all my bottling has been fine, so although it would be easier to freeze we have not suffered. In fact the pickled beans have been far nicer than frozen ones, I only did that last year as an experiment as I had no more freezer space.

I have a blogger friend who lives in Spain with the Pyrenees in sight from the other side, her photo the other day looked like quite a lot of snow!!

Dare I say already roll on spring LOL. Keep well Diane

Horst in Edmonton said...

Hi Vera, do you feed the Chickens whole grain or is it rolled or chopped grain? We used to feed our chickens chopped or hammered grain, very course so they could digest it better. You could also give them some of your table scraps as a treat. Chickens eat almost anything except bone. They also crave calcium so maybe a little ground up sea shells. I hope this helps.

Vera said...

Jessica, unfortunately the lady who was going to give us the cockerel has changed her mind, so the Cockling will have to manage the best he can for the time being!

Diane, you could have the head!

I have been investigating bottling and am going to have a go next year, although it looks like I need a steamer and a pressure cooker if I am going to get going properly.

Perhaps your friend is closer in to the Pyrenees than we are, or perhaps they are higher on her side of them than they are here. I bet that she loves being near them!

Horst, thanks again for the info. I have given the chicks special pellets, chopped grain, and small grain, all of which are in three different types of special chick feed, but it is the table scraps they prefer! But I haven't been giving them calcium although that might be present in the chick feed, but will make sure they get some. I hadn't thought of that! Once again, thanks for the info.

Horst in Edmonton said...

If they don't get enough calcium, they will pull out each others feathers and eat them.

Vera said...

Horst, gosh! Thanks again. But no, those chicks had not started doing that! Useful info for the future, though, and thanks again for taking the time to help us.