Autumn’s arrived at the Smallholdings

The view from our roof - James rebuilt our chimney last weekend with our builder friend Peter
The view from the Smallholdings’ roof over our plot – James rebuilt our chimney last weekend with our builder friend Peter. You can just about see the pig ark gleaming just below the willow trees and the layers’ shed, a camouflaged shade of green, to the right

After a spectacular summer, I’m ready for cooler days, darker evenings and all the riches that the season brings: apples, hedgerow fruits and nuts, woodsmoke, burnished leaves, woollen jumpers, corduroy… One of the disadvantages is that our Araucanas shut up shop until February (when there are once again enough hours of daylight to inspire them to start laying again). However, Audrey and Margot have done their best to furnish us with pale-blue and -green beauties until now. We’re a tad disappointed with the performance of our Black Araucana trio, however, who have laid no more than a couple of eggs since we brought them home at the end of May. Either that or they are creating an egg mountain we are yet to discover (it has been known).

Araucana eggs
Araucana eggs

On the theme of stockpiling, James and I spent the best part of Bank Holiday Monday afternoon stacking logs under the lean-to – a lovely outside-but-inside job to do when it was lashing down all day. Also in store is an abundance of windfall apples kindly donated by friends and family – the most generous offering came in an old potato sack from James’s colleague Norman the other day. This lot will keep our three Oxford Sandy & Black weaners happy for some weeks if we keep the fruit cool and dry.

apples

Our Ixworth cockerels have been enjoying our garden’s surplus runner beans, blackberries and courgettes and have grown into fine, large chickens. Their female counterparts are also laying excellent eggs – the shells may be rather dull, but inside are magnificent large orange yolks, which more than compensate for their outward appearance.

The Ixworth boys are thriving in the new run we made them at the end of the garden
The Ixworth boys are thriving in the new run we made them at the end of the garden

Jeffrey, the Araucana cockerel we’ve raised from a few weeks old in the layers’  run, is growing into a fine specimen, seems to be enjoying the all-female company and displays very gallant behaviour, allowing his ladies to eat and drink before him – so far.

Jeffrey the Araucana cockerel
Jeffrey the Araucana cockerel

 The manners of our young pigs don’t bear comparison with those of Gentleman Jeff, though. They practically mugged me every morning for  breakfast, so I thought I’d catch them on camera this morning!

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