Next year

Another week goes by and the big list of autumn jobs (see last week’s post) keeps rolling on. Now that we’re into November and the warm days seem to finally be coming to an end it’s time to start clearing out the polytunnel and greenhouses, pot-on the cauliflower and broccoli seedlings that we're overwintering and firm up our plans for what we’d like to do next year. The last of those is obviously the most exciting, so I thought I’d give you a little insight into what we think 2015 might have in store for us if all goes to plan.

With the turkeys leaving us in late December we’ll just have our chickens to look after through the depths of winter whilst we focus on the house and a few other things in January and February. In March we should take delivery of our first Oxford Sandy & Black weaners, possibly along with some hatching eggs to start a small flock of Aylesbury ducks which we’ll rear for eggs and meat. Both of these additions will come with their own particular fencing requirements (I recently heard a claim that piglets are able to morph through brick walls in order to escape!) so we've recently been spending a bit of time thinking about how best to keep the pigs / ducks in and the foxes / badgers out.

We’ve been happy with the electric poultry netting that we’ve been using for the chickens and turkeys so we’ll probably purchase some additional lengths of netting and use a combination of wooden corner posts and the plastic posts that the netting comes with to create a large semi-permanent enclosure (shown outlined in green in the picture below) that we can keep a range of different poultry in. Inside the electric fencing we’ll use chicken wire and some lightweight posts to separate the different breeds. We’ve marked out three areas in the picture as we'd like to be able to keep ducks, geese and turkeys from next summer onwards.

Fencing plan

For the pigs, we'd thought about installing permanent stock fencing to reduce the chances of a successful escape but, having received some sensible advice from a local farmer we’ve decided that again, a semi-permanent setup involving electric fencing will be good enough to contain them whilst also giving us flexibility to move things around in a couple of years if we need to. We’ve yet to decide on the exact shape of the pig enclosure but the yellow outline in the picture above should give you a pretty good idea of what we have in mind.

Now that we have a (rough) plan to work to the next few weekends are all going to be about starting to turn it into reality. Even though March still feels like a long way away there are a few other things we need to do before we're ready to expand our collection of livestock. I won't go into any more detail just yet, but it's unlikely that our to-do list is going to be getting shorter anytime soon!