I sit here writing this on the veranda, a cup of tea in my left hand and Mitzy, my dog looking up at me on my right side, we are sitting here looking over the disheveled cherry orchards, it seems so strange now as they are suddenly bare of cherry pickers and fruit since the harvest.
This past week in Fundão, central Portugal has been a gorgeous one, full of sunshine. The weather has become rather hot and we are all but into summer now, which means less grass cutting as the green pastures fade into crispy dry hay and more time to focus on the animals and vegetable garden.
I know that I am starting to feel the heat, so I can assume full well that the sheep are too. I had never sheared a full sheep on my own before, I have helped out a farmer with a sheep back in England when I was younger. However, I was most probably more of a hindrance than a help, with my lack of knowledge and torrent of questions, but the experience was invaluable.
We purchased our first set of electric shears and a pair of manual hand shears also, as I do always like to try things the antique method at least once. Looking back though, the electric shears are much, much faster and an awful lot easier on the back!
Godfrey, our ram was first up, he is a gentle boy and proved to be an excellent first candidate for ‘operation woolly jumper removal’. He certainly appreciated having his heavy wool removed, but I am not so sure that he appreciated his girls watching on as we continued to do so.
Lloyd and Mariana stood by the sheep and kept them calm, whilst I, somewhat nervously, buzzed through the fleecy thicket. After a little while my back could not take much more, so we switched roles and Lloyd set to shearing his first sheep, Florence, and what a marvelous job he did too!
The beginning of summer is not just a good time for getting the sheep trimmed and cleaned up, it is also the perfect time to get Christmas turkeys in. A turkey poult requires about four to six months of fattening up to be the perfect size and age for meat. As sad as that may be, I believe that it is much better to eat an animal that has lived their days on pasture, eating bugs and seed, scratching around under the shade of trees and drinking from natural springs. Rather than a factory farmed animal, stuck inside a cage for their whole life.
That Monday morning we took an early trip to the town market and picked ourselves up three turkey poults, a tom and two hens.
We kept them inside a cage in our lounge for the first week, just to see if there were any obvious problems or illnesses with them before adding them to the meadow with our other poultry. After the first week we found them to be healthy and putting on weight nicely. So we proceeded to let them into a small outdoor pen (around 30 square metres) under a large cherry tree, this allows them to get used to their new home and familiarize themselves with their surroundings before going out onto the main meadow.
This is my first time ever raising turkeys, I am very excited to see how they come along and you can be sure that I will be posting updates about them on my Instagram as they grow.