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The Diary of a Small-bolder.


The Diary of a Small-bolder. (By "LEO.") I Ethiopia is a small-holding situated in a rather exposed position about 400 feet above the sea-level. It is com- prised approximately of 5 acres of land -3 acres grazing, 11 acres hay, and about half acre gardens. The stock carried at present oonsista of a pony, a milking cow, a sow with a litter of ten pigs, four pens of utility ducks, one pen of Leghorns, one pen of white wyandottes, a turkey hen, and a few mixed fowls on free range. It is hoped to extend the varieties to include geese, rabbits, and bees during the course of the year. The gardens are chiefly given over to vegetables, but a good number of fruit trees occupy some of the ground. A small, cold, greenhouse lis a useful addition, and serves a variety of purposes. Three incubators are in use for hatching purposes, and a. mammoth incubator, with a 600 egg- capacity, is on order. The writer of this diary owns and controls so far only the poultry sec- tion, and one of the gardens. He pro- poses to experiment this year in the day-old chick and duckling trade, hop- ing to gain sufficient experience in this work to enable him successfully to occupy a large mixed holding when the war is over, and things are once ¡ more normal. The rest of Ethiopia is in the occupation of a close relative of the writer, and it is hoped, by men- tioning the doings on both sections of the holding, to stimulate the interest of many in open-air life, and to in- struct, if possible, those who are al- ready engaged in cultivating allot- ments or small-holdings by showing the failures and successes attending this venture. The writer is in the same position as any other working man in that nearly all the work on the helding will have to be done in the morning or evening, and he will have to ixtfy on his wife to attend to the work during his absence. A balance-sheet dealing with the poultry and possibly other I sections of the business will be pub- lished at the end of the session. The diary itself will be a true and un- varnished record of the work done. Monday, 21st Jan.—A dull, damp morning, following a very boisterous night. Went down to examine the poultry, and counted the ducks, fear- ful lest some were missing, as their incessant quacking during the night had led me to believe that someone, whose Sunday meat allowance had been insufficient, had helped himself to one or more of my khaki-Campbell ducks. My fears proved groundless, and so I hurried back to prepare their soft food. Being quite out of grain I am now testing the effect of a cornless diet on both ducks and fowls. The latter are served with dry mash in the morning and wet mash in the evening, with greens or turnips at mid-day. Ducks get wet mash twice a day—a small quantity for "breakfast," se as to encourage foraging, and a good feed at night so as to send them to bed satisfied. My mash now consists of 4 parts bran, 2 parts sharps, 1 part maize meal, 1 lgirt clover meal, 1 part fish meal, with a pinch of a well-known spice advertised in the "Llais." Two ounces of this mash is served dry in boxes in the morning, and two ounces scalded at night for each bird. Tuesday, 22nd Jan.—Peeped out through window this morning and saw my birds already industriously at work, running to and fro between the dry mash box in the scratching sheds and the water jars out in the runs. The birds are unable to eat more than a few mouthfuls of dry mash without water to drink, and so, by placing the water a. good distance away, the birds get exercise, and are kept from mop- j ing about in the oold. Noticed when letting ducks out that one of my best drakes was lamfl. Caught him and found the ball of his foot greatly swol- len, so bathed it in warm water disin- fected with "lzal," and placed the bird in a basket bedded with straw Had a letter to-day asking if I had received my 600-egg incubator which had been dispatched on 29th Dec. Am worrying about it a little as time for incubating heavy breeds is drawing nigh. Hair neighbour's sow and her ten little ones to-day. The latter are looking well, and no doubt will realise a decent sum at the end of a few week'?. They arri ved on 25th Dec.- a welcome Xuia-s box. Up to now they are all alive. It is amusing to watch the sow preparing for her morning walk fro; the sty to the trough. She first marshalls all the little ones be- hind her, and makes a, terrific noise if some wayward one is disobedient enough to ignore her. She then trium- phantly emerges at the head of her army, feeling, doubtless, elated at be- ing able to "put her foot down." All sows are not so considerate for their young—frequent fatalities often occur- ring through overlying, and sometimes through deliberate murder followed by a cannibalistic orgy. Wednesday, 23rd Jan.—Ducks, hav- \edllesda; 231'(1 Jan.Ducks, ha\ ing started laying last September, when only five months old, and con- tinuing up to Christmas, are now rest- ing. Am expecting the second year ones to start soon, as, on examination this morning, I found their pelvic bones very far apart. The Khaki- CampbeH is a land duck, and was or- iginated about 20 years ago by the wdl-known silki breeder, Mrs. A. Campbell. She became possessed of a prolific Indian BUntiN duck which had laid 184 eggs in 196 days, and this duck became the foundation of the breed. A Rouen drake was mated to this marvellous duck, and the progeny resulting crossed with a mallard or wild drake. The present Khaki-Camp- bells are djrecf. descendants of these, rricl ar" marvellous layers of perfectly white <?s. indistinguishable in taste. .'?? "d appearance from hens' eg; The duck is of bigger build than 1 lie Runner, and its flesh has the de- licious flavour of the wild duck. Some of these birds have laid when only 4} (Iglla per annum is not a rare record. I have now g flock of 1 0 of th.' e beautiful birds, all direct from Mrs. Campbell. In snite. of scarcity of corn mean to cling to thern, and hatch as many ducklings as possible, as these will provide meat and eggs i the lean days to come. The.ducklings should aver- age 41bs. each when 9 r.eeks old. and this is the time to kill the-en tJr table. Am in need of 150 ducks eggs per week just now, but find them difficult to get owing to scarcity, probably due to the poor feeding value of milling offals. Sold a young Barron white wyandotto cockerel this evening for breeding pur- poses. Crossed with white Leghorns lie should breed useful Layers, f Thursday, 24th. Jan.—Drake with swollen foot is no better so have lanced the swelling and applied a bread and water poultice to it. The bird is off its feed and refuses to touch the tempt- ing morsels offered, so am now forcibly feeding it by pushing pellets of food down its throat. I aiD dating all eggs collected from wyandottes and buff orpingtons with a view w finding if dead-in-shell (tho bugbear of artificial hatching) is due to the use of stale eggs. I hope to be able to inform readers of the result. Impossible to do much in the garden. Am waiting for a dry day to proceed with pruning of fruit trees, which should be finished this month. Friday, 25th Jan. — Pleased this morning at change in the weather. A week or so of this mildness will see I ducks and fowls busy on munition work—turning out the shells. Attacked "Mother Earth" with the spado to- day and succeeded in planting a hun- dred cabbage plants of early and late varieties. Luckily the recent frosts damaged but little of my beds of Flower of Spring, April Queen, and Wirmingstadt plants, and consequent- ly, unlike last spring, I have plenty T) spar". Lime is very neeossnry for cabbage and it is a preventative of club root. Therefore I chose a sito where the soil was well provided with this base. Before' planting I dag in a quantity of well-rotted poultry manure. Hardly had I finished when Mrs. L. noticed one of my Leghorn cockerels busily at work on the cab- bage plant. Evidently he had cleared the six-feet wire netting surrounding his pen but never fly so again! I caught him and with the scissors cut off all the quills on his wings with the exception of four at the tip and four at the base. After this operation the bird looked as usual, when his wings wer° folded. Saturday, 2oth Jan.—A really glori- ous day. I'ut a young buff orpingtoll and a wyandotte cockerel in fattening | pen and commenced giving them a special ma*h consisting of sharps, palm kernel meal, fish meal, and boiled pota- to peelings. C.H. (i.e. close relative) informed me that OIK> of tho little pigs was found dead in the yard this morn- ing. We sat upon the case, and illti- j mately brought in a verdict to the ef- feet that it had died from exposure through being left out in the cold over night. Rather unfortunate as he had already been labelled "Sold." Was in- formed that C.R.'s Khaki-Campbells were laying well and was told of an interesting incident which occurred this morning in connection therewith. C.R's daughter took out an egg from a pen of Khaki-Campbells and placed it on the grass outside the duck-house. She now returned to open the shutter for the ducks to get out, and then went to fetch the egg. but found to her dismay that it Ind disappeared. She could not <>xpl,n.n the disappearance so sought C.R.. who also was unable to solve the riddle. Vicing rather an astute person, blessed probably with some Sherlock Holmes blood, C.R. suggested placing an empty egg-shell oil the same spot and watch results. This was done and thereby the thief was dis- covered. It turned out to be Bob. the Pom.. who was caught carrying the shell in its moiii.h. He was followed to the front ynrden where the duck's egg was found little the worse for the ad- venture. i% 27th Jan.-—Made genera', i\1- spection or the stock this morning after doing routine work. Noticed thatj Leg- horn pullets, which were more back- ward than tho heavy b-reeds, are now shaping nicely, an d shall expect a few to lay in the course of a week. Drake is much better but will have to be detained for a few days longer. Stock of bran and sharps is dwindling rapidly, and am wondering what will happen now that stocks are to be taken over by the Government. Had a chat with a friend to-day regarding bees. He informed me he had recently bought timber to make his own hives from, and which he contemplates get- ting ready by April. Shall do the same, but am rather afraid of the very prevalent and deadly Isle of Wight disease, which has denuded the countryside of millions of 'this useful inject. However, nothing venture, etc. Have still some urcen tomatoes in my glasshouse*, and have been cutting ro i-ilirlv since early summer. Shall have to bring these'into the house to- morrow to ripen off. Last year Mrs. L. made some delightful chutnev from tho green fruit (or is it vegetable) 1)(It a soarcity of sugar prohibits this ing done this year. —LEO.



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