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The Diary of a Small-holder.


The Diary of a Small- holder. (By "LEO.") I Monday, 4th Feb.—Was clean out of poultry grit this morning and as this is essential to poultry which are semi- intensively kept, I had to make my own. Searched garden for bits of crockery and pulverised these with a hammer. Fowls have a dislike for wet grit, so gave it in boxes hung up in scratching sheds. C.R. has decided to obtain this week some stock geese for breeding purposes, and doubtless will clinch a bargain with a neighbour who has a pair for sale. Geese should be quite economical to keep these days as they are chiefly grazers and require grain in very moderate quantities; in fact I know of a person who gave no meal or grain to his flocks of geese un- til four weeks before Xmas, when they were killer. Wednesday, 6th Feb.—The continu- ous wet weather is; making a mess of my runs, and instead of the fowls tak- ing dust baths, mud baths are now the order of the day. White plumaged birds are not ideal for a backyarder, as even the most perfect birds look like mongrels when camouflaged with mud. Shall obtain some sittings of Black Leghorns next month from a well-known breeder, as I consider this breed more suitable for the space at my disposal than either wyandottes or white Leghorns. Cut some moderate- sized shoots of last year's growth this afternoon from some of my best apple trees, and inserted them to about half th eirlength in a north border. where they shall remain until required as scions for grafting about tho end of next month. Thursday, 7th Feb.—Heard from vendor of incubator to-day. He states that the machine was undamaged when put on rail, and offers to refund :£1 which, of course, I cannot accept, as the damage is fully E3. As he paid carriage he alone can claim damage, so shall write him to this effect. Some Leghorns escaped from pen this after- noon, and before being discovered had invaded the glasshouse and consumed a beautiful campanula alba creepeT.1 Two friends called round this even- ing with a boot in which a rat had i sought shelter. The vermin was firmly wedged in the toe of the boot, with its tail projecting entwined in the boot- laee. I was told that it had become entangled in the lace by its own exer- tions, but am afraid the spirit 'of Ananias is still with us. However, if any readers are troubled with rats, here is a recipe:—Paint some corks with gum and dip in cayenne pepper, then place in rat holes and runs. Re- sult—sacks of oorn and meals will be left in peace and not in pieces. Sunday, 8th Feb.—Sold a pen of white wyandottes to-day at a fair price —customer appeared quite satisfied and there was no quibbling. Promised to forward birds by rail to-morrow. Khaki-Campbell drake was allowed to join his mates to-day, although he still limps slightly. Have ordered several sittings of Aylegburys from a friend to-day, as I anticipate commencing in- cubation next week. Saturday 9th Feb.—Spent the morn- ing pruning gooseberries and currants, This is rather a tricky operation, as there is a different method to be a-depted in each case. Black currant growths must not be cut back like those of red and white currants, and gooseberries. They -should simply be thinned by cutting out altogether old shoots 80 as to let the sun shine amongst and between the growths re- tained. On gooseberry bushes young shoots should be cut back to within one inch of the base leaving one here and there at least 9 inches apart. Sunday, 10th Feb.—The whole week has been rather a depressing one, and it was with rather less enthusiasm than usual that I made the round this morn- ing. However, the stock appeared to have suffered little from the effects of the Board of Agriculture pronounce- ments on the scarcity of grain and meals. A case of "wl^ero ignorance is bliss," I suppose! However, I trust the Board will reconsider its attitude to- wards poultry, and at any rate with- hold its hand until the Laying season is over. We claim that poultry add to the national food supply, and will live on material which is not fit for human consumption. Six lbs. of poultry flesh, as frequently demonstrated on duck- rearing farms, can be produced in 13 weeks on offals alone, and the general meat shortage could be quickly over- come by enoouraging poultry produc- tion. My twelve ducks will lay during the next six months, if their laying last year is any criterion, an average of 60 eggs per week,. These will pro- vide, after incubation, 40 ducklings, which ten weeks later will average 41bs each, and these could be produceci regularly for 6 to 9 months. Thus I and my wife would, after allowing 10 per cent. for deaths, produce continu- ously for this period 1451bs. of meat per week, or an average of 6lbs. each of delicious meat per week for 24 people and that during our spare-time. What other method could ena ble a man, in his leisure hours, to produce such a quantity of meat in such a short period of time? LEO.