Archive for the ‘smallholding’ Category

in all the commotion, and yes there was a fair bit going on, I forgot to tell of new arrivals:

sheep and lambs
New sheep, this ewe (Geraldine) only has one side of her udder working, so no good for breeding from, but we don’t intend to so that’s ok, she comes with her twins – the girl lamb (Gilly) got the good side but the boy (Godfrey) was bottle fed – he’s eating grass now, and will soon catch up in size with his sister. They are all poll Dorset, but clearly not all that pure, as Gilly has black around her eyes, the tips of her ears, hooves and scattered through her wool – as we like naturally coloured wool, we will be interested in seeing how her fleece turns out.
fiesty and chicks
In addition to the ewe and lambs we also have had chicks.. lots and lots of them – too many really… and the latest lot (fourth hatch of the year) were hatched under our new broody – given to me by the lovely Sandra from Bellecross hens – and this hen is mean when broody.. but a good trait in a mother I think, as she is very protective her her charges

It’s all go in other areas too, in the veg garden and house renovations, and getting out and about too. The flower garden has to manage itself – I’m all about the cottage garden
home sweet home

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belly slices on the bone

Monday saw us loading the pigs and taking them on their final journey. The reality of their end is masked by some angst at this time. By this stage they are no longer cute piglets, but two hundred weight of young boar. And having boar weaners is a first for us, they matured at an alarming rate and we worried about the possibility of boar taint. So getting them booked in, then the stress of trying to persuade that much pig into the trailer.. then the unloading at the other end all adds up to angst. Actually they loaded easily, came out of the trailer easily, and didn’t miss their appointment….
Only after that do we miss them, and we do. But this is part of the deal.
Today the pigs came home again, as pork, and we spent the day cutting them into edible portions. The meat is free of taint, and not too fatty at all, probably the best pork we have raised to date.

We strayed from the basic cutting plan and cut the middles close to the eye of meat, leaving a bigger belly slab, which himself cut into belly slices, on the bone,for meaty rib eating.  Meanwhile I boned out the loins/racks and cut the meat into many many steaks, and we cut a small joint from the side runners / hock and hands from under the spare ribs, which just seemed too lean and lovely to cut up for mincing. So now we have an abundance of pork steaks, roasting joints, tenderloin, trotters, ribs/belly slices, and mince.

Totally shattering day, but rounded off nicely with a trip into town; we sat outside under the canopy of a riverside bistro, a small group turned up and started playing swing and with pint in hand and the rain teaming down on the canvas,  it gave us that camping/festival feeling.

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new sheep

new sheep
We have way too much grass.  We meant to buy some more sheep at auction, but with the roof and kitchen renovations and general life stuff getting in the way, we sort of missed our moment,  and when we finally got our act together and went to the market, we saw some nice looking  ewes with lambs, only they were still heavy with wool, and ours had been sheared.  It would have been a pain to organise shearing again, and add to the expense.

Whilst I was looking at the lambs a nice lady came over to us and chatted to us.  Turns out they were her sheep.  And furthermore she keeps her sheep on our neighbour’s field.  We exchanged numbers, has a good sheep related chat and now her sheep have been sheared and we have bought a ewe and her lambs.

The ewe is a little unsure, but regards humans coming into the field as a potentially good thing. Hopefully we can win her over.  She has light grey wool, and it will be interesting to see how that grows out.

So we now need to think of some names – F for this year – we are still only beginners, our neighbour is on her second time through the alphabet.

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UntitledThe shearer has been, and our girls are all tidy and much, much cooler.

Every year I wonder if we should do the shearing ourselves, and toy with the concept of buying the equipment, because the moment we think it is time they were sheared, is, of course, the same moment for everyone else.  Having a small flock means we are not big customers.

And every year, when he comes, I realise what a skill it is, and how much better to have someone who knows what they are doing.  The wool is in good shape – very little double cuts, and cut close to the skin.  Mostly better for the sheep as the whole process is over in a flash, with no cuts, or damage.  He takes care.

It’s always funny afterwards as the sheep don’t recognise each other at first… there is some nudging and remembering – I guess they don’t smell right!

So now we have four cooler sheep, and  I can worry less about them.


sheep minus wool

And we have more fleeces to wash, card and spin. Betty’s fleece gets greyer with every year, is a variety of shades in one and is big! – The grey colour is lovely and I have my eye on that for myself..


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…comes from enjoying the simple things.

Such as sunshine and dry ground when I leave the house to check the animals.
cats keeping company

The cats like to keep me company, Molly because she follows me everywhere, Pete because he tries to herd me back to the house to open a tin.
flowering currant

The red flowering currant that is tree like in proportions and leans over the lane, a surprise burst of colour to me everytime. Always heaving with bees.
pear blossom

The pear blossom. The pears are fairly useless, and the tree crooked and beyond pruning back into shape, but the blossom every year makes it all worthwhile.


Bluebells in the lane, English ones too.

pigs exploring

Finding the little pigs out exploring their domain

eggs and coffee

I never tire of collecting eggs, still a pleasure.  Then back to the house with my baskets, a break and  a cup of coffee.

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dead greenhouse

Just a tad blowy last night! – We cancelled plans to go out and glad we did as the reports were full of traffic chaos, flooding where we had planned to go and trees down.

Luckily for us the only damage was the greenhouse being blown over – definitely an ex-greenhouse now. A fence in the hen run is down, and some big branches off of next door’s massive leylandii. A big scots pine is down next door across the allotments, but missing us

Was quite scary last night hearing the wind howl down the chimneys and battering the windows, and mystery clunking noises from outside. Glad we got away with so little.

So now some clearing up of glass and looking around for a new greenhouse.

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It is very mild – yes stormy with more high winds to come this week, but mild.  I have often not lit the esse,  and, unheard of in harvesting records, we picked courgettes and beans in November and are still picking tomatoes from the greenhouse – though they are finally coming to an end.

The downside of the mild weather is the stores are not doing so well – I’ve already mentioned the apples going bad before time. Yesterday revealed a pumpkin was showing early signs of going.  This wasn’t in the plan.  Right now I want to concentrate on christmas baking, but I’ve got veg store processing mixed up  in it.  Today, as well as cooking the roast, and a family session of making gingerbread men/stars/trees/angels/you name it, and stollen, and mince pies, I am now making the fourth batch of curried  pumpkin and lentil soup.  Not a  bad thing – it is delicious! – but not was I had in mind for today.  So, if you too have squashes, pumpkins and apples stashed.. time to check those stores.     Making  apple curd next…..

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