Sunday, March 31, 2013

What Lovely Weather For Easter

Well what can we say, the weather has been so much better for Easter. Although its been cold, we have had some sun, no rain and the ground is drying up.

Thursday night saw the last bee keeping course, we have really enjoyed it and would to thank Chelmsford Bee Keepers.

Friday we went and collected Tilly from the Bull. We called to her across the field and she recongnised us straight away, mooing back at us. When the herd came to the gate, we were able to entice Tilly with a cabbage to get her halter on and straight on to the trailer. What a good girl, we are so pleased to have her home, and hopefully she will give us a beautiful calf!

The Bull that Tilly visited.

We spent a little bit of time down the bottom of the wood, building some more on the bug hotel, and hanging up the new bird feeders. Some of the trees and coming to life and buds are starting to burst.

Then Margorie the Oxford Down, gave birth to twins. The first lamb was up and about and suckling. However the second wasn't very strong, we tried to get it up and feeding, but it was wet and it was so cold outside. We decided to bring it indoors to dry it off and give it a bottle of Volstrum (an artificial Colostrum - first milk). Mum has tried to bottle feed her, but she's very weak, so our friend Nigel showed us how to feed using a stomach tube. We aren't sure at the moment whether the poor little thing is going to pull through, but we are doing our best to help it.

Mum feeding the lamb.
We were very lucky that our neighbour Mr Anderson took pity on our rather muddy drive way and gave us a lovely load of road plannings and a roller to go over it. After several hours of hard work a very tired Dad with a blister and Gareth had made a fine job. No more muddy shoes.

Gareth working very hard

Raj and Sally had very kindly gave us a lovely shoulder of their goat. So Gareth made a delicious Jamacain Curry. We had all the trimmings, Bombay Potatoes, Onion Bahji and Samosa. Bloody lovely. I'm not sure we could raise goats, I don't think they would make it to Fowlers.

We also loaded the incubator with a mixture of our eggs.

Easter Sunday kept us just as busy, we moved the log shed ready to fill up with wood for next winter. Gareth and Maurice spent the day topping up the road way down the wood with crushed concrete. It looks great and is going to make life so much easier.

Me and Dad hung a gate to access the bottom of the wood, this will hopefully make moving bee things around a lot easier,  when we finally get our bee's.

The day finished with a beautiful back rib of Dexter beef. God Bless Derrek! We are so lucky to have a freezer full of such wonderful beef. Thanks Mum for a wonderful dinner.

We are hoping to mix the cows together tomorrow. I also have some spinning to do and Gareth wants to finish putting out the crushed concrete with Maurice.

Night Night.

Monday, March 25, 2013


Well where an earth has spring gone? Its the end of March, minus one, snow on the ground and bitterly cold. Mum has various seeds growing in pots on the window sill, as nothing would be able to grow in this cold weather. The dinning room table is full of potatoes chitting.

Lets hope after Easter, it will warm up.

The bee course last week was very good. We were looking at disease, what is notifiable to DEFRA, as well as how to deal with varroa. We have such a lot to learn.

Friday night brought a delicious omlet for dinner, with turkey eggs and home cured pancetta. We will certainly be curing more of that.

With the wet and cold weekend, whilst Gareth was as work, I spent the afternoon spinning wool. I have found a lovely fleece, it's very creamy coloured and I have spun three skeins of wool. Just to decide what to make with it.

Dennis the Dexter has been rather itchy, so our friend Simon offered to come over and inject him with panomec for us. This drug kills all external and internal parasites but needs to be administered just under the skin. Thank god for Simon, Dennis is proving he suffers from LCS also know as Little Cow Syndrome! He managed to outwit Gareth twice squeezing through the crush before he had time to snap it shut. He was not a happy boy! Finally Simon jabbed him, despite bending the needle. Note to us, short thick needles are required! When we let him out he stood at the back on the barn snorting and pawing the ground. He certainly is stonger willed than our Derek last year.

Dad has been a busy boy this weekend. He has wanted to make a pork pie for some time. On Thursday night he made his hot water crust pastry. On Friday night he roped Gareth into making the cases with the dolly. Saturday and Sunday he filled them with meat from Rosie Pig the Tamworth.and injected them with the stock from the trotters. The pastry was made using the lard we rendered down from Rosie Pig.

Well what can I say DELICIOUS. Well done Dad!

Marjorie the Oxford Down is the first due to lamb, the CCTV is up and running for Mum to keep and eye on them. So watch this space for lamby pics.

Easter weekend, brings our girl Tilly the Dexter home, we are off to collect her on Good Friday.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Sunday's Jobs

An early start today, Dennis (The Dexter) likes to be fed by 5.45am otherwise he will moo and moo and moo, until he gets his breakfast and haylage.

Once all the animals were tended, we set about costructing some more of the bug hotel.

We have been working on two areas of the wood over the last few months. One area has never been touched since we have been at Furzedown, The other the pigs have been using for a few years. We are trying to plant as many new native trees as possible including some fruit trees to benefit both wildlife and us. We have added bird and owl boxes as well as feeders. We will eventually house our bees in this area.

Mum and I went to look at some extra grazing today, great result all fenced, shelter and water. Very pleased.

Dad cold smoked some hams for Emily at Durrants Farm, she came to collect them today bearing gifts, two packs of lovely Homemade Venison and Red Wine Sausages. Looking forward to them for dinner this week.

We also went and collected our first lot of bee keeping equipment. We are now proud owners of three commercial bee hives. A honey and wax extractor and all the associated equipment we will need to keep bees. Big thank you to Ant Clegg. 

A lovely dinner thanks to Mum, home cured ham, God Bless Rosie Pig ( A tamworth that we were unfortuantly unable to get in pig, after several attempts we had to make the very hard decison to put her in the freezer, however nothing was wasted.)

Three skeins of our wool mixed will alpaca all washed and drying.

Three weeks ago, we made some cheddar. We checked it to see how it is maturing, looks good, its starting to go a yellow colour, can't wait to try it.

Me thinks not a bad days work.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Smallholding Update

Yet another busy week at Furzedown!

We have four new arrivals, large black weaners. From The Rodings Plantery. This is a new pure breed for us, we have only ever had cross large blacks before.

They are little stinkers! It was rather amusing when we collected them, Grandad Ron (age 74) came along with us and was given the run around by 10 naughty piggies! We spent most of the time watching piglets run between his legs, it was rather funny!

Thursday night arrived and as usual a mad rush to get everyone fed and watered before setting off to Great Baddow for our Bee training course. This week we learnt all about what goes into the hive and what comes out, hopefully HONEY! As well as wax to make candles.

We have frozen two Deer skins this week, which we hope to have a go at tanning later in year. They would make such lovely rugs in front of the fire.

Today was Guild Day. a chance to catch up with the lovely ladies at The Mid Essex Guild of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers. A productive day for Michaela and I, she was working on croteching a granny square blanket, while I have been spinning some of our wool into yarn.

For dinner we had home made pizza with our Tamworth Pancetta that has been drying outside for the last month. Delicous!

Well off to bed soon, busy day tomorrow. Trees to plant in the wood, Land to veiw for grazing this year and bee keeping equipment to collect.

Never a quiet moment for the Smallholder!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Meet the Dexters

Tilly and Our new arrival Dennis



The Sheep

We have a flock of 12 sheep.

A mixture of Oxford Downs and various suffolk crosses.

We have our old girl dizzy our first sheep.
Daisy, Polly, Tilly, Shirley and Poppy.

As well as Dude our bottle fed.

We also have the Oxfords! Fred, Lottie, Teresa, Marjorie and Annie.




Teresa and Annie


Poppy with her Triplets from 2012


A busy week!

Well what a busy time we have had this last week.

Our last lot of three berkshire pigs went to the abattoir.

They arrived home on Saturday, we were very pleased with the fat content especially as we thought they had run a few weeks longer than they needed to.

We kept half a pig, back for our freezer which dad butchered on Sunday. His skills have improved so much! He made a great job of cutting it up.

He also butchered the fallow deer which has been hanging in the fridge the last few weeks.

Whilst dad was busy in the fridge, Gareth, Grandad and me set off to collect our next pigs. Four large blacks from the Rodings Plantery. Thank you Jane and Andy! Lovely pigs!

Whilst Maurice took delivery of his new toy! A snazzy larger rotator.