Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Busy evening tonight whilst i put the animals to bed and played with the kids and attempted amateur photography.

Gareth started skinning the deer. He does have a little muntjac to do tomorrow that i collected from the local shoot tonight a bargain at £10!

Our friends one is wrapped up and ready to be delivered to his butcher ready to be prepared for the freezer.

I cant believe another game season is over. Its been a great season with great variety of wild meat. I feel very lucky that we can eat animals that have roamed and enjoyed life, rather than helping justify commercial british meat and the way in which the animals are kept.

Now for sausage making on Saturday and duck curry saturday night.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Its been a really really hard week this week for all members of the family.

On wednesday night i was witness to our beloved cat Tit being run over. It was awful and we all miss him so much. Although it was awful seeing it i was able to pick him up and he died in my arms. I am pleased i was able to be with him in those last minutes rather than him being run over by more vehicles.

RIP Tit happy ratting in Heaven.

Surprise surprise more rain this week the ground is saturated. We are pleased all the animals are in for the winter although
we are constantly covered in mud.

After the loss of Tit it was very hard taking four lambs to the abattoir on Thursday morning. However it had to be done and we left with a few tears.

They arrived home on Friday it was great to compare the sheer size of the pure bred oxford down to the crosses.

Dad has been busy butchering them and they were collected by friends ready for their freezers.

Gareth and I had our usual Sunday Morning walk down the wood this morning topping up the bird feeders, checking the bees and looking at the flooded areas.

We are looking forward to spring and seeing the bees enjoy the blossom on all the fruit trees we have planted this winter.

Its not very often we have a lazy afternoon but it was so wet today we lit the fires and i caught up on some of my knitting.

The day has finished with a lovely fresh shoulder of lamb we are very lucky!

I'm off to collect a fallow deer carcass for the freezer tomorrow. It will hang in the fridge for a few weeks before Gareth skins it and Dad butchers it.

I hope you all have a good week. You might notice mother popping in for an update on smallholding life.

Today on the smallholding

Hi i am Donna mother here at Furzedown. I am now going to be helping update the blog. I hope you enjoy my posts and it would be great to hear from those that follow us.

Here are some photos of our animals taken this weekend. 

Fred the Oxford Down Ram

Charlie the naughty spaniel 

Sunday, January 19, 2014

I can't believe how much rain we had on Thursday evening and Friday. The whole front paddock flooded as well as several of Mums chook runs. The main road was flooded but luckily our retired neighbour Mr Anderson managed to dig some small trenches to allow the water to run from the road into the ditch, which cleared the road in a few hours. 

It's been a productive weekend. I have processed 70 birds! Pheasant, partridge and duck. I was so pleased when I picked up the last brace. Luckily Mum washed all the breasts and legs afterwards and they are now all bagged and in the freezer ready to feed us for the spring and summer. I estimate that this season we have put over 225 brace of birds in the freezer. We have frozen breasts, mince and made sausages. 

I find such a great sense of satisfaction buying game birds, they are great value for money and free range. We would rather eat them than chicken from Tescos. 

Several wheelbarrows later and Craig (a family friend who is lodging with us at the moment) and I had a sparkly clean pigstie ready for our new piggies. 

We used our last half a sow leg on Saturday night, Gareth made pulled pork it's wonderful a real treat. 

The weather has been quite nice all weekend lots of sun, so I took the opportunity to trim back the front flower beds. I cut the arum Lillie's back and covered them in the horse manure to protect them if we have frosts. 

After breakfast on Sunday we hitched the trailer up and set off to collect our new pigs. Six oxford sandy and blacks from Marsh Farm In South Woodham Ferrers. We collected eight in total as two are coming to stay for our friend Nigel until the weather dries up. 

They are so lovely, it's great to have piggies about again.

Gareth and I checked the bees at lunchtime today, several of them were buzzing around enjoying the mild sunny weather. We topped then up with fondant to see them through the coming weeks. 

Just as the day was coming to an end, a friend phoned she had been ferreting and had 7 bunnies for me at the bargain price of £1 each. I arrived home half and hour later, another half and hour and Gareth and I had them gutted, skinned and in a bucket soaking in salt water. So watch out family bunny pie this week!

We had a wonderful dinner home reared lamb with celeriac, white chard and artichokes out the garden a perfect end to a fabulous weekend. 

We are trying to plan the pigs that we require this year, so if anyone would like to purchase half a pig from use, butchered and ready for the freezer we are taking bookings now. So book early to avoid disappointment. 

I hope you all have a great week I will check in again next weekend. 

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Well I officially don't like going back to work. The 5.30 alarm call was not welcome last week.

Poor old Gareth didn't get a lay in this weekend. He was in charge of cutting down a historical Holme oak tree in Maldon High Street. The tree has been monitored for years and was diseased so a decision was made by the local authority for it to be cut down. 

Gareth and his team arrived Saturday morning and worked very late into the evening Saturday and Sunday, until she was laid rest on the lorry at about 4pm on Monday. The whole community were watching and taking pictures of this historic tree. As much as it was a huge shame it would have caused utter devastation if it had fallen down and could have killed people. 

The remaining trunk will be used to make benches for use around Maldon so the tree will live on! 

I collected another array of game on Wednesday night including a canada goose after lots of ready on the internet we decided to breast a leg it. So we have popped it in the freezer to cook at a later date. 

I have been knitting for just over a year now and am very close to having made my first cardigan. I have done the back and the two front parts. So sleeves and a border on the front parts and I will have my very first cardi!!

I helped plant two trees at one of our local community orchards on Sunday with fellow member Martyn. It was great to see the community all working together to plant twelve trees and an edible hedge. I can't wait to see the community gathering harvest in years to come. 

All the animals are well, a little muddy but enjoying the bit of Sun over the last week.

The turkeys had to have their wings clipped as they kept escaping. I'm pleased to say they are staying in their run now.

The hard time of year is approaching we  have 7 lambs due to go and a dexter steer. It's never nice planning the day but when we are sitting down to dinner we can honestly say we no they have had a great life and not wanted for anything. 

Edith and Myrtle have been up to mischief, a whole wheelbarrow of muck was tipped across the yard because Myrtle wanted to stand on it. Such wonderful little girls. 

Maurice has brought yet another rotevator, I not sure of the purpose of yet another non runner but he assures me it has a use one day the parts from one will fix the other! He has also been busy moving the muck heap around with the digger, we have a fantastic amount of very well rotted muck if anyone would like some. 

Mum is planning on using some of our banana glut to make banana and passion fruit jam this week.

I hope you all have a good week and I plan to check in again with an update at the weekend. 

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Happy New Year to all our Blog followers, Furzedown wishes you all the very best for 2014.

Time for another little up-date

Christmas Day was lovely we had family and friends for the day and enjoyed our home reared/produced Turkey, pork and Beef I think it tastes good because it’s reared with love(and cooked by Mum) and we raised a glass to them all at the table.

It was lovely to have a bit of a rest after the and bussle of getting all the Christmas orders out.

We have had some wonderful feed back from our customers and are very pleased everyone enjoyed their Furzedown smallholding Turkey, Home Cured Ham(to my own secret recipe) and Pigs in Blankets, some customers have already placed orders for next year and we can’t wait to see you all again, we have a few more ideas for next year! No stopping us now.

I am still on holiday at the moment I have had a wonderful break and am going to find it very hard going back to working life again!

All is well at Furzedown although rather wet and muddy in fact there is mud everywhere I think we can safely say up to our knees in the stuff BUT never mind Spring is just round the corner.

I shouldn’t moan we have been very lucky compared to some parts of the country.
We did have a power cut Christmas Eve which was a bit of a worry but dad rigged up the generator with mums help! He needed to change a plug on the generator lead but of course we couldn’t find the torch but Mum to the rescue! She had a wind up one in her handbag, it was so funny her winding it up and Dad bellowing hold it were I can see and just as he put the last screw in the plug the electric came back on.

All the animals are fine and coping with the wet weather. Edith and Myrtle the kids have settled in very well they are little darling with very big characters they are very cosy in dear old Georges stable but come out on the yard each afternoon for fun and games and go into the barn to visit Esme.

We also have another two new arrivals two Oxford Sandy and Black piglets all tucked up in the pig sty protected from all this wet weather. Next supply of sausages should be ready late spring.

Tilly the Dexter is showing all positive signs of being in calf which is very exciting we are going to have a busy April lambs, calf and possibly kids due it’s going to be like an episode of “call the Midwife” at Furzedown.

Dad has been working on the cutting room which is coming on a treat, it now has its own front door and is starting to take shape. I can just imagine the open and closed sign on it and just can’t wait.

That’s it for now wish me luck for work on Today it was very hard getting up so early.