Sunday, February 23, 2014

No rain all weekend maybe spring is on the way!

On Tuesday the Cheese and Pie man did cheese tasting for the Smallholders Group monthly meeting. My god there is so much more to supermarket cheese? Thirty pounds later and we have some lovely Lancashire Bomber, a cheddar with horseradish in it and a cheddar that is wrapped in stinging nettle leaves. All three are just wonderful, such delicious cheese. The pies well what we say all hand made, Mum,s didn't make it to Wednesday Morning. 

It has been wonderful having so rain, everything had dried up so much, the sun has been out and we have had a productive weekend. 

Saturday was Dad's birthday so we kept him busy, he had continued working on the Fridge. It's really taking shape now. I have spring cleaned the fridge using Dad's Christmas Present a Vax Steam Cleaner, what a cracking little machine. It wasn't enough just doing the fridge, Mum and I did the kitchen floor and cooker, it looks brilliant. 

We did treat Dad to Dexter Steak for dinner, which we all enjoyed. 

Whilst I was cleaning the pigs out on Saturday Morning, one of the gilts decided to run between my legs and play in the garden. She had a fab time, doing mad pig, digging holes everywhere. Dad and Grandad came to my rescue and we got her back in the pen. What a naughty piggie! 

We were planning on being up and about early on Sunday morning but a late night labelling EESG preserves ment I slept in until eight o clock. 

Once everything was fed, we cracked on with vaccinating the sheep and goats. We have now learnt that an Oxford Down doesn't fit between my legs! Lottie managed to get past Gareth and as I tried to grab her, she shot between my legs causing me to fall over and bang my head on the wall on the sheep house. 

I could see stars! I now have a big bump on my head and have had an annoying head ache all day. Blooming sheep! Gareth says that would have been £250 from You've been framed!

All sheep and goats are now vaccinated with Heptavac. 

We moved Tilly into the maternity ward today. As she is so close to calving we didn't want Dennis with her causing trouble. 

I have been researching what I need in our Calving kit this week, the vets have given me a great list which I will start putting together in a box this week.

Gareth's parents popped over today, his dad has made me a lovely stand for selling produce on. It will look great at the Farmers Market. 

Edith is all mended now and can do mad kid again,

Today was finished with a wonderful roast leg of pork with all the trimmings! 

Sunday, February 16, 2014

As much as smallholding is a very rewarding way of life it sometimes it is very, very hard. 

On Thursday afternoon when Mum was putting her animals to bed she stuck her head in on the goat kids to check they were ok. The sight she found was awful. Edith had managed to get her leg stuck in the hay rack. It was twisted round and she was in a right state. Mum freed her and she just collapsed to the floor. Goats are such playful trouble makers. Poor Eadie was so so sore, nothing felt broken and she had no wounds. I phoned the vet Friday morning and managed to meet her on one of her calls to collect some pain relief, to make her more comfortable. 

I'm pleased to report that this afternoon she is putting weight on her leg, so fingers crossed she is on the mend! The hay rack has been removed and they now they have a hay bucket.

Gareth and I had Friday off work, he treated me to a nice bottle of port and maltesers for valentines day and I treated him as well, port and biscuits! What a pair we are! 

He was busy getting his silly Subaru MOT'ed so I took the time to make some more hedgerow port using some of our freezer fruit. 

We tried mixing a little brandy with our last batch and it's very nice. So much so a whole bottle has disappeared this last week. 

Mum and I had a good sort out of seeds on saturday, dare I say it threw some out, dated 2006! Instead of our usual massive seed ordering we actually looked at what we needed, and have a much smaller value of £20 of seeds on order from Premier Seeds on ebay. 

The weather was awful last week rain, wind, more rain and more wind. Friday night was terrible, I only got a few hours sleep. We were lucky the only damage was a top that came out of a tree in the wood. No damage caused and one less tree for Gareth to fell.

Talking of trees, in true Uncle Maurice style, the demolition lorry arrived this morning full of tree trunks that had been removed from a site he is working on. Instead of going into the waste chain, we have them to chop up as fire wood. We have cherry, popular and oak. I estimate there is enough logs to keep us burning for a winter. The delivery also had some recycled sheets of plywood to be used for the floor above the chiller. After a bit of attention from Grandad denailing they will continue there life at Furzedown, floors, stable linings and chicken houses. Perfect thank you Maurice! 

Today was a beautiful day, however the rest of the berries from the port needed turning into a jelly to sell at the Farmers Market we are attending next month. Once the berries are strained from the port liquid, they are steamed with apples, then boiled with sugar and pectin to make a delicious hedgerow jelly. Well not today DISASTER struck, despite lots of reducing two sachets of pectin, a boiled over saucepan over the hob. We finally reached 105 degrees and the jelly was setting on a plate so we Jared it. We came in after finishing the animals to find each jar hasn't set. I'm so disappointed we have wasted 22 new jars, lots of sugar and TIME. This really is the downside of what we are doing. 

Hey ho tomorrow's a new day!

Night Night

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Preserving success! Strawberry jam, plum chutney and pear and lime preserve. We made a total of 46 jars! 

The strawberry jam was for East Essex Smallholders Group but the rest was for us. We are attending our first Farmers Market on Sunday 16th March so we are trying to stock up. 

A productive day was finished with the most wonderful dexter steak for dinner. We all feel very lucky that we are able to enjoy such beautiful beef. God bless Derek. We put its wonderful flavour down to it being a traditional breed that has been reared slowly on quality forage with love. As well as the hanging process, we hung this carcass to mature for 21 days which improved the tenderness and flavour.

Today Maurice and I went seed potato shopping. Well what can I say 45kg later as well as £78 goodness knows where they are all going. As well at 2kg of onion setts. I hope it's a productive year. 

I also finished my last five ducks from shooting season, I plucked them and we had roast duck for dinner. It was delicious. 

All the animals are copping in the wet weather, we are bracing ourselves for another week of rain, I'm not sure where it's going to go the ground in sodden.

After two late evenings of labelling jars,  back to work in the morning. Check in later in the week. 

Friday, February 7, 2014

I want it to stop raining, I want to start growing things!

We are having a potato plot this year in the pig run, so we need quite a lot of seed potatoes. But their is so much choice! Early, second early and main crop. I have been posting on the East Essex Smallholders Blog to help me and others decide what to buy.

I have been following a blog for a few weeks now,
this lady has inspired me so much for growing this year. I just need this rain to stop! Today Bean sprouts have been mentioned, they will certainly be on my have a go list this year.

Mother and I are planning a preserving session tomorrow. The freezer have reached the silly point, they are so full, so we must live off of them and make room for poor Dennis.

We have strawberry jam planned for East Essex Smallholders Group and Plum Chutney for Furzedown. We are planning on attended our first Farmers Market on 16th March so we need to start stocking up.

I forgot to mention that Belinda and Warren brought the cheese round that they had made with my stash of milk, it was wonderful brie and cheddar. Thanks you both! I want to make cheese! That will have to wait until we have more time!

Anyway Mum's homemade Pizza for Dinner, I will catch up on Sunday.

Monday, February 3, 2014

What a lovely weekend the sun was out both days and NO RAIN! 

I had an early finish on Friday so I got a head start preparing the pheasants for sausage making. I also skinned my first deer all by myself. 

Our friend Martyn helped us make the sausages he had great fun and it was great to share the experience of making sausages. We make pheasant with port and cranberries and pheasant with garlic, fennel, lemon and oregano. 

The beautiful weather made me want to get out in the garden and start preparing for growing however the minute you stand in the garden you sink and squelch in the mud. One day soon.

We have been looking at seed potatoes ahead of the South East Essex Organic Gardeners Potato Day. They have over fifty varieties. 

On Sunday Gareth went to work so I had the mammoth task of filling up all the feed, strawing everything up, topping up the bird feeders. It's much more fun when we both do it. Uncle Maurice wS a great help me filled up eight bags of straw for the week ahead. 

The time of year has arrived and we must set a date for Dennis the Dexter to go. We seem to be avoiding the subject, coming up with excuses why a certain day doesn't work and my latest excuse is the freezers are too full! Well that is a fact I am a food hoarder! I have fruit, a huge array of game, lamb, pork, beef, turkey. Enough to feed the whole village for six months I reckon. 

So Dennis my boy we don't need to think about it for a few weeks. I am a firm believer in using a much as we can from our animals when the time comes. So I have been making enquiries about having Dennis's hide tanned. It's going to cost around £180. I'm not sure what we would do with it after, maybe a rug, a wall hanging or a throw over a sofa. But I think it would be great to utilise something that would otherwise be lost. 

A friend of ours runs a joinery business, so tonight I filled me car with wood off cuts a lot of it is oak and it's great for the fires at home. So I exchanged a saddle of muntjac for wood a fantastic swap!

Well I am sitting here typing grabbing my tissue, the lads at work have given me their cold and a stinking sore throat so I am having an early night.

Night Night.