Thursday, March 27, 2014

Such a lot to report, I have been trying all week to write a little bit.  I shall start with our most recent new. Tilly has calved! We have a beautiful Heiffer calf called Tulip! Born on Tuesday!

It wasnt a simple birth! We knew Tilly was in labour and had been checking her every half an hour on the cow cam. However in between checks Tulip had popped out no trouble at all. Although Tilly wasn't that keen on her, she was rather rough and flipped the poor baby across the barn with her horns. She also wouldn't let her feed. With the help of great friends and family, time and persistence all is now well. I checked the cow cam at 1.30am this morning and Tulip was feeding, followed by a playful whoop whoop session around the barn. We are thrilled. 

I think Tulip will be staying, although our friend Nigel says she should be steak and chips!! We aren't sure.

Now for all our other news:
Dennis left us on Friday, all went well he loaded well and had a stress free journey. I do feel awful about it, especially when I returned to the abbatoir to collect the offal. I just keep reminding myself why we raise our animals, what a wonderful life they have had and how we are eating such great meat that has been raised with love, without the added medicines that commercial meat has. Never the less it was still very hard. The carcass hasn't come home this time, he has gone to our friends butchers shop to hang until 16th April when we shall butcher the carcass with the help of Darren the butcher.

I decided that I was going to give it a go, cooking the tongue, last years went straight in the freezer and that's where it has stayed. I boiled it 4 hours with garlic, black pepper, carrots and onions. It was really nice. I won't be so scared next time. The lungs have been boiled up for the dogs to supplement their  food over the next week. 

Grandad and I collected the new pigs at 7am on Saturday morning, no weekend lay in for us. The pigs were rather large, they have had plenty of food, Gareth has called one of them Hector, he has massive shoulders! We now have ten oxford sandy and black piggies. So if anyone is looking to purchase free range rare breed pork, we have plenty! 

Well I'm sitting drinking tea, watching lambing live, I can't wait until lambing! 

I hope to check in over the weekend, with more news of how our little tulip is getting on!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

I've been trying to write a post all week, however work has been getting in the way! Travis Perkins is very busy at the moment and I seem to be starting early and finishing late. I think someone has flicked a switch and the country has started building again.

I did have a lovely find whilst out dropping some bits off for work, A sign outside a farm offering Buffalo meat. I will be making a trip their soon to purchase some for dinner. 

Well the Farmers Market, what a beautiful sunny day (and we were stuck in doors!) we met some wonderful people, converted several people to smoked cheese, hedgerow sauce was a winner and my Father came out off himself! We all no father's language is rather colourful and we are always telling him stop swearing. Well he did, he mangaged a whole three hours without a swear word! 

He sold sausages, cheese and loads of preserves under the watchful idea of Mum, ready to kick him if he slipped up.

People were really interest about the life we lead, and the produce we have. We sold 16 kilos of sausages, 8kg of cheese and various preserves. A great day, if anyone is reading this post who purchased from us, I hope your are enjoying our produce. 

As much as we enjoyed doing the Farmers Market it has made us realise a few things, working full time  and running the smallholding as our hobby makes for a busy life. I found last weekend exhausting although very rewarding, so we have decided for the moment to try and build our farmgate sales. So on a lovely sunny day we can enjoy our smallholding rather than being inside. 

We had about six kilos of sausages left, which after a few text messages were off to their new homes. Ladies I hope you enjoy them!

The other pig had been sold as a whole carcass to cut up and be enjoyed, however we we're let down at the last minute. So we spent Sunday and Monday evening butchinrg the pig which now has a nice new freezer to go to in Great Dunmow this weekend. Thank you Mr and Mrs Whitmore for stepping in at such short notice. 

I was convinced the calf was on its way today. In Grandads words "her bags needs to be TIGHT!" Well it's was certainly that this morning and she had discharge. But whilst driving to work hands free I arranged various checks throughout the day. Thank you Grandad, Sally, Nigel and Mum. I am sitting here typing this post and still no calf. I think tonight maybe the night.

Early start in the morning, tomorrow is the day for Dennis the Dexter to go. Not a nice task, but unfortuantly one that needs to happen. Simon is coming to help us load him to make the task as stress free as possible. It's going to be a really sad day. 

Anyway time for bed soon.

night Night

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Well not long now! The farmers market is tomorrow! 

Gareth and Dad butchered the pig on Wednesday and Thursday evening so it was all diced  and ready to mince on Friday morning. 

Sally snd Martyn helped me make the sausages yesterday, thank you both! They are now in the fridge drying ready for packaging tonight! 

The smoker is going on within the hourto smoke   the cheddar. Exciting times! 

Well no calve still, i'm sure she will have it tomorrow when we are out and Grandad and Sally are watching her.

I was convinced she was having it on wednesday night. But she had wind! 

The cow cam is great I probably check it five times during the night, everyone should have one! 

Oh well must crack on! The sun is shinning and i am typing this sitting onthe  bench with the turkeys. 

Sunday, March 9, 2014

What a lovely weekend we have had. SUN, SUN and more SUN.

Gareth very kindly brought me the new River Cottage curing and smoking book, which arrived on Friday along with our new cold smoking gadget from So my mind was filled with what wonderful things I could make in the coming weeks. One thing In particular caught my eye, venison pancetta. Lo and behold at 11pm on Friday night my brother phoned to say a muntjac had run out in front of his car so he had it in the boot and was on his way home. My poor mother this happened once beforehand she thought we were hill billies then!

Gareth gutted the poor deer, it had taken the impact on its head poor thing. So we hung in the fridge for the night and went to bed.

I skinned it on Saturday and Dad butchered it thins morning, I am looking forward to curing a piece. We also have out neighbour a shoulder to enjoy. I would have liked to have hung it for a week, but the fridge needed to be clean ready for butchery his week. 

Our nights have been rather unsettled this week, Gareth has been checking Tilly the Dexter at 11pm, then I have been doing the 2pm check. We have both been really tired. However yesterday Dad helped me rig up the CCTV unit on our 42" TV in our bedroom. With a quick shopping trip to Chelmsford this morning, we now have Tilly in 42" in the bedroom, a camera at each end of the barn. I do feel like we are invading her privacy and spying on her, but we want a nice heathy cow and calf so I'm pleased we are using it. 

Esme has decided she does like the kids, so she has spent a lovely weekend in the field, enjoying the sun with them and their new friend Sally the oxford down.

All of the animals have enjoyed the great weather, the bees have been flying, the turkeys are feeling like love is in the air and The horses have enjoyed having their rugs off. 

Maurice and Craig have been busy, they had the huge tasked of cleaning the sheep house out today, after 5 dumper loads, a lot of sweat and some nasty blisters, it's ready for lambing. Thanks chaps a grand job!

Next weekend is the Great Notley Farmers Markets, I have brought the cheese for smoking, the jars of chutney and jam are labelled and the signage is complete, we have created a little board all about our pigs and our sausage making. So I think we are nearly there.

The pigs  are going Tuesday Morning, it doesn't get any easier, but they have had a great life. I have Friday off work to make the sausages with the help of our friends Martyn and Sally. I feel a busy week coming on. 

I hope you all have a good week. And fingers crossed for no more rain!

Sunday, March 2, 2014

My turn to up-date the Blog!
I have a fresh shoulder of lamb cooking in the oven with roast potatoes and parsnips on the next shelf. I have made myself a cup of tea and here I am to tell what has been happening at Furzedown this week.
What a week ! Tuesday morning 5.30 am saw us running the last 3 of 2013 lambs to Fowlers the abattoir a very sad day.
 I hate it and it doesn’t get any easier by the year, sometimes I think I will become a veggie and eat humus but then come Thursday when they are delivered back and I see the quality of the meat I am proud of what we have produced.
Vince has spent the weekend butchering the Lambs and has made a lovely job, we have even stuffed and rolled the bellies with a tasty s apricot stuffing.
We have been busy preparing our Lambing and Calving box checking everything is in order and in date!
Tilly the Dexter could be due any day so we have decided to start night checks from tonight. It’s our first calf so very exciting but worrying at the same time, we have been reading up and getting as much advice as possible over the last few months. So fingers crossed for a trouble free birth.
After the lambs went on Tuesday Sally the Oxford down born last April was going to be on her own so we moved her in with the Kids (Myrtle and Edith the goat kids) They thought this was great fun and have been trying to teach her to hop, skip and jump just as they do, but poor Sally just isn’t convinced.
Danni also tried to set up some sort of hay rack as they have been eating it out of a bucket since Edie’s mishap a few weeks ago when she hurt her leg but it’s a very wasteful way of feeding them, they trample more than they eat.
Myrtle has found a much better use for the bucket tip it upside down ,climb on it and you can see over the door and catch up on just what is going on out there  such clever kids !
Back in the autumn we sent some sheep skins from our Oxford lambs to be tanned and this week they came back, oh my goodness they are beautiful! Very special indeed, I have them lying across the back of two of the settees in the sitting room. I haven’t caught Fanny the cat asleep on them yet but I don’t think it will be long.
The weekend before last I set some seeds and put them on the window sill to germinate, just so once the weather warms up we have a bit of a head start.
Most have now popped there little heads through the soil and next weekend I think I will be pricking out the Cucumbers, tomato’s, cabbage and cauliflower.
Danni is still busy preparing for the Notley Food Fayre we are going to on the 16th March. We have now had the ok by Environmental Health to take some of our smoked cheeses along with our Sausages, Plum Cordial, Jams and Chutneys. She has been busy doing the labelling which has to be spot on for Trading Standards and also a Furzedown Flyer just saying a little bit about us and what we do.
Right I had better stop now time to sort out feeding a hungry family just the yorkie puds to do and we are ready! Lovely, I do love a roast dinner.
Hope you all have a good week.
 We will keep you up dated on Tilly the Dexter keep your fingers crossed for us.