Wednesday, January 17, 2018

We are a Mother and Daughter Team striving to produce delicious jars of pleasure!
We try to use home grown seasonal produce where possible such as Beetroot, Onions, Marrows, Pumpkins, Apples, Plums and Soft Fruit or ingredients that are either grown on our smallholding or sourced locally to our home near Maldon in Essex.
All cooking and jarring is done in our own kitchen that has been inspected and approved by the Local Authority Environmental Health Department and awarded a Level 5 Hygiene Rating.
All of our preserves are hand prepared and cooked in small batches, keeping that fresh homemade taste.
No artificial colourings or preservatives are used in any of our recipes.
We hope you enjoy eating our preserves as much as we do making them.
Donna & Danni
The Furzedown Smallholding
Preserve Team.
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Image result for hygiene rating 5

Thursday, January 26, 2017

New Years Resolution

New Years Resolution

Here we are January 2017 where does time go !

It's been far to long since our last Blog up date but my news years resolution isn't let's start a diet or join the gym it's lets try to keep our blog up- dated 
here we go.

My goodness where do I start! Danni is back to work after maternity leave and has very little spare time with work, caring for the small child who I might add isn't so small anymore ! and smallholding tasks and duties.

So it's over to me mother of Furzedown Smallholding for now.
I'm not sure where to start such a lot has gone on so I think I will start with the present and and keep popping back to last years adventures.

Latest news is we have two beautiful calves born just before Christmas. 

Tilly the Dexter and Tulip her daughter both had a little holiday a few months back with a very handsome local Bull and just before Christmas and with no problems they both produced to healthy calves.

We had been keeping a close eye on them we had moved them into their winter quarters in the barn ready for the big event! 

Much time had been spent leaning on the gate watching their big bellies moving while the calves jiggled around inside,theirs udders had developed and we knew we wouldn't have long to wait.

Tulip a first time mum was the first to produce, a little female calf,all on her own no assistance needed except maybe a few words of encouragement from her mother Tilly.

Tulip took to motherhood perfectly licking the calf dry and gently mooing.

Such a lovely sound normally it's a huge long Moo for where's my breakfast .....your late ! But this is such a gently low noise it's wonderful to hear and of course to watch that bond growing with her new off spring, it just reminds me how wonderful nature is.

One down one to go! 

About a week later I woke with a jolt to 4 sharp very loud Moo's!

My bedroom window looks out onto the barn so I am pretty aware of any goings on out there. 

I hastily sent Danni a text I could have walked across the landing and tapped on her door but with the small child sleeping and not wanting to wake him I thought it safer to text, the joy of modern technology lol.

I soon had a reply saying Gareth was out there checking ....... Next text "there is some discharge labour is underway" .......15 minutes later and the next text "I can see the water bag" 

By this time I was up the excitement was all to much for me.

We didn't want to interfere just let labour progress naturally but of course keep an eye out for any problems expecting a calf mid to late morning.

Tilly had other ideas I walked past the barn some 20 minutes later and boom there was our second calf !

A big strong boy who was named Bolt after Usain Bolt because his big Handsome and came out at the speed of light lol.

Such exciting times for us and a few weeks on and all is going well and the babies are growing and settled.

Have a lovely week
Donna x

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Its been a few months and I’m not sure where to start first.

We have had a wonderful yield of fruit and vegetables from the garden. We were lucky enough to crop over 100kg of potatoes from the pig run in the wood. Some are even big enough for jacket potatoes, we planted Duke of York, Juliette, Epicure and Cara. They taste so good. 

I must say there is nothing like home grown spuds they taste so much better.

We have had wonderful runner beans this year, the French beans were disaponting. We have been enjoying so much produce from the garden including, Kale, Chard, Sweetcorn, Leeks to mention a few, as well a wonderful final crop of sugar snap peas. The best all year, which Zalina and I put down to our constant tying as they grew.

The muckheap has been yielding well, we have an amazing crop of Pumpkins, Squashes and Marrow. I will be exhibiting the largest at the East Essex Smallholders Group Pumpkin Competition. I hope to do well.

The pear trees have produced well, not only have the pigs had an abundance of windfalls, but Patrick is also enjoying pureed pear and I have a good stock in the freezer.

The animals are all well, we are starting to plan for winter, the rams are servicing the ewes. We are lambing earlier this year, before I return to work in April. We are using our Oxford Down Ram for the pure bred girls. However to avoid lambing problems we are using a friends Jacob on the crossbred years to hopefully make those lambs pop out easier as he is smaller.

The pigs are currently enjoying turfing over the potoato patch and eating any remaining ones. We are down to three down as whilst I type this Dad and Gareth are in the Fridge butchering the other three.

You can’t beat Oxford Sandy and Black Pork. We believe the tastiest of all the breeds. We have two pigs that are being sold as freezer boxes and the other one is being sold as joints and chops. We have some left if anyone is interested.

The cows are still on Holiday in fambridge although they are soon to return.

The poultry are all good and Christmas Dinner is growing fast. We  did loose one bird. Unfortunately he wasn’t the best bird from hatching, he had a funny shaped neck and then a leg that turned out that got progressively worse. So he was never going to make Christmas so he was an early bird in our freezer.

We are still getting a good crop of Eggs each week.

We have continued making preserves. We have lots of wonderful Jars of pleasure which I will pop a list on for anyone following our preserves.

We have had two lovely outings. Firstly at the beginning of September we attended the Fly In at Stow Maries Aerodrome. Well what can I say what an amazing place on our doorstep. It’s the only remaining World War 1 Aerodrome left in Eurpoe. It has a fantastic array of wildlife including all species of British Owls.

We met some really lovely people, I was amazed at how people landed by air and just hopped off the plane and walked across the runway like they were getting out of a car. Some of the planes were amazing. They also had a classic car club meeting there, I was in ore of the cars they arrived in.

Apart from a huge wasp burden we had a lovely day and look forward to returning  in November.

We also attended the Michaelmas Market in Great Totham at the beginning of October. It’s the third time we have attended this event. Great Totham has such a lovely community. We went along with fellow East Essex Smallholders Members and had a really enjoyable afternoon and again sold lots of our preserves. We hope everyone who brought them enjoys them.

Dad and Maurice are off to collect a new piece of equipment on Sunday and Anzani Iron Horse a real beast. I look forward to posting some photos.

Patrick is growing up so quickly, he is turning into a real little man. He goes out on his bicycle and feeds the chickens and helps Nanna Donna pick beans out of the garden. He is 6 months old at the end of the month, where has that time gone. He is such a good boy, he sleeps, doesn’t cry very often and is now enjoying proper food.

I am going to attempt to upload a video of him in his Jumperoo maybe that is why he sleeps?

If anyone has any tips on weaning babies I would love your advice, I want to make as much of my own food as possible.

Anyway I will say goodnight and hope you enjoying reading my update. 

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Well I hope summer is treating you all well, its treating us very well.

We are enjoying the fruits of our labour from the garden, we have had a huge array of strawberries, raspberries, red and black currants and gooseberries which we are making little Jars of pleasure with.
I think the best creation this year has to be Summer Berry Jam, made with strawberries, raspberries, red and black currants. We stirred it gently so as to keep the red currants whole, when one of those pops in your mouth it gives a lovely sharp tang! It seems to be popular we have made 50 jars and only have three left.

We have had a wonderful day selling the preserves at the Southminster and Bradwell shows, we have met some lovely people and we hope you have all enjoyed our preserves. The mustard is going well. Tomorrow we are adding Garlic Mustard, Peppered Mustard and Country Mustard to our four fantastic sellers we already have, Horse Radish Mustard, Hot Tomato Mustard, Chilli and Garlic Mustard  and Apple and Mint Mustard.
The animals are all enjoying the summer and being out in the sun. Tilly the cow looks like she is having triplets from all the grass she is eating!

Last weekend we butchered two pigs. We have acquired a couple of new customers and we hope they are all enjoying their pork.

We welcomed a group of House Martins to Furzedown last weekend,  it was a wet day and when Gareth and I were finishing the animals they were flying back and forth between the stables and cow barn, not quite as fast as bats but still very difficult to try and snap a shot! Whilst scanning the internet to find what the collective word for a group of House Martins is and failing I did notice Shakespeare referred to them as a guest of summer. You learn something new every day!

We also have some other visitors, HORNETS, they are everywhere four of them were dive bombing Patrick and I whilst trying to get in the car one day last week, I had to pull the car out the gates before strapping him in they were bad. Despite reading a tip for dealing with them that suggested hanging a bag of water with a coin above all doors, I can confirm this is a myth and doesn’t work.

The horses have had their feet trimmed and look very smart, the grass is running out and my days of mucking out are soon to return. However thanks to Father in law the stables are all fixed and they can now be shut in.

Dad and Maurice are due to go on their annual holiday to the Dorset Steam Fayre at the end of the month and will be exhibiting some of the rotevators. We do wind them up saying they are turning into enthusiastic rotevator spotters, they have even been making friends with other enthusiasts!

Well tomorrow I have the task of picking as many Cherry Plums as possible. Grandma and Grandad are looking after Patrick whilst I go to work picking.

I hope to blog with more updates soon.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Summer is here

I love this time of year, it may have been nearly a month since my last blog, but I haven’t been sitting around doing nothing! Quite a lot has happened.

Patrick has grown so much and he learnt how to laugh this week whilst Dad was blowing raspberries on his belly, a wonderful moment! He is currently asleep on the decking whilst I am typing this post!

Both groups lots of pigs are out in the wood and enjoying gardening, we have had quite a warm spell this week so we have been encouraging them to dig a hole that we have been filling with water for a wallow.

The sheep are all well as fat as butter and enjoying the sun. I introduced Patrick to the Oxford Down Ladies whilst I was sheep sitting as Mum and Dad have been away. The Picture says it all!

This week we have been busy making preserves, Red Onion Chutney, Summer Fruit Jam and two types of Mustard, Apple and Mint and Chilli and Garlic a few new additions to our range. The shop in Bishops Stortford has taken 40 jars and we have several events lined up over the next few weeks.

Yesterday we went to our local Pick Your Own and managed to collect 6.5kg of raspberries for an amazing £24.00. Also I acquired an amazing 10kg of strawberries last weekend. Both lots are now in the freezer ready for jam making.

The vegetable garden is alive, especially the fruit, we have a huge amount of raspberries and strawberries at present and everything else is coming along nicely.

Two weekends ago we attended the Heavy Horse Show at the Museum of Power with East Essex Smallholders Group. What a wonderful day, we had sheep and goats there, a bread and sausage making competition, not to mention everyone’s wares for sale, including our preserves, eggs and herbs. Not forgetting much to Mum’s sadness, two of her sheepskins. I did say to her as lovely as they are she can’t keep ten sheep skins! Low and behold two of them now have a wonderful new home.
The hay has been cut and is home, the haylage is all baled and is just waiting for a break in the weather for it to be delivered home.

Gareth’s beer has turned out well and he is gradually drinking his way through it, I hear he is going to put another brew on this evening.

Well I’m off to plant the rest of the squashes and pumpkins on the muck heap.

Enjoy the sunshine! 

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Good evening everyone, I thought I would pop in with a quick update. All is ticking along nicely here on the smallholding. Patrick is learning it’s a hard life being a baby here, we have a lot to do. Quinny the pram is allowing us to get everywhere, up the field and down the wood. We can get anywhere.

The garden had really got away from us, however a couple of Sundays ago a team from East Essex Smallholders Group, came over to help get the vegetable garden straight in exchange for a donation towards the trailer they want. I have nearly managed to get on top of the flower beds in the garden. Underneath the weeds there was a huge array of flowers, including a new addition I planted at Christmas, Alliums I am thrilled with them they are really beautiful.
We also used Facebook to help us try and find someone who might like to share the vegetable garden and help with the work load. After one unsuitable candidate we met Zalina. What a lovely lady and both Zalina and Mum have been busy planting and weeding. It looks fantastic. I have also been busy sorting out all of the pots of herbs and starting to take some cuttings.

I am pleased to announce that I have a wonderful article about to go to print in the magazine Practical Sheep, Goats and Alpacas.  The proof arrived yesterday and its going to be two pages. I hope people enjoy reading about tanning sheep skins.
Dad and Maurice have been busy today working out how to fix some new attachments to one of the rotevators. They have also finished preparing the bit of ground for grass seed and its about to go on. So fingers crossed with the rain we are due this week it will germinate and start growing.
The animals are all well, the Turkeys are really showing off at the moment and they look lovely parading around.

Busy week this week, Doctors for my check up after the c section, dentist, Patrick needs weighing  and off to Suffolk on Wednesday to see Gareths Nephew Lewis on his birthday. Combined with a few hours work for Travis Perkins. I am also busy trying to arrange the Smallholders Group stand at the Heavy Horse Show on the 14thJune. We are taking Sheep, Goats and Pigs and having a range of demonstrations as well as produce For Sale.
Gareth and Dad have been fixing our fleet of equipment, everything breaks at once! The new Second hand mower broke and the pull handle on the strimmer broke. So a good afternoon and all was fixed.

We have also been trying to take pictures of Patrick, before we forget and he has grown up!
Gareth has also made two batches of beer, which he hopes to drink in the coming weeks.

I’m on the decking typing this and the lovely smell of the roast dinner Mum is cooking is working its way out here. I can’t wait for dinner. 

Thursday, May 21, 2015