Wednesday, 30 November 2016
The Whinnies community garden - I rent my allotment from them - built today some new compost bins from old pallets. One of them is specifically for manure from my goats and hens. They will use the rotted manure on the community garden. The manure bin outside my gate will continue to be used but we can leave it to stand to let the current contents rot down. Anyone on the site is able to take rotted manure from this bin. At this time of year we have a ready supply of manure!
Above - the contents of 2 of our henhouses.
Sandra and Chris from the Whinnies Community Garden ceremonially empty the first wheelbarrow of muck into the new manure bin to celebrate its launch!
We cleaned out one of the goat sheds last week. It filled the manure bin. We won't be letting it build up in the future however. The shed in question contains the milking stand and we will be keeping that as a clean area in preparation for inspection by the Food Standards Agency. This will be needed if we are to sell our goat milk products.
Tuesday, 29 November 2016
Sunday, 27 November 2016
We had quite a sharp frost yesterday. The result was the pond was frozen in the duck run, sufficiently to hold the weight of the ducks. We did however have a problem with the water butts. The taps were frozen. Cleaning out water bowls and topping them up was a bit of a problem.
Spotless has a new skill - tree climbing! I caught him climbing the ivy covered tree on the bottom of the allotment. He was after the ivy leaves. We will soon be feeding the goats ivy (and privet and brambles) as these will be the only greens available over the winter and I want to avoid buying any animal feed.
We got this steak as part of a swap with a local farm. It was my dinner tonight, along with a few roasted vegetables. We still have some beef in the freezer but what we have left is likely to be our last for some time. We have a large amount of game to use up so we won't be looking for extra meat supplies for some time to come.
One of the jobs that needs to be done only twice a year is cleaning out the quail house, all 6 square metres of it. I did it through the week. It produced over 4 wheel barrow loads of muck, all of which is now in the manure bin.
New sand was added and I changed the layout to make it better insulated from the rain.
We have been chopping more the the branches left on the allotment today. The goats have eaten the leaves, twigs and bark and the branches themselves are to be used as firewood. Spotless, our billy goat, who is as soft as clarts and loves attention, was rather unhelpful today as he pestered David constantly for fuss while he was trying to saw wood.
Friday, 25 November 2016
The vegetables in which the beef was pot roasted over the weekend were not going to be wasted. With a bit of the leftover beef, we made a very pleasant soup that did us for dinner for 3 days. We added in some leftover runner beans cooked in onions and tomatoes. Nothing wasted.
We have some horseradish growing on our allotment so we dug up a few roots recently to make horseradish sauce to go with the joint of pot roasted beef we had over the weekend. Sadly, Pinkie's milk now has very little cream in it. (The cream level is much higher in the summer.) We were therefore forced to buy a tub of cream from the local supermarket to make the horseradish sauce. Nevertheless, it was a pleasant addition to the Sunday dinner.
Wednesday, 23 November 2016
We have had some joints of beef in one of our freezers for some time. They came from a local farm as part of a swap. We decided to use one of the top side joints over the weekend but, having consulted various recipe books, we opted to pot roast it. Apparently roasting it in the oven can cause top side joints to dry out.
It was a good decision. The beef was superb. We are planning to use the leftovers in sandwiches.
In past years I've noticed that at this time of year the goats start eating the bark on the branches previously left for them to eat the leaves. There are still lots of branches piled up waiting to be chopped up for firewood and the goats, especially the 2 kids, are feasting now on the bark. I'm quite happy to let them continue. My guess is that there is lots of nutrition in the bark, evne if it is harder to digest.
Monday, 21 November 2016
I was asked if I wanted some hazel branches by the Whinnies Community Garden last week. I took a look at them and the leaves were still green. Suitable for feeding to the goats. They are almost certainly the last tree leaves of the year.
On Saturday we had our last jam sale of the year. Lighting Up Whickham, the group that raises funds for Whickham's Christmas tree, held a coffee morning and I was invited to have a table to sell jam. There was a steady flow of customers. A third of what I took was sold, not quite a record but a good turnover anyway.
Now that we have decided to keep Spotless, the billy goat born in June, we need to build him a separate paddock to hold him when the other goats are in heat. This is easier said than done as the only area that we can sensibly use is littered with branches which had previously been fed to the goats. They ate the leaves and twigs but the branches themselves are waiting to be chopped into firewood. This is taking much longer than expected so we are now having to spend a great deal of time simply sawing wood. At the end of each day we look at the piles of firewood which are noticeably bigger yet the amount of branches still waiting chopping seem to look the same. At least at the end of this exercise we will have lots of firewood.
Friday, 18 November 2016
A resident of Marley Hill, the next village up the road from us, let us gather in all their remaining windfall apples earlier this week. Some were in poor shape but we gathered them as well. They make good food for the goats. We have one more orchard to check out for windfall apples. If there is a good crop, it will keep the goats happy over the winter.
Wednesday, 16 November 2016
We have a number of trout in our various freezers so recently we decided to use one for dinner. Baked trout with roast potatoes. Very nice! The skin and bones went into a bag and were put in back into the freezer. We will add more to the bag as and when we have more trout for dinner. When we have enough the scraps will be boiled up to make fish stock.
Tuesday, 15 November 2016
Only once before have we had a broody duck and she abandoned the eggs after just a couple of days. Now, in November, we have found a batch of 8 duck eggs in a nest. One of our Aylesbury ducks is brooding them. I very much doubt anything will come of the eggs given this is November but we have decided to let her continue brooding.
On Friday, Pinkie will ill. I found her in the morning unwilling to get up. She had been vomiting and was not interested in eating any food. I decided to call the vet who checked her over in the afternoon. It seems she had eaten something toxic, though what, we don't know. She was given an antibiotic and vitamin injection.
I'm pleased to say she recovered by the end of the day when she happily ate handfuls of carrots.
Monday, 14 November 2016
The weather may be wet but it is cold enough at night to put Pinkie into her coat. The other 3 goats sleep huddled up together so they don't need clothing. Pinkie sleeps in the same shed but still on her own. She is also a bit boney as she is still milking. So far, she has avoided losing the coat in muddy puddles which she was quite adept at doing last winter.
We had our first snow of the autumn last week though it was hardly anything to worry me. A light sprinkling through the night which was gone by 11am. It added to the already wet ground. We have however endured a couple of weeks of rain so the ground is an enormous mudbath. As Spotless, our billy goat, is all white, the mud on him stands out!
Saturday, 5 November 2016
Friday, 4 November 2016
I had quite a busy day in the kitchen yesterday. I made 14 jars of crab apple jelly, pork stock, ricotta cheese and hedgerow fruit puree. The puree is a side product from making hedgerow jelly. It has now been frozen but will eventually be used in sauces and to flavour ice cream.
Most of our quails have stopped laying for the year but we still have quite a few eggs from the late summer to use up. Today I boiled 72 of them. They were added to some boiled potatoes, some chopped spring onions and some chopped salami (which, I confess, I did not make as it came from a supermarket). Quail egg salad for lunch. Very nice!
Wednesday, 2 November 2016
On Monday I made hedgerow jelly. Or at least I thought I had, except for the fact it did not set. It's not being wasted however. I am using it as a "fruits of the forest" syrup. It will be used on ice cream and other desserts and I will also have a go at using it to flavour vinegar.