Sunday, 1 January 2017
2016 was not a good year for us. Topping the list of setbacks was the death of Geraldine, one of our goats, while giving birth. She died before the kids were born so we lost them as well. And although Pinkie gave birth, her one kid, who we called Milkie, died after a couple of days. Georgina, on the other hand, produced 2 babies. This was the first time for her and she performed superbly. She's been a great mum and we have decided to keep both kids. Spot, the nanny kid, replaces Geraldine. Spotless is a billy. He was bred for meat but he is such a beautiful animal that we decided to keep him. We hope to get him a mate in 2017. The photo above was taken last night. The three were asleep together on the milking stand.
Talking of which, Pinkie produced a vast amount of milk for us, up to 3.5 litres a day at her peak. Most of it was made into ricotta cheese. What we failed to do however was register with the Food Standards Agency. Until we have done that and had an inspection, we cannot sell our dairy produce.
Also worrying me about the goats is that none of them have yet come into heat. They are leaving it a bit late.
And the bees were also a setback for us in 2016. We had no honey crop. This put back lots of our plans and left us reliant on sugar which we have to buy in.
Egg production has also been a problem. The spring started well with record numbers of eggs but in the summer the numbers fell off far quicker than in previous years. We have to endure an outbreak of fowl pox in August and in December we lost a number of birds to foxes, the first time in 3 years. Laying stopped in October but I'm pleased to report that some of the hens have started laying again after we moved all the chickens to a goat house in December which is bigger and easier to clean than the 5 small hen houses we were previously using.
To add to our woes, the goats managed to eat their way through a large part of our soft fruit crop and we ran out of time to plant some of our vegetable crops.
But there are some good news stories from 2016. Obviously Spot and Spotless fall into that category. We also have 3 freezers full of food, including lots of game which we get in food swaps. The quail laid a huge number of eggs and when we did have hen eggs in abundance, we were able to sell them through a farm shop near to where we live. And we have a vast amount of firewood stored up for future use, the byproduct of feeding branches to the goats - we have managed to get through most of the year without having to buy prepared feed for them.
So, 2016, lots went wrong. But we are ready for 2017, and in my eternally optimistic approach, we have lots of plans and lots to do. Hopefully we will put the setbacks of 2016 behind us, learn the lessons and move on in the year ahead.