Having written previously about 2016 being a disappointing year, it is now time to look ahead to our plans for 2017. So here goes.
Pinkie and Georgina, our two nanny goats, will be mated. Assuming this goes well, the kids will be born in the late spring. Spot, the nanny born in June 2016, will not be mated until she is fully grown. She may be ready by the end of the year but 2018 will be the year we expect her to have babies. At that point, she will be used as a milker. Kids from Pinkie and Georgina will be for slaughter. Pinkie is our main milking goat but Georgina is not suitable for milking. We are also planning to get a Saanen nanny as a mate for Spotless and another Golden Guernsey nanny. The aim is to build up a small herd providing both meat and milk. Getting registered with the Food Standards Agency and being inspected is now a priority so that we can sell our dairy produce.
We will be ordering hen, duck and quail eggs to be hatched in the spring. We aren't allowed to keep cockerels so renewing the flock of chickens has to be done by buying hatching eggs and point of lay hens. The quails are now onto the third generation hatched from our own eggs so we will get eggs from a different source to widen the gene pool. We will do the same with the ducks.
Our 3 allotments are undergoing significant changes. Our main plot is to be used entirely for livestock except for the fruitcage, the greenhouse and a soon-to-be-built raised bed. Our second plot at the Whinnies has been left unused for decades. We took it on 3 years ago with plans to house the goats there. This plan never happened but we kept paying the rent on this allotment. The plan now is to use it for fruit-growing. We have already made a start. Part of the site has been cleared and 5 beds created. Many of the soft fruit bushes have been moved there from the main (livestock) allotment. We will be buying more bushes to plant over the coming weeks.
Our 3rd plot, at Marley Hill, is our smallest and will be used to grow vegetables. A great deal of work needs to be done to get it fully into operation and the old shed on it needs replacing.
We have a large quantity of firewood from the branches we feed to the goats from spring to autumn. We still have a large number of branches to chop up. At the moment however we have fuel but no heating system on which to burn the wood. We will be getting quotes soon to have a wood-fired stove installed in the house. We will also be asking for quotes on a boiler for heating water. But we want the fuel for cooking as well. So we will be getting quotes for a wood-fired outdoor oven.
We currently run a land rover and a small car but we will be adding bikes to this fleet. I will be pedalling rather than driving to local meetings and events.
We will also be doing some brewing. We did make wine 3 years ago and will have a go again this year. We will also have a go at brewing beer. I've bought the kit already but I want to try out historic recipes, especially ones that use whey from our goats milk.
So, that's it, our plans for 2017. We will of course be reporting regularly on the blog and we will be filming the year as well. Watch this space.