Saturday, 29 April 2017
This was yet another of our cockerels from last year. We decided to pot roast it. In the cupboard under our stairs, we also have a large quantity of homemade wine. We cooked this chicken in red wine we made from blackberries and elderberries. The meat has been stripped from the bones and will be used in a pie.
Note the corn on the cob. We grew this in 2007, the first year we had the allotment. The two cobs were rediscovered while doing a sort-out of the freezers. It would have been a shame not to use them up.
Friday, 28 April 2017
One of our hens went broody recently. We decided to buy her a half dozen eggs, plus another dozen to go into the incubator. Unfortunately, the hen did not like being moved from the small goat house where she was sitting to the chick house. She abandoned the eggs immediately so all 18 went into the incubator together. Hatching should be in a couple of weeks. The eggs are 6 wellsummers and 12 blacktails.
Another search of the freezers and another discovery of something that has been there for a number of years and could do with being used up to create space for forthcoming crops. This leg of lamb came from friend in 2012 who keeps sheep. She swapped for some of our pork from the pig we bought that year.
We had the joint roasted. Even though it was nearly 5 years old, the meat was fine.
Friday, 21 April 2017
Earlier this month one of our incubators was a hive of activity when the quail eggs started hatching. In total, 19 of the 24 eggs hatched though 5 chicks subsequently died. The 14 remaining chicks are eating their way through lots of food and are growing quickly. In a few weeks they will be added to the quail house.
Thursday, 20 April 2017
Wednesday, 19 April 2017
We recently sold 4 of our hens. They were aged between 2 and 3 years old but are still good layers. They were largely for company for a cockerel we gave away. As part replacement, we bought a couple of white leghorn hens yesterday. I'm pleased to report that both laid today. The eggs are white. We have one other white leghorn and she was previously the only hen we had producing white eggs. So there will be quite a variety of colours of eggs which we take for sale at the Paddock in High Spen: white, various different shades of brown, green, green/blue, beige, brown/pink and, of course, white.
Tuesday, 18 April 2017
My Dad is seriously ill and is in hospital. He is very frail and confined to bed. One of his requests was that I should use the 4 boxes of blackberries in his freezer to make bramble jelly. This was the first preserve he taught me to make when I was a child. On Saturday I made the jelly - 10 jars. I took one to the hospital today (Monday) along with a loaf of homemade bread. It was a bit of a picnic. My sister Esther brought in one of her corned beef pies.
Dad doesn't have much of an appetite at the moment but he did have some of the pie and the bread and jelly.
Spot has made a full recovery from her illness last week. She also seems to have recovered from the loss of her brother Spotless. The two were normally seen together and would normally huddle together when sleeping. She has however come out of his shadow and is more pushy and forward, especially when food is available. We are now waiting for the birth of her babies. We reckon she will have twins and they will arrive within the next 10 days. Her udders are gradually filling up. What we don't know yet is whether she will be like her grandmother Geraldine, who was a milking goat, or her mother Georgina who produces milk for her offspring but not enough for us to take milk from her. We will know in a few days.
Monday, 17 April 2017
Weather forecasts for this week are warning of frosts. We aren't taking any risks. We've put a fleece over the onions. Sadly, we didn't have enough to cover the garlic as well. This is the first time we've used a fleece so we have no previous experiences to guide our expectations.
Thursday, 13 April 2017
I have some bad news. Spotless, our beautiful billy goat, died suddenly yesterday. He had been fine on Monday. On Tuesday morning, I found him unwell with terrible diarrhoea. He didn't want to eat anything. Spot, his very pregnant sister, though not suffering from diarrhoea, was equally lethargic and off her food. I decided to see if they were recovering by lunchtime and if not, I would call the vet. My visit to them in the early afternoon was a shock. Spotless was far worse. I immediately called the vet but he died before she arrived.
This is a devastating loss for us. He was a fabulous looking animal and had just become a father. With such a death, I wanted a postmortem. My guess is that he had eaten something, as had Spot (though probably in a smaller quantity).
Ellen, the vet, advised at that point against medical treatment of Spot as otherwise it would cause her to terminate her pregnancy. Spot needed to be monitored and a decision would need to be taken on treatment if she showed no improvement. She also advised that we give Spot some vegetable oil to help flush out her system.
I checked on Spot at 10pm, midnight and then at 4am. She was settled but uncomfortable with constant grunting and regular stomach contractions. At 8am, when we fed all the animals, the grunts and contractions had stopped but it seemed she was still not interested in food, until we gave her fresh grass which she more enthusiastically ate.
Throughout Wednesday, Spot showed more signs of recovery. She is now eating normally (see hoto below) and was especially keen on the hawthorn branches we now give the goats. The good news is that her recovery means she doesn't need medical treatment. That means her pregnancy should run to its full term (in about 2-3 weeks she is due).
Spotless was collected today to go for a postmortem. We await the result. We are missing him greatly.
Sunday, 9 April 2017
The quail chicks have been hatching today. So far we have 12. The chicks have already been moved to the brooder box and the remaining eggs are still in the incubator. They are a chirpy lot. I'm sitting downstairs at the moment but I can hear the chicks upstairs. A good sign.
I made this short video for the Whinnies Community Garden in Sunniside (where our 2 main allotments are) to advertise the open day that is being held on Sunday 16th April, from 11am to 3pm. The Deputy Mayor of Gateshead, Cllr Pauline Dillon, is the special guest.
One of the other allotment holders left a pile of swedes outside our gate recently. They are no use for us to eat but are great for the goats who love them. One is chopped up each day and mixed into their morning feed. The goats have a habit of picking through the feed to eat the swede pieces first!
Friday, 7 April 2017
The goat kids are now 5 days old and are taking a great interest in their surroundings. They have been leaping about today like proverbial spring lambs. Georgina is being a great mother but we are expecting them to start investigating food over the next few days.
Spring is early this year. The leaves on the hawthorn are therefore early. This is useful as it means we are able to start chopping back overgrown hedges sooner than usual. The first branches came down on Thursday and were fed to the goats.
The goats made quick work of the leaves and overnight they also ate some of the twigs and bark.
The goat kids were interested in the branches but are yet to have a go at eating them.
The branches were then chopped up for fuel. They will be stored on our Farside allotment where they will be dried out for a couple of years.