Friday, 23 June 2017

4 star rating

Environmentl Health rating June 17

We had our environmental health check on our kitchen on Wednesday for our preserve-making microbusiness. I'm chuffed to report that we got a 4 star rating! The certificate will be proudly displayed on our stall tomorrow at the Kells Lane Fair in Low Fell, Gateshead.

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Using the back garden - the mini greenhouse

mini greenhouse June 17

For the first time, we have made the back garden of our house earn its keep. The patio is now full of pots and bags growing vegetables. The lawn has been turned over to a polytunnel. We have also installed a mini greenhouse on the patio which is currently full.

More quail eggs

quail eggs June 17

The quail chicks we hatched in March have now matured. True to their productive form, they have started laying. We are now getting between 16 and 24 eggs a day. Looks like we will be having more quail egg salads.

Dehorning Whinnie

dehorning the goat kids June 17 1

Whinnie, the goat kid we have been raising by hand, has been dehorned as we have decided to keep him. He was bred for meat but we have put so much effort into keeping him alive that we can't bring ourselves to have him slaughtered. He will of course need to earn his keep but we aren't sure yet how he will. We had already selected a billy kid to service the nannies. Whinnie is so used to being with people that he could have a role going to shows and fairs. There's plenty of time yet to decide. However, his days as a house goat are about to end. Tonight he will be staying overnight on the livestock allotment for the first time.

More chicks

hen with chicks June 17 1

The gold top hen that went broody last month abandoned her eggs after a few days. We think the problem was the weather. We had some heavy rain and it leaked into the nest box. The positive news is that she adopted 4 chicks we hatched in the incubator. Mother and chicks are doing well.

Willow herb

willowherb June 17

The willow herb has been growing well but until recently we have resisted picking it to feed to the goats. Last week, this very common weed had grown sufficiently for us to start picking it. The goats love it and they eat both leaves and stalk.

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Cropping the weeds

nettles and goosegrass June 17

Our Farside allotment still had patches of weeds, mainly goose grass, brambles and nettles. They are an ideal fodder crop for the goats and are now part of their daily diet.

goats feeding June 17 4

goats feeding June 17 1


peppers in greenhouse June 17

The greenhouse has been in full swing since the start of the spring but recently we have been able to move most plants out to the poly tunnel or the vegetable allotment. So we had some space left in the greenhouse to use up. We have filled some of it with peppers. We bought the plants rather than grow them from seed but they are doing well and the warm late spring seems to be ideal for them.

Sunday, 11 June 2017

Whinnie Update

Feeding baby goat May 17 2

Whinnie, the baby goat we are raising by hand, is making great progress. After 3 weeks of being unable to walk, he discovered his legs and has been making up for lost time. We are gradually introducing him to the herd but he still spend most of the day at our house, some of which is spent in the garden. We will soon however move him fully to the animal allotment. He will have his own shed at night and will continue to be bottle fed by us though we need to get him on to eating solids. I'm hoping that more time spent with the other goats on the allotment will encourage him to start eating leaves.

Pork and bean casserole

pork and beans May 17

We found in the freezer a pig knuckle with enough meat on it to do two meals if used sparingly. We boiled up the knuckle, stripped the meat (the bones will eventually be made into bonemeal) which then went into a casserole with some beans. Admittedly, the beans were not grown by us. They were dried and had been in jars in the pantry for years. Time to get them used up.

Snacking on the hedge

hawthorn hedge May 17 2

Our Farside allotment started the year with a hawthorn hedge about 5 metres high. This hedge is about 30 metres long and had not been maintained in decades. One of the big jobs of the year is to get it under control. We've been chopping it down to about 1.5 metres in height. We are now about half way. The branches are fed to the goats - they  love hawthorn. Once they have eaten the leaves, twigs and bark, the branches are chopped up for firewood. We now have a significant supply of fuel.

Photo above - the section that has been brought down to size. Below - what's left to be done.
hawthorn hedge May 17 1

Tuesday, 6 June 2017

Hedgehog on the allotment

hedgehog June 17

We were delighted to find this hedgehog on the path leading to our livestock allotment a couple of nights ago. We have't seen a hedgehog on the Whinnies for a few years so hopefully they are making a comeback. They are great for eating slugs, snails and bugs that otherwise eat our crops!