Saturday 27 February 2016

Quail chicks

quail eggs Feb 16

We recently bought a batch of 36 quail eggs to hatch in the incubator. We need to renew our stock of birds but also widen the gene pool. The quails we hatched last year were from our own eggs so we need to avoid too much inbreeding. Alas, we have not been too successful with hatching the recently purchased eggs. Only 10 hatched and we are already down to 7 chicks. We will purchase another set of eggs in the hope that the hatch rate is better.

quail chicks Feb 16 (2)

quail chicks Feb 16 (1)

Thursday 25 February 2016

Our first secret egg stash of the year

eggs Feb 16

I discovered our first secret stash of eggs earlier this week, hidden behind a tree at the bottom of a small embankment. There were 6 eggs in it, all the same, so all likely to have been laid by the same bird. No doubt there will be many more stashes to follow.

What is noticeable now however is that the number of eggs produced is going up, as the days get longer.

Wednesday 24 February 2016

Game supplies

pheasant and pigeon breasts Feb 16

We recently took delivery of a pheasant (swapped for a couple of jars of jam) and a sack of wood pigeons. The pheasant has been plucked and gutted. I've stripped the breasts from the pigeons. There's nothing much more that can be done with the rest of the pigeons though I stripped off as many of the feathers as I could. We have been building up a store of feathers as we plan, eventually, to use them to make pillows and quilts. Meanwhile, the pheasant and pigeon breasts have been frozen. We will use some of the breasts to make sausages. The pheasant will be roasted for a forthcoming Sunday dinner.

Early spring

wild garlic Feb 16

The early part of winter was wet but mild. Now it is relatively dry but continues to be mild. I am starting to see signs of spring, at least six weeks early. Wild garlic starts growing in our area in April. The above photo was taken over a week ago and shows wild garlic growing far sooner than normal.  Below are photos of hawthorn and elder, both with leaves growing. Again, many weeks too early. My concern is that if we have a long, cold snap in which temperatures revert back to what they should be, much of the green shoots will be killed off and the growing season will be delayed. Hopefully that won't happen.

hawthorn Feb 16

elder Feb 16

Tuesday 23 February 2016

Early duck eggs

duck egg Feb 16

Some of our ducks have started laying again, and they are early. Last year we didn't get any duck eggs after the winter until mid March. This time they are about 5 weeks early. 2 or 3 have started laying, so still another 6 or 7 to go.

Thursday 18 February 2016

Curried crisps

curry crisps Feb 16

We don't normally peel potatoes. The skin is the most nutritious part. However, on the few occasions when we do peel our spuds, we use the skins to make crisps. We dry them out on a tee towel, put them on a baking tray with a tiny bit of oil, sprinkle over curry powder and then bake in the oven for about 15-20 minutes. Eat them as soon as possible after they come out of the oven, whilst they remain crisp. The above photo was taken earlier this month. I had a bowl of crisps before Sunday dinner.

Wednesday 10 February 2016

Self-Sufficient in Suburbia December/January

This is our latest video, covering our drive to be self-sufficient during December and January.

Monday 8 February 2016

Feeding privet to the goats

There are differing views about feeding privet to goats. Some people believe privet is poisonous, others who disagree. This is the second winter we have fed privet to the goats and they thrive on it. We avoid anything with berries but, along with ivy, privet is the only greenery we can feed the livestock in the winter.

Using waste paper for bedding

We used to buy sacks of wood shavings for bedding for our poultry and goats. Not any more. We shred any paper we can get our hands on. Leaflets through the door, newspapers, magazines, any other paper needing a new life. They all go through the shredder. Once the animals have finished using the shredded paper, it goes into the manure bin to rot down. The end product is a useful compost. Nothing wasted.

How to make goat cheese and quail egg flan

A glut of quail eggs that needed to be used up and some of our goat cheese were combined together to make the filling for some flans. They were quite a tasty combination.

Friday 5 February 2016

Apple and plum pie

apple pie Jan 16

We still have a good stock of apples from last year. In addition, we have bottled plums. We combined the two together recently to make this rather nice apple and plum pie.