Saturday, 29 December 2018
We don't really do Christmas in our house. We have rejected the consumerism and consumption that this festival has become. Thought we don't do presents and decorations, we do have Christmas dinner and we always aim to have as much of it produced by ourselves as possible. Apart from the flour used in the Yorkshire puddings, everything else was produced by us, or swapped for by use. Roast pork, sprouts, beetroot, potatoes, parsnips, Yorkshire puddings. Lovely!
Wednesday, 19 December 2018
We had some marrows that urgently needed to be used up. The result was a marrow chutney. I added a large amount of ground black pepper to ensure the chutney has quite a kick. They will go to our last fair of the year on Wednesday 19th December.
Friday, 14 December 2018
I often bang on about the need to avoid waste and to think of any food waste as a resource rather than something to be thrown away. Any water in which vegetables have been boiled should be kept for use as a stock. Such water often contains lots of the nutrients from the vegetables. In the video above I use the water in which I had boiled beans as stock for vegetable soup.
Thursday, 13 December 2018
On Monday I spent some time in the kitchen making a couple of bean loaves (see previous post) and two jars of fruit liqueur. The latter were made from plums and rhubarb that had been in the freezer. Thawing them had caused much of the liquid content to run out. The rhubarb and plums were then simmered to release more of the juices and then everything was added to brandy with a bit of sugar. Instead of the usual 3 months, I expect these to be ready in two weeks.
Tuesday, 11 December 2018
We still have lots of broad beans in the freezer from last year and in the cupboard we have jars of dried beans we bought years ago. Time to start using them up. I soaked the dried beans on Sunday and we also thawed a bag of the broad beans. They were then boiled together to soften them and then mashed. To this mix were added bread crumbs, garlic, onion, olive oil (made by a friend of a friend from her own olives - we swapped for a couple of bottles) and a half bottle of hawberry ketchup I made back in 2009 and which has been on the shelf of the fridge door ever since.
The mix then went into loaf tins and into the oven for an hour at 180C.
A good end result.
Monday, 10 December 2018
The wood store at home was getting a bit low so the chainsaw came back into operation yesterday and we chopped up lots of branches which were chopped from hedges and trees last year. They have had lots of time to dry out so are ready for burning in our stove at home - this appliance heats the whole house. The branches were initially fed to the goats. They eat the leaves, bark and twigs. What's left is fuel.
We still have lots of branches to chop up so we have plenty of fuel to get us through the winter.
Sunday, 9 December 2018
Yesterday I had a table at the Whickham Volunteer Library Christmas fair. Preserves on sale. Alas, people were asking for honey. We have some but it has not yet gone into jars. I could have doubled my turnover if I had some available. One fair left before Christmas. I'll aim to have the honey ready.
On Wednesday I was back in the kitchen again, making jam. The plums and rhubarb recently taken out of the freezer were added to some of our vast stock of apples to create a preserve. Notice how we are running out of sensible size jam jars!
Friday, 7 December 2018
Wednesday, 5 December 2018
The person who got the other half of our pig chopped much of the fat off the chops and offered it to me. This fat is a great resource for cooking and soap making. It will need to be rendered but that is a straightforward task. So watch this space for some interesting soap videos in the near future.
On Saturday I took two of the goats to Lobley Hill Community Centre at the invitation of Groundwork, the environmental charity that runs the building. There was a Christmas fair taking place. Sadly, the rain was a bit of a problem. Coal and Perky however ate their way through a bucket of carrots and a cabbage. And they made lots of friends as well!
Rotten weather and too much rain means we are suffering from mud. I had to put pallets on the floor of the goat house as an emergency measure to keep the goats off the flooded floor.
Meanwhile, the monthly meeting of Tyneside Beekeepers was held. The speaker was a mead maker.
Friday, 30 November 2018
Earlier this year we bought a half share in a pig. It cost us 2 goat kids. On Wednesday, the pig went to slaughter and today, the meat arrived. We now have lots of bacon joints, a huge pile of chops, 4 gigantic joints and one kidney. Everything has gone into the freezer but we will be turning our hand to making bacon soon. There is a thick layer of fat so we will be rendering this down. The person who took the other half of the pig has chopped most of the fat off their meat and will us have it. We will pick it up on Sunday (when we will also be having pork chops for dinner).
Thursday, 29 November 2018
Last Saturday I was due at the Emmanuel College Christmas fair to sell my preserves. So on Friday, much time was spent in the kitchen making jam to sell.
Thursday, 22 November 2018
This is my dinner for tonight: pot roast chicken, duck and pigeon breasts in chicken stock and beer. All these ingredients, except the beer came out of the freezer so that we can free up space for the arrival of half a pig later this month. The beer was brewed last year but wasn't a great success. It is not going to be wasted however and so we will be adding it to whatever recipes we can use it for.
Tuesday, 13 November 2018
I was invited to open the Sunniside Methodist Hall fair on Saturday. The chapel are keen to carry out renovation work of the hall and to make it more accessible as a community asset and venue for meetings for local groups and organisations. I was quite chuffed to be asked to perform the opening. The hall is next to the Whinnies Community Garden where we keep our animals.
My video diary from last Friday - I spent the evening in the kitchen making jam and soup. The jam made was the plum and apple mentioned in the previous post. The soup was made to use up contents from one of the freezers. The cauliflower leaves used were 4 years old! We need to get into the habit of checking the contents of the freezer more regularly.
The urgency to create space in our freezers has stepped up a gear so I defrosted 3kg of plums recently and added in 2kg of apples from our stockpile. It made a great jam. The quantity of apples and plums relative to each other can be varied but make sure there is sufficient plum juice in which to simmer the apples. Use the same weight of sugar as weight of fruit.
Friday, 9 November 2018
We still have lots of plums in the freezers so 3kg of them went into making plum and apple jam earlier this week. I added them to 2 kg of chopped apples, boiled them up together and simmered them so the apples could cook in the plum juice. 5kg of sugar was then added. End result: 18 jars of jam.
Thursday, 8 November 2018
Blackberries that had been in the freezer for a couple of months were defrosted and made into bramble jelly. The leftover pulp is still waiting to be used. It will be pressed through a sieve and the resulting puree will be added to some apples to make a seedless blackberry and apple jam.
Our 4 freezers are full but we are due half a pig later this month and we need to create freezer space to store it. So, out of one of the freezers came fruit, beans and stock, all of which have to be converted quickly into preserves or meals.
Tuesday, 6 November 2018
Yesterday we went along to a bonfire night event in the Hop Garden in High Spen. It was an opportunity to see their wood fired oven in operation. I was able to ask about how it was built and from what, and what effort and time is needed to operate it. I can see building our own oven as our next big project in 2019.
Sunday, 28 October 2018
Monday, 22 October 2018
In Gateshead a bunch of conspiracy theorists are convinced that non-existent 5G technology allegedly installed in lampposts are exterminating all insects and small birds while causing mass nosebleeds, cancer and death. They allege that the 5G technology (which does not exist in Gateshead) has been installed as part of a secret deal between Labour run Gateshead Council and the Conservative government to test a weapon system on the people of the area. And for good measure they argue that the Council has set up a funeral business to cash in on the extra deaths they claim will result from the alleged 5G technology. As far as conspiracy theories goes, this one has to be there near the top.
However, the conspiracy theorists claim that all my bees have died! They even tried to make this part of their case against an injunction sought by the Council against one of their ring leaders who has intimidated and harassed councillors (myself included) and council staff in their campaign against 5G. So, to help them in their journey back to the real world, I filmed the video above which shows my bees thriving, even in the middle of October, a month not well known for ideal foraging for bees.
And while I have had quite a few abusive message from the conspiracy theorists, none of them have yet responded to this video. I wonder why.
Meanwhile, I am pleased to report that Sunny, the goat that appeared in the video, is back in excellent health.
Thursday, 18 October 2018
Friday, 5 October 2018
Wednesday, 3 October 2018
I took more game out of one of our freezers to create more space: two pheasants, a partridge and some pigeon breasts. The pheasants and partridge have been boiled up and have now been stripped of their meat. The next stage will be to make the soup. That's to be done later today.
The end of the summer heatwave brought some much needed rain. The result was a great deal of new weed growth. So last week I was able to feed the goats and poultry on fresh grass, nettles, dock and dandelion.
Meanwhile, we got the chainsaw working again, thanks to our friend Steve. Lots of firewood was chopped but we still have plenty more logs waiting to be cut.
Making red champagne moved onto the second stage of the process last week when the fermenting juice was bottled and corked. It will stand for a couple of weeks before we can crack open a bottle. I miscalculated the amount of juice I had so the extra 800ml was added to some vodka and sugar to make elderberry and blackberry fruit liqueur.
Last week I eventually processed all the plums we got in a recent food swap. They were boiled up and the juice extracted to make a fruit drink. The pulp was then pressed through a sieve to make a puree which is, at the moment, waiting to be turned into ketchup.
Wednesday, 26 September 2018
On Monday we returned to the fallen tree in Sunniside, this time with a chain saw. The trunk was chopped up and taken to the Whinnies Community Garden where it will be made into garden furniture. The smaller branches were chopped up for firewood.
Tuesday, 25 September 2018
Monday, 24 September 2018
Yesterday we headed into the estate in Sunniside where we had received reports of another fallen tree. There we found a rowan on its side. We removed the branches and took them back to the allotment. The goats were very appreciative of this additional feed.
Friday, 21 September 2018
We experienced a strong gale on Wednesday. The result was a number of trees and branches blown to the ground. The opportunity for free food for the goats and free firewood for our house could not be missed. Our thanks to Gateshead Council workmen who let us take 2 trailer loads of branches - but as they pointed out, by letting us have them, it saved the council the need to spend resources on disposing of them!
Saturday, 15 September 2018
I have never before made red champagne but have always wanted to try it. So yesterday I picked elderberries and blackberries to using champagne making. There area number of steps to the process. Yesterday, I pressed the fruit to extract the juice which has now gone into a fermenting bucket with sugar and a small amount of vinegar where it will remain for a few days. During the coming week it will be bottled - fermentation will continue in the bottles, giving it a fizz when opened.
Yet more jams were made last week. On Monday it was the turn of plum and apple jam to come off the production line. 24 jars were made. It wasn't the only activity in the kitchen. We boiled up load of beans to make into a bean loaf. And the game pie was sliced up to be given away to friends with whom we have done swaps.
We made the mistake of not making hay when the heatwave was hitting us in June and July. When I took a look at the hay meadow next to Sunniside recently, it was obvious that there was no longer anything that was worthy of being made into hay. Sadly, we had to buy in some bales.
Wednesday, 12 September 2018
We had 14 entries in the various competitions at the Bowes Show on Saturday. On Friday I spent most of the day preparing them: pies, flans, loaves, sweets and so on had to be made.
I have never won anything in the pie making section before but at the show, not only did I win the best pie competition, it was awarded best in produce. That meant a special rosette and a trophy which, sadly, I have to return next year.
Last Thursday we took the two billy kids born earlier this year to the vet for castrating. One of them is to go to a friend as a pet. The other has a future still to be decided. He was castrated so that if necessary he can be slaughtered at the end of the year - time enough to remove the taint to the taste of the meat.
Tuesday, 4 September 2018
This was dinner last night (and for tonight as well): chicken, leek and mushroom pie. The meat was from one of the chickens killed by a fox in March. We didn't want to waste it. The leeks were locally grown (by a friend!) but the mushrooms came from a supermarket. We haven't grown mushrooms for years, something I intend changing soon. I added some stock made from chicken and lamb bones (the lamb was the one I got last year). All-in-all a successful meal.
We urgently need to use up the plums we have picked recently so as I write, I can report that 3kg of them are currently being made into chutney. I am filming this so I'll post up the recipe with the video. It's about the simplest chutney recipe I've ever used.
A friend of ours took delivery of 10 rescue chickens last week. Timing was not great as she was due to go on holiday this weekend, but the supply of rescue chickens was not within her control. The solution therefore is for us to hen sit the birds. All 10 have been moved to our allotment for the next three weeks. Apart from spending about half an hour on Saturday evening searching every hidden corner to find where they were roosting (we eventually found them all and moved them to the big henhouse) they have settled in well. They are also clearly recognizable for their lack of feathers. These will grow back but the state of them does raise questions about the cost to animals of the production of cheap, mass-produced food.
Monday, 3 September 2018
My first cooking job of the day is now underway: green tomato chutney. My recipe is:
- 1kg green tomatoes (and an few reds)
- 500g apples
- 500g onions
- 500g soft brown sugar
- 1 tsp allspice
- 2 tsp ground ginger
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp cumin
- 250g soft brown sugar
- 300ml cider vinegar
The pan is simmering away now. Finished product expected in a couple of hours.
Sunday, 2 September 2018
There is a good apple crop this year and on Friday we started picking the apples at Watergate Park in Lobley Hill, just down the road from where we live. Most were crab apples but there were some eaters as well. There is such an abundance of the fruit this year that we will be making lots of preserves and giving them to the goats as fodder through the winter.
Friday, 31 August 2018
Yesterday we fed all of our hives after we found one of them in which most of the bees had died. This is the only hive from which we have taken honey this year and we assumed that there was still plenty of foraging for the bees. However it could be that the colony has starved, hence the reason we decided to feed all the hives.
Meanwhile, the quail house was cleared out in advance of the move of the quail chicks from the brooder box.
We don't buy in food for the goats from the spring to the autumn as there is plenty for us to forage for them. However, though we are continuing to pick willowherb, it is now past its best and will probably last just another fortnight. The hawthorn is still abundant and will last at least until October and hopefully beyond. We are already planning the feed for the goats during the autumn and winter.
We had lots of strawberries this year and froze them in the summer when we picked them. We now urgently need the freezer pace so the strawberries have been thawed and made into jam. The recipe used was the basic and traditional one: strawberries simmered; juice of two lemons per kilo of strawberries added; when pulped, add one kilo of sugar for each kilo of fruit; bring back to the boil; keep on a rolling boil until the setting point is reached (ie a spoonful of jam sets on a saucer); then add to hot sterilised jars.
Tuesday, 28 August 2018
We are continuing to sort through the contents of our various freezers to use up our supplies. I recently found a large tub of ricotta cheese we made a couple of years ago from our goat milk. Last night we had baked marrow stuffed with ricotta for dinner.
Sunday, 26 August 2018
Thursday, 23 August 2018
We borrowed an outdoor, wood-fired stove from a friend recently and on Sunday we tried it out for the first time. I made a bean casserole. The stove was much easier to light and use than I expected. More use of this way of cooking will be made in the future.
Sunday, 19 August 2018
We are always on the outlook for leafy branches fallen from trees. They are great sources of feed for the goats. We spotted a large oak branch that had come down through the week near the bottom of Watergate Bank, a couple of km from where we live. It was too good an opportunity. There was so much that we ended up leaving half of it to collect on another day.
Last week I made fruits of the forest jelly - this is my recipe for using up the wild fruits that are abundant this time of year in the local woodland. Roughly speaking, it is made from cherries (which provide the liquid - though some water needs to be added as well), rosehips, rowan and apples. Boil them up and simmer until it all turns into a wet pulp, then strain. The resulting liquid should then be boiled. Add a kg of sugar for each litre of liquid. Once a dollop sets on a plate, add to hot, sterilised jars.
The 4 fruits I used are just examples. There are many others to use as well, especially blackberries, which are now ripening in abundance. However, I opted not to use them as we had plenty of ingredients. The blackberries will be appearing instead in bramble jelly, pies, fruit liqueurs, jam, crumbles, etc, etc, etc!
Saturday, 18 August 2018
As we had the Swalwell fair today, we have spent a bit of time this week making more preserves to sell. So I thought I'd post up a few pics of what we've been making. Above, redcurrant got the jelly. We got the redcurrants from the Hop Garden in High Spen. David and Sarah, who run the garden, asked people to pick the fruit as it was ready but they were on holiday. Rather than letting it go to waste, people were encourage to pick them.
Lemon curd: always a good seller at the community fairs where we sell our wares.
Fruits of the forest jelly: a combination of cherries (late this year), rosehips, rowan and apples, all growing in local woodland. I've made a video about this preserve which will be posted shortly.
A lady who recently moved into our village offered us the old greenhouse that was in her back garden. The only problem was dismantling it. We managed after a struggle to take it apart and move it to the Whinnies. It will be rebuilt over the winter once we have decided on the exact location and prepared the ground. In the meantime, I must take the lady a thank you gift of some homemade jams.
We were given 2 bucketfuls of french beans earlier this week. They were meant for the goats. While the pods were passed it, the beans inside were fine so we shelled them, kept the beans for ourselves and fed the pods to the goats. I will be making a bean casserole shortly.
The annual community fair in Swalwell was held today and we were there with 2 goats (Perky and Coal) and lots of preserves and eggs. It seemed relatively quiet but we did a brisk trade. We sold out of eggs, most of the lemon curd went and strawberry jam was popular as well.
Tuesday, 14 August 2018
Sunday, 5 August 2018
We have a late cherry crop this year, probably caused by the late winter delaying the cherry blossom in the early spring. Through the week I picked a bucket of cherries. This is the latest I have ever picked cherries. We normally gather them in June and have to race to beat the wood pigeons to them.
Thursday, 2 August 2018
Our ducklings had spent their first night on the allotment. They had settled in well. I'm hoping they will integrate well with the bigger group of ducks. Meanwhile, there seemed to be a brake in the heatwave. Rain had been falling for a couple of days. And finally - someone left a sack of marrows outside our gate. We still don't know who our benefactor was.
Monday, 30 July 2018
The battle to recover storage space for our forthcoming crops meant we did another check through our four freezers recently. I found a bag of broad beans so I turned them into a bean loaf. I also had a load of quail eggs laid in May and June and potatoes from last year to use up. A salad was the result.
We have had a good raspberry crop this year but while walking in the local meadow, I spotted lots of wild raspberries ripe for picking. I will be back soon to gather them. So far, most of the raspberries from the allotment have gone into the freezer. Jam making is to follow soon.
Friday, 27 July 2018
Our duck run needs replacing. The netting over the run is constantly being repaired and stitched up. The holes in it are a security risk as the foxes can get through. Rolling back the netting to let the ducks out in the morning and then rolling it back in the evening and placing bricks along the edge of the netting every evening is a pain.
So we have started rebuilding the run. It is much bigger, includes the pond and is being built around the existing run which will stay in use until the new run is completed, hopefully in the next few days.
Thursday, 26 July 2018
David and Sarah, who run the Hop Garden in High Spen, Gateshead, contacted me last week to tell me there was a bee swarm next to their gate. So in the evening we popped up with our swarm box. We collected the swarm but had to leave the box overnight so that the remaining bees could find their way to it. It meant a return at 5am to collect the box. The swarm was then successfully added to a hive on our Farside plot.
Many thanks to David and Sarah for the tip off.
Saturday, 7 July 2018
With 13 quail chicks having hatched, I decided to give them an adoptive mother. We took a quail hen we thought was broody from the quail house to the brooder box in the hope she would adopt the chicks. The problem was she was in no mood to adopt and she remained separate from the brood.
Tuesday, 26 June 2018
Friday, 22 June 2018
We are doing a gradual clear out of rubbish from our garden and allotments. On Monday I filled the land rover. Much of what we are getting rid of I am determined should be recycled. Annoyingly, when I arrived at the waste disposal site, the queue to get in was right down the street. I didn't have time to wait. The result was the rubbish sat in the land rover for two days. I'm pleased to report the land rover has now been emptied as on Wednesday I was able to get to the tip.
Last night I started felling the hawthorn trees on the hedgeline on the Whinnies Farside on the section left untouched last year. I brought down two large trees and there was sufficient to feed the goats yesterday evening and for the whole of today. This morning, I discovered one of the Whinnies allotment holders had trimmed much of his hawthorn hedge (it wasn't out of control like the Farside) and he had left the trimmings for the goats. And a few minutes ago, Mam phoned to tell me that she has two sacks of weeds (mainly goosegrass) from her back garden.
So we have something of an over-supply of goat food today!
Just a quick look at the veggie burgers we made recently. I was worried they would turn out rather bland but the addition of a bit of paprika, cayenne pepper and black pepper gave them a bit of a kick. We will be making more once the bean crops are in.
Thursday, 21 June 2018
Georgina, our boss goat, broke into the chick run on Sunday, damaging the door and resulting in the chicks and the mother hen getting out into the allotment. We have decided to let them continue to roam rather than convert the fruit cage into a large chick run. In the past we have had mixed results when letting mother hens and their chicks roam freely around the allotment. Sometimes there are no problems. Other times chicks can fall victim to predators such as rats. Hopefully this time they will be fine.
Wednesday, 20 June 2018
Our quails are continuing to pump out more eggs than we can cope with so they are featuring in all sorts of meals. This is the quail egg and vegetable curry we made recently. It did for three meals so we were a bit curried-out by the end of it.
Monday, 18 June 2018
The fat from the lamb joint we had recently was not going to be wasted. We also had some lamb skins, bones and lumps of fat in the freezer from previous meals. All of it went into the pan with some water to boil it and then simmer for a few hours to render the fat. Nothing wasted.
Sunday, 17 June 2018
Saturday, 16 June 2018
Yesterday (Friday) I found that the goats had eaten their way through the whole branch brought down by Storm Hector on Thursday. When I was collecting more leaves for feed for the goats on a derelict allotment on the Whinnies, I discovered lots of gooseberries growing wild. I will be back soon to pick them.
Friday, 15 June 2018
Storm Hector was due to hit us on Wednesday evening and Thursday morning. Some preparations were needed, not helped by my having to attend a meeting in Gateshead. Extra bricks were placed around the polytunnel to weigh it down. And extra food for the goats was picked. In the end, we had the gale, but very little rain.
Thursday, 14 June 2018
We have a hen with 10 chicks houses in a small henhouse. We have 3 other hens sitting on eggs. At some point soon we will need a good size chick run. We will be using the fruit cage for this so I made a start in preparing it for its new occupants. The nettles were stripped out (and fed to the goats) so that the netting can be checked. There's still much to do but we are aiming to have this job put to bed by early next week.
Wednesday, 13 June 2018
Tuesday, 12 June 2018
On Sunday we attempted to chop up the privet logs and branches we cut from the hedges in the winter. Alas, the chainsaw was not being helpful. The blades on the chain need sharpening. The job has therefore been delayed again. I did however manage to cut down 2 hawthorn trees on our Farside allotment. The provided a full day's food for the goats.
Monday, 11 June 2018
We are not allowed to keep cockerels on our land so we have to buy hatching eggs when any of our hens go broody. This can be quite expensive (the eggs are £2 each) so when we have a whole batch of 12 eggs fail to hatch (4 of the eggs were destroyed in the nest box), we have to look at other ways to raise chicks that is more economical. When the eggs failed to hatch under a broody hen last week, we decided to buy her 10 chicks, average price £5.80 each. All 10 were adopted by the hen and they are all doing well.
We did recently get some hatching eggs in a swap but this is a limited source. The solution will be to find someone who we can supply hatching eggs closer to home for swaps rather than cash. In the meantime, we are giving any new broody hens (we had one yesterday) old eggs which will not be a loss if they are broken and when the incubation period is about to end, we will buy chicks and then give them to the hen, taking away the old eggs. It is not the cheapest of options but it avoids the large losses we have on buying hatching eggs.
Sunday, 10 June 2018
The bones from the lamb joints used in our recent BBQ, along with some lamb bones in the freezer, were boiled up to make stock. This is a simple process. Put the bones in a pan along with a couple of onions and a handful of fresh rosemary.We also added some leeks which urgently needed using up. Then cover with water and bring to the boil. Simmer for a couple of hour and then strain.
We will be making lamb soup later this coming week using the stock.
On Wednesday we had our third swarm of the year. This one came from our Farside allotment which means that one of the hives there had swarmed twice in the last couple of weeks. The swarm was relatively easy to catch though it required a bit of gymnastics and balancing to get it. It had formed up in a tree but I was able to shake it off into the swarm box which David was holding above his head while standing on a chair! The swarm was rehoused on our livestock allotment.
Wednesday, 6 June 2018
Tyneside Beekeepers Association, of which we are members of the executive committee, has an apiary at the former Gateshead Central Nursery. A training day for new beekeepers was held on Saturday. I turned up, complete with camera, to record the event.
We recently had a second bee swarm. Unlike the first swarm which rehoused itself in a spare hive, this one was more trouble. It formed up at the top of our apple tree on our Farside allotment. I spent a merry time on the top of a chair with a long arm set of loppers to chop off the branch with the swarm on it. It fell onto a sheet on the ground and I put a cardboard box over it. When I came back half an hour later, I found quite a few bees in the box but a large cluster of bees still at the top of the apple tree. Yet more standing on chairs and use of loppers followed. The cluster dropped to the ground and I left them, thinking the queen was in the hive - the other bees would follow her inside.
Alas, that was not the case. Virtually the whole swarm was sitting on the front of the hive when I returned a couple of hours later. It was still there in the evening. I took the decision to intervene, swept the bees into a box and then tipped them into the hive. It seems I was wrong about the location of the queen. She must have been on the outside of the hive rather than inside.
The good news is that the colony is now well settled in the hive and is very busy.
Last week we sold two of our goat kids, the two nannies. They aren't going far, just across the hedge into the next allotment where Steve and Vicky, the new allotment holders, have decided to start keeping goats. And the price to be paid (at the end of this year)?: half a pig. Steve and Vicky are also planning to keep pigs so this was an ideal opportunity for a great swap.
Friday, 1 June 2018
On Monday we attended the Northumberland County Show. This was the first time we had been to the Show since it moved from Corbridge. A good time had by all. Lots of livestock to see. I need to give serious consideration to entering the jam making competitions next year.
We have four freezers full of food which we urgently need to use up before this year's crops start to roll in. So on Sunday, we had a family BBQ in the hope that we could shift some of our stocks of food. Our pork and pigeon burgers went down well, as did the three lamb joints. However, we have only scratched the surface. It looks like we will have to have lots more BBQs over the summer.
Wednesday, 30 May 2018
This is the dream scenario of beekeeping. We put a great deal of effort into checking for swarms from our hives. When one does form up, we put lots of effort into collecting it and then rehousing it into another hive. Wouldn't it be fantastic if a swarm rehoused itself in a spare hive.
That's exactly what happened on Sunday!
Monday, 21 May 2018
There are lots of ladybirds on the meadow at Lotties Wood, next to the Whinnies where we keep our animals. Presumably they have hibernated over the winter and have recently emerged, ready to eat lots of aphids. They are much better than using pesticides!
We took 3 goats to Whickham School on Friday: Coal, Perky and Whinnie Too. This was part of a project on tackling mental health issues. 6th formers were seeing if petting animals makes people feel better. It seems it does! Hundreds of children came along and handled and fed the goats. and of course, hundreds of photos were taken by them.
Overnight on Tueday/Wednesday Spot's health improved. Through Wednesday she was eating, though not with her usual degree of enthusiasm. I can report however that she has now fully recovered and is making up for lost time by eating ever more amounts of grass and leaves.
Saturday, 19 May 2018
Spot, our 2 year old nanny, was ill on Tuesday evening. We gave her some cooking oil to try to settle her stomach but after she started vomiting, we called the vet who treated her at around 10pm. At midnight she was also looking a bit better. All this is covered in the video diary above. Also included as bits about making citrus jelly and using the incinerator.
Wednesday, 16 May 2018
Monday, 14 May 2018
Saturday, 12 May 2018
On Thursday I was contacted by Whickham School, the secondary I attended back in the 70s and early 80s, to ask me if I would bring some goats to the school next week as part of a 6th form project to tackle mental health issues. The students want to look at how petting animals helps people's mental health. I have agreed to take 2 kids and an adult nanny next Friday.
Meanwhile, one of our chickens has gone broody.
Friday, 11 May 2018
Tuesday, 8 May 2018
Sunday, 6 May 2018
Someone left a pile of hay for us outside our gate. It has now gone into the hay store. It will be a useful back up for our goats - if we can't get out to pick hawthorn, leaves and grass for them due to the weather, we have to provide them with an alternative.
One of the great points about May is that there are sufficient leaves on the hawthorn hedges to make it worthwhile to start trimming the hedges to feed the goats. I made a start last week. The large branches are not yet ready but within a couple of weeks we should be able to make a start on chopping them back as well. This is of course great news for the goats (they love hawthorn) and for my bank account (no more buying hay and carrots for the goats).