Tuesday 26 June 2018

Making pigeon sausagemeat

We took delivery of more pigeons recently from a friend so we made them into sausagemeat. I added in a jar of orange sauce (it started off life as marmalade that failed to set), onions, breadcrumbs and some cayenne pepper.

Friday 22 June 2018

Still with rubbish

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.

Avalanche of goat food

hawthorn tree felled June 18

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!

Veggie burgers

veggie burgers June 18 (1)

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.

veggie burgers June 18 (2)

Thursday 21 June 2018

Releasing the chicks

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

Quail egg and vegetable curry

quail egg curry June 18

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

Rendering lamb fat

rendering lamb fat June 18 1

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.

rendering lamb fat June 18 2

Sunday 17 June 2018

Lamb curry

lamb curry June 18

Some of the meat from one of the joints left over from our recent BBQ was put to use in this rather nice curry. Alas, the curry sauce itself was bought from our local corner shop but most of the vegetable ingredients were grown by us.

Saturday 16 June 2018

Wild gooseberries

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.

Blown off branch

Storm Hector did less damage yesterday than we feared though one very large branch came off a hawthorn tree in another allotment at the Whinnies. Put it another way: this was a large meal for my goats!

Friday 15 June 2018

Preparing for Storm Hector

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

The chick run

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


willowherb June 18

Willowherb is a very common weed in the UK and has the added bonus of being one of the goats' favourite foods. It has now grown sufficiently to make it worthwhile picking it. The goats now get a full barrow load of it twice a day.

Tuesday 12 June 2018

5th swarm of the season

Yesterday we had the 5th honey bee swarm of the season. It formed up on the hedge on our animal allotment. It was relatively easy to catch.

Not logged on

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

New chicks

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.

chicks June 18 1

chicks June 18 2

Sunday 10 June 2018

How to make lamb stock

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.

3rd swarm of the year

bee swarm June 18 1

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.

bee swarm June 18 2

bee hives June 18 1

Wednesday 6 June 2018

Tyneside beekeepers apiary visit

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.

Another swarm

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.

Swapping two kids for half a pig

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

Swapping for hatching eggs

Sadly we aren't allowed to keep cockerels. We had another 2 hens turn broody so we bought 6 hatching eggs from the Hop Garden where they do have cockerels. The cost of the eggs was 3 jars of chutney.

Northumberland County Show

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.

Self-sufficient BBQ

BBQ pork and pigeon burgers May 18

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.