Friday 26 April 2019

Unwell goats

On Good Friday last week, two of our billies were unwell. As it was a bank holiday, the vet was unable to call out so we had to take them both in the land rover to the surgery in Newcastle. They were given some medication and brought back to the goat paddock. I'm pleased to report both made a recovery. The culprit we believe was some daffodils growing outside the gate. We think someone visited the goats and in all innocence, picked the daffodils to feed to them. Sunny was one of the billy goats taken ill but he is also the boss and would have had the lion's share of the daffodils. We are removing them and will plant something in their place which is not toxic to the goats.

Thursday 25 April 2019

Battery now included!

We installed solar panels on our house nearly eight years ago. They produce a good quantity of electricity but during the evening and times of peak demand, we have had to buy in power. So, we have had a heavy duty battery installed which charges up during the day and provides the house with electricity during night time. My only regret is not installing the batteries earlier.

Saturday 20 April 2019

New ducks

We recently took delivery of what we thought was 4 ducks and 2 drakes. All adults, they form quite a close knit group. We have added them to our flock and they have settled in well. Alas, I think one of the birds we initially thought was a duck is actually a drake.

One of the reasons for getting the ducks was because we have not added any new gene stock over the past seven years of keeping ducks. All our ducks are interbred so we felt it was time to widen the gene pool.

Rendering more fat

The battle to use up the contents of the freezers continued.  I defrosted pig fat to render into lard and also extracted gelatine from it to make into stock. The space did not last long however as we made the milk from our goat Coal into ricotta cheese which we then froze.

Sick goats

goats at vet Apr 19

Yesterday was Good Friday so getting a vet out to check out a couple of sick goats was not going to be easy. I spotted that both Sunny and Gerry, two of our billies, were ill. Both were off their food, lethargic, had the runs and were looking rather unhappy. Sunny had a swollen stomach and a bit of blood in his droppings. We got through to the vet and we were asked to bring them in, rather than have the vet call out. Though this reduced (considerably) the cost, it was something of a challenge to get both into the land rover. Sunny in particular is a good size and weight. Nevertheless, we got them to Gosforth.

They were both given medication. We think the cause is someone feeding them daffodils. Some grow outside the gate of the allotment where we keep the goats. Lots of people visit them every day. Some bring them carrots etc to feed to them. Others pick grass. We think someone may have picked the daffodils in all innocence and fed them to the goats. Sunny being the boss goat probably got the lion's share.

I'm pleased to report that today both Sunny and Gerry were improved, eating well and had no signs of sickness. Meanwhile, we will be removing the daffodils.

Sunny the goat Apr 19

Sunny now recovered and eating grass.

Gerry the goat Apr 19

Likewise, Gerry eating grass today.

billy goats Apr 19

Four of our boys today enjoying the spring sunshine.

Thursday 18 April 2019

Freezers and fat

We are still struggling to use up the contents of our four freezers. Earlier this month I sorted through our large, upright freezer and found beaten eggs from 2015 (which I scrambled), broad and runner beans from 2013 (made into soup) and fat added in recent weeks from the half pig we got last year. The latter was rendered to make lard. Alas, as quickly as we create space, it is used up - the lard went back into the freezer and the ricotta cheese we are making from the goat milk takes up the rest of the space.

Sunday 14 April 2019

Sunniside Fair

Sunniside fair Apr 19

Yesterday we had a table at the spring fair at Sunniside Chapel Hall. It was relatively quiet but we still sold lots of preserves, honey and eggs.

Saturday 13 April 2019

Lame hen

lame hen Mar 19

This hen went lame in one leg recently. She was one of the birds we hatched last year and she hadn't yet started laying. Normally, I wouldn't take a single ill bird to the vet. This time, I decided to take her as I wanted to ensure there was nothing likely to affect the flock and I was hoping she could be saved. Alas, the vet could not find a reason for her going lame and suggested we isolate her and keep an eye on her.

Sadly, she did not get better and the lameness spread to her other leg. We had to put her to sleep.

Honey into jars

honey in jars Apr 19

We had a few frames of honey taken from our hives last year still to be put through the honey press. So through the past week, we have competed for space in our kitchen with the honey press. Last night the honey was put into jars and this morning they went on sale at the Sunniside Chapel Hall spring fair. We sold half of them.

Grapefruit and lemon marmalade

grapefruit and lemon marmalade Apr 19

Okay, so grapefruits and lemons are not fruits we grow in our northerly climate but we do sometimes buy them. The leftover skins should not be thrown away. We boil up any we have to make marmalade. I made 8 jars this week and put them on sale at the fair we attended in Sunniside today. We sold a couple.

Bean soup

bean soup Apr 19 (1)

I found lots of old broad beans and runner beans in our freezer, some of them dating back to 2013. Time to get them used up. The resulting bean soup was padded out with potatoes from last years crop. I blended the soup once it was made. I wasn't entirely sure the runner beans wouldn't be too stringy. In the end they were fine.

Making ricotta cheese

ricotta cheese making Apr 19

We are not getting a great deal of milk from our goat Coal, but we are milking her every day and over a few days we end up with a reasonable quantity. So far we have been turning it into ricotta cheese. We will be making cheese cakes with it shortly.

Rendering fat

pork fat Apr 19

We are still trying to use up the contents of our freezers. In a recent sort through, I found lots of pork fat waiting to be rendered. So I boiled it up, extracted the fat and also had the useful by-product of a bowl of gelatine which I used to make into a pork and leek stock.

pork and leek stock apr 19 (1)

The stock has since been used to make soup. Indeed, too much soup. We had it for dinner three days in a row!

Elderberry and blackberry vodka

elderberry and blackberry vodka Apr 19

I did a search of one of our wardrobes this evening. We don't keep clothes in it. Instead, we fill it with homemade fruit liqueurs. I found in it a kilner jar of elderberry and blackberry vodka. The ingredients went into the jar  in September. Well worth the wait.

Friday 5 April 2019

Putting her foot down

goat baby standing on mum Mar 19

I couldn't resist the temptation to take this photo: Spot, one of our nannies, calmly lies on the ground while her daughter Gertrude walks all over her! Some kids just walk all over their mothers!

Thursday 4 April 2019

Early Spring

We are having an early spring this year. Everything is about 3 to 4 weeks early. In this video I take a look at what I can start picking early to feed to the goats.