Tuesday, 24 March 2020
On Sunday we built a goathouse and a pig shelter on the small holding, all from reused timber and wood panels. We will be able to move them around as they simply stand on the grass. We had planned to build the paddocks as well this week. The stock fencing is ordered and expected to be delivered tomorrow. Unfortunately, our plan to go to the local timber merchant has fallen victim to the pandemic restrictions. They are now closed. So at the moment we are unable to build the paddocks. The plans to buy pigs are likely to be on hold for the time being. As for the goats, we may put the billies onto the small holding anyway, but we need to do a thorough inspection of the external fence before we do so.
Sunday, 22 March 2020
We have exhausted the supply of firewood we keep at home and we weren't planning to replenish it. Instead, we were planning simply to bring over what we needed, as and when we needed it, from our supplies on our allotments. Within a few weeks, with the spring upon us, we would no longer need fuel until the autumn. The plan has changed. With the possibility of a lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic, we are rebuilding our stock of firewood at home. While lots of people are stocking up on loo role, we haven't done any panic buying. And we will be warm over the coming weeks.
We are keen to encourage wildlife on our small holding. Though deer and wood pigeons can sometimes be damaging to crops, we are keen for the birds and amphibians to be there in good numbers to eat the bugs that cause even more damage to our crops. So we have put 3 bird boxes into the hedge and are planning more.
A few days ago we took the 2 kids to the small holding. We went there to do a bit of work but took Sooty and Sweep to see how they would respond and to get them used to eating grass. They loved it! Once the grass is long enough, and the new paddocks and sheds are built, we will be moving all the goats there. The only problem I can see is the possibility of a lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic. Will we be stopped from moving between home and the small holding? At the moment we just don't know.
We have 3 cockerels, 2 of which (Freddie and Rhodio) were hatched and raised together 18 months ago. There had been no problem between them until last week when I found them both bloodied but Freddie was also hiding away. He had clearly come off worst. I decided it was time to separate them. Last night, when all the chickens went to roost, I took Freddie (he's a barnvelder), along with the 2 barnvelder hens, to the spare henhouse on the Farside allotment. The henhouse is in the goat paddock where we keep the nannies (though they will be moving soon to pasture on the small holding). I'm pleased to report that the 3 chickens took quickly to their new home. Freddie quickly worked out the best sun traps! His comb is still rather scabby after his scrap with Rhodio but I'm expecting him to make good recovery.
Monday, 2 March 2020
Gibside Community Farm sent out a message last month to say they had a big surplus of blackthorn, guelder rose and rowan and they were happy to give them away to good homes. We have 200 metres of fencing on the small holding which we want planted up as a hedge. So we headed to the Community Farm a couple of weeks ago and took delivery of lots of whips which we are gradually planting. In a few years' time, hopefully we will have a decent size hedge.
It has been a remarkably mild winter. Very little frost and ice, one dose of snow which was washed away after 12 hours by subsequent rain and early blossom and leaves on the trees. It has however been very wet though we are as nothing compared to some areas of the country. Yet, in between the storms, we have had quite a bit of bright sunshine. As it is still winter, the sun doesn't get too high in the sky. Nevertheless, our solar panels have been generating lots of electricity with a significant surplus charging up the battery which powers the house through much of the night.