Monday 30 October 2023

More rain heading our way


Storm Babet is behind us, thankfully but there is another heavy storm forecast for Thursday. The stream that came from nowhere to flow down field 2 has gone (the picture above was taken when it was reduced to a trickle) but I can foresee its return later this week. The ground is saturated and cannot take any more rainwater which will simply flow across the land looking for a way to escape. We will of course be ready for the rain when it comes but we could do without it!

Saturday 28 October 2023

New cockerel


We were given this cockerel recently. He actually started out earlier this year as an egg laid by one of our hens. The egg went with a batch of others to a community garden where a broody hen was ready to sit on them. The cockerel is a cross between a Buff Orpington and a ginger nut ranger (which is itself a cross between a Rhode Island Red and a Light Sussex. In the new year he will be separated from the main flock along with the gingernut ranger hens for breeding. It will be interesting to see what colouring the chicks take.

In the meantime, he is happily settled down with the rest of the flock.

Video - new goats


Yesterday we took delivery of a couple of Boer goats. They were surplus to requirements at another farm. They arrived yesterday morning - one adult nanny and one 3 month old kid. They aren't related so we can breed them. They are used to being handled and are very friendly. They've also settled in well.

Wild duck breast casserole


Our friend Kevin gave us 2 wild ducks recently which had been bagged on a shoot. Kevin and I regularly exchange goods - I gave him 4 sacks of chicken and goat manure for his allotment in the most recent swap. The breasts were removed from the birds and then made into this rather pleasant casserole.

Friday 27 October 2023

Video - Florence's foot


Florence, one of our main breeding nanny goats, had been limping for a week but just as we were about to take her to the vet, she seemed to be recovering. Last week, the limp suddenly got worse. So on Monday we took her to the vet. The problem was identified - a small twig, only about one centimetre long had become embedded in her front left hoof causing an abscess. The vet removed the offending twig, drained the abscess and cleaned up her foot. She now has a bright red bandage which will be removed sometime this weekend.

The video above recorded her visit to the vet and the work done to clean up her foot.

Wednesday 25 October 2023

Mountain climbing sheep and goats


We have rolled another large round bale of hay into the paddock where we keep the goats and the Hebridean sheep. As you can see they are using the bale to show off their mountain climbing skills!

Tuesday 24 October 2023

Farm flood


I have not experienced rain before like we had at the end of last week. As the video above shows, we had a flood on the farm but as quickly as the torrential water arrived, it stopped! No lasting damage.

Saturday 21 October 2023

Bringing the stove back into operation


We are now well into autumn so recently we dusted down the stove and brought it back into use. We've got plenty of fuel to get us through to the spring next year. As you can see, the cat loves it!

Running out of hedge trimmings


Two of our goats - Dolly and Janey - have been kept in a separate paddock on our Farside allotment for the past 5 months. They were put thee to clear the paddock of vegetation and to be fed the hawthorn  trimmings from nearby hedges. We are now approaching a point where those sources are exhausted. We still have comfrey growing in the allotment but that won't last for much longer. Therefore the two girls may be heading back to the farm soon.

Battling Babet


Yesterday we were fighting a losing battle against Storm Babet, I got to the farm and found a river running through the middle of field 2, then through the paddock with the nannies and Hebrideans and then along the lane. Fortunately this morning, the river had been replaced with a small trickle.

Duck for dinner


We got a couple of wild duck in a swap with a friend earlier this week. We've removed the breasts and will be having them for dinner tonight. 

Saturday 14 October 2023

Suckling the life out of her


Florence, one of our Saanen nanny goats, had 3 babies in July. Goats normally produced 1 or 2 kids so 3 in one go is unusual, though not rare (she had 3 last year as well!) She has very strong mothering instincts so she adopted another 2 kids as well. So with 5 mouths to feed, we intervened right from the strat and bottle fed the babies. One didn't take to the bottle and remained reliant on Florence for milk. The others took strongly to the bottle but continued to suckle from mum.

It was obvious that despite our intervention the kids were suckling the life out of her so we decided to separate Florence. She is now on our Nearside allotment with the kid that never took to the bottle. We felt that taking away all her kids would cause her too much stress. The aim is to keep her on the Nearside until she has fully recovered and put the weight back on. So she will be there probably until the start of the winter.

In the 2 weeks she has been there, her condition has improved. He coat is starting to grow again and she is starting to put on weight. Next year we will give her a year off from breeding and milking.

Hazel harvest


It looks like there is a good hazel crop this year. I've been out twice over the past week to collect as many of the nuts as possible. The recent windy weather has brought more nuts scattered on the woodland floor. The challenge is to pick them before the mice and grey squirrels eat them! So far it's 50:50. Plenty of opened shells but plenty of untouched nuts as well.

Rabbit and pigeon casserole


A search through one of our four freezers uncovered a rabbit and some pigeon breasts that had been there for some time! We turned them into a casserole. Note the liberal use of tomatoes from the glut last month.

Spring in the autumn


We have been getting lots of plants flowering in the autumn: clover (above) and nettles, dandelions and willowherb (see below). What is odd is that there plants flower in the spring, not the autumn. I am putting this now to the recent run of warm weather. Even my honey bees have been out in force. The danger is that these plants will put in lots of their energy and nutrition into flowers that will die off before they are able to produce seeds over the coming weeks as we move towards the winter. That could mean fewer flowers next spring.

Thursday 12 October 2023

Last chicks of the year


Our last hen chicks of the year hatched over the weekend. There were 16 eggs in the incubator, 15 hatched and 14 survived. The chicks have now been adopted by a broody hen and they have all been moved to bigger accommodation. The incubator has now been freed up for a batch of quail eggs.

The hay crop that nearly didn't happen


The wet summer ruined our first attempt to gather in a hay crop. We had to wait until early September to have the hay cut and baled. This year the hay has gone into the big round bales which way about a quarter ton each. We rolled one into the nannies' paddock and they got through much of it in a single day! Let's hope we have enough to get through the autumn and winter.

Sunday 1 October 2023

2 new ducks


2 new ducks to add to our flock. We were given them by a friend on Friday from her farm where they were surplus to requirement. The drake in particular is a lovely green colour.

Everyone piles in to help


On Friday, it was a case of everyone piling in to help. My friend Steve agreed to take surplus kune pigs from Bill Quay Community Farm. We borrowed a trailer from the farm of our friend Janet and used my pick up to tow it. The pigs were collected (escapees were kept to a minimum and were later rounded up!) and transported to a paddock on my farm which Steve "rents" - the payment is in meat.

The issue here for those wanting to be self-sufficient is that you can't do everything in isolation. Work with others who have similar ambitions to produce your own food and live as sustainably as possible, as we did on Friday.