Sunday 21 July 2024

A year old


Our two young billy goats Ant and Dec have recently turned a year old. They are both in excellent health and are thriving on the vegetation I pick for them each day. They consume between them a heaped barrowful of greenery every day - mainly willowherb, nettles, dock and goosegrass. There is an abundance of these weeds on local footpath verges so we have a ready supply for free food for the boys.

Saturday 13 July 2024

An unexpected chick


I recently found a day old chick wandering around our Nearside allotment following a hen which was clucking away. I have still not found the nest but I gathered up both and put them into the quail house. Both are doing well but I wonder if there are more unexpected nests waiting to be found.

Monday 8 July 2024

On the verge


The lane outside our smallholding has been getting a bit overgrown on the verges. We therefore took the haycutter and trimmed all the verges and the central strip. The byproduct was a large amount of cut grass and vegetation which after a few days was turning into hay. We fed as much as we could to the goats and the rams in the paddocks at the bottom of the site. We will run it over the bottom of field 2 soon to ensure we have another heap of feed for the animals.

Saddle up!


This morning I experienced one of those rare occasions where all the animals lined up for an amusing shot at the same time as I was ready with my phone to get a good picture. Our chickens have taken a liking to sitting of Nettle's back. And Nettle herself doesn't mind.

Just in time


Our two billy goats, Ant and Dec, are living temporarily in the secure paddock on our Farside allotment. We recently dismantled and moved it within the paddock. Ten minutes after finishing, the skies opened and there was a huge, if short, storm and downpour. Fantastic timing.

Redcurrant gin


We made this redcurrant gin last year and sampled it over the weekend. A very pleasant, smooth taste. I will be putting some aside for the fruit liqueur competition at the Bowes Agricultural Show in September. And remember - please drink resposibly.

Sunday 7 July 2024



One of the most important wild crops is hazel. The nuts contain protein, oils, carbohydrates, roughage and so on. They could be called a superfood. I checked out some trees recently and found a good crop of nuts. They are not ready for picking yet. That's a job for September. 

Spare wool


In June we finished shearing our 27 adult sheep. We therefore have a large amount of unprocessed wool. We have no use for it ourselves though we have given a bit of thought as to what to do with it. (Using it as filling for homemade cushions is the only idea we have so far. Someone took 3 sacks last week to use in a garden and she gave one of the sacks to a local gardening charity. One friend is wanting to take some to protect plants from frost during the winter. Any ideas on what to do with the remaining sacks of wool will be appreciated.

Friday 28 June 2024

Fruit liqueurs ready


The fruit liqueurs made last year are now ready for consuming. We've already finished the strawberry gin. The gooseberry vodka is well on its way to being finished. Always drink responsibly.

Eat your greens


We are at that time of year when there is an abundance of vegetation waiting to be picked and fed to the goats. It's free and the goats thrive on it. We pick nettles, dock, willowherb, grass, dandelions, goosegrass and so on. The milk yield has rocketed as a result. Indeed, we are running out of space for milk and cheese.

Friday 24 May 2024



Our onions were planted a few weeks ago. They are all coming on well. Onions are a key crop for us so we don't hold back when it comes to planting as many as we can.

Saturday 11 May 2024

New milker and baby


On Monday we went to Alnwick to buy a new milking goat (called Nettle) and her 10 day old baby (as yet unnamed). This video follows us as we make the trip north to collect them and bring them back home.

Friday 10 May 2024

First crop of the year


Our first crop of the year was rhubarb. We've had a rather nice crumble as a result.

Wednesday 8 May 2024

Unexpected milk supply


Penny, our Saanen milking goat stopped producing milk in October last year. She had been producing milk for 13 months at that point and it seemed for a while that she would not stop. This is not necessarily good for her health. Fortunately we managed to phase out her milk supply so that she could recover. We also took the decision to give her a year off before having her mated again. She is making a good recovery and is putting on weight. However, she has now started producing milk again. It's not a huge amount but her milk sacks have partially bagged up again. We are not going to milk her as this will simply encourage her body to produce more milk. Hopefully she will stop producing milk and enjoy her year off.

Tuesday 9 April 2024

Another 2 Hebridean lambs


So far this spring, we have had 18 lambs born, though sadly one died. The 2 most recent arrived yesterday afternoon. I rushed back home to grab the camera and caught the bird of the 2nd lamb.


Sunday 31 March 2024

First Hebridean lambs of the year


Before yesterday, 4 of our Texel ewes had had between them 9 lambs. Our Hebridean ewes were a bit slower to produce their first babies but that changes yesterday. Our first 2 Hebridean lambs have arrived. At the same time, another of our Texels gave birth to two lambs. The total number of lambs now stands at 13.

Tuesday 19 March 2024

Ant and Dec at Whickham Library


Ant and Dec, our two young billy goats, were at Whickham Library on Saturday. The Library invites me to bring animals to each of their fairs and it was the turn of the two boys to be adored and overfed with carrots by people coming to the Easter market.

New goat house


Now that we have carried out the majority of the fence repairs, we have switched our attention to the need to build a new goathouse in the big paddock at the bottom of field 2. The two billy goats will be moved into this paddock once the goathouse is finished. With them will go two of our nannies, Star and Snow White. Once they are pregnant, the two nannies will be moved back to the herd. Other than the nails and screws, the goathouse is being built entirely from waste wood, mainly pallets and fence panels which friends have given us in recent years. It will have a sloping roof so that we can channel rain water into a water butt (at the moment we have to bring in all the water we need from home).

I am hoping construction can be completed and the goats moved in later this week.

Friday 15 March 2024

Like painting the Forth Bridge


Repairing fences is like painting the Forth Bridge on our smallholding. Just when you feel that sense of achievement by finishing the repairs to one fence, you have to move onto the next. When we bought the fields the fences were in a poor shape. We have gradually replaced the rotten fence posts and replaced the livestock netting. In recent days we've completed the repairs to the top of our hayfield and to the fence between fields one and two (see above). Today we were able to move on to the paddock into which we planning to move our two young billy goats. The gate into it is now repaired. The big job will be to build a shelter in the paddock. Hopefully a job to start this weekend.

Thursday 14 March 2024

First lambs of the year


Our first lambs of the year have arrived. Two were born last week and two a couple of days ago. Both mothers and all four lambs are doing well.

Thursday 29 February 2024

Rhubarb shoots


Another mild winter is just about behind us and some of our crops are now springing into action. Rhubarb shoots are starting to appear.

Sunday 25 February 2024

First duck egg of the year


Nice surprise for me this morning when I arrived at the duck run: an egg. It's the first of the year. Sadly, it was cracked. It will end up in an omelette soon.

Roast chicken


We dispatched 4 of our surplus cockerels recently. The biggest bird was roasted, making a superb Sunday dinner for us. We have another 6 cockerels which were hatched in the autumn so are not yet fully grown. They will be fattened up over the coming weeks. The rest of the birds slaughtered recently were made into pies.

Saturday 24 February 2024

Bamboo eating goats


We are keeping our two billy goats (Ant and Dec) and two of our young nannies (Snow White and Star) separate from our herd for the time being. Current home for them is our Nearside allotment. I give them three sacks of hay a day which I bring from our farm. Alas, yesterday I forgot to bring back the hay. The goats therefore got bamboo instead. Fortunately, this is one of the winter greens that the goats love.

Free fuel


Yesterday, the energy regulator here in the UK announced that the cap on household bills will be reduced by about £200 on average per household per year. It still means that average household energy bills will be about £1800 a year. The costs we pay are much lower. We have a woodfired stove which we use to heat our house and the fuel is free. We gather up dead branches from our farm or chop them off our trees and hedges. The fuel is sustainable as well, as is the electricity we generate from our solar panels. We remain plugged into the electricity and gas grids however. And that means we have to pay the rip off standing charges.

Wednesday 21 February 2024

Ricotta cheese flans


We still have a freezer full of ricotta cheese so I used some of it to make 6 flans. They are being used for lunch and dinner this week although we may freeze some (something I am reluctant to do as we need the freezer space for other things).

Wednesday 7 February 2024

Avoid toxic leaves


Some garden plants, such as rhododendron, are very toxic to goats and sheep. If you are composting them, make sure they are no where near any goats or sheep. In this video we were given 20 sacks of leaves but some of them were toxic. We put the sacks of leaves onto our Farside allotment as we keep no livestock there. The leaves will be left in their sacks for a year to rot down.

Wednesday 31 January 2024

Fried duck breasts


Somewhere under the cabbage and carrots are some fried duck breasts. The ducks were from a friend who shoots regularly. The breasts were removed from the carcass and then fried in butter. The cabbage was from the allotment. The Yorkshire pudding was made using our own eggs. Very pleasant.

Pigeon meatballs


We still have lots of pigeon breasts in the freezer so recently we minced some of them, added breadcrumbs and onion and made the resulting mixture into meatballs. They went rather well with rice (which sadly we can't grow ourselves!)

Sunday 21 January 2024

Chicken soup


Some of the chicken meat left over from making the chicken pies went into making chicken soup. We had a few vegetables that needed using up as well so they went into the soup as well.

Chicken pies


Some of the meat from the 4 cockerels we had dispatched recently made its way into these three pies. I included mushrooms, onions, ground black pepper and ricotta cheese from our goat milk in the fillings. Very pleasant.

Mud at the gate


The storms we endured at the end of last year resulted in a stream flowing across the entrance to our farm. A great deal of silt was washed off the field of the neighbouring farm and was deposited at our gate.

More recently, the cold snap of the past week froze the silt solid. It has now started to thaw but over the next day we are expecting another deluge. My plan is to dig out the silt and put it on our raised beds. That may have to wait a bit while the deluge takes its course.

Friday 19 January 2024

Pork chop


In a further attempt to create space in our freezers, we decided to use up the pork chops stored in one of them recently. The pig belonged to our friend Steve. Another swap "bought" us the chops (and other pork as well). The leftover bones have been used to make stock and are now drying out in the oven to be made into bonemeal. Noting wasted!

The last Christmas tree


Our appeal for people to give us their Christmas trees was a success. People donated over 70. We feed them to the goats. They eat the branches and the bark. We then let them dry for a year when we use them as firewood to keep our house warm.

I am now pleased to report that the last Christmas tree has been shipped down to the farm. Job done!

Stilton and leek soup


We are aiming to be self-sufficient but we aren't there yet. Sometimes we buy some food from the local supermarket, which is how we ended up with a wedge of Stilton cheese. Alas, we forgot about the Stilton until I found it at the back of the fridge. Part of our mission statement is to avoid waste so I invested a recipe for soup that used both the Stilton and some leeks from a friends allotment (acquired through a swap). The leeks had seen better days but were still usable. The stock was from one of our freezers. It was pork stock and one reason for using it was to create space in the freezer (we are likely to have some mutton to freezer in the next few weeks).

In terms of the soup, leeks and Stilton were a great combination. Alas, our usual problem kicked in. We made so much that we ended up having the soup for 4 days in a row!

Tuesday 9 January 2024

The egg supply starts again


It is usual for our poultry to stop laying in the autumn. Typically, the birds start again as the days get longer, normally in early January. This time, one of our Buff Orpingtons continued laying without a break. Today however she was joined by another hen. I am expecting others to start popping out eggs as the increase in the daylight hours is more noticeable. It looks like we will be having more omelettes for dinner this month.

Wednesday 3 January 2024



We got some pork from our friend Steve as part of a swap. We removed the skin and roasted it. Fantastic crackling! Gorgeous taste.