Tuesday, 6 November 2012

It's a beautiful day...

I'd thought the blog had come to a natural end, but the sheer beauty of Autumn got me out with my camera this morning.  This is the most stunning time of year when the leaves are on the ground.

The little brown seabright chicks from Norfolk are fully grown now - this magnificent cockerel is just getting his crowing voice and likes to roost in the pine tree overnight.

The other one I am glad to say is a hen - beautiful black with a greeny sheen to her feathers.  Hopefully she'll start laying in the spring.  The 5 little chicks we hatched ourselves came to a nasty end with Mr Fox at about 9 weeks old.  We'll try some more next year.

Peggy and Eileen however are NOT at their best.  They are shivering in the cold at the moment as they are having their annual moult.  There is justice in the humiliation though as they have been hen-pecking the others and making their lives a misery.  We moved all the chickens in together and put their house in the goose run to make feeding easier, and these two have been rather put out.

Lucy, Juicey and Jube are still as gorgeous as ever.  Jube has been called 'he' all year (he/she is now 5 months old) but he could be a she.  A quick search of 'how to sex a goose' on the internet has revealed nothing - most people just wait and see if they lay an egg!  Jube is the one at the back in this picture.

We're delighted to have some winter visitors to the field... they'll eat it down in time for the wild flowers to come up again next spring.
 All Ian's careful fencing is paying off at last, and the hedge back is all greened-up thanks to all the wonderful rain this year.
The massive pile of clay has been landscaped into a curved bank and trees will be planted on it when I get around to it this winter...
 The pond is still leaking but the sheer volume of rain keeps it full.....and covered in duckweed.  Need to sort that but no idea how...

 Everything's green - even the track... 

Saturday, 25 August 2012

Chick Updates

Our ten-week old seabright chicks from Red Rooster Cottage in Norfolk are now bigger than their mother who is half bantam and very petite.  It's been amusing watching her nestling them under her wings at night.

Birds' eye view?  They are now free-ranging around the garden and discovering greenery, slugs and bugs.  Happy hens.

The little balls of fluff we hatched only four weeks ago have now moved outside into a henhouse for the first time.

They started in the incubator, moved to the heat lamp box in the utility room, then out to the shed and now outside.  They no longer look cute!  They are half fluff, half feathers with scrawny necks and sharp little beaks.  Gangly teenagers perhaps.  

If anyone knows what breed this little beauty is, please let us know.  It's been suggested it's a Silkie, or an Arucana.  I suspect only time will tell.

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Paint attack...

Having got over the distraction of the olympics, I've found a use for some of the leftover paint from the house - some might say I've ruined some perfectly good pieces of furniture!!  It feels good to update the look though and learn a new skill.  And I'm not finished yet - now I've started it's tempting to give everything a touch of shabby chic - here are some before and afters...

Saturday, 28 July 2012

The naked truth and the most delicious joint ever...

Even the most hardened of carnivores might find it hard to be unmoved by the sight of his own pigs hanging by the feet in the abattoir.  This is the first time I've looked at this picture, taken by Ian when he and two fellow pig-sharers went to collect the carcasses for butchering, and in my present mood I don't like it.  Probably just because they still look like pigs rather than a load of joints and sausages.

 Still, a few minutes later they were on their way to Pynes for butchering.
We took home from Pynes a total of 138 kg of meat to be split 7 ways, resulting in a price per kilo of £4.29.  Not bad for the best organic, hand-reared, free-range meat in Somerset!

Tricky - how to divide all the chops, bellies, ribs, shoulders, legs and 3 types of sausages fairly between 7 families.  Thank goodness Nick arrived at that moment to help work it out.

We had a home-grown recipe for sausages - using our own onions, garlic and chives.
Last Sunday I put more effort into cooking dinner than ever before in my life.  Delia's instructions were followed to the letter - even down to the use of thyme, rosemary and garlic from the garden, and rubbing salt into the skin to make proper crackling.

Living the dream.  Sunshine, family, and home-grown food in the dappled shade on the patio - at last!

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Job done...

The day had arrived. We were up early to load Bangers, Chops and Bacon into the trailer ready for their final journey.  I had visions of chasing around after three squealing pigs deep in the mud, perhaps slipping over and flailing around while they made a dash for freedom and the wide open spaces........

....... the reality was somewhat more tame (thankfully) though there was an awkward moment when the two pigs that had gone into the trailer finished their food and came out again before the third one could be persuaded up the ramp.  With a bit of perseverance Ian got them all loaded, and with the help of some handy rubber matting managed to get the car and trailer out of the bog that is our field.

Is that a look of reproach do you think?  "I'm disappointed in you, I thought you liked us" etc etc.  But I refuse to feel guilty.  Actually that's the first time they've really looked at me - normally it's heads down, where's the food.

 At the abattoir in Creech it was all very friendly.   They must deal with hundreds of animals every day but our three little pigs were ushered into their pen with all the care and paperwork of booking into a B&B.  The existing residents were a little curious....

Bangers, Chops and Bacon were the first into a clean pen, and had a calm and happy sniff around for any bits of food that might have been left behind.
 Most of the other pigs were asleep - with nothing better to do I suppose - but this little one was no doubt called 'Babe' and would have been speaking in a very melancholy voice if anyone cared to listen.  You can read all sorts of human emotions in the eyes of an animal destined for the pot...
 Even Barney had a wistful moment on the way home