Sunday, 24 September 2017

A Week End On The Ranch

It has been a busy week end, as summer comes to a close and we roll into Autumn it time to start making preparations for winter.
Martin bought me a new bit of equipment
My very own chain saw, best of all its battery operated, with a 2 hour run time, we have several petrol chainsaws but I cant start them with the pull start, my wrists just cant do it, I have to resort to using a hand saw when collect branches for the goats or need to cut other things up, but hand saws also give me joint issues, this is just perfect for me, Martin gave me a lesson on using it and we gave it a good try out I took down my first tree, Martin was impressed with it as well, not a toy by any means.
This week end we aimed to reduced chicken numbers, our hatchings this year gave us 3 more cockerels, they are surplus to requirement and have now been dispatched, we keep to cockerels running with the girls to give us fertile eggs, the 3 dispatched have been double bagged and gone into the freezer whole they will be used in the fox trap over winter.
There was also a hen that was not pulling her weight she has been broody through the whole of summer damages eggs by gathering them up so she joined the cockerels in the freezer. This may sound harsh but we cant keep free loaders especially one that causes problems.
Its also time for the meat birds to go in the freezer
at 20 weeks they have reached there maximum growth, they are coming in between 6lb and 9lb the bigger ones are getting jointed up, they have so much meat on them, free ranging has paid off, we have 6 for the freezer the next batch are only 8 weeks so they still have some growing to do. 
Tomatoes are still being harvested 
 Primmabella salad tomato
 Nepal beefeater
 Amish plum tomato
I brought in another 6lb yesterday and there is still more ripening
 4lb of them got roasted
 and turned into tomato puree.
Cucumbers are still being harvested
 These got made into two big jars of refrigerator pickle.
 The goats are still giving plenty of milk 
I used 1 gallon this morning to make some Mozzarella
 I do find it fairly easy to do now
 This produced a 1lb 2oz cheese, I have now found a recipe for a hard cheese done with goats milks, Martin has been given the task of making me a press then I can give it a go.
While in the kitchen this morning I made up some Ranch Style Beans 
we had some on toast for lunch, really spicy, there is some left and they will be used in a chili con carne next time we have one.
This just about sums up our week end how was yours ?

 

  

 

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Let There Be Light

We have had a busy time with visitors, all gone now until next week when Martin's parents arrive for a visit.
This last lot were a group of friends that Martin knew from school days and I have know for about 30 years 

 we had a couple of trips to the beach giving Martin and his mate to try out some diving equipment
 They were doing a walk in off the beach.
The same friend happens to be an electrician and during his visit fitted up electric in the goat shed
Just in time for winter coming with dark mornings and short daylight hours we now have lots of light to help us with the milking, foot trimming and come kidding time.
also for the running of the milking machine and pressure washer for when we clean them out.
No more extension leads and all out of reach of the goats.
The poly tunnels are still doing well
 The two oranges trees have a good crop of fruit
 The tomatoes are still doing there stuff and have lots of fruit
 Considering they started showing signs of blight they have bounced back really well.
 I have been getting spaces planted up with endive and chicory
 Chinese cabbage and winter salad leaves under the tomatoes
 Beans are now flowering this is the third sowing of cannelloni beans and borlotti  beans
 outside and empty bed has been planted with turnips more chicory and winter radish.
Figs have been ripening up I am the only on who eats them so I have been eating them as they are ready although I have found some have been going missing, caught the culprit read handed, Tess has taken a likening to them as well and has cleared the lower branches.
end of last week we got a lovely salmon, it was cut up and put in brine and then hot smoked, once it was done it was vac packed and into the freezer for future meals, the smell was fantastic and the taste, this lot was smoked with whisky oak chips.
We have a busy week end coming up will update you as we go along.

Alpaca update the twins didn't make it sadly. 



Tuesday, 12 September 2017

New Things & New Additions and A Miracle

I have had a friend visiting for the past few days, my BFF she went home today, in honor of her visit Martin did one of the chickens at the week end for roast
 This one weighed in oven weight just over 7lb
We had a lovely roast chicken dinner on Sunday, Chicken Risotto Monday night, 
 Chicken sandwiches for lunch, tonight was chicken curry there is still a lot of meat left that is now going in the freezer for a future meal along with 4 portions of curry, Martin also made up a load of chicken stock, I did a bit of research on the cost of free range chicken, average is 63p per 100g so this chicken would have cost about £21 cost to us £3.70 to raise it. producing about 12 meals.
some new additions joined us this week 
 American Signal Crayfish, martin has a licensed trap
 He brought home about 50 of them
 There temporary home is in the poly tunnel, I am using this pond to raise the humidity in the poly tunnel to help keep red spider at bay
 The pumps are run by solar panels, one panel is hooked up to a battery so it runs over night and the other panel just runs the pump direct.
This winter I am doing a revamp in this poly tunnel and want to sink in a pond that will run a small aquaponics set up.
I mentioned in my last post about a new bit of equipment
well its here and set up nothing really to do with small holding
 Its a quilting frame and machine and I bought it from the lovely Pam fellow blogger, I was so excited, its something that was always on my wish list and I never thought I would have, my visiting friend was just as excited and we have been playing with it over the last few days.
While waiting for my friend to arrive on Sunday I got a phone call from two friends A & A over the other side of the valley, there Alpaca who they didn't know was pregnant had just given birth in the field to TWINS what should they do, I was shocked, twins in Alpacas is very very rare 1 in 50,000 and even more rare in the UK, my first response was get them in the barn as it was raining and windy and I am on my way over.
 Upon arrival my two friends were in shock, I could see straight away these two tiny arrivals were premature, the white one seemed to be holding its own and I had serious doubts about the little brown one who was rasping badly, I had it tipped up massaging the chest to try and clear any fluid, got them wrapped in dry towels, vet was called out and the poorly one was given a steroid injection, the vet agreed with me that the little brown one was very poorly and had doubts it would survive, while the vet worked with the poorly one I was working with the stronger one and managed to get some milk into it, mum Rosie wasn't producing milk yet, after a couple of hours I left A&A with the vet the plan being they would take them up to the house keep them warm and try and bottle feed small amounts, I suggested they named them Irma and Jose after the two hurricanes that were causing havoc at the time.
A&A worked with them through the night, sadly Irma the little brown one didn't improve and only survived 24 hours, little Jose is still holding his own but it is still early days, I was thrilled to be part of this miracle and still keeping everything crossed for little Jose. A&A are not in anyway responsible for an unexpected pregnancy, they bought the Alpacas 6 months ago and have just found out that Rosie was with her uncastrated brother a few months before they bought her. 

Thursday, 7 September 2017

I Dont Know Where It Goes

Time that is, I get up at a reasonable hour and before I know it I am flagging and its bed time, the past week has flown by,
Last week I had a day out at Bristol with friends and on Saturday I had my market stall.
Martin has been busy making a goat shed for the young Billy's they are now ready to leave mum 
 They will be moving three fields over
 This week end is moving time for them.
Today I had Bovey Belle over for her first lace making lesson, she had a try out  in Bristol last week
and I offered to give her some lessons, 
she now has her first one under her belt and on the way to making lace.
All the poultry are doing well, I have done video of thm getting there corn in the afternoon, all day they free range in the fields and late afternoon they head back to there runs for there corn feed, they are very good at going into the right runs.
The large white ones are the Ross Cobbs meat birds, as are the young white ones, we should be collecting another freezer this week end then we will have space to get all adult the Ross Cobbs done. They are a size now. We also have some cockerels in with egg layers that hatched out this year so they need going as well.

Tomorrow is an exciting day for me as I am collecting a new bit of equipment, its like waiting for Christmas day to come. 
 

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

A Round Up For August

Here is a round up of whats been happening on the ranch through August
A Cucumber glut 
To date we have picked 72 cucumbers, they are eaten in sandwiches, made into pickles, given away, sold, fed to the goats, fed to the chickens and fed to the tortoise, I have also dehydrated some
 The cut flower beds have produced gluts of Dahlias, Sweet Peas, Gladioli and Lily's, every room has had flowers including the 
Ti pee when we had visitors, given bunches away and sold some.

 Corn on the Cob not a glut but they have done excellent in the poly tunnel again
 I have pulled 14 cobs so far and there is still a few more
roasted in the green over a fire is the best way to enjoy them
Peas once again have done well this year, so far 18lb
 Unexpected crops of mushrooms from the poly tunnel were spent mushroom kits were emptied

 A couple of pickings a week
The Ross Cob meat chickens are coming on great, now 16 weeks old, they spend there time free ranging the fields, we had the second one to eat, oven weight was 5lb 10oz, it served us well, with a roast dinner, rissoto, a couple of lunches and I used the last of the meat for pies, chicken and mushroom ones, the carcass was made into stock.
 
 Tomatoes I thought I was going to loose them last week to blight, but prompt action seems to have saved them, so far we have picked 9lb

 Onions have done well this year, the brown onions were taken up over the week end,

 and have now joined the red and white onions on the drying rack
 An unexpected addition arrived on the ranch, he has been name The Bolt, he arrived soaked through and exhausted, I popped him in a cage where he would be safe and he tucked into some food, I traced his owner in Blackburn through the numbers on his rings, he was released up into the air after two days rest, later that day he arrived back again, he now spends his days hanging about with the doves then takes himself off to bed in the barn in the evening, looks like he has decided to stay.
Departures, we sold our two young does, now 5 months old, they were collected at the week end, our first livestock sold.

 That's the round up for August, lets see what September brings.