Thursday, 15 March 2018

Filling Time During The Freeze

Over the last cold spell the one that brought everything to a stand still, we had a session of going through the freezers and doing a bit of re organising.
 All the bags of fruit from last summer were pulled out
 Cranberry sauce was made
 Redcurrant Jelly was made
 The other fruit, Raspberries, Strawberries, Blackberries, Blueberries and Tayberries were mixed up and canned.
 Some of it is being eaten with waffles homemade yogurt and some of our honey for breakfast.
 Some of the strawberries went into muffins.
 There was a bag of roasted veg that go turned into soup
 Some cookie dough chocolate chips were added and cookies made.

 I got out my old stove top pressure cooker 
and did us some lamb shanks with mixed veg,
While surfing the internet for a recipe I kept seeing recipes for electric pressure cookers and some one had mentioned one in a group that Kev from  English Homestead 
and me run together on facebook.
So  had to look into these 

  and bought one.
It has a lot more facility's than the old stove top ones and I dont have to be around to watch it, it also has a timer so I can set it get on with my day and it will start up and cook dinner. 
First out of the pot, Rice Pudding
12 mins and ready to eat.
 Then it was the turn of an Indian meal, Butter Chicken with Cumin Spiced Potatoes, we both enjoy Indian food but its a bit of trek to have a decent one, cooking it at home can take ages with lots of stages This was produced in under and hour and it tasted just like the real thing.
 Then it was a Moroccan Meal, Goat Stew with Chickpeas and Rice again under an hour, the recipe was for a lamb stew but I substituted lamb for goat. It was really really tasty.
I am impressed with the ease of use.
The group that we run on Facebook is 
Its a new group and is for everyone from window box growers to farmers covering all topics including self sufficiency, cooking, growing, livestock, general on topic chat. 



Wednesday, 28 February 2018

Sheep's and Stuff

A lot of our time just lately has been spent with the sheep.
 4 months ago we had our six Hebrideans and one stray manky sheep that turned up on the drive, since then another 17 strays have arrived in dribs and drabs, so now we have a flock of 24 18 of which the owner has failed to collect, we have wormed them we have vaccinated them and last week we discovered two of them had signs of Scab, a mite that causes the fleece to drop off among other things. At the cost of £104 we have treated the whole flock.
I bought one of these for injections makes the job easier, it fastens to the bottle and all I have to do is stick the needle in and squeeze the trigger and it refills. As well as all the medications there has been extra hay and feed and we suspect a few of them are in lamb.
 Today we moved them all to the big field with the slope, There is still some grazing there for them,
 Also with the worst of the weather coming there is shelter there for them at the bottom of the slope.
 It has been cold and th ice on the water troughs needs smashing 3-4 times a day, but we are all prepared, extra straw bedding has going in to all the animal shelters, they all have extra hay, Martin has been down to the grit bins and brought some up to the end of the drive for us to use. Plenty logs stacked up beside the fires.
Plenty food and supplies in. 
 I picked the first of the daffodils that were just starting to open,

 Pots of soup have been made for lunches

 Breakfast has been waffles and warmed summer fruits with yogurt and honey
Strawberry and white chocolate muffins to have with a cuppa.
Today we took a break and headed down to the beach with the dogs
It was cold but lovely the beach was empty, we had hot chocolate with a bag of chips.
It was a chance to blow away the cobwebs before we hunker down, perhaps the weather has got it wrong.




Friday, 16 February 2018

Lots Going On

There has been a lot going on around the Ranch
 Frasier has moved out to his own paddock and bachelor pad
 He needed a friend of his own kind, so yesterday we headed out to collect Johnny, Fraiser was overjoyed with his room mate and the two of them gallop around the field
under the supervision of Odd Job
There is lots of activity in the Alpaca field 
yesterday the fencers arrived and set to work setting in posts
The big Alpaca field is being divided up into 4 paddocks, we can then rotate them and rest in between.
The sheep have been moving paddocks every week
once the fencing is done e are moving them into the big field were there will be plenty of space for them and grass for a good while.
The Architect has been out to discuss the building work we want to do, fingers crossed the kitchen will be done before the end of summer.
Thats it for now I need to catch up on some blogs.




Monday, 5 February 2018

Poly Tunnel Part 4

Poly Tunnel Maintenance and Pest Control,
 Your poly tunnel is an investment so you want to keep it in tip top growing condition, winter is a good time for overall cleaning, poly tunnels will get a build up of algae inside and out and the algae will reduce light levels so you need to clean it off, I use a sponge a soft hand brush and a car washing brush that you fix a hose to,

 along with and algae cleaner, 

its a messy job but a job that needs doing,get into all the corners and folds a lot of pests will overwinter in corners as well so wash them out, getting to apex as well, a tip I was given for cleaning the apex on the outside, A two person job get two old sheets or cut open an old duvet cover long wise wet it in your bucket of cleaner throw one end over the tunnel each take an end and using a sawing motion clean the top of the tunnel. Cleaning gives you an opportunity to see were any repairs might be needed, any holes you come across fix with repair tape dont leave them if the wind catches them your cover will rip, replace any hot spot tape that has come away from the frame, clear out rubbish plant debris these only become hiding places for pests, ventilation in winter is just as important, on fine days get the doors open.
 Growing organically is personal choice its a way of growing food I have always done, In each of the poly tunnels I have barrels of carnivorous plants and I am adding to my collection,

 because I am a plant addict. I love the way they will eat there way through pests, I do some companion planting to encourage beneficial insects and I use yellow stickies,

 keeping red spider mite down is done by raising humidity or Neem oil based spray, blight on tomatoes I grow heritage variety's and the first sign of blight I take off any infected leaves and spray with
 Bio Friend plant defense,

 I have sometimes had scale insects issues on the citrus trees I wash the leaves down and spray with 2 in 1 organic pest control 

or neem oil. Slugs I will snip in half with scissors if I see them also use slug traps, I leave spiders alone and flowers encourage lady birds lace wings bees, if I have to do any spraying I make sure I do it in the evening. Mice and rats I use traps not had any living in the poly tunnel but had some causing damage having a feast when passing through, The only chemical I use 

is Provado vine weevil killer and it is used on any pot of plants that are coming in to be over wintered in the poly tunnel, they are treated before coming in. I have tried Nematodes I find it a very expensive way of controlling pests with only some success, copper tape around pots or the base of staging legs help to deter slugs, Empty pots, trays and labels are washed, tools are cleaned over winter ready to go again.

Thursday, 1 February 2018

Dancing The Conga

That is what Frasier is doing
 After the first week working with rachet straps to get Frasier hoisted up we invested in an electric winch 
 we would roll him on his side do some physio on his legs, 
get the sling under him ( an adapted builders bag)
 attached the ropes that fed through the pulley's
 some of Martin's climbing gear was put to use to take up the slack ( I think they are called Jumars )
then the winch is attached and up he goes,
we would raise up enough so he could take weight on his feet
This whole process would take a couple of hours a time all other jobs were put on the back burner as we worked on average 6 hours a day with him and it was a two person job.
 we were doing this 3 times a day
 helping him to balance
 even the dogs were there to offer moral support
 we noticed something wrong with his front left leg the vet came and confirmed he had injured his shoulder probably at the time of the seizure all we could do was keep working with him and give physio.
 over the last few days we have been releasing the tension off the sling so he supports himself
 each time he would stand a little longer and even attempt a few steps.
Frasier on the morning of day 12 video
Then last night he got to his feet by himself a little wobbly but he did it, he hobbled around a bit then went down
 This morning he has got himself up several times 
Frasier has turned a big corner and all being well we will let him out into the paddock at the week end.