Sunday, April 27, 2014

The boys are in town.

It has been two weeks now that we have had a buck hanging out with my 3 does.  If you have never come across a male goat during the breeding season let me warn you that they stink!  If you have a sensitive nature maybe don't read the first paragraph.
They really are quite disgusting and I'm glad I'm not a goat.  Their mating ritual is fascinating but is really pretty gross with frequent urination, sniffing, snorting, pawing at the ground, biting and so on.  Fortunately we have borrowed this buck off a friend so in a month or so he will leave and take his smell with him.  It is so pungent I can smell him as I walk out the path to their paddock, and it lingers on you even if you have done your best not to touch him.  The interesting thing is that for about half the year they are completely different animals, lose the smell and the desire to urinate on anything that walks once the does are in kid!  It will be more that worth it though when we have some kids arrive in September.

"Spot" the boy!  Hoping Shadow gives my girls some spotty babies in spring.

We also had a ram arrive on loan from my sister and brother-in-law on April 17 - my birthday.  Pretty cool present and a sign that my priorities have changed since we have moved to the country.  Birthday presents have included decent gumboots the first year, a solar electric fence unit in the second year, and for the last couple of years we have used the services of one of my sisters old rams before they become dog tucker.  What a great way to go out!!!  This year we are hoping all 13 ewes will lamb, which is 2 more ewes that last year.  Our pet lamb from our first year, as well as 3 other two tooths, are out with the ram this year so it feels like we are making progress when are replacing the old ewes and building up our flock.  To be honest lambing around 12 ewes is probably enough at the moment.

Our three steers are growing and are cleaning up the rough grass the sheep have left behind.  We had a great debate about what to call them when they first arrived.  After much discussion we came up with Schnitzel von Steer (think Hairy Maclairy and Schnitzel von Krumm), Centre Steer (reference to the Land Rover) and Freddy Steer (Fred Astaire).  They are not pets, but with a 6 year old animals tend to get names.  Miss 6 is aware that we will sell two and one will end up in the freezer, and we have been through similar processes with our pigs Teddy and Salami, and an old ewe known as Mutton Ham! 

Freddy and Centre relaxing in the sun.
It has been quite an education for her as she learns where food comes from.  That was something we were hoping would come from living on a farmlet and that certainly has been the case.  While we have a long way to go on our journey to great self reliance/ self sufficiency/sustainability whatever term you use, we are increasingly providing more from our own property.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

It's raining, it's pouring...

Another month has flown by and it is time for an update for the Garden Share Collective.  Well the weather man was right. It is raining and is expected to last over the next few days. It has been a lovely sunny autumnal week and I am not complaining about the rain.  It saves me watering, although I had hoped to pick some Black boy peaches and do some preserving so I guess I will have to brave the weather to collect them.

In other happenings my coffee grinds do seem to be keeping slugs and snails at bay so my kale, brussel sprouts and broccoli might stand a chance.  The strange cold/hot/cold/hot weather has caused one of my broccoli plants to go straight to seed with the first shoot it produced.  It is a sprouting variety so hopefully I still get some from it.

The tomatoes are ripening well now on the Sweet 100's, and I have managed to salvage a few Peasgood Nonsuch apples that the birds did not eat!!

There is a good crop again on the Medlar tree and this year I have been more organised and covered the tree to keep the birds away and hopefully increase the amount of fruit I will pick in late May/June.  Medlar is an ancient fruit that has a lovely blossom and unusual looking fruit.  The other odd thing about it is that it needs to "blet", a process that basically sees the fruit start to rot, before you use it.  This year I will be making another bottle or two of Medlar liqueur (medlars steeped in vodka for 6 months), and also some cordial.  You can also make Medlar Jelly, in a similar way to Quince jelly.  I have made the liqueur before and it is delicious, like a fruity cordial but with punch.  It definitely has an apple/pear sort of flavour and is really yummy.  I'm looking forward to indulging in an alcoholic beverage over the summer as I'll probably be finished feeding bubs by the time the liqueur is ready.

My Mum has been keeping us in Courgettes after the slugs ate my plants.  My husband is not a big fan but I have discovered he doesn't mind when it is in a chocolate cake.  We have been eating lots, and I have also used the same recipe to make muffins which I have put in the freezer so the glut is not wasted.

I have been digging the potatoes as I need them.  Last year I cleared an area in the vegetable garden, spaced out some sprouting potatoes and covered them with pea straw.  I left them alone until now and we are enjoying some nice tasty potatoes.  It is the ultimate in lazy gardening but worked well as I was 8 months pregnant when I was planting them so I wasn't looking for anything too labour intensive!

In the next month I plan to continue work on berries and currants area.  I have been clearing tussock grasses in an area of the garden to set up my compost bins and also plant some raspberries and more currant cuttings.  I have been feeding the tussocks to the goats, much to their delight. 

I have a buck turning up on Monday to hang out with my 3 does for a while, so fingers crossed we will have kids in September.  We are borrowing a ram from my sister as well so we will be lambing about the same time as kidding.

My to do list for April
  • Clear more tussock grasses for compost area and berry/currant garden.  This is an ongoing project as there are some Silver Birches to be removed before it will be completely finished but at the moment I am getting the compost sorted and taking some cuttings of my existing bushes.
  • Preserve Blackboy peaches - fruit in syrup, stewed, jam, fresh in my tummy.....
  • Wage war on weeds in the vege beds
  • I also want to get some mulch down on the flower beds to reduce weeds in the spring.
How did I do for March?
I started digging the potatoes as we need them.
Hazelnut suckers removed and some hazelnuts appearing on the tree.
Cuttings taken and some more to be taken for berry/currant garden.

All in all not bad considering the month flew by and my bouncing baby boy is now 18 weeks old.