general diary

snow march 2013 030


DSCN0068So, we have got ourselves a new camera to try to take some photos of all the goings on on the smallholding and update the blog.

We decided to test the camera with Blotchy’s latest litter of kittens.  Blotchy the barn cat has now become Blotchy the house cat, as she disappeared during a cold snap while she was pregnant.

When she came back to the barn it became apparent that she was terrified of the baby goats, and I was worried that she would try to have her babies outside and lose them in the cold. So……..we decided to bring her home until she had had her kittens.  That was about 2 months ago, and I don’t think she has even looked out of the window yet.  She is completely contented at home and has produced a litter of 3 kittens.


Having the kittens at home has been a totally different experience to having them at the barn, and they have kept us endlessly entertained.

After an hour of chasing kittens left, right and centre, rescuing them from behind the furniture, disentangling ourselves from the octopus – like grip of tiny legs and claws and trying to persuade all three of them to sit in the same place at the same time WITHOUT fighting, all the while trying to coax the new camera to take photos when I asked it to, NOT three seconds later as it appeared to want to do.  After an hour of sheer frustration, I handed the camera to the apprentice who produced three shots, apparently with ease!  Admittedly she cheated and took individual shots, not the group shot that I was aspiring to but, as you can see, she made a pretty good go of it!


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Well, this has been a longer break than anticipated but so much has been happening I just haven’t had the time to sit down and type.  I am afraid there are no photos just yet as the camera is in hospital.

We ended up with 6 goat kids – 2 female and 4 male.  We had some exciting times with kidding this year – they all kidded earlier than expected (must have done my maths wrong there).  One of them had twins which we nearly lost to cold (some rapid work to warm them up and get them feeding) and another mum put her kid in a draught, he got chilled and, despite frantic efforts, we were too late to revive him.

The goats are all out on the summer grazing now and loving it.  They are always so much calmer when they are out for the summer than when they are confined in the bad weather.

The hens and ducks are laying well and, now that so many people are selling eggs at the gate, I was struggling to sell all my eggs while they were still fresh.  So, because I have lots of spare time on my hands (note the sarcasm here) I decided to get pro-active and visit the local market.  There is someone else selling chicken eggs there so that wasn’t an option, but I can sell the duck eggs there and I have started a stall selling “value added” eggs.  Cream meringues, lemon meringue pie, custard tarts, scotch eggs, lemon curd – anything that uses up the eggs.  I have had a very good first few weeks and am now looking to expand my range and also find things that I will be able to make when the eggs dry up later in the year.  Because it is a very small market, I don’t want to duplicate anything that other people are already doing so it might be a bit of a struggle to find other products to make.

The garden is completely on hold for this year other than a few bits and pieces. I have decided that, this year, I have so much work to do on fences etc that didn’t get finished last year that this year I must focus on this.

And of course – we had SNOW!!!    The apprentice and I both love snow, and we had enough to get out and enjoy, without it going on forever and becoming a nuisance.  The ponies and goats were all in through the bad weather so I was content that all the animals were OK so we were able to get out and make the most of it.  Photos to follow in another post as there are millions 🙂

Both of the cats have had kittens (Blotchy has had 3 and Splat 4) who are now just at the delightful “just out of the nest and starting to explore” stage.  I’m almost tempted to go and buy a new camera just so that I can post photos of them!

I think that’s most things covered – as soon as the camera comes back I will catch up with all the baby photos.



Just a few short weeks and we can look forward to lots more of these 

At this time of year, all the animals need a little extra care to see them through the winter. Once anything they might steal is out of the garden in the Autumn, the hens are left out to completely free-range. During the laying season they are locked into their run overnight and during the morning to lay and let out to free-range at lunchtime. Being completely free range in the winter means that they have the full benefit of being able to scrat about wherever they feel the need, plenty of exercise and it means that they aren’t confined to their run when it turns muddy.

feeding hens in winter

We like to give our hens a nice hot breakfast.

Each evening we bring the bucket of poultry food home from the barn with us. It stays on the floor in the kitchen and any vegetable peelings, fat from frying etc go in the top of the bucket, along with a good dollop of vegetable oil.

When I make my coffee in the morning I boil enough water to soak the poultry food, give it a good stir and its ready by the time we go out the door to the barn.

When there are lots of veg peelings say at Christmas, Then I boil up the peelings first and then add them with the water to the mash.

The chickens love this hot mash and always come running out as soon as they see the barn lights go on

Click here to tell us what you do you for your hens in the winter

goats for blog april 01 2012 030


Well, another new year as we welcome in 2013, making fresh resolutions to torment ourselves with in the coming months.

Having failed many, many times to keep all my resolutions, this year I have changed my view of  them.  I am not going to make lots of “I’m going to change my life” resolutions!  Instead I am going to make lots of small goals:  I am going to do another “show” with the animals,  I am going to learn to make soap, I am going to grow something new in the garden.  I can tick them off as I go and, instead of “failing” 2 weeks into the year, I can spend the year ticking off my small achievements!  Much more satisfying I think!

What are your goals going to be for 2013?


Share you goals with us here>


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