Saturday 30 June 2018

Sun, Water and Solar.

Using The Sun 
We have no shortage of it at the moment although I would love us to have good day of rain.

The dogs are being sensible staying in the cool of the kitchen Tess likes to stretch out in front of the fan, Sol lies in the long grass in the shade of the house, the other livestock tend to stay in the shade very sensible.
 There is plenty of tree shade around, 
This has been the temperature 6pm in the evening, a change in routine has taken place, we are up at 5am all animal chores are done early, including poly tunnels, garden, foraging for the goats I can then be indoors by 10am before the heat gets to much, I dont venture outside much again until 4pm and we get finished at about 9pm with dinner outside, 
The Rayburn has been out and we cook outside on the BBQ, fire pit or I cook dinners in the electric pressure cooker, of course lots of salads are on the table as well.
The Rayburn heats our water as well, we have an electric shower so thats not a issue and the washing machine works on a cold fill.

I have been putting the solar kettle to use, I got this about 10 years ago and it has paid for itself many times over
 It takes about 45mins from cold
 To reach boiling point
I put boiling water into the thermal jugs and we use it for washing up, also for a cuppa. We are getting more than enough boiling water for our needs.

 Water is a bit of an issue at the moment
 We have 19 IBC tanks that are used for rain water collection that is used in the poly tunnels and for the livestock,
 each tank holds 1,000 lt, 
We have just had our water bill in for the last 6 months £49 cant complain at that.
we bought in extra ones this year and now all but 1tank has run dry, this means a lot of hauling water for the animals 3 times a day, we got a couple of extra hoses and have re filled the tanks for the animals from our mains supply, and moving water to the far end fields with the water pump fixed up to the generator.

A bit of equipment we invested in earlier this year that has also proved to be a worthwhile investment. 
Even I can use it. 
The remaining tank we have I have been using for the poly tunnels but that will run dry after this week end, I do watering in the evening and only do it twice a week for the things in the ground using half a tank for each tunnel. 
The solar powered fan I got the poly tunnel has been running every day and want to get one for the other tunnel now.
Now the sweet corn is forming it needs pollinating and the fan is doing a great job creating a breeze through the tunnel. 
The forecast for the next week more sunshine. 


Tuesday 19 June 2018

The Milky Bar Kids

Those kids grow fast and become more bouncy with it
 I spend time almost every day, collecting branches and forage to decorate the climbing frame, this way the kids learn to climb building up there muscles and balance skills along with problem solving.
This time of year fresh foraged greens are a major part of there diet as well as the mamma's, they need to make the most of it before winter returns and fresh forage is sparse.
 Now the kids are less dependent on there mums we can now separate them at night, much to the relief of the mums, they never have objections to there youngsters being put behind bars at night, I am sure they secretly sigh and think at last peace and quiet.
 The start of the weaning process opens up the milk bar for us, we never take off milk until we start weaning. 
over winter the milking machine was given a god service, new pipes and a new milking cluster.

 As Enid has come into milk she was also put up on the milking stand, she was fine about it
A little twitchy when the cluster went on but she has now got use to it, she isn't producing as much as the mamas who have kidded, we get about a pint off her.

We only milk in the morning and are getting 7-8 pints a day. 
Looks like I will have to get making some dairy products again. 

Thursday 14 June 2018

The Wooly Gang

Sheep are crafty little so and so's and always scheming, I also find them very noisy when they see you they holler for attention.
The day that little compost hatched the sheep were planning a surprise too, this time it was Tuffty, so called because she has a tufty Mohican on her forehead.
Here she is can you see what she has done
No here is another photo 
Now you can see the fluffy cowpat in the grass
Yes Tuffty produced a surprise lamb, I went to do the morning feed round and this is what I discovered
Little lamb arrived during the night was already up and feeding and dry and clean.
Tuffty was a first timer and managed all by herself, she was now behaving very smug about the whole thing.
and being the proud mum she showed off her daughter to the other half of the woolly gang who live in the next field.
One of the reasons for getting Hebridean sheep is they come into season in November and you can have a ram run with them all year, I don't think ours read the book properly or someone was  playing hooky from school that day.
Then there is Miss Hairy Chest
 Like a few of the ladies she decided to undress but she wasn't being elegant about it, she unzipped her fleece down the back and was trailing it everywhere, I took her in hand and plucked her I couldn't get round to her chest area as I was holding her by her handlebar horns at the time.
 She just had to sport a hairy chest until shearing.
Which took place a couple of days ago.
 Starting with Randy the Ram
Of course we made another discovery during shearing although, I had a suspicion, 
Tuffty wasn't the only one who played hooky from sheep school that day.
This young lady having a pee is bagging up and due to deliver any day.
 Randy who is pictured here has a lot to answer for, we now know what he was up to during that cold snap we had. 
The rest of the woolly gang got sheared the other day too
here is a short video of Odd Job being sheared watched over by the others. 
 They also have there teeth filed down if needed and a pedicure.
 And the result after
 Pipe Cleaner Alpacas.
The others are at the back of field lining up for a roll in the dust bath. 






Tuesday 12 June 2018

The Story Of Little Compost and Friends

There has been so much going on I will need to do posts over the next few days to bring everything up to date, but I am going to start with telling you about little Compost 
 Little Compost was once an egg sitting in the incubator with lots of eggs, something was not going right with the hatching, first it was the chicks from our own eggs, only two hatched,
a week later the ducklings were due to hatch Little Compost was in that batch
The first little duckling hatched and I popped it in with the two chicks while it waited for some friends to arrive.
A week went by and there was no friends. These three were named, Hear No, See No and Speak No, the three wise chicks.
I cleared out the incubator and threw the eggs in the compost heap.
A couple of days later I was emptying the tea bag caddie in the compost heap and spotted one of the eggs had pipped, I was annoyed with myself thinking it must have started to pip when I threw them away, it had been there for two days.
I started to peel back the shell and 
the little duckling was still alive !!!
 Quick dash back to the house, set up the incubator and popped the egg in

 Evening time and little Compost broke free of his shell, to be honest I didn't hold out much hope he lay there all curled up 
I went off to bed leaving him in the incubator  
 Next morning Little Compost was all fluffed up and on his feet so he joined the others in the brooder.
 A week on and Little Compost is still doing well, spending some time in the sunshine with his friends,
 Last Night, Speak No and Little Compost got separated from the chicks and moved into there own brooder I don't want ducklings and chicks growing up with identity issues.
While this was all going on one of the Hens went broody
 I collected a dozen mixed eggs off a friend and
Mrs Broody was popped into the small hutch with the eggs. 
I also picked up some day old Ross Cobbs to be raised for the table 
They are growing so fast they have now been moved outside to the other brooder and only have heat at night. 
Last month Mr & Mrs Dove hatched out a little one, who has since fledged another egg was laid ans yesterday it hatched I have not seen it yet but the egg shell is on the ground, Mrs Dove is still sitting tight. 
Lots of hatching new additions along with a bit of drama.
Something else happened the day Little Compost hatched I will tell you about it tomorrow. 


Monday 4 June 2018

Something Fishy Going On

Its been a busy couple of weeks and the sun continues to shine.
Bank Holiday week end saw us take delivery of something special

 The aquaponic tank was getting a delivery of fish 
Water test was done and everything was perfect for our arrivals.
we still had some resident crayfish in the tank and goldfish were there, the tank was ready to go.

Our new arrivals, Unable to get the trout we settled on Tilapia fingerlings,  not the best of photos but they are only small and very fast so its difficult to get a proper photo of them, a week on and there is a difference in there size already, all being well by Autumn we should have them at table size.
 The growing bed has exploded into growth
 A few carnivorous plants have been added to help with pest control. 
Another bit of fishy news
Martin has been away this week end with his boat on a diving trip to N.Wales
He got home last night with some additions
 Spider Crabs
 And some brown crabs that they had already cooked but were left over from there lunch. 
It was always part of the plan Martin would use his boat to supplement our diet.
Foraging at its best.
When we were viewing smallholdings we specifically wanted to be within easy traveling of the sea. 
It looks like Lobster is on the menu for tonights dinner, the crabs will be cooked and the meat frozen for future meals.