Sunday, 11 November 2012

An Alternative Blog

We are all enjoying the blog we have recently 'discovered' written by friend and mentor Anne, of Anne and Simon. It's on and describes their own small-holdering efforts and other adventures. The latest episode is entitled "Samhain" (it's pronounced Sow-uhn with the sow being the female pig variety, not the distribution of seeds) which is the pagan pre-Christian feast of November, safely gathered in and all that. That's how we are all feeling at present as the weather turns a bit wetter and occasionally frosty. We are glad we have our log store full. We are also enjoying the fact that despite the awful wet, cool summer and our late start to the season, the allotment and Kitchen Garden are pumping out some decent crops at present.

 We are especially amazed by the parsnips coming out of the raised beds in the kitchen garden. These have turned out to have quite sandy soil in, probably because the 'fruit cake' loam we barrowed in has now had most of the smaller fraction and humus washed out of it by all the rain. Anyway it suits the parsnips which are coming out a foot long and 2 inches across, with 2 feet of greenery on top and completely free from canker and any slug damage. They are the best parsnips I have grown including all the Kent allotment years. The carrots are clean and healthy too, all be it shorter and we are eating regular cuttings of curly kale, chard and 3 kinds of cabbage. The broad beans and peas are finally finished, knocked back by the frost, so have been cut down and the roots left in the soil to rot down and release their nitrogen nodules.

As well as the fresh produce, Liz has lately got into baking, so the 'safely gathered in' feeling is also happening in the fridge, which is quite often stuffed with left over portions of meat pies, Danish Apple cake and, more recently, lemon biscuits and bacon biscuits, Nigel Slater cakes and mince pies. We approve!

Although we are well off for logs, John Deere Bob has suggested we go logging with his tractor around the bits of the (12 acre) farm we didn't buy, in search of ash trees (of which there are many in the hedgerows round these parts). Obviously this land still belongs to the Three Sisters so we have contacted Vendor Anna L who is happy enough as long as we only take the free standing ash, nothing from actual hedges. That suits us, as there is a short stand-alone row of half a dozen coppiced trees near to the NW corner of the farm which may once have been a hedge but is now not connected to anything at either end. With that in mind I got the chainsaw out today and sharpened up the teeth, then used it to clear up a few stumps and left-over bits, mainly to top up the log store.

In the animals department, the sheep look heftier by the day and will soon be coming to the day for their little trip to Cunniffe's of Ballaghaderreen or possibly another slaughterman-butcher in Castlerea pointed out to us by Mentor Anne. We have therefore been in touch with plasterer and our original supplier of sheep, Kenny O'C who is going to come and inspect the sheep, make the decision and then haul the ladies to meet their fate; he has a sheep trailer. We do not yet. We are not sure if he was joking but he suggested that the best way to weight them would be to climb on the bathroom scales, then grab a sheep and climb on with that. I joked with him that I didn't think I'd be able to lift one and even if I could and it would stop wriggling, the combined weight of me and a 50 kg (we hope) lamb might be too much for the scales. He insists that he's not joking and says they used to do it regularly back home, grabbing the animals they thought were the heaviest and lightest. He's round this week. I will enjoy watching him try! We have also driven round to the Cunniffe's slaughter-house to see how the land lies and find out the procedure. We then went to Cunniffe's actual shop to order Christmas turkeys etc and came away with some good bones for the dogs to teeth on.

The rabbits are coming up to weaning (if they are not weaned already) so Mum (Padfoot) will soon be returned to her sister and 'boyfriend', Ginny and Rogers. The babies are putting on weight fast and look, to our eyes, bigger at 4 and a half weeks, than Rogers did at 10 weeks. Despite the colouring of the brown bunny, which looks a lot like Rogers, we therefore now think that these may indeed be children of Anne's meat-breed buck, Peter, the New Zealand White. He has 'thrown' children in all colours from wild-rabbit through all the whites, browns and blacks despite his whiteness. If that's the case and the three buns are going to become nice, heavy, meaty animals then we are not too upset that our effort to sell them as pets through the on-line classified ads website have so far yielded no fruit.

The chickens are growing too, sprouting tails and wings with real feathers. They are only 3 weeks old at this stage and it will be another 3 weeks before they are fully feathered. They are therefore kept indoors in their hutch which unfortunately means Mum must stay in there with them but we are getting hold of a cat and rat proof 6 foot by 4 run to give them all a chance to stretch their legs in the calf house without getting rained on.

Once they are fully feathered we may be able to let them all out on nice days to run with the main flock and William but we are concerned that once released we may not be able to round them up again so it's going to be a bit hairy.

That's it really at the moment. The 2CV still sits in the garage getting its kingpins (front steering/suspension parts) changed prior to its NCT re-test, now booked for the 20th, the sheep continue to expand their horizons into the east field, Liz stayed up all night for the USA Elections and we are hardly daring to whisper that we have not had any puppy poo or pee to clear up indoors for a couple of days now..... shhhhh!


1 comment:

Anne Wilson said...

We are so jealous of your parsnips, as soon as ours germinated the bl---y slugs ate them, at one time I think we were feeding all the slugs in Co.Roscommon.