It’s been a hard weekend this weekend. We have dispatched another Muscovy and the killing is beginning to get to me. I think this lot has been harder because we haven’t done them all as a batch, we have done them one at a time and wecstill have 5 left. I have said to Becs that I think I need to do them all in one day, otherwise I end up having to kill something almost every weekend. 😦 It’s not that I think it’s wrong, but obviously it is stressful and unpleasant for me. We do all we can to ensure it isn’t stressful for them. It has made me question it, as it all feels so uneccasary, but I think this is just a wobble. The reality of meat production on a day to day basis is very different to just buying it in a supermarket. I spose it is inevitable that I will feel something, I spose that’s the point.
Monthly Archives: September 2010
So, when we did the calculation of when Virginia’s 12 eggs were due to hatch, and given that last time the calculation seemed to be a little short, i.e. they actually hatched in 38 days-ish rather than 35, we predicted a hatchling outbreak this weekend. However, clearly Virginia had other ideas because yesterday evening when I went to top up her food, she was cheeping more than usual and standing up slightly in her box. I rushed in there, expecting the worst, that a rat had got in somehow, or something similar, and was completely taken aback when I lifted the lid to find a bunch of yellow fluffies cheeping and staring back up at me. Following the inital amazement at how we could have been so wrong with the date, we had a good check over to find (yes another amazing thing), that all 12 eggs had hatched! Go Virgina (and Orlando and Vita)! Great bunch they are 🙂 Hopefully they will all continue to grow healthily into our next gaggle of meat muscovies. Yay!
So a couple of bunny related episodes to relay. The first being that we went ferreting for the first time in a while the weekend before last with A&S. Lovely day out in the sun in the Northamptonshire countryside, and my first go with an air rifle. Very successful too, I got both the o and the e of the coke can. No pigeons though, which was the point of taking it really. Only one bunny too, we worked some fairly large warrens and don’t have quite enough nets to cover the holes. Wild bunnies have an amazing knack of knowing which ones aren’t covered. We were down a ferret really too as we discovered a lump on albino boy’s neck so wanted to take it easy with him. Still awaiting the biopsy results from the vet on that, hoping it’s a gland rather than a tumour 😦 On the plus side, he seems chipper and entirely unbothered by it at the moment, so whatever it is it doesn’t seem to be causing him any discomfort.
Oh, we also discovered a shedload of shaggy parasol mushrooms, I think it is going to be a good season for mushrooms this year. Tasty.
And the second bit of news is that Flo successfully delivered 6 baby bunnies on Friday night. She seems absolutely fine and fairly relaxed about us checking her and them over. They are like little soft furry pink jumping jelly beans! They have teeny tiny bunny ears which has oddly surprised us. I had it in my mind that they would grow later, having only really seen newly born mice before. We are delighted at the number she has managed with her first litter and hope they all continue to thrive. Flo is eating manically at the moment to keep up with the feeding. We are trying not to interfere too much at the moment but once they are a little older we’ll get some pictures posted.
On Wednesday night we dipatch our first Muscovy drake. The birds had been growing for three months, and are now at near adult weight. It was very quick and I don’t think he had a clue anything bad was going to happen, so he was very calm. Always a sad day. However, I am pleased with the quality of the meat that we have raised, and this is the first birds to be bred, hatched and raised at Sence Meadow. He came out at a very respectable carcus weight of 1.7kgs which makes a nice roasting bird for two with enough scrap for another meal, or a Sunday roast for 4. We are going to try growing the rest of the stock on for a few more weeks. This one was very tender, so it will be an interesting comparision.
The birds are not at all greesy like normal duck, we practically had no roasting fat in the pan at all. The meat is lean, dark and mild. It does taste like a cross between duck and beef. It is very nice. It did take an age to pluck and prepare, but we have steralised the feathers (in the oven) for later use.
Without taking into the consideration the cost of feeding, worming and a few other costs, I wanted to work out how much meat we might expect from our Soays and how that compares to the slaughter costs. It seems from a quick piece of research that a ewe’s live weight is around 25kg. I have also found some postings that suggest that hanging weight is around 60% of live weight. So we can assume boned meat to be about 12kgs from each ewe. The slaughter cost is about £25 not including petrol, which gives us meat cost of about £2 per KG. This compares well to supermarket organic meat which is more like £5 – £15 per kg.
I dont; think we will have tonnes of meat from two ewes, but it will be plenty for us to sample. We should have some to sell if we get a decent lambing percentage next year, which will be exciting. The lambs will take a year to fatten, so it might be Spring 2012 before we are selling any Sencemeadow lamb, but we should be able to recoop some expenses this way.
Today we picked up our little starter flock of Soays. I love them already, they are tiny. It’s difficult to scale them from the picture but they are no bigger than a Labrador. Mini-sheep.
We have bought 4 ewes 1 ram and 2 lambs. The lambs we will be fatten and probably slaughtered by the end of the year, but the others are here to stay.
They travelled really well and so far have been no trouble.
One of the best things about the smallholding is keeping muscovy ducks, as i said earlier, I am a huge fan. Virginia and Orlando have done it again. Last night, under the coverof darkness, Becs and I crept out and lifted V off of her nest to candle the eggs. This involves shinning a bright light through the egg to see what is happening inside. ALL OF THEM ARE DEVELOPING A DUCKLING. Those ducks are so reliable and simple, I love keeping them. So we hav another 12 eggs on the way, which is a result this late in the season.
On a more unpleasant note, Linford, our runner duck drake, got his leg tangled in a loose piece of weed supresant membrain. (A thread-like piece had come away from the main fabric), this happened on the day we returned from our holiday, so he must have been trapped for a day. We freed him as soon as we found him and isolated him in the hosital arc, his leg was brused and sore, but thankfully not damaged. Today he is up and about again and looking like he will make a full recovery. I feel awful, but at least he is O.K, we will have to be more careful about the threads around the edge of the pasture, and make sure he can;t get himself in that mess again.
We are going to pick up the sheep this Saturday, so that should be exciting. Photos to follow.