Monthly Archives: November 2010

Becky cant stop making spreadsheets

Check out Becky’s latest planning spreadsheets on our new planning page ( links at the top). Looks like we will have 30 Muscovys to sell between July and August 2011. Place your pre-orders here!


Catching Soay Sheep

Today we caught the lambs who are going off for meat tomorrow. We had read loads of stuff about how difficult it is to catch Soays and every sheepy person we have spoken to sucked their teeth and shook their head at the thought of catching these little wild criters.

I have been worrying about this for months, so we both took the afternoon off to make some time and space for a stress free catch. We have been feeding them in a catch pen, so the plan was to stand as close as we could and then flip the pen closed when the lambs were in. Which worked fine except one managed to squeeze passed me. So to catch the other one, we use a non connected piece of electric netting and slowly made the space smaller and smaller until they were back in the catch pen.

The whole process took an hour, but I do think it was wise to allow plenty of time to keep the stress low for them and us.

D day tomorrow, off to the abatoir for the first time.

The first snow fall

Today was the first time we have had snow on the plot. Not a huge amount, but at least an inch. Snow causes a couple of problems on a smallholding like ours. Firstly if snow is in contact with the bottom of the electric fence, it shorts, making it less effective, or even useless. Also the water freezes in the animal drinkers and in the water pipes, which means we have to carry it from the house. So, we spent an hour thus morning clearing snow from the bottom of the fence. We also have decided to keep our spare drinkers inside the house and just swop them over every morning, which means even if it dies freeze, everyone will have a chance of getting a big drink in the middle of the day. I may also put some drinkers inside the houses as well.

We are having to provide hay fir the sheep and bunnies, as the snow makes grazing more difficult.

It’s really easy to buy loads of stock in the spring and summer without thinking about how much more difficult it will be in the winter. I don’t think we went too mad, but if I could have a word with my March 2010-self, I would say “Don’t get geese yet and don’t buy the Indian runners, you’ll have enough to do”. I don’t think Becs would agree, but that’s part of our problem, we are as bad as each other. E.g ” I been thinking, maybe we should get an elephant”!

Muscovy ducks as a cash crop

Just been having a think about how to produce a cash crop for next year and I am most confident about Muscovy meat. I am considering having a go at cold smoking and selling two large Muscovy duck breast steaks for £7.99 a packet, as a high end gourmet meat.

They costs us around £4 a bird to raise. Selling them as steaks means that we can skin rather than pluck, and we can use the offal and off cuts for our own purposes. If we produce 40 ducks in the year, this gives us £160 cash crop to pay for other feeds.

Goosey goosey lay a little egg for me

Well it’s nearly December and my Geese seem to think it’s spring??? I’m not sure why but they are mating and laying eggs. This is not unheard of but they are usually a bit later than this. We really don’t want goslings yet, as they mainly graze and the grass at this time of year isn’t right for them. It’s much cheaper to raise them in the spring. So we are hoping she will have enough eggs left by January to start sitting. Geese normally lay between 40 and 60 eggs a year at the rate of one every other day, so you can do the maths. We ate the egg this morning, one is plenty for both is us to have fried egg on toast.

PVC Spinning Wheel

DIY Spinning Wheel

I’m going to have a crack at making a spinning wheel. Mum and me went on a little spinning course a few weeks ago and I now really want to learn. Also…my inner gromit hasn’t had an outing for a while (well since my pop hole opening device).

So watch this space I will upload pictures soon.

When the produce ran out

It’s now the middle of November and I wanted to log how the produce is going. We haven’t really bought any veg since May. We still have Kale, Swiss Chard, Leek and Butternut squash. We have finished all of our onions and have frozen no veg for the winter. We have just about finished the berries that we have frozen, but still have a few bags of plums.

I think we will run out of Butternut squash by December, we should have Leeks till January and I think the Kale and Chard should also last that long. Which means this year we may end up having very little in January, Feb and March. Next year, we need to plant more onions, more storing bakable potatoes and more storing squash plants. We could also plant more Kale and Chard.