Monthly Archives: May 2011

School incubation project

Today is hatch day for the incubation project. I am very nervous! I’m popping up to the school at 1pm today. Last week the U3A came and did a drawing class, some really nice sketches of Mr D, I will upload shortly.



So I’ve just found on the Guardian website a new blog by our favourite mushroom man, John Wright. No mushrooms (yet) on this blog though (although we do have some shittake mushrooms now sprouting from a mushroom log my mum and dad gave us about 2 years ago which is ace, clearly a bit of neglect has done it good!), it’s all about homebrewing, mainly from forage.

This is the first post

Not sure about this, might give it a go anyway.

 and this is the second

which I’m hoping we will have time to try this weekend. And of course the elderflower is starting to appear now so a couple of warm days and we’ll be able to get out and get some cordial started.

Lucy Sitting

Just a quick note to say that Lucy seems to have started sitting on her ever increasing nest. She started yesterday and still seems to be on task. At the last count there were 11 eggs in there, which may be 12 by today. Clearly some of these are getting a little old but leaving the nest to get to this size seems to have convinced her it’s worth making some time in her busy schedule. We’ll see how it goes…

It would be great if she manages to produce some siblings to keep Orville (or Christmas Dinner as I have been advised is the correct term) company.

Soay Lamb Video Clips

A few clips I got on the bushcam, they were not having a very energetic afternoon, I’ll be trying again soon to get some better footage of them playing!

RSA Talk on Food Ethics

A great pod-cast on food ethics. Its 30 minutes long, but it is worth the time. It has made me feel emotional and made me think even more about this issue.

Jonathan Safran Foer is a vegetarian/ aspiring vegan who has written a book about the ethics of eating animals. He takes into consideration the whole process, breeding, and growing animals, the transport and slaughter and the effect on the environment. He makes some really interesting points about vegetarianism and sustainability of food. I feel his ideas about the journey to the moral decision being as important as the conclusion are really interesting. See 19:40.

He obviously has met some really interesting small farmers during the research for this book, which he terms as family farms. This seems to have tempered the view that the only way to engage with this issue on a meaningful level is to stop eating  (and therefore producing) meat.

I agree with almost all of what he says. I disagree with the idea that the small-scale farms are only to be promoted because the reality is that people will not want to stop eating meat, and this is the only way we can persuade them ” to occupy the hypocritical middle ground”.

I  (like many others) am not unable to stop eating meat. I eat meat because I believe that small-scale sustainable mixed farming is the future. Animal manure is a key part of the nitrogen cycle. To produce manure in enough quantity to add back the soil fertility that you take every time you harvest a vegetable, you need to keep a lot of animals (or very big ones). They are part of the equation that keeps the land and soil in balance. John Seymour writes very beautifully on this topic and more recently Hugh FearnleyWhittingstall  has added some insightful view in his book ‘Meat’.  I have grown and used green manures, and they simply do not compare in terms of nitrogen. They can be part, but not all of the solution. Many areas of land are unsuitable for growing crops, but can be used for growing hardy livestock.

I have written about this before on this blog, but I applaud the fact that this podcasts focus on the important issue of animal welfare, sustainability and humane local slaughter rather than on the conclusion of the arguments: ‘do you eat meat or not’.

This has led me to draw up the first draft of the Sencemeadow charter, I will post this in another blog, once I have had a chance to share it with Becky.


Pasture Moves

Quick record of this weekend:

Pasture moves first:

1. Bunnies all moved to the top corner of the pasture nearest the gate, within electric fencing not attached

2. Runners moved in to the same area as the bunnies to give poor Vita a break from Linford the Pest and also to give the muscovies chance to produce pure muscovy eggs rather than eggs fertile with a bizarre runner/muscovy cross

3. Virgina and the ducklings moved accross to the chicken area along with Helena and the gosling (growing by the day visibly, Helena already frustrated at the lack of scratching behaviour by the gosling)

And also, Compost bin 2 remainin compost turned and whole bin filled with tops of 1 and 3. This bin will be covered and left. The remainder of bin 3 has been turned and filled with the remaining usable compost from bin 2 and will b our usable bin. The remainder of bin 1 has been turned and will be our filling bin. Bin 4 is being covered and left as well.

Plus, a bit of a tidy up of the polytunnel and some re-potting on of squash, planting up of tomatoes, cape goosberries and a sweet potato plant bought from the garden centre. Some basil plants also bought and planted in the the poly as the ones we tried from seed didn’t germinate. More kale plants also bought to fill in some gaps in the main outside beds. Beans effected by frost a week or so ago replaced with some others we started from seed and have been hardening off.

Also a bit of video of the lambs taken with camera, but need to filter footage for endless hours of the sheep sleeping…

Hatching goose eggs under a chicken and duckling hatch

As you can see from our lovely pictures, the poultry maternity ward has been very busy. Virginian hatched 13 ducklings two days a go. She ended up with 2 unhatched, and 2 dead at or near hatch, so that left 13 healthy little feathered balls. She is highly delighted to be out of the broody box after 38 days!! I am highly delighted to not have her flying at me in a rage every time I open the box to check her well-being.  

The real news story is Helena the wonder chicken who had hatched a gosling! She started out with 4 eggs, 1 was disposed of at candling stage and the last two seem nt to hae developed either, so she has ended up with one. It is very cute and fluffy. She seems a little run down after 28 days in a broody box but she it in and drinking well, so hopefully it wont take her long to build her strength back up. We didn’t intervene at all during the process or with the hatch.

The goosling looks very strong and is already grazing.

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