Monthly Archives: September 2011

Pair of Geese for Sale

Two unrelated geese for sale. Will make a lovely breeding pair. Medium weight Ebdem / Toulose cross types. Very tame, will eat out of your hand. £30 each or £55 for the pair. Use the contact us tab or add a comment below for more info. This years goslings.


Muscovy duck sitting too long

Virginnia had been sitting for 43 days and no ducklings had hatch, so we took the hard descion to turf her off the eggs. She waddled around for a few days looking sad but now seems to be helping Vita look after her brood. Why didn’t they hatch? I looked at the eggs, they had developed but not all the way, maybe we had a too hot day or too cold night, not sure what to do next time to stop this happening. Suggestions welcome.

Forest Garden and Pasture Management

Yesterday the tree protectors arrived so I spent the day putting them on the trees to enable us to move the Soays onto that area for some winter grazing. It was surprisngly easy and quick unlike so many jobs on the plot.

Now it looks a bit like a deer park. Hopefully it will keep the trees safe whilst still letting us make the most of the grazing. Once we have a decent upper canopy we can begin to think about guild planting which may mean we don’t have grazing in that area but that will take about 5-10 years.

So, we will be moving the sheep over there for the winter and moving the chickens and ducks and geese to the top of the main pasture.

This should leave the tree and lower paddocks free to lime, harrow and rest.

How to make a Goose House, (Economical/Recycled/Cheap)

I am hoping this post will be useful to other smallholders and by writing this as a ‘How to guide,’ I might get up the google listings and get it out there. I think this is such as good idea I wannna share it!

In my previous lisiting Winter plannning, I discussed buying a plastic goose house, the links lead me to several different designs. All of which were plastic, which I wanted. Plastic houses are easier to clean than wooden ones, last longer and also don’t harbour any nasty mites which can bother poultry. BUT, plastic is not so great for the enviroment, and all of them cost between £200 and £300….which is pants!

So, I had this idea of buying a little playhouse on ebay and using it for the geese. I just won an auction on this Little Tikes design for £36. It is pretty gordy in its current form, but I am going hamerite paint it green to make it a bit more outdoorsy.

Geese  don’t have massive requirements for a house, but I want to be able to shut them in at night as I think they are a bit noisy. This will muffle the sound, keep them dry and warm in the deep winter and I spose it could give fox protection if the windows were fitted with grills. I have an electric fence so fox protection is not such an issue.

Sadly the phone that comes as standard with this design is missing, but at least the play kitchen is still there. If you know anything about Geese you will know that they do love toys almost as much as dogs. Once I have installed it, I will take some pics of the gang playing with it.

Zen and art of sheep maintenance

How can you keep your life balanced when you are at work so much of the time? It’s a question I am struggling with this week. Work has consumed my thoughts for all of the wrong reasons, lots of change, low moral and uncertainty. I do belive that being out doors with the animals is the best stress medicine, but some negative internal dialogues even they can’t make blow away. I am beginning to wonder if the 4 day a week pattern was such a good idea. I used to have a day in the middle of the week when I would get away from the office politics and spend time outside with the birds or inside with the spinning wheel, or even cooking. Now I work 4 days in a row, but this is what normal people do…and everyone else seems happy right….or do they? Maybe things will settle down, but at the moment I am just trying to clear my head and enjoy the plot.

One of the great things about small holding for stress management is the abundance of repetitive tasks which require focus. Rebecca Laughton writes about using task such as these as a medative activity in her book ‘Surving and Thriving on the Land’.

The importance of mindfulness

Far from being a mindless activity, manual work using hand tools employs the brain just as much as the body. Time and again I have been reminded of this fact in all areas of physical work…The sence of achievement and exhilaration that results from mindful operations of hand tools is a pleasure that must be experienced to be believed.”

So with that advice, I am off out to prune the hedge and put up some tree protectors.

Winter smallholding planning

Warning* This is going to be a long post with lots of admin in it*

I am sitting in my kitchen. It’s a lovely Autumn day today, the sun has been shinning,but after spending the morning harvesting I have decided to come inside and do some essential research and planning that will move our little project here forward this winter.

I am multi-tasking, as I have a large piece of Venison in the oven slow roasting, it smells amazing. This is the first piece of non Sencemeadow meat we have bought in a year, so I am really looking forward to trying it. Becky’s aunt got hold of a whole deer for us from a local (to her) source down in Sussex. The deer was culled as part of a management programme to ensure the continued health of a semi wild herd. £80 for a whole deer, what a bargain! We have 4 very large roasting joints (enough for 6 people each), and a load of stewing meat along with the offal. We may be giving away a few pieces to family, but in the main we will be eating it over the course of the year. It travelled back from Sussex frozen, wrapped in a wool blanket and did not defrost which is pretty amazing. I have completed the essential sizzle part of the roast, and now it is cooking in earnest. I have learnt a valuable lesson today, don’t wear a long beaded necklace when leaning over a basting tin…oh well, at least it can washed.

So picture me, sitting in my kitchen typing away, with the smell of a fantastic roast dinner floating through the air.

Winter Projects 2011

  •  Pasture management

This winter we need to apply some lime to the pasture. We have a bad case of buttercups which, if left, will eventually destroy the quality of the grazing. Buttercups occur because the pasture is too acidic. Buttercups thrive in acidic soil more than grass, so eventually they take over. (Cue horror film music). In order to tackle this properly, we need. A local  soil testing facility, somewhere to buy lime and a method to apply it. Some links to follow-up.!soil-testing

Lime info

Seems like a contractor might be the way to go. Buy the lime inclusive of spreading. Need to look in our local rural trader for contractors for a quote.

  • Goose House

We have had some pretty terrific high winds for this time of year and the home-made pallet craft goose house may be on its last legs. Below are some options for more robust replacement. Carbery arc looks good and versatile.

Also considering a second-hand children’s plastic playhouse from ebay. These are about £30 rather than £300. We would need to use hammerite and spray it.

  • Hedging

More on this and the headings below in a later post

  • Apple trees
  • Grape Vines
  • Footpath hedge management

Tree Stakes in the Forest Garden (RJ highjack)

As we have now decided our forest garden, while growing, would make a good overwinter pasture for the sheep, we need to think about protecting the young trees we planted last year. The sheep are quite naughty and will basically just eat them all if we leave them be, in fact they will think it is Christmas. I’ve found this company who seem to do some suitable protection and suggest that it is all about the staking with deer and sheep. They look pretty robust and easy to assemble/put in. It will take a while as there are around 30 trees to deal with in that area, but it will be worth it.

They do ‘shelterguards’ or ‘treeguards’, the difference seeming to be that the former are made of material that encourages a micro-climate around the tree and stimulates growth. The material they are made of is photodegradable too and is expected to last 5 years, which would hopefully be enough growing time. We would need 1.2m tubes , each with 2 stakes (25mm) , which all together would be about £120. We’d also need some additional ties (2 for each tree), which will be extra, but I’ll have to call about that as I’m not sure which are the most suitable.

Simple Apple Cake

Lovely Simple Apple Cake

Tonights baking effort.

150g Melted Butter
500ml stewed apple
150g Sugar
2 eggs
280g SRFlour
2 tsp baking powder
2tsp cinamon
Chopped nuts.

Mix wet stuff together. Mix dry stuff together, combine well. Bake for 45 mins at 180. Works for plums also.