Monthly Archives: November 2013

Surprise gift

Today we received a really lovely surprise gift from our visiting photographer Adey. He has made us a lovely framed montage of all of the shots he took of our animals during the summer when the Owl activity was slow. We love it and it has taken pride of place in our kitchen. Thanks Adey….a totally lovely surprise..see you next summer when the light is good again. :).

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November/ December Veg

This is just an update to record how our vegetable stores are going. We are nearly in December and the only vegetables I have bought since spring last year are a few boxes of mushrooms every now and again, a bag of carrots every couple of weeks (for £1), and frozen peas.

Dry Store

Our dry stores are still looking really healthy, I have a few butternut squashes to use in December and January, a large bag of potatoes, and half a net of onions.

Freezer stores

The freezer stores still have a box of sliced courgettes, and a tub of broad beans. The ready meals in the freezer have been fantastic and I still have about 10 left, and another 10 of soup. I have to say that the tomatoes based sauces seem to defrost the best, although the cheesy courgettes pasta sauce was also very nice.

Veg that is still growing

The Autumn hasn’t been too harsh just yet so we still have a large patch of chard (which. Have protected with fleece), and a small patch of kale. The tomatoes are ripening off in the poly tunnel, and I think this year we have had very very little wastage. Today I put this amazing bowl in the fridge to store after ripening the last of them off on the window sill.

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Fresh tomatoes in November…I always forgot how long they store. I have just used some to make a lovely breakfast of toasted rye bread and grilled tomatoes with balsamic vinegar. Yum.


Spinning and knitting

About 2 years ago I started to learn to spin and in a weird turn of events I ended up buying 5 bags of fleece from rugby star Ben Cohen (yes seriously, I didn’t recognise him at the time). Anyway, I bought these old texel cross fleeces from a rugby player and spent the next six months spinning them into a load of balls of wool. I spent the next six months knitting it into a jumper for Becky, which basically didn’t fit, so I spent the following six months unravelling it. Then my Mum gave me a much simpler pattern, which I have been knitting since Christmas last year. Tonight I finished it.

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I think she looks cute in it, but I suspect it might be a dog walking jumper. It is very warm.


Chinese Water Deer for the Freezer

I know… its really cute, but it was dead when we found it. I am the sort of person who hates wasting things, especially life.

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So, if you were reading this blog a few years ago you might remember this. When Becs and I found a Muntjac deer on the side of the road in Leicestershire, and took it home and butchered it for the freezer. Well, what do you know, if it didn’t happen again in Suffolk! This time though it was a Chinese Water deer. These are really interesting little deer, they escaped from Woburn safari part  in the 1930s and now live wild in that part of the country.

So here is how the story goes;  we were driving back from a day at the seaside when we noticed a large light coloured item of road kill, Becky decided to double back, and I jumped out and wrapped it quickly in the blanket and put it in the back of the car. When we reached a safe place to stop, I unwrapped it and checked it out. It was dead, but very recently, with no signs of rigor mortise. I hadn’t really looked at its face at this point and had just assumed it was a Muntjac due to its size, but when I turned its head round, I saw that it was something else.  The really sad thing is that these beautiful deer have faces like little teddy bears, so we felt like big meanies, even though we didn’t hit it. Thankfully this wasn’t a full grown male, because they look like this ,had I turned its head round and saw that, I think I might have thought that we had picked up some kind of vampire wallaby or similar.

Anyway, skip to a day later, and I have spent the last four hours butchering it into usable portions of venison. It has weighed out about 4.5 kgs of prime cuts and mince, and then another 1kg of meat and bones for slow cooking. Even by conservative estimates this amount of venison is worth about £50 – 70. This time of year is very bad for deers, as they are so obsessed with mating that they keep running into cars. The moral of this story is keep your eyes pealed, don’t be squeamish and learn to butcher.  We will report more once we have cooked some.

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Autumn Sheep Worming

This is just to make a record of the Autumn worming of our Soays..and it certainly was a record, in terms of time taken from start to finish. 15 Soays caught, wormed with an oral drench and then released all within 25 minutes. We really have it down to fine art. We created a hurdle pen a week before and then fed them in there. Today we just swung the pen shut. We usually catch and drench the rams first and then open one side of the pen and get them out of the way so that we don’t have any rodeo silliness or Soays Derby activities. The girls and the lambs are usually a little less prone to jumping out of the pen, so today we tried treating them all before releasing any of them, it was much quicker and calmer.

Hopefully this should keep the worm burden down over winter, and will be the last time we worm the lambs before slaughter in January.