About a month ago we had a series of mink attacks which have left our poultry stocks pretty low. It has take us a while to write this up as it was really upsetting and stressful. The mink came back over a series of nights and took all of our Kahki Cambells, two Muscoveys, two chickens and our bunny Mac (very sad to lose Mac as he was a pet, still can’t talk about it much). It was devastating. Every morning we would go out and find more dead stock.
We bought and set a trap, but we obviously put it in the wrong place. Eventually I think the mink just moved on. ( Or maybe was caught by something else). We are now just left with Sheep, Muscovey ducks and our geese. We haven’t rushed out to buys lots of new stock because we wanted to be sure that the mink wasn’t coming back. Also, as you will see in the next post we have had some good news, two of our Muscovey girls have hatched large clutches of new ducklings.
One of the reasons we have decided to live our life the way we do is because we believe that meat is a privilege that should not be eaten lightly. We believe that animals should live natural lives (which means mixed groups..and therefore young stock). We also believe that animals should have a healthy free range existence and a carefully planned and thought through slaughter process which includes as little transportation as possible. Lastly we believe that the whole animal should be utilised, rather than just prime cuts in plastic wrappers.
I know that some people who don’t eat meat will never agree with the decisions that we have made, but I have strong views about the value of mixed farming and sustainable nitrogen cycles that do not involved artificial fertilisers which I am happy to discuss with anyone that wants to. In my view the important thing is that people are thinking about their food decisions and I can certainly respect the vegetarian point of view….but…..I am proud of what we do here, and I will not apologise for that. It is part of a set of decisions that we haven’t taken lightly, and when we take a life, we feel the blood on our hands. If you eat anything that has been commercially produced (non meat included) believe me you have blood on your hands one way or another. It just depends how far you want to look to see that blood, (Pest control, large destruction of habitats through monocultures).
I am having a very smallholding-y day today. Becky has just popped out to buy a new axe, ( I know…how butch), and I am waiting a visit from our friend Andrea who has come by a brace of pheasants and wants some help with the processing. I have been preparing Sunday lunch and have realised that today’s offering will only cost about 80 pence for four people. Check out my sums
venison (acquired for free…see previous posts).
Potatoes, home grown
Butternut squash, home grown
Recurrent sauce, home made from my own red currants
Brussels, bought but in offer yesterday reduced to10pence a bag!
Apple and blackberry crumble, mostly home grown, 60 pence allowance for the cost of the oats and sugar.
All this, and scraps for the chickens.
No waste for landfill either.
We have just updated the plans page to include the breeding plans and planting schedule for 2012.
It relies on the birds laying and sitting to roughly the same time scale as last year. It looks like our really busy times will be April, May and June. We are also resting our bunnies until later in the year, as Flo had 3 litters last year.
We are not going to rely on our geese to brood goslings, we will be using broody chickens to ensure next years Christmas dinner.
I have a reputation within my family for being a bit obsessive when it comes to projects. In fairness, this is probably true and is one of the character traits that has enabled me to set up a working small holding within a year of moving in. My latest project has been the renovation and customization of our 4ft x 6ft trailer. A while ago I blogged about how I had bought a large wooden crate that fits inside the trailer to convert it to a small livestock trailer. The crates weren’t cheap, £100 I think with the delivery costs, but if you compare that with the cost of buying a livestock trailer £1000 plus, it was a bargain. ALso, I now use the crates as sun/shower shelters for the sheep and geese when they are not in use as part of the trailer.
The trailer I use for general small holding jobs such as getting wood chip, or manure or picking up straw bails. This summer, I am giving the trailer a third lease of life. I am converting it into a trailer tent. …
The tent won’t be inside the trailer, but the plan is to build a removable kitchen in one end of the trailer and wheel it into the mouth of the tent for cooking. I am also using the load capacity of the trailer to take a large sleeping platform and cushions to allow a proper night sleep, even for 2 people and a whippet. (King size).
I have started some of this work and am enjoying it enormously. Becky is a bit fed up of me talking about it, but has been her usual tolerant self. (The eccentricity goes both ways, I was dragged to an international dog agility day yesterday..”Its an international event Zara!”).
I will update pics as I finish the project.
I can’t quite get my head around this http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2011/jun/20/artificial-meat-emissions#start-of-comments
I’m all for cutting emissions etc, but is this really the way to do it? I agree with some of the comments already posted – surely no one would eat this instead of going vege?
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!