Sunday, 22 February 2009


Well the chickens seem to have a mind of their own and escape out of the chicken run at their own will. At least they don't go far - they just peck around the outside of the run and seem to relish in the strokes and attention they get when they are put back in.
The biggest problem is going to be once we have seeds in the raised beds as the chickens will have their own gourmet selection of food - must find a solution before then!

Went down to the field and marked everything out so that we know exactly how big the beds will be - AND THEY ARE HUGE!!! Weren't able to rotavate with the compact tractor this weekend as the field still needs to be re-ploughed. Hopefully we'll be able to get on to the rotavating next weekend.

Had a good day yesterday - the elusive muntjac is finally in the freezer (apart from the sirloin cut that we enjoyed for dinner tonight). Managed to get one yesterday and butchered it this morning - far easier and less frought that the huge red deer. Result! Current plan is to make some Muntjac sausages and burgers in the coming week. to solve the houdini chicken puzzle...

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

The chickens arrive...

Well, the day finally arrived, and there was no way to contain the excitement of the children (and the parents!).

The 4 of them need to stay in the chicken house for the first 3 or 4 days to get used to the new surroundings and then they can start exploring their chicken run.

So allow me to introduce them:

Defender (after Land Rover Defenders)- the greyish Speckeldy
Lester (after Lester the chicken on Big Barn Farm)- the black Nera
Sarrie (after Saracens rugby team)- the Amber
Henny Penny (after Henny Penny)- the pure white White Leghorn

Not run of the mill names I know and let's just hope that the poor ole chickens can cope with the embarrassment!

Now doubt that the next few days will be filled with lots of new and wonderful learning curves.

That's all for now...

Thursday, 12 February 2009

Not that easy..

Yesterday's deer stalking session proved again that getting some venison in the freezer is never guaranteed when it comes to wild animals. It's definitely not as certain as going into the supermarket to get a pack of ready cut meat - but it is so much more satisfying & yesterday I was simply beat by nature.

Managed to see 3 muntjac & 4 roe deer on the day out, but the shot was never certain and so it wasn't taken.

One of the better developments recently has been making our own breakfast cereal. Some of the family (especially me) don't like bread or toast for breakfast. We've now come up with a pretty tasty mixture made up of toasted oats, honey, nuts, berries & coconuts. Result!

The recent bad weather keeps us from doing anything at the field so we've been concentrating on the raised beds at the back of the garden.
Everyone is extremely excited about next week when the chickens arrive and I think we are just about ready.

All of the raspberry, red currant, white currant, gooseberry & tayberry bushes arrived today. For the moment we've heeled them in to the raised beds and as soon as we can we'll get them to the field.

So the journey continues...

Sunday, 8 February 2009

How much compost?

Good progress today - managed to get the 4 raised beds finished and also got the chicken run sorted.

Could not believe how insignificant 25 bags of compost seemed once it had all been emptied out in to the raised beds - think that we will need at least another 16 bags (4 per raised bed). Let's just hope that they still have that special on at the garden centre.

Children are delighted that the chicken run is ready as we are now all set to collect the chickens in half term week commencing 16th Feb.

The week ahead should be quite eventful, deer stalking on Wednesday (probably for something smaller like a muntjac this time) and staking the field out with the agent (should have been done last week but impossible because of the snow).

I still get this uneasy feeling that we are enjoying the quiet before the storm.

Talk soon...

Wednesday, 4 February 2009

Progress despite the snow

Well despite the snow it's been a very good week. Not that we've ventured out much in it, but the good delivery companies have been dropping of loads of things that we ordered.

Tuesday 3rd Feb - delivery of raised beds (finally!), delivery of chicken feed and delivery of sausage making ingredients. Tuesday evening we doubled our seed order to ensure that we have enough to cover the field.

Wednesday 4th Feb our fist seed order arrived.

Friday 6th Feb we got round to making the venison sausages (and they were quite tasty if I may say so)

AND THEN TODAY, Saturday, we started getting the raised beds in the garden ready. Managed to get about halfway (absolutely freezing!) and should finish them off tomorrow.

The other exciting bit of news is that I found a supplier to rent a compact tractor from and have booked it + the rotavator attachment for 2 weeks time.

Will let you know how tomorrow goes..

Sunday, 1 February 2009

Hooray - we have a field!

Well the day finally arrived and we now have possession of our field. We were delighted to get down and see it.

All freshly ploughed up it looked even bigger than before. The furrows are huge and when the kids stand in them it's knee height. I suspect that it is going to be a big old job for the rotovator and I'll certainly look into hiring a tractor for the big bits.
The plan is still very much to plant at least half with a crop of spring wheat and grow vegetables and soft fruit on the rest.
Looking back at our vegetable seed order I think we were quite light on most things and will more than likely double up on what we got before.

Other exciting activities this weekend were making another batch of pork sausages, 130 chipolatas to be precise. I learned a very very valuable lesson, namely that although chipolatas are smaller, they are much much harder and take far more effort to get turn through the sausage machine. After the first 15 minutes we all started laughing as we realised just how long it was going to take to process. Not sure that the same amount of humour was left by the time that we were finished and I think my right arm is about twice the size of my left now. We would have changed to normal sausages but sadly I did not have the correct size casings. Luckily (and boy do I really mean that!) we ran out of small casings just as we finished the pork sausages so were unable to make any venison sausages, and in any event we did not have the right seasoning. I have already placed an order for the bigger casings and game seasoning, let's hope the delivery is on time as our aim is to get venison sausages out before the end of the week.

We also sorted out the last bits we need for the chickens, chicken wire for a run, pellets, treats, cleaning materials and feeders.

All in all another fun tiny farmer weekend.

Right, definitely time to focus on what to do with that field!