April update – pigs, geese, chicks, ducklings and suprise eggs!

Happy week 6 of lockdown, or week 7 in our house.  The kids and I have been home for a week before everyone else and so far, so good.  Home schooling is up and down – I have learnt that some days we can close the book and start again tomorrow.  Adapting to the kids needs is the way forward for me.  I am working from home and my productivity is through the roof, I am so much more aligned to this lifestyle, though I am aware we are very fortunate to have the space we do, which makes it work.
I don’t think I told you guys, we lost 2 geese this year.  We fear it could have been avoided, as seems to be the case with smallholding, you are ALWAYS learning.  The geese can be frustrating creatures and despite having clean water sources, will find stagnant pools that critters like rats use and we think the 2 we lost had been drinking from dirty water.  There is a disease you get from it which escapes me now, but their symptoms of lethargy, almost drunk behaviour linked in to this.  
Thankfully we identified the problem, removed it and these 2 (including Ryan who people will know we hatched ourself!) are seemingly fit and healthy.  I snapped these photos earlier this week to also show the amazing weather we have been having here lately.  We’re actually hoping for rain!! 

The sneaky hens have been laying in a hidey-hole area.  I stumbled across them when I noticed the earth around them flattened and disturbed.  We thought they were going off lay for whatever reason, so finding them isn’t only fun as it excites me every time, but a relief as we are reliant on eggs for extra income.  Very spoilt these girls are!

Grace, our daughter, wants to do photography as a hobby and uses her phone right now to get some amazing pics.  She sent this to me (she’s 13) the other morning and I can’t believe how good it is, so sweet!  The pigs are growing by the minute.  Due to the dry weather they aren’t turning the ground over too quickly, which isn’t a bad thing as they are to be here for another 9 months or so, so they need to make it last.  They have settled in very much so and are thriving on a balanced diet of pig pellets and items straight from the veg plot.

OK, so may be you think lockdown is getting to me when I show you this muck heap.  I love a nice muck heap!  When we visit Beamish museum, which is my favourite place on earth after home, I always go to see their muck heap where the horses are.  It’s soooo neat and tidy and is in actual use, that I joke on to Steven saying I am recreating it with our own.  Ours stays like this for 5 minutes mind you.  We actually have 5 of these pens, or 6, can’t remember, which during the winter are full in just over a week from the horses we have.  That’s why selling muck, using it on our veg beds, storing it to rot etc are vital to us otherwise we would have huge muck piles which are unsightly, dangerous for heat, attract flies and would not look neat and tidy like this one!  It’s a shame I don’t have the same passion for my wardrobe…anyway, moving on.

Night times, or evening routines have adapted to the extended light and Spring in the air we have now.  Most nights we are finding ourselves outside until it gets dark, before locking the animals up for the night, having the dogs our for a last stretch of their legs and getting ourselves off to bed with a mug of hot milk or a small nightcap!  I was out the other night with Annie, the bullmastiff and looked up at the house and sky and it felt so cosy.

Rhubarb is abundant!  We have just harvested another huge amount (we have multiple plants so rest them in between harvests) and I wanted to share with you what we use the leaves for.  They are toxic so shouldn’t be fed to animals or humans for that matter, however they are perfect for using as ground cover (instead of cardboard for example) to help prevent weeds coming through.  We popped these down the other night and when I get chance I will cover with muck to hopefully stop the weed take over which will be upon us any time soon.

Not only do we have rhubarb but the asparagus is coming quicker than I can pick it.  It’s a daily race, turn your back and there’s more.  Now drumroll…..I have never frozen asparagus before as I’ve never stayed on top of it.  I promised myself that this year nothing would go to waste, and that was before the pandemic!  So all of the asparagus in the photo below was frozen after a super quick blanch and cool.  Rather smug about that!!! Let’s see if I keep it up.

I do love my little family, well obviously, but photos like this make me smile.  I was beavering away in the greenhouse and Grace walked in with Rodney, who quite happily stayed in her bucket for her.  We were laughing that this is the only kind of handbag and handbag dog you will get round here 🙂 

At the moment we have hatched our own brahma, rhode island red cross chicks and ducklings.  All for their meat, eggs or to sell depending on what everything turns in to. We have 15 Ross Cobb chicks too which are for the freezer and will hopefully be ready just as we run out of chicken from the last lot.  Can you spot the different below between the ducklings are the chicks?

We had out first BBQ the other night, which we love as we enjoy sitting and eating out, but it was FREEZING in the end!

It was my Dad’s birthday on Monday and Steven made him this stunning piece to keep his paintbrushes in as he is a keen artist.  I made him a pie and the kids did a card.  We left them outside for them to pick up on their weekly collection of food (they come to us instead of supermarkets and it’s all no contact with social distancing, and very hard on everyone but needs must)

Ste also made this amazing milk holder now we are getting the milk delivered again, don’t you just love it!

Finally, though there’s so many other things to write about, I need to crack on, here’s a pic for cuteness factor as always 🙂

Take care everyone and thank you for reading!!

PS – sorry for typos, spelling mistakes and back to front sentences, but life is to short to have time to proof read every time 😉  

7 thoughts on “April update – pigs, geese, chicks, ducklings and suprise eggs!

  1. When I was doing my BHSAI training (just don't ask how many years ago THAT was!) I can remember we had to have a picture-perfect muck heap – built up around the 3 sides, and a flat area in the middle. We had a plank to wheel the wheelbarrow up and then built the sides up carefully. Gosh, those were the days!I imagine, like many of us living in the country, you can just get on with life (as it is now) and enjoy it. I only get flakey moments when it is click and collect day (as it was today) and all the perishable stuff has to be wiped down with Dettox and put in the Quarantine Fridge, and all the fruit washed. Then I can put the outside world back in my worry box.Well done with the chicks and ducklings. Not to mention all that rhubarb. We had our first picking yesterday and I cooked it up with some sliced crystalised ginger. Yummy. We have 4 plants, but only one is very productive – the other 3 look like they are starved. Is there any way I can encourage them? (apart from the muck heap they already have as a top dressing).

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  2. Hey chic. Great post. Loving the idea of using the rhubarb leaves….do you know what, I'm going to come back to this. As EVER you inspire me and give me a kick up the bum from time to time. Going out to sow those seeds I mentioned earlier today. Thanks.xx

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  3. Ahh fab memories. Yes, I've spoken to a few people saying how we are just getting on with minimal impact. I know exactly what you mean about flakey moments on click and collect!Rhubarb and ginger is a match made in heaven.Re the rhubarb, are they old, do they need splitting maybe?

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  4. Hi chic. I'm back!! I think I've said to you before that I'd love to have an asparagus bed next year – love it even though it does a nasty thing to your pee!Chicks and ducklings look lovey and as ever Steve show his talents in the wood department. Keep on keeping on like we're all trying to do.xx

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