The sunflowers are now heading for 5 or 6 foot and some are really strange looking! Pretty colours all the same.
Like all poultry keepers, I’m sick of this avian flu for one reason or another. I do not want to get into politics as we all have our own views on it. However, one thing I think most of us smallholders, self sufficient and self reliant folks have in common, is the ability to make the best from a bad situation.
Although the poultry is stuck inside, they do have light, food, water and warm beds so their lives could be worse. However for us, the food bill to feed them seems high. Now I don’t have last year’s costs to compare this too, however my gut feeling is that it’s high and although the wild birds are no longer taking their share, I reckon the barn mice and rats are!
We’ve known for a while about hanging your poultry feeders off the ground to deter rats and other critters, but we’ve never got round to it. So Steven has designed a hanging feeder which we are trialling in the barn. We have put the same amount of food in on day 1 and then day 2. Day 1 seeing the feeder on the floor and day 2 hanging up.
I’ll report back on how well they have done.
Once we move them back outside, we’ll hang the feeders from the trees. Now where the birds will go when they’re outside is another discussion. Having the over winter in the barn has opened our minds to where we will house them in 2017 as other animals come along. I’ll do more on that another day too.
So the silver linings being that we’re trialling a new way of feeding them that we’ve not done before and we’re giving thought to the best place for the hens in 2017.
I’ve also been making mango chutney which Dawn posted about a week or 2 ago and I’ve wanted to do it since. It’s a lovely recipe which you can find here. I am really pleased that the food year is already off and running. Who says preserving is only for the summer?
I’ll be using it in a sausage recipe on Sunday when I put a spread on for my daughters 10th birthday.
The seeds are making their way up into the daylight. It always amazes me that these dormant seeds suddenly sprout life. The first ones of the year are extra special.
We now have 3 new raised beds and there are 2 more large ones and 4 smaller in the pipeline too. We’re busy filling them with muck and I’ll be getting a top soil delivery at the end February or early March to top them up.
Sorry for no photos on this one, it’s more about keeping records!
In our first year in the house we’ve used 4500 litres of oil and it cost us £1402.02 plus £50.97 in additives for the oil. There’s enough in the tank to see us until the end of Jan and maybe beyond but as we moved in on 15th Jan, this will balance out. I shall compare usage and cost with 2017. I do love doing things like that.
We bought coal, which I didn’t keep a record for, so have started for 2017. However we use wood which is free for the most part.
Electricity we used £438 and are just in credit so our monthly payment is about right.
Water was £322.
The septic tank was emptied at a cost of £145.
On top of that we have the usual bills, all of which I knew what the cost would be through the year, so could plan for those. I am pleased that we forecasted appropriately and things came in on budget. This year I want to decrease our use of electricity and oil, however will increase the oil savings as we’re just on par with what we saved v what we used and I can’t see the cost of oil going down. Water is needed. We’re on a metre and it is for the animals too. That is what it is. We waste very little I think.
The groceries came in on budget for the most part of the year and December went right up which I can handle but need to plan for if it is to happen again. It was out first year celebrating in this house and I refused to scrimp on things.
Hopefully with the plans I have for veg for 2017, our grocery bill will be right down, even further in 2018 when we have more of our own meat on the table.
We’ve also spent a lot to get up and running. That will continue this year as we continue to get set up in all areas. 2016 saw expenses on things like: fences, wood, veg beds, an auger, hens, eggs, poultry essentials, decorating, field gates, 3 geese, 3 ducks, 3 sheep and our first cockerel Jto mention a few. This coming year we are putting up more fencing and gates, buying 2 pigs (weaners), automating water supplies, buying more poultry housing, buying dairy goats, creating a new raised bed area and putting up a polytunnel. That’s what we’ve already thought about, there will be SO much more comes to mind during the year as always! Just a few things then J I wouldn’t have it any other way.
We are hoping to make a small income from egg sales, geese and turkey at Christmas (just a few), selling surplus veg and fruit and even veg plants. Enough to cover the cost of feed maybe? We’ll see.
Over Christmas and New Year, we have had family and friends over, visited with them but ultimately loved being here in our new home. Our first Christmas here was everything and more that I hoped it would be.
Thoughts now turn to what we can get done this year. As usual my head is full to the brim with ideas and things to try. Sometimes the ideas don’t make it to pen and paper quick enough and I lose them for a while, so if anything, this year I shall try to do better there. That is not a new year resolution by the way 😉.
Rather than start off with a long list now, I am going to do individual posts. Today is my last day off work, so I have put the kids to bed and am off to spend it with my husband before the organised chaos of the working week is resumed.
The weather is due to turn cold again here. I do enjoy a cold spell, no rain though, can’t be done with rain.