Duck disruption!

Part of running a smallholding is thinking on your feet and not always knowing what’s coming next, but then to quickly adapt to it when the time calls for it.
We found this duckling (she’s big but young) hiding away after being pestered by the male older duck.  He’d taken a liking to her and was extremely rough.  As her wings cover her back, it hadn’t been obvious that he’d hurt her quite as much as he had.
We gathered her up and assessed how bad she was.  To be fair, it looks painful but she was ok in herself.
On looking at her back, we noticed how amazing her colourings are.  They’re really coming through.
We bathed it quickly in cooled boiled water which we always have in the barn for such an occasion.  She let us do it and hid in my coat nice and relaxed.
Grace noticed another one had been hurt too, so we whipped that one out and they stayed in the barn for the day, recovering in the horses hay and straw.  Sadly the second one has a poorly eye where he’s caught her and it’s still poorly but slowly getting better.
The ducklings have all been moved to another location now, a large pathway where they can eat the weeds for me!  The will remain their until they are ready for the freezer, so it is only temporary. 
***You may wonder why we move them if they are going to be killed anyway.  As many of my readers know, the most important thing for us is that the animals are happy and have a healthy life and then we dispatch them in the quickest, humanist way possible.***
Grace, like a lot of kids, wants to be a vet when she leave education and she enjoys looking after the animals in the good and the bad times.  Here she is holding one of the ducks she rescued.
We also took the time to take the eggs from under the goose and make them up a new bed.  It was the right choice as the eggs were foul and Mother Goose needs to recover now, she’s been sat a long time and has lost a lot of weight.

We’re locking up around 9.15 each night now, once it’s getting dark and everything has gone to bed.  The morning’s are lovely and light which makes running a smallholding and working that bit easier.  One day, hopefully soon, only 1of us will have to go out to work and 1 can stay at home to run the smallholding.  That’s the plan anyway 🙂

Christmas preparations and home raised meat for the table

I’m still chasing my tail but my head is just above water and I’m happy as Larry.  Whoever he is.

So this weekend started off with a frost on Saturday morning.  It always makes me want to stop and get a photo as frost makes everything look so pretty.

The frost mean the sheep had a bucket of hay between them which they happily munched on. 

My Mum came over and had some of my homemade jam (the few that didn’t turn mouldy!) with a wholemeal breadbun.  She sadly has a, let’s say condition for ease, where she is restricted on what she can eat.  So homemade jam is one she can have, which makes us both happy.  It is her 67th birthday today (20th), Happy Birthday Mum xxx. (I am a day late with actually publishing this post!)

I noticed my garlic and onions are starting to come through, you can just spy them in this bed poking through the soil.  The Purple Sprouting Broccoli is also in the same bed which I planted as an experiment to tell me if it’s worth doing on a bigger scale for this year.

I finally got round to making some fudge.  I’ve never made it before and followed a recipe from bbcgoodfood for white chocolate fudge.  Now I don’t like fudge myself, but Jack loves this one.  I am going to try and get another flavour made and hand them out as Christmas gifts to people when they visit or as they leave after Christmas dinner.

Yesterday I put a ham in the slow cooker and we had some for tea with pasta and a garlic sauce.  It was really nice and different to what we’ve been having, so a refreshing change.  Now I confess, I always say to myself I must do something with the stock that’s left.  Then I don’t and I wash it away, so last night, I sent Dawn a message and she told me to freeze it on ice cube trays for use another time, so I have done just that.  Why I haven’t done that before, I don’t know.  Thanks Dawn.  We got loads of lovely shredded ham off it.

I’ve been wrapping gifts as often as I can.  I’m using brown paper and decorating with my own items.  I love this look.

Here is a rare photo of me and the 2 girls.  I don’t often post about the horses specifically but they offer the smallholding bountiful amounts of super manure (I was going to use a double S there but I restrained) which in turn feeds the land, which feeds us.  So they have earned the right to a photo 😉  They can be my sanity at times when I feel like I could scream.

Finally to the Christmas meat, please do not scroll down if you’re offended by the sight of birds being prepared for the table.  As you will know by now, this is our lifestyle that we’re aiming towards, so I make no apologies for it, but will always give you fair warning if there are photos as I understand that we’re not all the same.
On Sunday we dispatched a goose and a duck ready for Christmas Day.  We did 2 chickens in the summer and they were a pain to pluck, so we hung them up after dispatch, covered their heads to keep things tidy and plucked them hanging from the small barn roof.  It made the job a lot easier, though it still took a long time.  I can totally understand why hand plucked birds cost so much and doing it makes you realise even more about respecting the process and the end result.  We’re doing both birds for Christmas lunch.  The goose will be done in the Aga as per Mary Berry’s instructions and I need to look up how long to cook the duck for – I have an alternate oven which I may use for that, as I will need space in the roasting over for the veggies.

Both kids helped with plucking of the goose, they soon got bored to be fair, but I am pleased they were involved.  I do try my hardest to ensure they respect the animals and are not squeamish about being able to provide for themselves. I am really pleased with the end result.

It’s beginning to feel a lot like Christmas!  How about for you?