Outside space in February, including seeds, chickens and eggs

Look what we found growing in the muck pile, perfectly polished mushrooms.  They are still there, I don’t trust myself to identify mushrooms, but I do appreciate them and one day, who knows, Ste may try them 😉

 Where there is muck there is money?  We we gifted a gesture of cash for some muck we bagged up for the allotments recently, isn’t that great?  Maybe we can make an income from it as we look to set up our own little farm business in the coming months.

 The muck has been getting used in the veg plot to feed or mulch the beds before we covered them.  It’s hard work, but very worth it.  Hopefully this will keep the weeds down as well as prep the beds for when we are ready to fill them.  It’ll be end May, early June here for most things as last year we learnt the hard way when we had a frost on May 27th and we lost a load of plants.


One thing we want to get sorted pretty soon, maybe on a March goal is the rain water collection and how to then use it.  We think we will get a motorised pump to help distribute the water from the tanks to wherever it needs to be.  At the bottom of the veg plot, on the other side of the fence is the compost heap we are trying to put together.  It’s coming along really well with green and brown items.  According to Charles Dowding, it should be ready in 8 months or so once full.  I have no idea how long it’ll take to fill, it’s a big size container!
It is the furthest bed here that we are using it for.  The other beds look like this mess as the storms that are passing through keep ripping the fronts off them.  I’m going to turn one in to a hot bed and sow some carrots and parsnips in them this weekend – how controversial using muck for roots 😉
Wandering away from the muck heaps takes you around to the greenhouse where I’ve been sowing seeds since Valentine’s Day.  The leeks took a while to show but they are there!  I’ve a couple of varieties to try.  This was my workstation at the time!

 The salad, kale, tomatoes etc are coming along well.  Some of these will be pricked out and moved on this weekend, which hopefully won’t shock them.
 Giant sunflowers!!
 Thrilled to see the wild garlic Ste bought me for my birthday (best present EVER)  taking hold.  We have NEVER had it before, so I hope it likes living there. 
I rescued some snowdrops from a near death experience at the muck heap too, not sure where they will go yet.
Taking a step outside the greenhouse is a view to stop and enjoy.  It’s not all been rain.
Then we have the latest additions!  I have such a soft spot for ducks and I can’t tell you how thrilled we are to get these 4, 3 girls and a boy of the Aylesbury.  We’ve already been getting lots of beautiful eggs from them which we have popped 19 in to the incubator in an effort to start breeding them as we would like to become a supplier in the area, which there isn’t many of.  Another income opportunity hopefully.  
We’ve been getting plenty of chicken eggs too and have lots of lovely people asking to buy them from us each week.

The geese on the other hand aren’t laying yet and they won’t even use the blinking pond we re did for them! I have no idea what’s going on there, they prefer to drink the stagnant water that gathers in the drain pipes and things laying around the place!
Staying on the poultry theme, the meat birds have just been processed and my god are they big.  I’m really pleased with this lot, which will see us through the next 10 weeks for sure.  We have a plan with meat birds, I’ll come back to that again in another blog post.
The other meat we produced in 2019 was the lamb, which I took the last lot out of the freezer the other night.  Hell’s bells I didn’t realise there was so much left.  So I am now frantically cooking this lot, to refreeze in cooked form and get it put back in the freezzer in an orderly fashion.  Again, it’ll be on the foody post in the coming days and weeks.
Here’s my kitchen window view keeping an eye on the weather.  We’ve had some spectacular colours!
Something else that has been going on is the tup arriving.  He joined us on the 16th Feb and will stay with us a few weeks.  Hoping to have lambs the first week or 2 in to July, but it could be 3 weeks after that, depending on if he catches them or not.  I think they are all pleased to be inside at the moment on dry straw with nice hay.  It’s certainly better than being on the wet muddy fields with the storms blowing a hooey around you.
 Here he is, we called him Arthur.  He’s very sweet and his black ears are forever twitching in opposite directions.  He’s not that tall compared to the last tup, but he’s chunkier.  Let’s see what happens 🙂

Finally, Annie is still underwhelmed by everything and is still sneaking a nap in places she really shouldn’t. 

 Have a lovely weekend all.  We have a very busy schedule Friday through to Sunday so we will catch up with another post next week.

Where there’s muck there’s money…

This is our rotted muck all bagged up.  Generally people come to us to collect it for their veg plots and allotments.  We’ve had trailers, pick ups cars and some questionable vehicles coming through ours gates for it.  However, I thought I’d try my luck at selling it for £1 a bag.  We have access to a van, so I offered delivery included for the £1 a bag to the local allotments.  I’m pleased to say we sold 15 bags at the weekend meaning we are off the starting blocks for “where there’s muck there’s money”…..literally.
Of course, the fact that the muck helps to grow many of our crops is money in itself, just a different type. 

A smallholding weekend…..we’re getting there

The weekends go by in a flash.  Why is that?  I remember finishing work on Friday and thinking how happy I was that it was the weekend and we have 2 free days to spend as we wish, enjoying each other’s company and the ups and downs of smallholding life.

Saturday saw my friend and I ride the horses out along a route that previously had a gas gun set up on it to scare the birds off their crops.  It’s been switched off now, so we ventured along the bridleway which leads through a farm.  I met the owner the previous week and it turned out I used to go to school with him, so we were happy to go through.  It turned out there were lots of bridle gates and some weren’t accessible easily so I ended up jumping off and walking most of the route through the farm.  We’re going to use it again as part of a circular route so that we don’t have to get off twice.  We doubled back on ourselves on Saturday meaning we need to go back through the gates again which was a pain. 

A lovely couple took 20 bags of manure from us this week, taking the last lot on Saturday.  They absolutely loved our place and even brought us a cake to say thank you for the muck!  It’s no hardship other than bagging it up and it helps us not have a much to get rid of, so we were very grateful for the cake.  It was a Greek yoghurt cake and I kid you not, it tasted divine.  Light and tasty, what more could you want.  They are welcome for more muck any time!  They also bought 12 eggs from us.

For lunch on Saturday I harvested the crazily big asparagus and made soup from it.  It was lovely.  My son likened it to a nicer leek and potato (he’s 5).  My Mam and Dad turned up as I was making it, so I fed all of us (not Mam as she has digestive issues bless her), with leftovers eaten on Sunday.  I was beaming with pride as serving something up that we grew ourselves (ish, it grew regardless of us).

After lunch, we said bye to my parents and set to work in the small paddock trying to clear it of the last bits of debris from the ginormous pile of branches, fence posts, rotted rails and general dumping ground items that the previous owner had left there.  It’s looking a lot better but still work to do there.  The ponies can go on it, which is the main thing.

Steven and I sat down in the middle of the paddock with a cold drink late on the afternoon and spent 10 minutes just taking it all in.  Days like that were what it was all about.  Cake for muck, eating our own produce and working on our own land.  Doesn’t get much better than that.  My only downfall was that I hadn’t anything prepared for tea so when we went in at 7:30pm we ordered a take away.  Oh well!

On Sunday morning I was coming back with my daughter from her ride out when the neighbour rang, she wanted 12 eggs when we had time.  As we were almost back home, I nipped in, grabbed 12 eggs and took them round to them as they were having pancakes for  breakfast.  You don’t get better service than that and no fresher eggs that laid that day!

Sunday afternoon was spent in the field which we had sectioned off on Saturday.  The kids played with next doors kids and we finished poo picking so the field can grow unhindered by piles of poo.  That’s something we need to start doing almost daily as we don’t have vast amounts of space, so we need to look after it well.  Finally I went round the smaller paddock picking leaves off the trees in an attempt to identify them and make sure they’re not poisonous as the ponies now have full access to the woods as part of their turn out.  Even if they didn’t have access to the woods, they’d still get some of the tree’s leaves as they’re growing at a very enthusiastic rate, so this is a priority for this week.

After a full and tiring day, Steven suggested we go out for tea, who were we to say no?  So he took us to the local pub where we had a lovely meal that filled us up nicely.  We’re so lucky to have a lovely family, even if it’s slightly crazy and the kids fight like cat and dog J

Wonderful March weekend

The weekend’s fly by anyway however this weekend especially. Friday night we celebrated the birthday of Steven’s dad with the family. A lovely night though meant no time to do anything at home.
Saturday I rode out on the morning then it seems I blinked and the day was over! We have had lots of people interested in our horse manure! So both Saturday and Sunday saw us helping people load up their trailers and bags with lots of lovely manure. We have another one coming tomorrow too. So far, even though it is free, people have left us some LED lights for our outbuilding and 18 pigeon breasts for the freezer. Really kind and we shall be trying the pigeon on Friday so if anyone has any suggestions then they are most welcome.
Today we have been sorting out the pigs home for when we get them. We have decided they can live in the copse that we’ve been taking the trees down from. We will mesh round the trees that are left and have started penning off the area they will be allowed in.
I’ve also managed to get quite a few more seeds in the greenhouse and half of another bed weeded outside. Beans and peas will be going in that one. In the greenhouse I have purple sprouting broccoli,  cabbages and onions coming through and looking strong. I’ve put some more tomatoes in, sweetcorn, broad beans and dwarf beans today.
The onion sets we planted a couple if weeks ago, we checked today to see if they had rotted but so far they look ok with roots coming out of the bottom.
Finally we have, well Steven has, cleared out the paving slabs from behind the current compost/muck heap bins and stacked them neatly along side them. This means once we have tidied out the rest of the rubbish bits you can see in the picture,  we will be able to use that as  a compost muck heap too. Great stuff. Lovely weekend though all went a bit too quick for my liking.