We have Quail – new additions

What’s this?  A duck egg, yes….a chicken egg, yes….. a QUAIL egg, YES!!  We have quail, and they laid an egg on day one 🙂  Only 1 but still – that’s a positive sign.

They are funny looking things, really small too.  Very flighty but lovely to watch.  We have 6 girls and a boy which we bought from a rescue centre called Wetheriggs Animal Rescue located at Thorpe Farm Centre on the A66 near Barnard Castle.  They have some Old Spot cross pigs which are due a litter in a month, so this is where we will get them from.

Grace managed to get a close up on arrival.  Pretty cute.

This is the view inside a pen, food on the left and a drink further down.  Quail have their own type of food, so won’t be on the poultry feed.  They have a mesh floor which caused us many discussions and sleepless nights, yes really.  All reseach suggested this is how to keep quail and then the muck drops through.  We were not sure about them walking on the mesh, but actually, they are just fine.

We have a dust bath for them which they love and this is where they lay their eggs!  We’re going to also put some foliage in for them to hide in, now we have them, we’re learning what we think they would like and of course we adapt as needed, as a smallholder you just have to.

We shall incubate the eggs and hope to raise more of our own this year.  Quail are quick to get up to breeding age (6-8 weeks) unlike chickens which are 22.  Also little fact, if you’re not allowed to keep poultry in your area, you can maybe keep quail as they are game, not poultry 😉

So all in all a very successful weekend with regards to quail.  We didn’t really get much else done on the smallholding as we had lots of other commitments this weekend plus we had a poorly dog and a poorly Ste!  Hopefully the latter 2 are on the mend now and we can play catch up during the week.  Time stops for no one 🙂

Pigs!

The weekend finally has arrived when we reached an important milestone in our drive towards self sufficiency of meat and took on 2 piglets. 

They are large white cross landrace.  Large white are best known for bacon pigs according to the internet, but we shall be keeping these for 6 months and using them to fill our freezer with goodies that we hope to see us through 12 months.  I have no idea if 2 pigs will give us enough meat for a family of 4 for 12 months or not.  I will let you know in 18 months time!
We collected them at 9:30 on Saturday morning and of course used a method of transport most people wouldn’t….but that is us all over !

They settled in amazingly quickly considering they have never felt straw under their feet before and have only known their mother.  The farmer, a neighbour friend, was kind enough to lend us a heat lamp as they still need to be under heat for a few weeks yet.

They are from different litters (same father, I need to find the piggy term) but get on well.  Both similar sized, so there’s less chance of bullying.

They are very young so we’re feeding them their feed in milk at the moment and will eventually get them just on to the hard feed in a few days.  The milk is very good for them anyway though.
Grace named them – not me! Sunflower and buttercup.  They’re both girls and will live in the barn until the warmer weather comes, when they then have a job to do.  I need part of a paddock turning over as it’s riddled with nettles and weeds.  I hope they do a good job!
We plan on feeding them home grown veg to supplement their hard feed which is their primary feed source of course.
Ste said something that really stuck with me at the weekend.  Our smallholding is nearly complete.  How nice of a feeling is that?
‘Nearly’ as we have some other arrivals due soon 😉

More additions! Animals and veg!

I would like to introduce you to our very own smallholding chicks.  Now we’ve had chicks before and grown and eaten some however, these are different!  They were eggs from our own hens which were fertilised by our own cockerel.  The eggs we’ve had before we’ve bought in.  So we have been doing a merry dance in achieving (well we didn’t actually do much!) our own home raised chicks.  These guys were incubated as we don’t have a broody hen and we have 12 all together of 20 eggs.  Considering we weren’t even sure Big Red was having any luck, this is a huge success! 
I had my first sungold tomato fresh off the vine and it was delicious.  We’re harvesting strawberries every few days and the raspberries are showing their glowing red faces.  The currants are still trying to develop before the birds take them and I have a feeling this one will be a losing battle this year.  Fruit cages next year I think.
The local supermarket had iceberg lettuces on offer so I bought a load in for the hens and we tied them up to keep the hens entertained.  The rescue girls weren’t interested at all but the old ones went through 2 in no time.  I have been told hens love natural yoghurt and it’s good for them so I will be getting them a tub of that to try soon. 
As planned, this weekend we harvested some Elderflowers and I set about making cordial.  It was my first attempt and I must say I was very impressed.  It tastes very refreshing.  It will take some time to get used to it over supermarket drinks (squash) for the kids as they are so used to the sugar, sadly.  Although Elderflower cordial has sugar in it, I’m sure it’s 100% better for you than every day squash.
When we went to the farmers auction on Saturday, we had a great time and learnt a lot.  We came away with 12 Jersey Giant fertile eggs which will be going in the incubator tonight or tomorrow (we have 1 eggs left in there which I don’t think is going to hatch), a Buff Orpington cockerel (now called Henry VIII) which we’ve been looking for one for a while and 3 brown hens for laying.  They are young healthy birds and have fit right in with Big Red’s flock.
At the farmers auction we enjoyed some home made pies, sausage rolls and some rather poor sausage buns.  The home made stuff was fab, the sausage bun was cheap and tasteless.  You live and learn.
Finally I managed to give the pantry a good sort out so we know where everything is and the shelves are nice and clean, ready for the strawberry jam I’m making tonight with out 1kg of strawberries harvested yesterday.  YUM.

Chicks a couple of days old.
Apologies for the blurry pic, this is the auction about to start (eggs in this room).

Another cheeky face enjoying a steak pie.  My everything ❤
Our selection from the farmers auction.  Girls are in the washing basket and cockerel in the Port a Pet

 
Cheeky, how did she get in here.  Also my everything ❤

Seconds old 🙂

One of the new brown hens.  Clipping wings before putting out with the other girls and Big Red.
Elderflower cordial being made

My first sungold tomato!  In fact, my first EVER tomato!

Rescue girls wondering what on earth the green ball is 😀
Bored by the green ball
 
 

Strawberries are coming thick and fast.  There runners are too!
Spot the raspberry?

Our old faithful hens who we brought with us that laid the eggs which are now the chicks.  Big Red in the top next to the tree.

The new chicks at 1-2 days old

Meet Henry VIII the Buff Orpington cockerel (and my husband Steven :D)