New ventures – poultry ideas

We are in the midst of a very exciting new venture here on the smallholding, in fact a couple of ventures! One step at a time, firstly is an idea borne out of different reasons which I won’t bother listing here.  The end result is we have decided to use one of the small barn buildings that Ste did such a great job on converting, as a nursery for our new poultry adventure!  Here’s a reminder of what he did back in August last year.
From this general purpose outbuilding

To this weather proof self contained building
So what does all this mean?  It means we will have a building dedicated to the safe housing of chicks & ducklings and also, drum roll, quail.  Exciting!!! We have decided to expand to breeding these new birds for the first time and we can’t wait.  
Ste has done a lot of research on this and is in the process of getting their new 5 star accommodation up and running as I type this blog post.
We’ve had chicken, geese and ducks for a few years now and at the back end of last year, when talking about what we’d like to achieve in the coming year, we decided that in 2020 we would expand a fair bit in a few areas, so this is the first.  Yes, that also means there’re more to come!
Inside this little building has taken on a transformation so far and it looks great already and it’s not even finished. It started off with a blank room and a sketch on the notepad.
Then ended up with a partition wall and a door, shown at the top of the pic here, which leads in to a smaller room that we use as the outside dog kennel.  Ste cut a hole in to the side of the building for the dogs to come and go, but restricting them inside from the nursery for obvious reasons.  Two uses of 1 building is maximising efficiency in my book!  

Full steam ahead then!  He is starting by making the quail pens which have to be a certain height and measurement for the quails’ own safety.  They have a tendency to jump and hurt (or worse, kill) themselves so you need a low roof to prevent this happening.  They will actually have more than the recommended walking space, as we like to offer as much as possible for a happy & healthy life.  
Quail also prefer to be in a safer, protected environment, given they are prey for everything that’s bigger than them, so research shows they don’t thrive as much in open outdoor space.  
The workshop is just next to the nursery, so Ste is making the individual pens in the workshop and then moving them to the final spot.  

Another one has been added since I took these photos, I can’t keep up with him 🙂 We’re planning on visiting a farm we have recently found, to buy quail this coming weekend.  The plan is to be up and running with them in March, even if not the end result.  More March goals to follow in another post, but for now I wanted to share with you where we are with this little project.  

Spring time jobs

It’s that time of year when we need to be preparing for the coming seasons.  That doesn’t just mean for the animals, but for our garden too.  We like to eat and work outside as much as possible and this includes having family and friends over for BBQ’s and even the odd day off enjoying a long, lazy summer day, with a glass of something alcoholic and good food to share, usually sat round some sort of outdoor fire.
It’s been sunny this week, but still cold.  So now was the perfect time to clean the block pavings which are at the back of our house.  They have gone fairly yukky over the winter and came up a treat.  It took Ste 3 hours to pressure wash the whole area, but it won’t need doing again until next year, so it’s time well spent.

 
Before
During
After

There’s lots of other jobs to do, not all for Spring as such.  We’ve pig fencing to sort, hedges to trim, fields to fertilise, field gates to put in…oh and did I mention the new mini orchard?  More on that soon 🙂

Quick pre weekend update – dining room progress

I think the fact that it is a full working week next week is giving me a false sense of security as I normally have some time off before Christmas but due to the way it’s fallen this year, on a weekend, I keep getting a slight shiver of panic that I need to be all done by a week today and have no time off before hand.  So this weekend I will be getting the gifts wrapped and set to one side. 

We’re in the middle of getting the dining room finished in time for Christmas.  We didn’t want to do any inside jobs in the Summer so left it until Autumn but with one thing and another it’s only getting finished now.  The plasterer completed the walls last week and my lovely Dad helped out by painting it this week.  Normally Ste does everything but December is a crazy busy month in the butchers and we just weren’t going to fit it in, so we asked for help.  It looks great, just a plain colour – such a bright sunny room.  Somehow we managed to get a roll end of carpet and arrange for fitting for tomorrow.  Don’t ask me how but it involved lots of traipsing round and the air was blue by the end.  The guy is fitting it at some point tomorrow, then tomorrow night will be spent getting the tree up in there, the table and chairs in for the big day, the mantle decorated and start to dress the table for Christmas.

My Mam is giving us her dinner service, some of which was her Mam’s, so we will be using that for Christmas which is just lovely.  It will then be stored in the empty display cabinet that we have. 

Sunday will see the goose and duck being prepared and a trial of the frozen red cabbage.  Along with a million and one other things that I need to list out and put in order of what to do first.

Sorry no photos today but expect photo overload after the weekend 🙂

Picture updates

We have had a brilliant last week which I haven’t had time to post about so for tonight I will just post pictures showing what we’ve been up to. This includes a very successful and happy party, 3 night UK break, veg plot and greenhouse updates and our first chicken ready for the table. I’ll go in to more detail over the next few days. However for tonight I’m chilling and enjoying my time off. Bliss.

Party plans amongst other things

I don’t know if I am imagining it but I think I can already see the difference in the fields from the rain.  I’m hoping for some sun after the downpours we’ve had and then maybe everything will have a growth burst.  The greenhouse has been firmly shut up to keep the heat in for the last day or two, opposed to the previous week when the doors were flung open along with every vent I could find as things were struggling in the intense heat.  Ah the lovely British weather.  I wouldn’t change it for anything!

Now speaking of the greenhouse, the tomatoes are thriving since I planted them in my well-rotted muck from my lovely horses.  However something else is growing in there too.  Mushrooms!  Lots of white rubbery ones and some tall skinny grey ones.  I said to Grace, my daughter who is 9, that I wonder if we can eat them.  Of course she looked horrified but I will find out and Steven and I will have them if they are edible.  I won’t give the kids them in case I get it wrong, but also they both hate the texture of mushrooms.

We are throwing a big party in a little over a week and I’ve been preparing like mad in between everything else.  I’m going to try and make a few homemade items in addition to the shop bought (sauces etc) to give people a literal taste of what we’re all about.  I was thinking about the following.  Breads – Onion bread, Sun dried tomato bread, Apple Cider bread and a seed bread.  Now granted, these will be made in the bread maker, but all the ingredients will be fresh and there’s obviously no dreaded e numbers in there.  As I will need to make a couple in advance, does anyone have any experience which of these breads might freeze better?

Asparagus is something else we have in abundance, so I am going to make an asparagus quiche as we have a couple of vegetarians.  Is there any other sides or BBQ food that would be doable with asparagus?

Rhubarb – the rhubarb and ginger jam that I made is happily sat in in the pantry waiting patiently to be put to good use.  I *may* use some in the sponge cake I am going to make for Jack’s birthday cake but I need to give that some thought as I’ve never used the flavour jam in cake before.  However for the BBQ if I have enough rhubarb and have time, I may do a rhubarb chutney. 

Eggs.  I’ll also do some hard boiled hen and duck eggs (if the ducks start laying again by then as the ducklings only just hatched) but I don’t think the geese are going to grace us with their eggs any more this year.  If they do I will hard boil some of those too, as I’d like to show the different eggs we have on offer here.

I’m also making frittatas to chop into small squares and serve as nibbles to pick up with a cocktail stick.  We’ve had comments off rude people before about frittatas being pauper food, so I am going to make it stand out and hold its own. 

Now I think that’s all we have edible ready at the moment and reading back, I’m really pleased with it! 

When we’re back from holiday our cockerels will be almost ready to eat so that will be our next test.  I’m not sure I am ready to be there for the slaughter, which I know I should as it’s not fair on Steven to do it on his own, but I will happily take its feathers off and watch as he gets it ready for the oven.  I will do a Sunday lunch for family and we can all have a feast to celebrate him having a happy, healthy life and in return us having a happy, family meal.

Speaking of meat, we have 6 ducklings in total now.  Isn’t that fabulous?  We have learnt from the goose mistake and have secured their water area so that they should be able to get in and out safely.  They may find it hard to get in and out of their house, so we will keep an eye on that and make any changes they need.  As much as I love the ducklings, I can’t help but let my mind wander to what sauce goes best with duck.  Come the winter, we should be getting a nice freezer full of meat (the boys) and some extra eggs from the girls once they’re old enough.

Have a lovely Bank Holiday weekend everyone 🙂