We’re good for vegetables but what about the meat?

At the end of last year, as is the norm for us, our minds turned to what we want to try in the coming year. In 2016 we’d tried our own chickens as table birds and they were just not worth it. The meat didn’t even go round a family Sunday lunch which is no good to us. So after some investigations, we decided to try and find some Ross Cobbs.
Well, turns out they are like hens teeth for the smallholder to get. They are sold as day old chicks but in their thousands!! A sale of 20 to 40 chicks was laughed at! So we tried to get the fertile eggs, again, no luck for the small scale person.
Then Dawn got some as day olds in Wales and she said she’d try and sort us out with eggs if she managed to get hers up and laying, though she has them for table birds like we wanted to. Such a kind offer and we still kept on looking.
We knew a local ish farm shop sells the finished table bird (for £40 I might add!!!) so we went in and got talking with the owner. As luck would have it, he orders in Ross Cobbs every 3 weeks to raise for his shop.  He said we could buy some off him! Perfect, a little bit of luck goes a long way!
So off we went on his next order and picked up 20 day old chicks. We put them straight under the heat and brought them on in the barn for a while.
Last weekend we managed to get them outside. We’re hoping to process them for the freezer in another 5 week maybe but that’s guess work at the moment.  As they won’t be around that long, we (Ste) made a temporary enclosure for them which they seemed to like.  I hope everyone is ready for a but of bare flesh on a Friday afternoon, if not, look away now.  I know, I’m lucky 🙂
Today they are in their 5th week and are growing rapidly. We’re trying hard to make sure they don’t put that much weight on that they can’t hold their own weight. All they do is eat!!
 
 Grace brought them all from the barn to their new place and being lazy, they were more than happy just to sit on her! 
 Hopefully outside life will have them growing healthily.
Happy Friday everyone 🙂

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)