It has been very cold hasn’t it but at least the ground is hard and dry, much easier to walk on, it’s almost like everything has been freeze dried!
Our Fox is still being a total nuisance and the birds are all own total lockdown at the minute, we have tried in vain to catch the thing, even had eldest daughters boyfriend sat inside a hut with a cockerel as bait to lure it but to no avail. It is about all the time though, I had seen it only half an hour before he arrived but it must be a very wily fox, it is appearing at various times of the day, if the dog is out she will bark furiously at it but it does not run until it sees me. Some of the birds have been moved to the front, some are in the stable unable to come out, and the rest are in pens or behind electric fencing. Hopefully it will get desperate enough to want the bait in the trap or move on to better pastures, it is a waiting game but I am determined not to let it get any more birds! The girls obviously don’t mind too much as they are continuing to lay a huge amount of eggs, at one point we had over twenty dozen on the side and that was only a few days worth! Luckily we sold around fourteen dozen in one day so they are not around very long, we have now managed to separate the cockerels from the laying hens, they had got all mixed up when they were free ranging because of the wet, the larger ones will be used to fill the freezer and the others will be fed to the dogs once they have been dispatched.
The frozen ground has meant that I still can’t get on the garden, although I have been doing some tidying up, it is amazing how many broken pots you keep, for what reason, just in case lol. As we have the skip at the minute I may as well make use of it and get rid of anything that is not useful such as netting with holes in or broken buckets etc. Preparation is key or so I keep telling myself, so if I can get everything tided up and ready to go then as soon as the weather is better I won’t be sidetracked by other jobs when the time comes.
The Snowdrops have been out for a while and the daffodils have buds on them so we can’t be far away can we 🙂 quite a few of the shrubs and trees have small buds on them ready to burst into life at the first chance they get and the grass has started to come through, we know this because the horses and the sheep are mostly head down when they are out grazing, a good indicator, this means that the ground is warming up at least, even if the air temperature is not!
Hubby has been busy chopping wood as we seem to going through a lot of it at the moment, the store that we had for next Winter has been severely depleted, hopefully we will get offers of trees that people have chopped down and we have a few very tall conifers to top out at some point in the Spring which should help. The aim is always to run the place as economically as possible and wood is usually a free source of heating and hot water, our next serious investment will be PV solar panels on the stable block roof, this will generate electricity for us and reduced our outgoings further, with the cost of energy rising all the time this can only be a good thing and one I am looking forward to having installed. Saving water will be the thing to look at after that, we are on a meter and its pretty good but there are still ways we could save, we have a large water butt of about 1000 gallons, we use this to provide water to the birds and wash our boots off! We have had a tap that has been leaking and fixed that, it’s surprising how much you pay for a leaky tap, we need to check all the others and check any packing glands to make sure we are not losing unused water. We have water butts at almost every available outlet and there are even some in the fields which provide the horses with rain water, much better for them than tap water, the outside dogs are given water from the butt next to their kennel, so we are doing fairly well but as in many an old school report, ‘could do better’!
The news that horse meat has been found in the food chain has been a constant topic in our house, it’s not the meat that is a problem, if it was farmed for that purpose it would be safe to eat, but it is the criminal activity that goes with this food scare, the fact that many of these horses have been stolen and moved with a false passport means that we have no idea what kind of medication they may have been on and how long for. The implication of this is that we are ingesting goodness knows what along with the horse meat and that is a worry, the constant food scares within the industry just goes to show that the system they are using does not work, it is not regulated enough after the meat has left the abattoir. I am not a great fan of processed foods and prefer to cook from scratch, if I can’t make it, we don’t eat it. There are some things I had not even considered though and that includes stock cubes which are the next item to be tested, I wonder what that will reveal 😦
We are off to visit our cow later tonight and we are purchasing half of another which will also have arrived by then, we have not seen her for a while and I am told she has grown a fair bit over the winter although the feed costs will probably reflect that! The first will probably go off for slaughter in the Autumn and the other will go through the Winter until next Summer. We are lucky to have friends that we can share this with but there are small farms out there that will do the same for you if you fancy investing in your own meat source. It may seem like a lot, purchase price, feed costs, slaughter costs but you get a lot of prime quality meat for your investment, the taste is so much better than shop bought, commercially bred meat, I like to think the added extra is TLC and one to one attention 🙂 if we had more acres it is certainly something I would like to be able to do, maybe one day!
We are getting closer to lambing time and the sheep feed has been increased in order to give the lambs and ewes the best chance possible, I have my lambing box ready and my fingers crossed that everything will go well, we will also be buying in some store lambs to raise by hand so if you want to pop down and have a go at feeding them do come along, preferably for the 6am feed so I can have a lie in 😉