Monday, 4 April 2011

It's Monday

It's been a while since I last blogged and lots has been happening.  First, I had a problem with my links page - I couldn't get rid of a rogue link, and then managed to lose all my links, but thanks to John and his merry band of folkies from across the world, we managed to sort it out.  So thank you all.
Our other two sows pigged - they have 11 and 9 piglets respectively and all are healthy,  They are still inside the shed for another week.  The first 2 sows and their piglets have gone out to the field now and it's great to see the piglets running about and playing piglet games.  They're a bit like dogs in the way they play and they bark at one another.
We took 2 pork pigs and 2 bullocks for slaughter at Nunnington, which is the nearest slaughterhouse to us.
After a couple of days we had a big chest freezer full of beautiful pork - they're right, free range, rare breed pork is beautiful and doesn't compare to the "blotting paper" flavour of supermarket pork.  The packaging involved a new vacuum packer which speeded the process up and keeps the meat very well.  Unfortunately, we brought the pork home in plastic sacks in the car boot.  They split, liquid seeped out, and the smell of pork juices in the car was practically unbearable - it took several attempts at cleaning and using deodoriser to eventually get back to using the car.
The two bullocks were hung for 3 and a half weeks (or aged as the supermarkets say euphemistically).  We had to make 2 trips to collect them, but they were much drier and we were much better prepared so no problems with transporting them.  It took a team of 3 people 2 days to package all the beef.  The results are fantastic and filled a massive chest freezer - this is the best beef you can buy, so if anyone reads this and would like to buy some, send me an email order.
We brought the sheep in for lambing a week ago, but so far not much has happened.  3 shearlings (last years lambs) have had a lamb each.  One had twins but the second lamb couldn't stand up.  Sandy (husband and farmer) turned the sheep over so the lamb could suckle and get some colostrum and we bottle fed it with sheep milk substitute.  In spite of our best efforts, the lamb died after 4 days.  I was sad, but Sandy always says "if you have livestock, then you have deadstock".  Typical Yorkshire farmer!
Charlie, who is our gardener here, has had some time off, because Celine, his partner has had a baby boy, Luke.  So congratulations to them, we wish them health and happiness.  And we hope you are back soon Charlie because we miss you. 
Last Tuesday and again today, we had school visits, which I love.  The children enjoy meeting the animals. They see the different areas of the farm, listen for birds in the wood, then come back to the cart shed to have a go at carding and spinning wool and end up with juice and biscuits. 
Our animals, though not pets, are used to people because our trainees learn to handle and care for them regularly.  They feed them, clean them out, collect eggs from the hens, halter and groom our highland cattle when they are calves.  They learn how to worm them, check their feet and generally be aware of what is involved in keeping healthy animals.  We hope that this summer, some trainees will be able to show the cattle at the local agricultural show.

Thursday, 24 February 2011

It's Thursday again

Hi, It's Thursday again, that means it's wool workshop day and the sun shines - wer've noticed that Thursdays are often sunny.  Wool workshop went well, we tried out a new loom and did some spinning.  We talked about selling what we've made - I think we'll have an Easter event.

A second pig, Cleo, has 8 babies.  She's a bit stressed, so, apart from feeding her, we're leaving her in peace.  She made a nest in the calf house, so the cattle can't come in for another week.  We have 2 more expectant sows, I hope they are a bit more cooperative than the first 2 - they're still out in the field, pity we can't leave them there but it's a bit too cold for new piglets.  The 2 pork pigs are going to the slaughter house on Monday, together with 2 highland bullocks, so there will be space to bring the other 2 sows in.  I'm going to be swimming in meat!  Fortunately the beef hangs for 3 weeks, which produces its great flavour, so I should have sold, or frozen the pork by then.

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Thursday, my first blog

Hi, this is my first blog and I'm not sure if anyone will want to read it, however, here goes. 

We have 4 Gloucester Old Spot sows, and we woke up to find one of them, Boadicea, had produced 11babies.  Fortunately we had brought her in from the field yesterday, but she had broken out of her pen and was free in the big shed.  Unfortunately, she had lain on some of them and 9 are left.  We have left her out today, but will have to try and get her into a pen, because she and her babies are right in the way of where the highland cattle come into feed with their calves.  We also have 2 pork pigs in there, nearly ready to eat.  The others went to Thirsk market last week and sold abysmally - there were only about 4 buyers for about 300 pork pigs.  We will have to find a better way of selling our produce.

Today, was the wool workshop (WWW, meaning Wensleydale Wool Workshop).  We breed Wensleydale sheep who have long curly fleece.  Some friends and I spend Thursdays together turning this wool into all sorts of things from clothing to cards and jewellery.  We sit in the cart shed spinning and weaving, round the wood burning stove, drinking tea and coffee and chatting.  Today, we had a dyeing day, which was great fun and very messy.  We ended up with some wonderfully coloured wool.  At lunch time we had homemade soup and bread and discussed the possibility of selling our produce to raise funds for the "hayshed experience".  No one is very experienced in selling but that was why we were originally set up so we need to make a start.  Possibilities include farmers markets, craft fairs and online, the problem is finding the time.

The "Hayshed Experience" is my daughter Lucy's company.  She gives work experience and training on the farm to disabled people.  Our trainees come every week and enjoy the activities we can offer and help to create the produce which includes eggs, beef, pork, lamb, woollen goods, fruit flowers and vegetables all in season.  The problem is selling!