Monday 2 January, 2017
Monday 26th December
No white Christmas, but there was a tiny smattering of white this morning.
There was a bit more at Astwood, when I went feed the steers but I don’t think it’ll last.
The steers are getting a scoop of sugar beet every day, to get them steady enough to apply a pour-on worm / fluke treatment.
Paulo caught on to the bucket really quickly; Pedro’s been a bit slower but is getting there. Robbie and Fraser, of course, know what it’s all about.
Dan’s been out in his Neoprene waders clearing the ditch; what a difference in the water level after he finished. It’s mainly leaves but there are brambles growing across the ditch, pernicious things, and of course, they’re trapping any debris.
Dan’s going to take the chainsaw along and clear them away too.
Urquhart’s quarantine is finally over and he and Teddy are out in Sheepfold.
Tuesday 27th December
What a change from yesterday – light winds, clear blue sky and 7ºC.
Dan’s been sharpening the chain saw and also trimmed more of the hedges, where it’s on to the road.
Wednesday 28th December
More hedge trimming today plus tidying up of old fence materials.
Ordered a range of tinned dog food for Meg – it seems to be what she likes best and, at 16, she can eat what she likes. She was out with me for an hour this morning and again this afternoon; yesterday, I took her for a wee walk, which she really seemed to enjoy – she spent ages sniffing and sniffing new smells. Her back end is weak now and she can be a bit incontinent, but we’re managing that and she’s quite happy, so we’ll keep on keeping on.
Been doing some work on the planned barn extension; I need a Lottery win, not a Small Farm Grant.
Thursday 29th December
And more hedge trimming and weeding. Life is a tad repetitive these days.
For a bit of light relief, Dan got out the chain saw, sharpened it using his new tool and cut some wood. He was going to buy a new chainsaw but has saved hundreds of pounds by sharpening the old one properly.
The hedge cutting revealed the litter underneath, so he’s been picking that up too. Tidy man.
We tried our Cheddar cheese for the first time - we've got two Cheddars that have been maturing in the cheese cave for about 6 months, one in wax and one with a natural rind developed with olive oil and salt. It was this one we tried, and it was pretty impressive for a first attempt - nice texture, quite mild and just salty enough.
We ate a little then vacuum packed it and popped it back in the cave for another 3 months or so to develop the flavour further. I think Dan's planning to make a lot more this year, and probably double the depth so we lose less through drying and rind development.
Friday 30th December
Our egg yield has actually risen since we brought the hens in, probably due to increased “daylength” from the artificial light. I bought solar lighting for the hen houses last year but it’s still in the packaging – now thinking I might actually use it next winter.
Took a few minutes to give the cows a brush with a soft brush – goodness, they do love it.
Did some work on the agenda for the first steering group metting for the new smallholders organisation.
Saturday 31st December
Very windy today but quite pleasant working outside in the veg garden.
Finally finished the weeding, including the polytunnel and Dan started to barrow manure on to the beds.
Splashed out and bought a 3m x 3m vegetable cage from Harrod Horticultural plus some polycarbonate sheets to extend the covered poultry run on the caravan - a sound investment, since we’ll likely need it every year.
Sunday 1st January
Happy New Year and all the best for 2017! Frosty this morning for a change, and very still.
Started to get the black plastic down over the manure, so grateful for the lack of breeze.
Dan started to mark out the new flower beds and patio – this will use up the old sleepers lying around the property and the slabs that we bought 6 years ago, as well as giving us somewhere nice to sit on warm sunny days.
We also spent some time looking at the workshop and planning what work we’re going to do in there – it’s the time of year, I think.
Dan came with me to Astwood and we got the Closamectin on the steers; they’ll get a repeat dose in eight weeks.
After dinner, I succumbed to the lure of the seed catalogues and bought some seed tapes to try. Also bought a few new strawberry runners, just for fun. Planning to put them in half barrels in the polytunnel.