Monday 29 February 2016

A new week

As much as I still get the Sunday night, work the next day feeling, I do enjoy the start of a new week. New plans, fresh ideas and a full week to fit it all in.
Tonight I have planted a few earlies in the ground after they have been chitting for a few weeks. I will do some more next week.
The tomatoes that were leggy are now planted up to their first true leaves. I hope this works. I am super pleased with how everything is doing so far. It's really exciting!!
Still no goose eggs but we're heading into March so fingers crossed for some soon. I near people saying they have had their first of the year already so we remain very hopeful.
The chicks are getting huge and already showing individual personalities. They make me laugh daily.
Food wise I have under ordered potatoes, that much I know already. I also forgot ripe banana and only ordered 'keep me' ones! All learning for the next order.
Happy days on our smallholding.

Friday 26 February 2016

The big shop

Thank you for the well wishes. Im feeling a bit better than I did.
Tesco have delivered my big shop. It's huge as per pics. These items should last us 2 weeks and some 4 weeks. Sadly,  I'm super excited about this challenge!
In truly sad news, we lost a chick today. She was the last one hatched and was struggling for over 24 hours so my husband, Steven, did the right thing by her. We are down to 8 chicks and our fingers are all crossed that they remain fit and healthy.
Also we have swapped a geese for another one. The lady we got them off was brilliant about it. We think we had 2 boys and a girl and now we hope we have girls and a boy!
Weekend plans are to gather lots of kindling, make lots of lovely food for family as per menu plan, catch up on boring jobs and get lots of seeds planted. Bliss!

Thursday 25 February 2016

Poorly chick and fabulous bridleway

A bitter sweet day here on the smallholding. After work I arrived home to have my lovely family around me, chatted with one of our two neighbours, sorted all the animals out and then headed out on foot with my daughter on her pony, to investigate a bridleway right outside our house that's been too wet to use until now. We walked for 30 minutes or so and could have gone on for more but that is enough for a winter work night. I felt loads better after it and it cleared my head for a while.
Unfortunately though, the last chick to hatch has taken ill. She's really not well and is gasping for air. We've separated her and given her a bit of sugar water but she's not great. I keep my fingers crossed that whatever happens, she isn't in pain for long, if she is at all. The down side to small holding. She looked fit and healthy until tea time.
On a good note, it's Friday tomorrow meaning a whole 3 nights and 2 days without work. Yey.

Wednesday 24 February 2016

Strange old day

It's been a strange old day today. I haven't been well due to a cold that's leaving my eyes streaming, nose running and making me sneeze what feels like non stop.  I decided to work from home so I could feel sorry for myself in peace and not spread my germs around either. It's been part sick day, part work day. I had one meeting to join and some bits of paper work (online) to see to. As I've not been well I haven't done what I would normally do in the house if I were to be alone at home nor have I done the level of work I would if I was in the office. So I feel a bit, strange! That's the only way I can describe it.
My husband was at work as normal and the kids in school. My lovely mum picked them up for me as the meeting I had was right over school collection time.
Instead of riding the horses they have had a few hours out in the field each meaning I can snuggle up in the house earlier than normal and fight this cold.
I don't suppose anyone has any home grown cold remedies? Natural ones?
In seed news the first planted are still growing strong. The others are making their way in to the world and doing well.  No more chicks have hatched so looks like 9 out of 18 eggs. 50% will do for me for the first time. They have such a loud cheep, it's lovely to listen to.
Tonight or tomorrow I must organise the pantry before the big delivery on Friday. Don't let me forget.
First lot of seeds
Second lot of seeds
First lot of seeds
View from my window seat

Tuesday 23 February 2016

Lots of little updates...the best kind

We now have 9 chicks with the last one being hatched today which is day 24. They are all gorgeous and seem to be thriving well. My handy husband has made them a bigger brooder ready for when they are too big for their current cardboard box. The new one is fully collapsable and can be stores flat if required. I did remind him I intend on having all kind of chicks in there for the coming few months so it'll be staying put for a while.
Lovely and clean
Brooder # 1
Brooder # 2
One hour or so later!

Today :)

Today I have applied for a cph number as we're hoping to get some pigs in the next month or two and this is something we must have before we can buy them. They said we should have it within the next 15 days. That fits in well time wise. 

There's no sign of any geese eggs yet but a couple of friendly bloggers have said it'll probably be March time before we can get any. I've also checked for a nest and not noticed anything yet. They have started taking themselves to bed on a night though so that's a nice step forward.
The geese having a nosey at what seeds I am planting in the greenhouse
Follow the leader
The hens are doing well and the eggs are intermittent. Some days we get 3 and others 2 but that's fine by me for now. They are young girls after all though maybe some would say that means they should be producing daily.  They are starting to follow the older girls and getting closer to my daughter, occasionally getting close enough to eat from her hand.
Loving our hens
We have also managed to move a ginormous water container in to place to harvest rain water. That will be used to water the plants and for the geese to wash in etc. I'm not sure if it will be OK for the geese and hens to drink so I will look in to that.
The first water container in place.  2nd one behind it ready to be installed.
Seedlings wise I have planted a few more tomatoes as I'm trying to do them staggered over a few weeks. The first lot I sowed are looking strong which I am really pleased with as I thought they might die.
I've set myself a challenge if only shopping every 2 weeks for food and the first delivery is on Friday.  I'm going to update the menu plan page for those interested. The budget is £350 a month for all groceries Inc meat and toiletries. That's to feed these monsters :).
Our gorgeous daughter and her chick
My amazing som with his little chick
The mood last night - stunning
The moon tonight - again, stunning.

Saturday 20 February 2016

We have chicks!

As I type this we have 4 chicks hatched with another couple pipping, meaning they have started to break through their shells. They are gorgeous. The breed that has hatched are cream legbar and can be sexed at birth based on colour and markings. So far we think we have 3 girls and a boy which is just perfect. The boy is Bernard, then we have Marmalade, Angela and Sophie 2nd.

What a lovely day.

Thursday 18 February 2016

Free range eggs!

 What a lovely day.  Today, we had three eggs from our new girls and one is huge.  It might even be another double yoker, we've had two already.

Here they are having a good feed together and enjoying the welcome warmth of the sunshine.

The geese were funny, playing in a new tub of water I put out.  They have popped their paddling pool so I will pick them up a plastic one.  When I put this down, the goose with the lighter beak who we call Neville, promptly jumped on to the back of another goose and started trying to pull her around.  Therefore I am slightly more convinced that we have a boy and a girl.  Excuse the shadow of me!

Happy Friday eve!

Wednesday 17 February 2016

Fertilised eggs, day 18

We are still no further forward in knowing if the geese are girls or boys but every day that passes is a day closer to egg laying so time will tell.
Today is day 18 for the eggs so we have taken out the sections that roll the eggs and now they are all sitting pretty ready to hatch in a humidity that's hopefully just right. Hatching is due on Saturday pm. That's our Saturday afternoon sorted! It's due to rain all day anyway so what better way to spend it.
The brooding box and heat lamp are ready for the new arrivals.
Tonight I have made a rapid wholemeal loaf and some chocolate chip cookies. I've some borax substitute on order to make home made laundry liquid and generally feeling quite good about things.
Happy Wednesday xx

Tuesday 16 February 2016

It's the little things

Today is my long day at work. It's a case of knuckle down and it will soon pass. I finish at 10pm after leaving the house at 7:30 am. I do get to do the last few hours from home but even so, Tuesday's are not favourable in my house.
So it was lovely to come home and see a pretty little gift of red and white tea towels sat on my kitchen table with a smart bow holding them together.
Thank you Mam. It's the little things that make the long days easier.
Image taken from Google images.

Sunday 14 February 2016

New tack / storage room

My gorgeous husband has outdone himself again. He's managed to put a new tack room up over the last 2 days. This means all the stuff I have, my worldly horsey belongings, now have a home.  At the moment they are stacked around the barn in a fashion that means I never know where anything is.  Thank you. It's the best valentine's gift ever.
Staying on horsey news, sorry for any non horsey people, we managed to get them all in the field for a little while over the weekend. This is a big deal for us and is a huge step forward. I'm really pleased we paid to get the fence done instead of trying to tackle that one ourselves. Great job on the fence too by a firm in Durham.
This afternoon I spent an hour with my daughter planting the next lot of seeds. We have put in more tomatoes including the beefsteak which I am really hoping make it, aubergine, onion seeds, more cauliflower, mint and chives. I'll then take the advice of notjustgreenfingers and Caroline from thehousehoarder and plant them in pots so they don't become unruly. Thanks guys.
We have also candled the eggs that are in the incubator and we think we're on for 15 of the 18. 3 were duds and went the distance. They are due on Saturday and I can't wait for their arrival.
The geese have settled in magnificantly and merrily wander around the smallholding all day. They love their water, which at the moment is a kids paddling pool and they happily chat along to each other all day. We are still not sure if they are the boy and 2 girls we asked for but they are lovely all the same.  I love this life :).

Friday 12 February 2016

Frosty morning

I was a few minutes late for work this morning as I simply had to stop and take in the beautiful scene. Again, we feel so lucky to be here.

The logs are now in situ and will stay there until they are ready to be used. The next one has been picked for felling and will be done soon.

In the mean time Steven 's job of the week is to make a new tack/storage room in the barn next to the stables. He is starting that tomorrow after buying the wood needed to do it tonight. I think it is going to be a busy weekend!

PS the fence is done!

Thursday 11 February 2016

Seedlings...bit early?

Today I was going to post about the fence progress but ad it is behind schedule and they didn't leave until after dark, I won't. It is supposed to be finished tomorrow so fingers crossed for tomorrow's update stating the fence is complete!
Instead I will tell you about my tomato seedlings. I bought a couple of cherry varieties and a beef size one called brandyvine. Sungold was one of the cherry sizes and the other name escapes me.
Most of them germinated. All but 2 I think. Great I thought.  However then I had super leggy seedlings!! Turns out maybe I didn't give them enough light. So after a quick Google I decided to replant them in slightly larger, deeper pots. Before and after pics below. There's also a couple of cauliflowers in there. They didn't germinate well at all. 2 out of 12 maybe and 1 of those 2 is questionable.
They are now sat on a south facing windowsill hoping to save them.
Nothing that we planted in the greenhouse has germinated. It is cold in there and it was a gamble but some people have managed successfully.
More to go in over the weekend and Monday as we've taken a day off together.

What a lovely day

Today I was lucky enough to be working from home.  So on my lunch hour I went outside and after tending to the horses, I weeded the next veg bed along.  The soil was lovely though clumped together in parts due to the amount of rain we have had.
Today's "new smallholder" question is... Does anyone have one of these greenhouse temperature controls are, or know how they work?  I suppose I know how it'll work, I just can't find the power for the blooming thing.  The wires leave the greenhouse in the general direction of the house but where they end up is anyone's guess.  It may not even work for all I know.  Though I would be surprised as the previous owner's have taken good care of the place.
Another 'what is it'?  Friend or foe of the veg plot?  I am uploading from my phone so for info it is the picture of the bug  I will have a google and find out.
Today sees the start of the fence going up.  We've paid for a firm to come in and do it.  It means it will be up in 3 days opposed to the 3+ weeks it would take us.  Here's what it looked like at 7:30 this morning.  Wasn't it a lovely bright morning.  It was only a week ago, less even, that 7:30 was still a dark hour of our morning's here in the North East. Spring is on the way and it feels great.
Our eggs are on day 10 in the incubator today.  I can't wait until these cuties hatch and are ready to join our 10 in Chickenville.  A while off for that yet of course. I have just realised we will have fluffy chicks for Easter!

Eat, Drink and be Merry - but now what?

In the words of the old adage "eat, drink and be merry", we can safely say we have done that during our time off the paid job.  As...