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Friday, 18 December 2015

Milly...the leader. And other happenings

It seems that Milly mother goat has leadership qualities. The goats are still going out with the goatherd as the weather continues fine, with cold nights but generally sunny days. They are both happier for it and though we were going to start keeping them in, we might as well make the most of the weather and I'm sure lead shepherd is happy to be paid for traditionally lean months. He seems to be happy the way Milly has taken up the lead position, heading the herd with Tilly close behind. Talking to their previous owner, it seems this is not unexpected as she was a bit bossy withing his herd.

We still don't know if she is pregnant this time, I hope so as we really don't want her kidding in the hotter months. She is looking well and has grown quite a decent long coat. Her hooves are in better shape with the extra walking too. They are both tired when they come home and after milking (a little less than a litre, plenty for us at the moment) they curl up together on the bench. There is plenty of bedding where they have pulled hay from the hay bags and dropped it on the floor, they won't eat it from the floor and it is a nice thick, warm bed if it turns cold. The chickens like it too!

There has been yet another change in poultry towers, are you keeping up? The three original ducks have gone to a new home. Although the ducks were all getting along, generally, we don't want them cross breeding with the runners so the choices were that we have two pens or find the big ducks a new home, despite the noise they were making telling us they were getting ready to lay. We put feelers out on Facebook to see if there would be any interest and to our surprise they were sold within minutes. So they have gone to live with an even more diverse flock than our's and are so happy one has started laying already!
The out-going trio just before they left

Dave has been trying to find some more female runners and a breeder has agreed to sell us some. So it's off on a trip to fetch them in a couple of days. It will take most of the day but we will see a part of the country we have never seen so it should be interesting.

Dandy seems to have settled in well, the girls seem quite happy with him. He has found his voice properly but does not crow as loud, for as long as others have done. He likes to sit in the corner of the goat house clucking to himself (a bit confused?). One of the chicks, young Suzi the white one, has started laying, he first being rather large for a maiden (ouch!) and the second a nice small pullet egg. Dandy has taken to sitting with her. Her sister, Hairy Mary is showing no interest in the nest boxes yet. So despite some of the chickens looking decidedly oven ready as they moult, egg numbers are starting to creep up.
Dandy watching out for Mary

Pullet egg on the right
Well, he's seen the hens settling themselves to lay, so thought he'd have a go

Poor Chubba, usually she has a very luxuriant covering of glossy feathers, but with those bald patches she must be feeling the chill in the air.

The cats are being a bit of a pain. Especially my little ginger friend. He seems to be getting hold of some e-numbers and has reverted to charging up and down the stairs at 3am, unsettling Bella who is convinced she is in mortal danger. When they play like this the two cats can sound like a herd of horses! We tried stoking the fire to keep him too warm...but then we are too warm. So last night we had to just shut the bedroom door. Sounds simple and it is, but as it gets colder we will have to leave it open to keep upstairs heated.
If Spud leans any closer to the fire he will fall off!

A safer option, though not sure what he's doing with that chew

Bonnie tolerating Charlie

In the garden our Christmas veggies are coming on well and there are plenty of herbs to boost flavour. There are still flowers and weeds growing but the most vulnerable, such as rhubarb, are at last going to sleep for a while after a few light frosts. I will be starting the indoor sowing in a week or so, but anything that can be sown direct will be, there seems to be no benefit in starting such as peas, beans and sweetcorn indoors. I am going to do more onions from seed though and they can be started now, but I will stagger the tomatoes in an effort to get some late fruiting plants. I seem to have too many varieties though.....which to choose?
Our first feed from the winter broccoli. The actual purple sprouts are small but tasty

I have started to prepare for the Christmas meals. I don't see the point of leaving everything till the last minute. So my nut  roast, the stuffing and breadcrumbs for bread sauce are all in the freezer. We already have apple sauce done (they are having pork) The cakes have been started, I have used home made marzipan for our's and bought stuff for the give aways (brought over from our visit to the UK) I have had to make some more mincemeat just in case as friends have asked for some. I've just made a large batch of requested blackcurrant jam, some raspberry just for us and some redcurrant chutney-jam. It started out as redcurrant and orange jam, but soon moved on to be chutney with the addition of some onion, spices and vinegar. No idea what it tastes like but we will be having some on New Year when we go to my sister for roast lamb (and nut roast!)
Double yolker in the stuffing

Nut roast with chunks of quorn ready for the freezer, the left over will go for veggie sausage rolls

Redcurrant and orange chutney-jam

16 jars of blackcurrant jam....definitely the last!

I have also found a really nice recipe for spiced pumpkin cake which is useful for using up some butternut squash and makes a delicious moist cake, very yummy. Of course I tweaked it. I added orange zest and walnuts and used a water ice made with orange juice for the top. Will be making it again soon.

Baking day
And a cheese pastie stolen from a hot tray straight from the oven by the ginger  monster....who doesn't like cheese!

My favourite thing at the moment is a slaw made from apples, carrots and some other veg, either cabbage or fennel, with nuts and seeds in honey and lemon dressing. Really lovely with home made cheese and freshly boiled beets from the garden.

Dave has started a new experimental hobby. First he started with the sewing machine and made a table cloth and fixed other bits and pieces, but now he has moved on to air dried modelling clay and has made a really sweet mobile of clown fish. It will be interesting to see where it leads.
Haha, don't rub your nose while using clay!


  1. Interesting to read another variety in BG life, our shepherd used to get paid even when he couldn't take them out because of snow. I love the Clown Fish mobile - talented bloke that Dave fella.

    1. I think he probably will too Tracey, from us anyway. Now that we have sorted out the payments and who is and is not supposed to ask for money. Suffice to say that the first month was a bit expensive. But we live and learn.

      As you know, Dave always has to have something to do and we have far too many paintings stacked up. so I welcome the smaller things to store. I think the clown fish are charming too.

  2. I wish we could put our goats out but it has been so wet there is no point, they both seem to be pregnant as well, over the holidays we are building a nice new big goat house :-)

    1. We have been lucky with the weather this year. They can tolerate the cold quite well but they dash for cover as soon as that first drop of rain falls. They have to stay in the paddock if we are going to be out for a while, if they are brought home (or come home themselves) they hang about till we can let them in, we have now given our neighbour a key to the gate...just in case.

  3. How I envy you getting ready to sow your seeds although the weather is warm for the time of year here in the UK its been very wet and windy. I needed to sow my beans and peas in the kitchen and harden off on the balcony this year because the year before all the direct sown peas and beans where dug up and eaten by mice on the allotment of course we didn't know this at first just put two and two together when the awaited seedlings failed to appear, all the allotment holders had the same problem in 2014. Anyway I'll have to bide my time sowing wise until well into the new year.

    1. Only certain things Kath. I was given a crate of seed potatoes the other day so will give growing a few in the polytunnel a go after next week. The main things to get sown are early tomatoes, onions, peppers and strawberries. I try not to do too much indoors, moving them away from the window at night if there is a severe frost forecast is a pain!

  4. I too love the clown fish mobile and agree what a talented guy Dave is.I love the photo of Dandy making himself a nest. If the girls can do it why can't he!

    1. Bless him, he's a sweetheart.
      I always fancied a really large tank full of lots of varieties of clown fish. Alas, I have never been rich!