Happy New Year – lets hope its a good one

Sorry for the slack start to 2015, I’ve been hibernating for a while and enjoying not having any turkey’s, lambs or pigs to get up and feed and defrost. It is a bit strange though. I feel at a bit of a loose end without them to tend too and am looking forward to the spring and the arrival of the new babies. The chickens seem to be thriving without the ducks to hassle them and we have loads of eggs but no allotmenteers to eat them at the moment. I don’t blame them though, there isn’t much point to trying to dig when it is minus 4 out there. It is very beautiful in the frost though.

Last year was a bit of a trying one for us but an interesting journey at the same time. I lost faith in people and in myself for a while as I couldn’t believe the way some people were acting toward our project but I also learned what an amazing community we have here at allotmore. Everyone has been brilliant and shown that true friendships have been made and that allotmore does make a difference to peoples lives. I feel quite honoured to have met and made friends with such a diverse and lovely bunch. Some of the gang had a tough year for other reasons but it is great to go into 2015 with everyone in good health and full of hope for the future.

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Bye bye Bam Bam

Tomorrow is going to be a sad day. It is time to say goodbye to my lambs. They have been a real pleasure to have and I would love to be able to keep them but they are all boys and its only a matter of time until they get really butty and unpleasant. I’m also quite keen to not have many animals through he winter months for quite a few reasons. Not spending a fortune on feed and not defrosting water being a couple.

Never having had any sheep before its been really hard to work out if they are ready to go or not. I’ve been seeking advice and generally get the same answer – squeeze their back and if they feel too boney they aren’t ready. Seems straight forward but what is “too boney”and how hard do you press. I’ve decided its going to have to be one of those things you learn from experience. I think they might be thinner than ideal but we shall see. I wanted to take them before the butcher gets Christmas Crazy and is too busy to deal with them.

I’ve been investigating getting sheep skins cured as well so will be sending their fleeces off to a company in Devon who will make them into rugs. Hardly anyone does this anymore and the abattoir will usually take the fleeces as a perk and sell them on abroad. I’ve had to apply to Animal Health to get permission to buy them back from the abattoir. They were really helpful so hopefully all will be well and I will get a nice memento of my boys.

The turkeys are still growing and eating constantly. I’m hoping that they won’t get as big this year as we had a load of 10kg plus ones last year and that is just too big. We have taken measures to make sure that doesn’t happen and have much more girls this year and they don’t get so big. We also didn’t get the chicks till a month later than last year so things should be ok.

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Stone the crows

Well, I’d like to but it’s probably frowned apon! The battle against the birds continues with the crows very cheekily eating everyones corn on the cob just as it got ripe. I hadn’t really considered that crows loved sweetcorn so much but they really do. I’d noticed a little bit of damage to some of the plants and Dad thought the renegade chickens had been having a peck and put up some protective mesh. It turns out the chicks were innocent and I went out to watch the crows sitting on the mesh feasting on the cobs. They squished down the plants and pecked pretty much every cob. They had a complete rampage and seemed to have eaten everyones corn in one night.

Today was the first proper outing for the turkey chicks as they are getting a bit bigger now and not so at risk from the buzzards I thought. They had been out for a few hours when I went to check on them and found the crows and a gang of magpies sitting on the shed roof watching. Jason at Surrey Turkeys had said that magpies had taken some of his chicks by pulling them through the mesh. I thought our little guys were big enough to not be at risk but now i’m not so sure. Hmm isn’t nature wonderful!

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Magpie mayhem

I’m looking for some advice on what to do about over confident magpies. It seems that Wood Farm provides the the ideal breeding ground for them and this summer we are inundated with the black and white mischief makers. I could just about handle them pinching the chickens food and making a racket all the time- The poor cats are always being shouted at by a gaggle of birds – but now they have gone too far.

For a while I’ve been finding egg shells in some of the plots and finding holes in the eggs in the basket in the clubhouse.The magpies have been popping in to the clubhouse to help themselves to the eggs. I noticed and covered up the eggs with a cloth, they pecked that up and chucked it on the floor and carried on egg eating. I’ve been sitting in the clubhouse with the door shut and heard a tapping at the door. I looked up and there was a magpie trying to come in! They don’t even do a fly by they are so cheeky they hop up the steps and take their time. One had even helped itself to the walnuts off the top of a cake my Mum makde – it was wrapped up and everything!

I sort of admire their cheek but this needs to stop now and I could do with less of them being around – I counted 11 sitting over by the pond one day – any ideas??

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Weed need help and lovely little lambs

The weather seems to be conspiring against me and is firmly on the side of the weeds! It has been warm while I have been away and then rained loads while I am here so the weeds are have having a field day. I’m not quite dedicated enough to do the weeding while it’s tipping down but I might have to soon or they might actually take over everything. if only the things you wanted to grow and tended to loving grew as quickly as the weeds!

Ive embarked in a little adventure this week. A while a go I went down to. Bower Hill Farm to watch (help/hinder) the lambing. I’d been watching Kate Humble, I was fully qualified ūüėČ as it turned out no lambs were born while I was here and Guy hadn’t had any sock lambs this year at the time. I had been thinking about trying to raise a couple of sheep but it seemed that it wasn’t the right time and so had put that idea on hold- until last week. I got a message from Guy saying he had a couple for me so I’ve just been down and picked them up. He managed to. Persuade me to take all 3 and they are very sweet. (At the moment) . He took me to buy all the kit and so I’m bottle feeding them and seeing how we go. They seem to be starving every feed and are skipping about all over the place so I hope that is a good sign. bit out of my depth with these little guys but enjoying it. They are making good use of thje turkey facilities¬†

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A cuckoo – you must be kidding

I was having a conversation with Nancy, Chris’s, Nana, a couple of weeks ago about how you always heard a Cuckoo in May when she was younger ( she is in her 90’s) and how I didn’t think I’d ever actually heard one for real. Low and behold the last few days I have been hearing a Cuckoo calling every afternoon and Chris even thinks he saw it sitting on the roof today. I know Cuckoo’s don’t have a very good reputation but it is a nice sound to hear and they are endangered so it’s nice to know there is one out there. ( I hope there are two for their sake)

Today I was on goat midwife duty as H had to go out. As always with these things and the perverse nature of goats. As soon as H drove off Emily the goat went into labour. ¬†Luckily she has done it before and took it all in her stride. The whole thing was very quick. She was agitated and shifting about so I thought something might be happening. I decided to leave her in peace for a bit and went back half an hour later to find her waters had broken and some hooves and a nose sticking out. The first kid was born easily and Emily did all the right things so I didn’t have to do anything. I just had time to call H and tell her the news when a second set of hooves appeared – no nose though. Hmmm I thought. Emily seemed quite calm so I decided to just watch and see, Quickly there was two legs and no nose – this one was coming out backwards. Very quickly the bottom came out and I thought I’m going to have to help but just as I was going to wash my hands the second kid plopped out. This one took a little bit longer to get moving but Emily cleaned it all up and seemed to have it all under control. ¬†She is the proud mum of two very cute babies. They have had their first milk and were snuggled up together under the heat lamp while Emily was stuffing her face and drinking warm water – the goat equivalent of NHS tea and toast I guess. This bit of animal care is so lovely when it all goes smoothly. Long may it continue!


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A pig decision

We have 6 new little piglets coming in May. They are little saddlebacks and I can’t wait to meet them. Their arrival has left me with a big dilemma though and I’m not sure what to do.
Lizzie has been with us since we started but she didn’t get pregnant at all last year despite a lot of attempts. She is a big pig and she eats a lot and she isn’t particularly friendly so the sensible me says its time to say goodbye and get some tasty sausages before its too late. The sentimental me just can’t bring myself to do it though.

I’ve tried to find her a retirement home but nothing has turned up. I need to get it sorted before the little ones arrive as we don’t have that much space and she will not be welcoming to new pigs. Lots of the allotmenters have said they want her to stay but i’m just not sure. Any suggestions would be most welcome !

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Big Dig and a bit of decorating

Finally spring has sprung and this weekend was absolutely beautiful! We have been have a bit of a freshen up of the clubhouse and it’s all looking spick and span and smelling of fresh paint. We decided that the rain had been putting people off for too long and so this weekend we made soup and lots of cakes and got a good crowd of diggers. The sun was out and the spring flowers have started to show their faces. Everyone was very enthusiastic and lots of hard work was done and lots of scones with cream and jam and rhubarb cake was eaten. It really felt that optimism was in the air and that everyone had a new hope. It’s been a long, wet, lonely winter but things are looking up! I might just have been inspired to order this years turkey chicks and piglets as well. Very exciting…

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It’s raining, It’s pouring!

2014 has been pretty damp so far. Luckily it isn’t prime growing time so nothing is suffering too much. We are getting a bit behind in this year’s prep though as it is far too damp for digging. Hopefully it will stop sometime soon and we can get cracking. At least a hosepipe ban is looking pretty unlikely.

I am feeling sorry for Lizzie and the Chickens who are all looking pretty miserable. Lizzie didn’t even come out of her ark this afternoon for her dinner. You know things are bad when a pig chooses to stay in bed rather than eat! The ducks and geese seem to be having a lovely time splashing about so at least they are happy.

I guess we can all stay inside and keep warm and dry and start planning what we are going to grow this year (and dream of those summer evenings playing boule.)

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Yesterday was our turkey prep day and the weather was absolutely hideous. I was starting to feel that there was some sort of conspiracy against us this year as every time we have arranged something the weather has been bad which makes things tricky when you are going to be outside all day.

It’s really important to me that our animals lead a happy, healthy life and if they are to become food that they have the best life possible beforehand. The turkeys have done really well this year but I never look forward to the big day when they go to fulfill their destiny. Looking out at the weather it just felt wrong and I was very worried that people wouldn’t come out to help and get their bird.

In fact what happened was that I was reminded what an amazing place allotmore is and how many brilliant people are involved. The team worked hard all day and everyone got their turkey, the animals were treated with respect but their was an air of celebration and festivity as well. A lot of mince pies got eaten and even some christmas songs were sung in the rain. You are all amazing!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year everyone and I hope 2014 is a good one for you all x




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