Archive for February, 2011

Puddles, Puppies and pulling

Louise and Rik brought their new puppy Bailey over to meet all the animals this weekend. Bailey is (I think) a miniature Snauzer (sorry about the spelling) and is very mini at the moment. He picked a lovely day for his first visit. It was raining so hard the pigs couldn’t be bothered to get out of bed and the ducks and geese were practically swimming past the windows!

The geese took great acception to the new visitor and were hissing and honking at him like crazy. Bailey was bravely barking at them from behind Sarah’s legs.  When he emerged they ran away, not so brave now hey! They have failed as guard geese if they are scared of a puppy that is about a 3rd of their size. All honk and no action I tell you! The chickens didn’t really seem fussed by having a puppy in their midst, they were coming right up to him to investigate. I wonder if they would be so brave if he wasn’t on a lead!

We managed to lure the pigs out of bed with some healthy snacks but they didn’t seem very interested in the dog and he didn’t seem very interested in them. Maybe they both realised they couldn’t eat the other one and therefore there wasn’t much point in pay attention.

We also introduced Bailey to Stan the cat who was outraged that a puppy should come up to him while he was sleeping. So outraged he hissed and puffed himself up but didn’t actually get up though!

Our main task of  the weekend was moving a shed that we had put up to house John’s tractor. Chris and Helga has asked that we shift it a few metres and what better way to do that than using the tractor itself (well Chris and John don’t really need any excuse to drive the tractor about). Thankfully it had stopped raining and with the use of a series of runners (planks really) and some hefty chains and ropes the operation went pretty smoothly. It was  only a 2 cup of tea operation which really shows you how helpful the tractor was in this case. Here is a couple of photos of Man and Machine, beautiful!

My next task is seed potatoes – lots of plot holders have asked that I bulk buy some. If anyone knows of a good supplier please let  me know.

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A Farmer’s life for me

Jimmy (of Jimmy’s Farm fame) has a new series on BBC 2.  Akind of reality tv farming show where couples compete to win a Farm for a year. Chris and I got round to watching episode 1 over the weekend as a couple of people had suggested we should have a look at what one of the couples was up to. All the couples had a 3rd of an acre that they had to come up with a scheme to run a buisness from the land.

One of the couples came up with the idea of serviced allotments which sounded a lot like Allotmore – clearly genius’ like us we thought. Then they said they would use pigs to clear the land, spooky we thought, then they said they would grow communal herbs so people could snip bits off rather than all have to grow them. So similar to Allotmore we thought, perhaps they have read our blog.  It was a really strange feeling watching them but Jimmy seemed to think it was an interesting idea and  I’ll be really interested to see how it develops for them.  I’ll be tuning in tonight to see the next installment.

 

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The Butchers of Godalming

Our first pigs were butchered for us by the lovely Pete who used to let us take our pigs to him on his afternoon off and he would do them in his butchers shop. I would help ( or ask lots of questions and get in the way) and package up the meat as he went. This worked well when we only had a couple of pigs but it was a bit much to ask as we got more. A man needs to have some time off. So the last batch of pigs we have we took to another butcher, gave him our cutting lists and paid him (quite a lot) to do the job. We weren ‘t very happy with the results, he wouldn’t do the cuts that people had requested and the meat wasn’t as beautifully presented as when Pete was doing it. I was quite upset as I felt the pigs deserved better and that we had let people down. I had quite enjoyed working with Pete, it was very interesting and we could avoid any confusion as if he wasn’t sure about a cut he would just ask and we would work out what should be done.  Both Chris and I decided that if we couldn’t go to Pete any more and we didn’t want to go to someone that we couldn’t guarantee would provide the quality we would hope for we would learn how to do it ourselves.

We booked ourselves onto a Pork Butchery course at Netherfield College and have spent a very educational couple of days under the guidance of Dave the Butcher.  The course was very hands on and we got the chance to cut half a pig each in detail. Dave was a wealth of information and patience and I was very pleased (and heartened) that after 40 years as a butcher he still treated the animals with respect and cared about each cut. He does have a slightly worrying tendancy to eat the scary bits of pig infront of his daughters new boyfriends though 🙂

We now feel confident that we can cut our pigs (basic cuts only) ourselves and package and present them in an attractive way. Chris is very pleased with his butchers knots! We will need a lot of practise to be able to do it at any speed but it feels really good that we can take control of that next bit of the process. Chris is slightly worryingly planning to save all pig bones so he can make a pig skeleton as reference material – that’ll look nice in the lounge!

I’m now eyeing up the Netherfield course list – salami making sounds quie interesting. Or Lamb butchery but of course I would need some lambs for that …

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