Archive for May, 2011

Butchery and babies

The pigs finally went off to the abbatoir. They were so good and wandered happily into their trailer without a care in the world. I felt so bad that they were so innocently heading off to their doom. As always the men at the abbatoir were kind and helpful and made a horrible event go as smoothly as possible. They even took the time to offer some butchery advice.

Our first attempt at butchery was quite slow and both Chris and I have lots of little cuts on our fingers – those knives are sharp!  but I am pleased with the results and feel so much happier that we have done the pigs justice than I did when we got the pigs back from the butcher last time. Taking the time and care to prepare the meat at this stage is all part of the care of the animals to me but maybe I am a sentimental fool? We bought a new sausage stuffer and Chris has been experimenting with sausage flavours. The feedback so far is good with the sage and onion proving to be a popular won with the paprika being a surprise favourite. The butchering and sausage making took us two very long days but was a really good learning experience.

We are still waiting for it to rain but everyones plots are looking very good – what a green fingered bunched we have gathered. People are starting to be able to harvest their first crops and it is great to see what is doing well this year.

Kratos the chicken is proving to be an excellent Mum and she and her adopted babies are now running with the other hens. She gets them a good spot in the hen house at night and this morning was facing off to one of the geese who got too close to a baby. I’ve had a little dorking chick hatch and I am hoping to some how get Kratos to adopt that one as well in a week or so. Not quite sure how to do that yet though.

Shuttlecock the Indian Runner duckling is no longer an only child. As much as it was lovely being  his/her mum I decided that he needed duck buddies rather than me. I managed to find a similar aged duckling, now known as Rocket, and they seem to be getting on just fine, there is a slight problem in that Shuttle likes people but is scared of other ducks and Rocket likes ducks but is scared of people but hopefully they can teach each other a thing or two. Both of them and all the other ducks have had a few swims together on the big pond now and the big ducks are starting to accept them. Rocket really wants to be part of the main gang and hurls himself at them – they don’t seem to mind too much so hopefully they will all be one duck flock soon.

This week we have been preparing the pig area for new piglets which are arriving on friday and pumpkin planting which will hopefully start this weekend. Will we beat last years dismal pumpkin performance… Never a dull moment at allotmore 🙂

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Busy but no bees

Things have been really busy at Allotmore. The growing bug has been spreading and we have had an influx of new members, all keen to get growing!

We had a stand at the Loseley House Grow Your Own weekend and met loads of lovely people, some of whom have now signed up to Allotmore.  Grow Your Own was a nice little fayre although it was really windy and hard to hang on to your gazebo – it was quite funny to watch them floating across the field at times though. It was the first year of the fayre so it was quite little, it had a nice atmosphere though so I hope they do it again and more people give it a go.

Chris and I managed to pick up 6 Cobb chicks from the Sussex Smallholders and are now in our first foray into meat chickens.  The chicks are crazy little things and seem to be doing really well.  Kratos ( named by Dan!) our little black chicken had been broody for a while so I had also bought 6 hatching eggs for her to try to hatch ( I swapped 3 with someone so had 3 pekins and 3 runner ducks), given the space we have available I put her and her eggs in with the chicks. She started off happily sitting on the eggs but the next day she decided that this hatching thing is very easy as she already had 6 chicks of her very own. She seems to be having a lovely time bossing her new babies around and it is very funny seeing her squeeze them all under her – she is only little. It’s been good for the potential hatchers though – I’m going to have to go elsewhere to get Shuttlecock the duckling some buddies.

As always Chris and I hadn’t really anticipated the reaction we would get from our trip out to Loseley. We had space ready for new plots but none actually tilled and ready to go. Imagine our surprise this weekend when lots of lovely people arrive and want to join us. We called in the services of Dan and my Dad and prepared the plots just in time and we are now in the very lucky position of only having one plot available for the time being! It’s quite funny how the land looks smaller now it is tamed – there are some very impressive plots being created though and getting lots of inspiration from everyone. Its great to see how everyone has different ideas as well. All we need now is a little bit of rain.

Sad news from our Bee hive recently. Debbie ( the bee lady) arrived to check on the bees only to find they had all gone. We don’t know if they swarmed, were attacked or if they just died. She is investigating and I hope will be able to solve the problem and we will have some new stripey friends.

I finally have to put off taking the two remaining pigs to the abbatoir and they are booked in for next tuesday. I’m going to be very sad to see them go and am consoling myself with the news that Lizzie and Spot seem to have been enjoying a bit of action so the pitter patter of tiny trotters is once more a possibilty. I’ve also just bought a new sausage stuffer – my life is so glam!

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Chicken naming competiton winners

We had a little stall at the Farncombe Spring Fayre this saturday and took along two of our ex bat hens. We ran a competition to raise a little bit of money for British Hen Welfare and invited people to enter their names for the girls. We got lots of fabulous entries but we had to choose two in the end. We drew them out of a hat to keep things fair and the two birds will now be known as Henny and Feathers. We have lots of inspiration for new chicken names now though and will have plenty to choose from when we next get new hens.  Thank you to everyone who took part!

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