Saturday, 13 September 2014

A gradual progress

Greenhouse offerings

It’s been just over 3 months since I moved here and I don’t think I’ve stopped. Posting here has fallen by the wayside and it seems like just as I go to write, something else crops up, often when you least expect it.  A runaway sheep or a broken piece of machinery are the usual suspects; neither of which I have any experience of or am I well placed to deal with but I’m learning – slowly. 

Since I wrote last, I’ve collected my first few harvests of potatoes, salad, tomatoes, peppers, chillies and beans and I’m hoping this will continue for some time to come yet.   I didn’t think I’d have time to get anything growing this year but it’s gone quite well. The vegetable garden is still very small with the larger garden being created this autumn/winter.   I’ve decided to follow the no-dig method, firstly for establishing my beds, the same method I trialed on my allotment a couple of years back with success, and secondly throughout the rest of the growing period.  This should cut out the time and effort required to remove a lawn whilst ensuring the natural balance of the soil is kept intact. In other words – it’s easier, it's better for the soil and those within, and it has the same desired overall effect (if not better) as digging – makes sense to me! There’ll be plenty more on this in the months to come but I’d love to hear from anyone who has done this and what they found most beneficial.

The hedgerows that form the boundary around our fields have provided a feast of blackberries and plums, which I’ve made good use of.  We’ve had a few crumbles and cakes and although I’d like to get around to making jam I think this will have to wait until next year.  In the meantime I’ll just continue grazing on the berries as I tend to the animals.  I’ll be planting more edible hedges shortly too with the seedlings from around the fields and some other trees I’ll source and I’ll also try to improve on what we already have by laying some of the hedges and in filling in the gaps the sheep have exposed with young plants.

Brahma chick meets the laying flock
On the livestock front, the “flock” has expanded greatly and we now have a mini-farm situation going on - two horses, six sheep and quite a lot of chickens.  The latter are a mix of my old girls, two rescues worth of ex-battery hens, two pure-bred breeding trios (Cream Legbars and French Wheaten Marans) and a load of chicks hatched around 11 weeks ago (Speckled Sussex and Brahma).  They are great fun and extremely productive, which is great as this smallholder has many uses for their eggs, although the vast majority end up as cake.  

In addition to this I'm hoping to add a few more species to the farm. As I write, there are Turkey eggs in the incubator and when candled yesterday 5 were viable so fingers crossed for a good hatch.  These are not for Christmas I hasten to add – not this one anyway. No, Turkeys take 28 days to hatch, meaning we have another 21 days to go until we hear the tint pitter patter of scaly feet and not enough time to fatten a Turkey up in time for the big day.  They come from a heritage (wild) type bird largely used for egg production so we’ll just have to wait and see what hatches out.
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