Meekle’s Blog – An Insight into Downsizing

New Bird
January 31, 2010, 10:21 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

well, just when you think the sun has finally beaten the snow, it starts snowing again. not that i really mind.  sure it makes life fun trying to defrost the feeders and drinkers for the birds, but the air seems so clean and pure after a good hard frost.

so, just when i was considering sitting in front of the log fire, we got a call to rehome a light sussex cockerel. so, back off outside in the blizzard like snow, to complete a new covered run (8′ x 2′) before we could go and get the cockerel.

we collected him this afternoon an he went into the run well. soon took it over as his own territory, and welcomed the influx of a light sussex chick and some cream legbars, cobars, and olives. all hens so that there was no competition from other boys!

here is “Sunny” the cockerel with an Olive looking at him! he is around 12 weeks old, and the other birds with him are around 16 weeks old.

January 19, 2010, 7:42 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

Well if you remained awake for at least 30 seconds last week, you will know that the UK had a bad dose of snow. (nothing compared to when i was a kid but there you go). It makes a Canadian friend of mine chuckle when we say that the UK was brought to a standstill by 4″ of snow!

Anyway, snow can play hell up with your chickens and livestock. They dont want to leave the house, feeding can be an issue and the water drinkers freeze up as soon as you put them out.

with regards to the drinkers, the first action should be to place them in the house with the birds if there’s room as the residual body heat of the birds shoudl keep them frost free under normal circumstances. If you cant get them in the houses, then you can try placing some glycerine solution in them. Glycerine solution is a pure liquid sugar available from chemist, cake decorators etc. IT MUST NOT BE CONFUSED WITH ANTIFREEZE which is ethylene glycol and if drunk will kill your birds!

Make up a solution of a maximum of 9 parts water to one part glycerine to protect the water down to -4 celcius. Any more glycerine and it will actually speed up the freezing process, not to mention put you birds in a diabetic coma if you really over do it!

Given the really cold weather we have had this last week, down to -14 at times, then no amount of glycerine will help that! the best management then is to place little anounts of water out, let them drink and then place some more out. At night bring the drinkers in the house, wash them out and store dry ready for filling in the morning. Try not to leave out in the cold overnight as trying to defrost a kilo of solid ice in the morning is not a good start to the morning

Snowy fields at Sunrise

We are starting the new season already now, with a half dozen porcelain sablepoot eggs in the incubator, and we have gathered together the seeds for the coming year. we reckon we have managed to get a nearly 11 month cycle of cabbage, lettuce and onions, and look forward to the rest of the produce following on. We already have the potatoes chitting on the windowsill, we have the first lot of lettuce sown in a propagator and we are going to try our luck with a patio aubergine this year called “Oephelia”. it is reputed to be the Tom Tumbler of teh aubergine world, so we will see how that pans out.

On the meat front, we managed to get in a whole lamb for butchering – havent produced our own but we will when we get enough land – and a couple of hours saw it bined, rolled, stuffed and made into a huge array of cuts for the freezer. We are hopefully getting a whole pig for the freezer at the end of the month, and we have asked for it to be split and then left as two whole sides as i want to butcher it into the cuts i want and cure a few pieces in the salt tub too.

I recently made some black pudding, but due to teh safety awareness attitude of the EU, you can now only buy in the dried blood that you need to rehydrate. I bought the kit from Weschenfelder Supplies in the UK, and made my first batch. I couldnt get hold of any back fat to dice up, so the instructions recommended using suet. well that worked but not as well as the back fat. I have now picked up a kilo of pork back fat from a traditional butchers shop and will have another go at the black puddings!

As ever, if you ever want any recipes etc from us, or advice on the birds etc, please do not hesitate to contact us. Watch out in the next couple of issues of Homefarmer Magazine as we have been writing articles again for them – lets see what they publish eh?