Monthly Archives: March 2010

Taking a stand and joining in

Last night it was Earth Hour, and this year I remembered and joined in at the right time. It was nice to sit quietly knitting by candle light knowing that I was taken part in something much bigger. I’m not really a great fan of going out and spending time with people, the hermit in me much prefers to be doing my own thing in my own space but I get drawn to events like Earth Hour and Spend Nothing Day and it makes me feel included in a community of like minded people.

One of my biggest bug-bears is the way that a large part of society refuses to take part, they are quite happy to moan about and gripe about things almost as a default mode of speech but ask them how they are going to help and they don’t know. They disempower themselves, and are happy to think that someone else will take care of it as “what can they do any way?”.

Things like Earth Hour bring people together and offer them a SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timed) activity to take part in. It is something you can point to and say “well, you could start with this”.

The next ‘protest’ I am taking part in is A Nestle Free Easter (an event happily bought to my attention by Facebook, so there is a use for it after all…)

April the 4th is Easter Sunday and we would like for it to be a nestle free easter. Nestle have admitted recently they are using unsustainable palm oil in their chocolate manufacturing meaning the rainforests of Indonesia are being cut down to plant this palm oil and it is destroying the homes of the orangutans who are on the verge of being extinct. 

In addition they are responsible for the deaths of 1.5 million babies a year in developing countries due to their aggressive marketing of formula milk. Giving free formula (against the WHO code) and telling breastfeeding mothers that their formula is better than breast milk. Once the mother milk has dried up, they take back their formula and they have to buy it which they can’t afford. The conditions aren’t good for making formula safely and because babies are not protected any more by breastmilk they are dying.

This is also in addition to the using of child labour to pick the cocoa bean and their practices of aggressive marketing of formula. They are the most boycotted company in the world. Please sign up to show you will be having a nestle free easter


 Boycotting products is not something I am that good at, shops and businesses, yes,  and I have a whole list of shops I will never set foot in. Mother has boycotted Nestle for as long as I can remember, but I have only done so in phases.

Nestle own an amazing list of comany’s (including Purina pet food, Rowntrees and Polo) so, as with Proctor and Gamble, it isn’t always obvious that it is their product but hopefully the day will highlight some of the less known products and companies linked with them.

If anyone else is taking part in this, or any other boycotting events, or just had a nice Earth Hour please let me know.

Goat kid up-date

The goat kids will be four weeks old this weekend. It doesn’t feel like it has been that long since they were born, but in another way it feels like they have lived here as long as any of the other goats.

Bella having a bottle - 21st March 2010

They are all now disbudded, Briony was done last week and Bella was done this week. Bella has had an infection in one of her knees, it responded well to the first course of antibiotics but swelled up again when the course finished. She has been back into the vets and had the knee ‘flushed out’, which is why she wasn’t disbudded until this week. Her knee is much better now but the infection has damaged the cartilage which is going to take a long time to heal.

The Tog kids have been named, Betsy and Bramble. They are both now far to heavy for our 5kg feed scales, so have not been weighed since I last posted their weight. Last week Briony weighed 4.75kg and Bella weighed 4.3kg, the infection has had an impact on her growing as fast as the others and since she had her knee flushed she has been living in the kitchen as it has to be kept dry and clean.

Once upon a time, many moons ago…

I was learning to knit again. It was on this day in 2008 that I posted my first proper blog post.This is my second blog, the first one was very much a warm up to this one. And having spent some time reading back through my posts I thought I had posted most of it on this one any way, and all not that long ago either! I began blogging in November 2007 with this: 

A place to begin…Last night I finally got the push I needed to start off, I was on a forum and someone said that they would love to follow something like this, there are already loads of popular TV series, books and magazines about self sufficient so that must mean that other people are interested to. So this is my two pence worth to add to. My idea is very simple: produce as much food for myself as is possible with what I’ve got, that said I already know that it isn’t as simple a task as it sounds. I also would like to learn how to live as cheaply as possible and make some money from the things I enjoy doing.

 What I already have/where I’m at: I already keep goats, two of whom are in milk but I’m not milking them at the moment for no really reason other than the fact that I haven’t sorted myself out into doing this. I have quail; I got some for my last years Christmas present (in April, but I said I wanted to wait to get what I really wanted rather than having something else) from these there is one male left and I brought four more the other day, two females and two males and I brought 24 eggs, 12 of two types, for hatching from ebay last night, they should arrive on Tuesday next week.

 I’m a vegetarian, but others in my family eat meat, and I’ve got most of a vegetable garden up and running now but ‘the family’ have just been told that we can use part of a field we keep donkeys on as a vegetable garden as well which is quite a big space. I’m going up there tomorrow to start clearing the ground and covering some of it with manure ready for the summer.

 “The Family”: that is me (eldest daughter) my parents, my two younger sisters, a younger brother and my boyfriend. ‘The Family’ also includes a whole host of dogs, cats, ponies, donkeys, cows, sheep, chickens, ducks, rabbits and a guinea pig. I don’t think I’ve left anything out but I might have.

 So there are a lot of us, some useful others not so useful. I plan to be adding more very soon and to start adding some photo’s when I’ve got to grips with how to do things on here.

I changed blogs as I wanted to have more control of the way that it looked, and in particular a banner that I could add my own photos to.  A train track in the middle of nowhere is nice… But it wasn’t really what I was looking for. 

So what has changed since my first ever blog post? Well, I have almost finished my first own-spun and knitted project… more details coming soon. 

I have grown my own potatoes for the first time, and leeks, and carrots, and some other thing too; I have made butter and cheese from our own cows milk and cream. I have started keeping chickens, and am having another break from keeping quail, mother has the remaining trio that I had. 

‘The Family’ has grown, my baby sister will be eighteen this summer, we all have boy/girlfriends and although we are all still one big family it feels like we are also splitting off into our own little families as well. 

I am a published magazine writer… Twice. 

I have a much better job and am in much better health then I was back then. I have survived no less than two redundancies. I have become much more of an ‘outdoors’ person, even in the pouring rain I am still happy enough (cue a week long down-pour, sorry) and have much more of an idea of who I am and what I want to do. 

All this sounds very fluffy and… Picture prefect, but the thing is the milestones for ‘this kind of life’ are more woolly or yearly events than anything else. Lambing is followed by shearing, sowing time is followed by the growing season, followed by harvest time… Each year starts with hopes and dreams of building on what has been started the year before, which is followed by successes and failures, wet muddy times followed by the smell of grass cutting and fat happy animals sun bathing. It is a circle that keeps going and has no really ending. 

So here I am again, writing a blog post, in the middle of lambing. It has been raining outside and it is probably not all that different to the very first time I put fingers to keyboard for the first post of this blog and that is just fine by me…

Sun, sun, sun

I’ve had this last week off work, which has been useful as me and mother have been able to split the night and morning lambing shifts between us. It has been nice weather all week but I had my first assignment to do which I handed in yesterday, it doesn’t feel like I have spent much time outdoors at all really. But the sun has made lambing nicer, no walking around in the pouring rain or sitting in the drizzle whilst deciding if a ewe needs help or not, or even just walking around in mud all the time.

The goat kids have had a busy week too; mothers two have been disbudded (which stops them growing horns) and all of the babies have started to come away from their mothers at night so as we can milk in the morning. After a bottle the babies go back in with their mums for the day. 

I have chosen names for mine; the darkest one (with least white on her head) is Belladonna, Bella for short, named after her father Knightshade and the other is Briony. Mother still hasn’t chosen names for hers so they are still being referred to as ‘straight’ and ‘curly’ as one of them has a slightly wavy coat. We weigh them again yesterday and they have all double in weight, mothers two are 5.2 and 5.3kg, Bella is 3.3kg and Briony is 3.8kg

The weather today has been really warm… almost hot even… and the garden is starting to grow as well now. The Lemon Balm is sending up new shoots and the self-sown garlic bed has lots of sprouts coming through and the Raab 60 that I sowed at the end of last week is up and doing well. Today I have sown some Musselburgh Leeks and some True and Tender Parsnips. The leeks have been sown in module seed trays and the parsnips have been sown into toilet roll inner tubes, one or tube, so as they can be sown out without disturbing the roots.

Goat photos

Lenka's kids. The prfect photo sujects - 8th March 2010

Cerys kids, "we will not sit for photos" - 8th March 2010

"What is she doing and do you have anything for us?" - 8th March 2010

Sunshine and lambs play

Another lovely sunny day today. I had a training course yesterday but am now, apart from a short meeting tomorrow, on a weeks holiday.  

This morning started with another lamb. This time a very big single ram lamb, who got stuck on the way out as he legs weren’t properly forward. It didn’t take long to sort out but mum is not bounding very well with him, he has obviously hurt her on the way out, and then I have made her more sore by putting my hands in and sorting out his legs. Touch-wood she is not seriously hurt but very sore and although she seems to like him she wouldn’t lick him when he was born but just stood looking at him and isn’t too keen on letting him feed either. She was very good when I milked her into a bottle and gave him his first feed that way though;  


 After sorting out the new lamb and his mum we sorted out the older ewes and lambs and turned them out to get some grass whilst the sun was out. This evening all but the newest born lambs have been shut in a field with hay and water for the night.  


The first two to go out, Maizy and her lamb  

Feeding time; the two ewe eating dinner whose lambs are still to young to go out with everyone else - 7th March 2010


Grazing out on the green in the mid-afternoon sun - 7th March 2010


Spring does feel like it has arrived this week, and everything is waking up. During the night I heard an owl out on the green and this morning I could hear a woodpecker and pheasants whilst I was sat quietly waiting for the ewe (Sophie) to make some effort to talk to her lamb. Yesterday we went to visit a friend and the whole of the green outside his house has been turned over by wild boar coming out of the woods in search of food.  

On Friday I started off the first of this years seeds. It was a ‘flower’ sowing day according to my moonplanting newsletter so I started off a mushroom kit and some Raab 60 Day, I also thought about sowing some cauliflower but didn’t in the end as I couldn’t make up my mind how many would be a good idea. I potted the everbearing strawberry plants that I got last autumn into a window box with lots of well rotten manure and moved it to a more sheltered spot in the garden.  

This afternoon we also took a trailer load of manure up to the allotment and some old fleece. The fleece has been put down as a mulch and then the manure (mostly not very well rotten straw from the babies houses). Some of the manure that is from a pile of manure that has been stood for a couple of years, and we grow courgettes there a few years ago.  

It is full of worms, and also little white ‘baby worms’ that I am not sure what they are. I have googled worm photos and not seen anything like them but I sort of remember hearing that they are not worms but something else that doesn’t do any harm, does anyone else know what they might be? 

Worms; the white ones I am talking about are the bits that look a little like sprouted bean shoots - 7th March 2010

Kids of my own

My goat kidded on Monday morning, two little girls all on her own. I got ‘the call’ whilst I was at work which brightened up the day. I still haven’t managed to take any decent photos of them but will in the next couple of days.

They are in with Lenka and her kids and yesterday I weighted them all; my two are 1.77kg and 1.57kg while Lenkas are 2.58kg and 2.59kg. Such a big difference considering they were only born two days apart. Middle-younger-sisters goat also kidded, a single boy. They are in a different house and we didn’t weigh him although we should as he’s massive.

Lamb count now stands at nine, five girls and four boys.