Hello Everybody ! Especially Ellen and Brandi on Blog Lovin.
The sun has got his hat on; Shout hip hip hooray !! ..Come on then sing along. It has been cold but bright today, suits me weather-wise and I'm feeling positive.
The hens are loving it too and they are starting to lay. Twenty eggs today and rising. I've even put the "Free Range Eggs for Sale" sign out and await people seeing it and starting to come to the door again. I think I will put a few jars of honey and jam out on the stone slab outside the door too, just in case someone fancies treating themselves. The cost of honey is embarrassing, but we undertake to charge the same as all beekeepers and not sell our honey for less. Thus,we charge £5 per jar !! I know! It's a lot isn't it? My preserves are more reasonable at £1.80 a jar.
Our friends came for the afternoon and after the ubiquitous cheesy beans ( a Tuesday favourite with the shared lives guys) the guys went outside to try to get our ancient ride-on mower to behave itself for one more year and C. and I set about a mammoth seeding session. In trays, pots and tubes we sowed parsley, sage and basil, five different types of tomatoes, celeriac, parsnips, round and pointed cabbage, cauliflower and calabrase. We also pricked out some Snap Dragons, onions and some early Shirley tomatoes.
We have been eating out of the freezer this week again and having some pretty "interesting" meals. I think the word my daughter used was "weird" on Sunday when she was here for tea. What's wrong with lamb chops, roast potatoes, brie parcels and shallots a la greque and peas ?!
I have joined a couple of facebook groups recently. Firstly, the Farmgirl chat group, which is great fun and about all sorts of smallholdy and crafty stuff. The second, I joined at the weekend and is called " Fill my family on a budget" This a a very busy, lively group and seems to have a quite a few young people (mostly women) who are asking for ideas or passing on interesting information. It is a very interesting Frugal site, that I suspect is reaching the people that really need help to make ends meet.
I said that I would write about our experience in the Foot and Mouth crisis.
We only have two acres. It is good land, but we are mindful to rest it often and not to overstock it. Since moving here in 1981 we have kept half a dozen ewes (mostly suffolks) and bred from them each year, rearing the lambs for meat and the occasional replacement. With a couple of smallholding friends of limited acreage we rotated our grazing. In the late winter of 2001 our pregnant ewes were at our friends' whose smallholding was the other side of Derby. Foot and Mouth was announced and we planned to bring our ewes home. The disease was to the north of the county, while the south seemed clear. We then heard that there was an isolated incident to the south and only a few miles from our friends. So Lock Down for them! Nothing on or off their premises. We were asked not to visit our sheep, which obviously we concurred with. Over the next few weeks as their grazing disappeared they had to feed them pellets and hay and then she had to lamb our ewes for us. It was such a difficult time for them. Eventually, we gained permission to bring them home, leaving our friends with no grazing and without the financial means to send her sheep to graze with us or anyone else. So ours came home, but what a palaver ! We had to hire a particular trailer and special disnifectants for the trailer and our clothes and /footwear. The Ministry man sealed the trailer and accompanied us home in his car, then the ewes and lambs were unloaded in his presence and the trailer was then disinfected+++ and had to be returned to the hirer. Forms were filled in at every stage. This little journey (12 miles) cost us nearly £300! The Movement restrictions then placed on us small flock keepers made it impossible to keep the sheep economically and when our grazing started to suffer we had to take the ewes to market, which was a buyers market and we received a fraction of their value.
At no time did we suffer in the way that Weaver of Grass did. We didn't have to see our animals slaughtered and burned and our financial losses were not remotely like those who had large herds. But comparatively speaking we did struggle emotionally and financially and still do. As everyone knows the movement restrictions are now, quite rightly, strict and the smallholders' way of feeding his animals with scraps, kitchen waste and the waste from the bakers etc is now illegal . This continues to hurt us as we used to feed our chickens and rear the occasional pig with burnt loaves etc from the local baker and cauliflower outsides from the hospital kitchens for our goats and rabbits. We used to borrow a ram and chuck it in the back of the van and bring it home. (Yes I know Adam from Countryfile does it...but it is Illegal !)
The legacy of this is that we now buy orphan lambs in the spring and rear them to weight and take them straight to our lovely kind butcher. We don't keep the occasional pig anymore as you can only really feed them processed pig food and very little else. John Seymour's Self Sufficiency should be re-written I suppose.
Sorry, that was pretty down beat for me wasn't it?
Enough of this as I must to my bed.