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Shane & Emma's Smallholding



May Update

I always start with an apology…but not this time, things have been hectic with a capital ‘H’ (guess that should be Hectic!) around here so this is the first time I have had to put an update together.

I published the last update around the second week of February so I guess we have a lot of catching up to do…

Finley is growing and changing daily it seems! He now has more teeth than he knows what to do with! He is of course walking and has just discovered the “run away from Mummy & Daddy” game. He now relishes the daily animal feed walk, in fact apart from the usual words of mummy and daddy one of his first words was “out” and as we walk around the smallholding in the morning we are treated to choruses of Baaa and Mooo at the top of Finley’s voice.

Finley with his cousin Demi after a play in the ball pit!


After his very first hair cut!

In amongst the herbs on a day out to Long Sutton's butterfly park.

and again...this time with the birds!

And the last one of Fin, in his play garden sporting an Orioles (baseball) outfit from his American cousins...

That's it now for the Finley pics...I have to be careful else I may fill this whole update with his pictures...So lets move on.

As I write we are in the middle of lambing on the smallholding…yes the young ram we had was a randy little bugger, and has produced a set of triplets with the first delivery…we had problems with the second delivery which resulted in the loss of twins and a major operation (C-Section) to save the life of the ewe.

The ewe had twin lambs that where entwined so much so that the ewe could not pass them…I tried to untangle and assist in delivery whilst we waited for Charlie our vet to arrive, unfortunately I was unable to manage, as was the vet…Charlie advised that the lambs had probably past on and gave a couple of options…put the ewe to sleep or perform a c-section to remove the lambs…I guess this is where being a smallholder differs from a commercial farm, we chose to save the ewe.

At this point I have to take my hat of to the vetnary industry…I watched Charlie perform a c-section at night under floodlights in the barn, whilst she explained to me exactly what was going on…bloody amazing!

We are now three weeks since the triplets and operation and you’ll be please to know that all are well.

Oh yeah…we have two more ewes that are also due…watch this space!

Then of course there are the cows…who should all be preggers and we are expecting our little herd to expand around late  June/August time…although we are not 100% sure that Elsa is pregnant, see looks too slim, we are hoping that she took late and will deliver August time…we’ll keep you updated.

Our "Moo-ternity ward!

We have these little piggy’s to fatten and will be ready around August/Sept they are GOS/Tamworth/Middle White crosses and full of beans.

That’s it on the new animals front, except for these little guys...

We still have our chickens, ducks, geese and goats but no more new additions, well one of our goats has started producing milk…you may remember that in an earlier update I said that some Golden Guernsey goats have an ability to maiden milk (give milk without kidding (giving birth)), well Jasmine the kid we bought to keep Honey company is producing around about a pint and a half a day…an it is so lovely and creamy that I am a converted man.

I know we have a few of you out there that are interested in the smoker I made last summer and have made your own versions…here is a link to Mark Hix cold smoking a salmon in a Bradley smoker…I have tried this and it was pretty good in my smoker, definitely worth a try…http://www.bradleysmoker.co.uk/news/?cat=15 just remember to keep the heat down.

We would also like to say a big hello to all the guys that have recently attended one of our workshops…I know you’ll be reading this, so hello to Hen and Chris, Sally, Dave, Mary and Richard, Jan, Sue and Jane who all attended one of our beginners guide to keeping laying hens, along with Dave, Simon, both John’s, Jack, David, and Jenny who all had a giggle making biodiesel.

On the produce front we will have pork available around July/Sept time, if you would like please let me know and I will put you some by…equally we will have lamb available at the end of the year, again, if you would like let me know…you will all know by now that it goes quickly so be sharp!

Thanks for all the feedback from our brief “claim to fame” on "escape to the country" like most of you we also thought it came out well, we did enjoy the day of filming so it was bound to be OK…we have since had our local newspaper write a piece, Emma the reporter did a lovely job and there is a cracking picture of Finley going all “farmer like”…I have added it to the media page on the left if you would like a read.

I have written in previous updates that I was using our inherited wood burning stove in conjunction with solar water heating, well things are going really well…so well in fact that I seem to have developed a name for myself as the local “tree fella” and am getting locals asking me if I want their trees…the catch is that I have to cut them down first, this little lot came out of a Pok Choy (Chinese lettuce) growers…45 willow trees! That'll keep the home range burning for a while, also the spit, the BBQ, the jerky oven and anything else I want to set fire too!!!

I am now able to sing “I’m a lumberjack and I’m OK” without criticism, mind you Emma draws the line at me wearing ladies clothes!

Whilst on the subject of wood, Emma, Finley, Willow and I had a great day out at Mark and Michelle’s new 9 acre woodland.

Where we had a very “Ray Mears” day...cooking on an open wood fire, it was great to finally taste some of the sausages Mark had made from one of our GOS piggies, We even managed to forage some side orders of mushrooms…Mmm delicious!

The last update spoke of alcohol…there you go, got your attention again! Well the cider was very disappointing…not even good enough to cook with…but our drains are now wonderfully clean!

The elderberry port on the other hand was an absolute success and I would fully recommend that you scour your local hedgerow and give it a try…it is so simple and a delightful tipple…below are the instructions.

Elderberry port

2 quarts berries
1 gallon water
3 lb sugar
4 oz raisins or sultanas
1Tbsp dried yeast + 1 Tbsp sugar,
warm water

Strip the berries from the stalks and pour the water over.  Bring to boil and simmer 15 mins or so. Strain and discard the pulp. Add the sugar and raisins and stir to dissolve the sugar. Leave to cool to blood heat.  In the meantime, start the yeast.  When the yeast is frothy and the liquid cooled, mix together, cover and leave for 24 hours – it should fizz audibly. Next day, transfer to a demi-john ( you can leave the sultanas in) fit an airlock and ferment out.  Bottle and keep for one year before drinking.

Yeah! I know a whole year! but trust me it is absolutely worth it.

And finally, it was brought to my attention that I omitted Willow in the last update (thanks Jackie) so we’ll remedy that with a few pics

"But I don't need wellies, Finley"

That’s it guys…those that are visiting…see you soon, those that want to visit…get in touch… all done until next update, just time to say adios mi amigos.

Goodbye from all of us.



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