Thursday 6 September 2012

Re establishing the orchard

The Orchard, really in name only rather than content has for many years been the home to a pair of geese and the occasional grazing ewe and her lambs. For the past couple of years these too have departed, and the land has lain fallow, an old Bramley and a couple of diseased Dittisham plum trees being the only sign of 'times past'

Yesterday we started on the first steps to re establishing the orchard by removing the two plum trees. It's always sad to see any tree removed but these trees are local to only a very small area of the county and not at all common - although you can now buy Dittisham plum trees which have been grafted onto different root stock.

Day 1 : The first of many to come !

Photos: 1: Looking 'down' the orchard to the house.

Photo 2: Looking 'up' the orchard to the yard

Photo 3 & 4: The two Dittisham Plum trees

Photo 5: The 1st tree removed

 Photo 6: Both trees removed

Monday 3 September 2012

Bee Food

Late Summer and Autumn flowers are so important in providing food for not only our honey bees but all flying insects, especially so following the very wet summer we have experienced this year.

Today the bee and butterfly border has been buzzing.

Monday 26 March 2012


Annie my 6 year old Zwartbles ewe has just given birth, unaided to quads. Three ewe lambs, 1 ram lamb. All a good size. She is feeding three and 1 has been fostered unto a ewe who lost her lamb. I have no more details as this year my ewes are on a friend's smallholding but hopefully in the next day or two I will be able to see them and take photos.

Tuesday 31 January 2012


It wasn't a very successful weekend. We woke on Saturday morning to what promised to be a lovely, frosty, cold but sunny day. All plans for starting work on the attic bedroom were dropped (again) as we both agreed to spend the day hedging. Dry weekends have been few and far between of late and hard frosty ground was a bonus.

The churchyard hedge in the paddock is mostly, sycamore, ash, elder and a little hazel. Each year we cut out the largest trees and lay any that are suitable to fill gaps, so stimulating growth and thickening the base of the hedge but still leaving a third untouched for the wildlife.

Last year we didn't get the hedge cut and the largest trees to come out were bigger than usual so work was heavy going but we were making an impression. Until that is I got stung on the head by one of our bees. (I had only just commented on how busy they were so early in the year)

Last time I was stung I reacted quite badly, so this time I immediately stopped work, removed the sting and took a couple of spoonfuls of Prition (an anti histamine) we keep in a cupboard in the feed store, for such occasions. Within an hour I started to feel quite drowsy so we stopped for lunch, planning to go back in the afternoon. However by then my head, face and neck had started to swell so I spent the rest of the weekend sleeping after being regularly dosed with Prition.

To cap it all my husband aggravated a back injury whilst clambering amongst the hedge so he also spent the rest of the weekend do very little.

This weekend we will try again, the forecast is for snow but time is running out.

Thursday 19 January 2012


Today we picked up the lamb from the butchers. They were Annie's triplets - Zwartbles X Suffolk. As always the meat looks good, the Zwartbles breed adds a sweetness and a tenderness to the meat and being a larger breed it also adds size to the chops and joints.

There was a greater variation to the weights than we expected. The largest lamb had started to grow away from the rest or the smallest lag behind, I not sure which, maybe a little of both, but the smallest carcass came back at just under 17kg, the largest 29kg !! The one in between was 23+kg which is about average.

This time we had the meat vacuum packed and labelled in the view of selling a few half lambs. ( Available to buy locally (as I am unable to post) @ £5 kg, please email me for details )

Being vacuum packed makes it hard to photograph but an example of 1/2 a leg joint from last year's lamb can be seen here .

We still have Freda's twins, for a couple more weeks at least. They are a mix of breeds. Freda (the mother) is from a Shropshire ewe and a Jacob ram. She was put to a Suffolk ram. The twins are smaller and stockier than Annie's' triplets and the meat has a slightly stronger taste.
As a breed they are definitely less friendly and less trusting than the Zwartbles.

This year we have chosen not to put the ewes to the ram but as 'lambing time' draws closer I miss the anticipation and the preparations...maybe next year.

Wednesday 21 December 2011

Just in time...

..... for Christmas and for Dad's visit, the down stair shower room is finished. The awful antiquated yellow bathroom suite is no more. The peeling paint gone, along with the damp walls. Everything is new and sparkly and the heated towel rail means no more damp towels.

Monday 21 November 2011

The lambs are happy

Having decided to overwinter the lambs, at the weekend we bought in several bales of hay and straw.

The lambs are alternating between the paddock and orchard by day and in the 'fowl's run' at night once the turkeys have been closed in.

With the temperature so mild the grass is still growing so the lambs have plenty to eat, although the nutritional value is low. The orchard is scattered with
the last few windfall apples adding interest to their diet and the hedges are still in leaf, (the hedges always being preferrred to grass at the best of times)

The land is free draining so mud is rarely an issue. All in all I think the lambs will be fine and with the ewes not returning to the land for most, if not all, of 2012 the ground will also have a chance to recover.