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Posts Tagged ‘Oldfarm’

Fowl Play

We’ve had an absolutely horrible week here at Oldfarm.

It all started quite early last Tuesday when I let the hens and ducks out way earlier than usual.  The ducks all seemed a bit quiet and ‘wet’.  When I looked closer some of them appeared to be cut and bruised.  I stupidly presumed that the drakes had been fighting over the girls!

We had 6 hens – 2 rather old Khaki Campbells and then 4 others younger hens of mixed breed.

We also had two beautiful drakes who were a gift from our neighbour.

Tom and Jerry

Back to last week, I was home alone as Alfie was back in hospital, so I kept a close eye on things during the day.  It was that bitterly cold day – pre-snow – so I was worried they’d catch cold.  No amount of coaxing would bring them back off the pond for food.  When it came to lock up time, 5 remained on the pond (drake and 4 girls).  The other drake and 2 girls were missing… I presumed hiding somewhere.

Next morning, the five on the pond were safe but no amount of searching revealed where the other 3 were.  They’ve never returned – presumably taken by a fox.

Wednesday evening 5 came off the pond, fed and went to bed.  Thursday was fine.  Friday all was well.

Saturday morning I opened the shed to find 3 of the girls decapitated.  The drake and surviving hen were very battered and bruised.  I felt so bad about the 3 girls.  I had coaxed them back into the shed and ultimately to their death.

Something had attacked them overnight.  We presumed mink.

Saturday was spent trying to find entry points and secure the shed.

I should mention our regular hens were in same shed, but, of course, they were on the roosts.  Also, our large Muscovy drake looked like he’d been attacked but he had won.

We nursed and hand fed the remaining two, and by the end of the day they seemed a bit more ‘perky’.  Every tiny hole that we could see was now stuffed with chicken wire.  We thought we had the shed secure.

However, yesterday morning I opened the shed to find them both decapitated. I could have cried.  Again the birds trusted us to put them somewhere safe and this is what happened to them.  By ‘securing’ the shed we had obviously trapped the predator in there!

We pulled sheds apart and let the dogs in (they’re not usually allowed in).  Both dogs were very excited about something they could ‘smell’ in there.  We borrowed traps from neighbours and friends and set them up.

We secured an alternative shed and set up roosts.  Of course, the birds didn’t realise they were expected to move house…. so at dusk last night we had to go out and hand lift them from one house to another.  Not an entirely easy process with large Muscovy drakes!!  Thankfully, Zack, our rooster is much more amenable to being lifted about.

This morning all were safe in their new house.

And, a pine marten was caught in one trap… we think he was living in the cavity bricks partitioning part of a shed.

Pine Marten

Traps are still in place ‘just in case’ there are any more predators.

To end on a ‘good news’ story…. one of our hens has gone broody and is sitting on eggs!  Fingers crossed!

 

 

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Most of you who follow on Facebook etc. will be aware that these past few months have been challenging on the health front here.

Alfie had a heart attack at the end of September which among many other factors hit us with regard to supplying hams to our usual Christmas customers. When we realised that we were faced with possibly disappointing our regular customers, I contacted them all, explained the situation to try to establish what their needs were.

Everyone was so understanding, and for once luck was on our side… a lot of our regulars were travelling for Christmas and would not need hams. Therefore, what little hams we had we could share among those staying at home.

We chatted with some other producers to see how they were fixed for supplies, because we knew we would have calls all the way up to Christmas.

One producer came up trumps and said he had plenty and would be delighted to supply.

We duly recommended him to many ….. mostly new to us, so we were going to miss out on possibly supplying them beyond Christmas  He was being handed new customers on a plate as such.

Then, we got the call from family (we’d forgotten to ask them if they needed ham!!!). Yes, they wanted a ham….. and ‘NO’ we did not have one.

Rather than disappoint family, we contacted said producer, explained that it was for family and could he help? He’d be delighted to…. no problem…. although delivery would be Christmas week.

Oldfarm Christmas Ham

Sorted.

Money paid …. full price paid.

And, yes, you’ve guessed it….. NO HAM ARRIVED.

Despite endless text messages, phone calls, emails, over several days ….. this chap did not answer a single call.

Now what would you think?

Alfie suggested that maybe he’s been in an awful car crash or something?

I feel…. he’s excuse better be along those lines.

He has disappointed me as a customer.

He has embarrased me to my family.

He has totally embarrassed us to potential customers…… did they get their hams? Do they think we operate our business like this?

What would you think?

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And just for a slight change of perspective…. here’s a winter sunset from the front garden

Winter sunset at Oldfarm

Winter sunset at Oldfarm

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I’ve been making our own ‘Cointreau’ style liqueur for the past couple of years, and was absolutely sure I had already shared the recipe on here…. but I hadn’t.

So here it is…. and full credit for the recipe must go to the late Paolo Tullio.

It is so simple and easy to make…. all it needs is time.

Home-made Cointreau

Home-made Cointreau

Ingredients & Equipment:

  • Half litre of vodka
  • 1 orange
  • String
  • Wide necked jar – we use a Kilner jar
  • Water
  • 150 g sugar

Method:

Pour vodka into your jar.  Thread string through the orange.  We use a wooden skewer to pierce the orange, then push a straw through the hole, and then thread the string through the straw…. hope this makes sense, but you will probably device your own method.

You may need the assistance of another pair if hands for this part.

Lower the orange into the jar until it is about a centimetre above the vodka…. holding onto your string at both ends.  Now close the lid of the jar to secure the string in place.

making home-made cointreau

making home-made cointreau

Put your jar somewhere safe for 21 days.

If you watch you will see that the alcohol evaporates, hits the orange and drops down, thus infusing the alcohol with the orange flavour.

After the 21 days, dissolve 150 grams of sugar in as little water as possible, and add it to your flavoured vodka.

That’s it.

I’ve put it in pretty little bottles as Christmas gifts too.

Or save it and enjoy yourself 🙂

 

 

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I’ve finally found a breakfast cereal that I like!

Not that easy when you have to avoid wheat.  On a side note I challenge you to check cereal boxes across all the brands to find one that does not contain wheat. Even cornflakes contain wheat….. seriously.

And yes, I can hear you all saying, but but but what about porridge!

Here’s the thing folks, I HATE PORRIDGE.  It has to be the most disgusting food of all times.  It is a major source of amusement with Alfie, that I actually make really delicious porridge for others, but won’t touch it myself.

Okay, that’s out of the way.

The only way for me to go was to start making my own breakfast cereal… I chose to make granola.

This recipe is as flexible as you want it to be with regard to what ‘dry goods’ you put in, but the coconut oil and honey are a staple in this house anyway.

I haven’t checked the ‘use by date’, it doesn’t really last that long as guests love it too, but I would say it lasts 2 or 3 weeks in an airtight tin.

Oldfarm Granola

Oldfarm Granola

Ingredients:

  • 300 gr Oatflakes
  • 50 gr Linseed
  • 50 gr. Sunflower and/or Pumpkin seeds
  • 20 gr. Sesame seeds
  • 50 gr. dried fruit – current batch has diced mango in it, but I’ve used cranberries, and sultanas too.
  • 2 tbsp. coconut oil
  • 40 gr. runny honey

Method:

Preheat oven to 150 deg. centigrade.

Line 2 x swiss roll tin with baking parchment.

Mix all dry ingredients together. Melt coconut oil and honey together, and pour over dry ingredients

Spread mix out on baking parchment.

Bake for 23 minutes.

Allow to cool and store in an airtight tin or jar.

This is how I had mine this morning 🙂

Oldfarm Granola with yoghurt and homegrown strawberries

Oldfarm Granola with yoghurt and homegrown strawberries

Enjoy!

 

 

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Friday Photo

Well they are as busy ……. as bees 🙂

Oldfarm bees

Oldfarm bees

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Friday Photo

As the storms continue to batter us, and the rain has turned the landscape a very dull brown colour, I thought a photo of the house in summer with the sun blazing down and all windows and doors opened should brighten our hearts!

Happy New Year!

IMG_9573

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