Tuesday, 26 March 2013
It is very cold at the moment, so the veg garden is a few weeks behind. We have had frost every night, so no growth in the garden. We had most of the spring work done by Feb. Always best to stay ahead of the weeds and the work. Otherwise it can be off putting as it builds up. The poly tunnel is doing better. I had planted one side of it for spring last November. I put in onions, brood beans and peas. I had then manured heavily the other side. That is now planted with three varieties and beans, many varieties of tomatoes, four varieties of peas, courgettes and pumpkins. As we save much of our own seed, we use mainly heirloom varieties. In the propagators I have three trays of sweet corn and some peppers.
The outside beds were covered last October with fresh manure. That has broke down well since and we have dug it in. This acts like a mulch preventing weeds growing and protecting the bed underneath during the winter. It heats up the soil as it breaks down. We noticed a large increase of worm population as we dug it over in spring. Always a positive sign.
We completed our orchard last week. We leveled and fenced a paddock about a third of an acre and planted a dozen fruit trees. We had planted twenty fruit tree over the past two years, but these are planted all over the place mainly along fence lines. We then spread grass seed. We hope to move the bees and chickens into this area. I am feed up of chicken poo on my front door step!
We lost one hive during the winter, it requeened late due to failed mating flights due to weather. Its bee number were too low to pull through even with all the extra feeding. Then a mouse took up residence to finish the few remaining bees. This would only happen in a week colony that can't defend themselves. That leaves us with two hives left. I have been feeding them for the last six weeks as spring time puts pressure on them. The queen starts to lay and the winter bees start to die off. Their need for food increases massively with the brood and a failing number of foragers, but with this weather they would not be able to forage.
I plan on putting extra brood boxes on each hive and split them in May. But with everything with bees, it will depend on the weather.
He is eating as much as the cow now, and we really feel that. He is taking so much milk that we have occasionally had to get milk from our neighbours that milk a jersey also. So his time is up. The fact that he has been on milk for the six months should mean that he has enough meat on him to hang for a few weeks. The last calf we sent to our butcher (6mth jersey bull) he was able to hang him for 4weeks. Yum!
We purchased the calf from a dairy at a month old. He will be killed at our local butcher, a few miles away.
We still have a sheep in the freezer, but we will be glad to add veal and later pork and bacon.
We are half way through completing a cow yard and pig run. I'm very excited about this. This means that when its finished and with the calf gone, we will be buying in three weaner pigs to fatten during the summer. I am excited about this as its been two years since we have had pigs. We will be feeding the surplus milk, whey, veg waste, restaurant food waste and rolled oats.
We know lots of people with restaurants that have asked us to take away their food bins as it costs them money to have them collected. Win win for all.