So what happened this year …..
We hatched out two batches of Pekin Ducks from our duck eggs, realised ducklings are the most unfeasibly, cutest, baby birds ever, but also that they are the messiest – they spend most of their time spitting water around and pooing.
I realised I am not keen on plucking ducks by hand, but I do like duck confit.
We decided to go with dual-purpose, heritage chickens for our egg supply, hatch our own replacements and not buy in any more hybrids. So we hatched out and set up small breeding groups of Copper Marans, Ixworths, Rhode Island Reds, Naked Necks and some blue-egg laying hybrids – hope to get some Araucanas soon though – the birds weren’t always this angry though.
8 ewes lambed – 14 live births but two died (Miracle and Aretha) as did one ewe. I got over my fear of maggots and I learnt how to get a ewe who had a single to adopt a lamb from a mum who had triplets.
My bees produced lots and lots of honey – more than 120lbs – probably more than this in reality, but I wasn’t very good at counting.
Kerry and I were intrepid beekeepers until we filled the entire front garden with bees – who knew that they talked to each other?
I also got heather honey from them, which while lovely ended up with me filling the garage with bees, leaving lots of supers trashed and generally making a mess.
As I have my bee shed this year, everything will be much more organised. Evil hive is still evil so this year I will undertake a planned regicide.
We decided to breed our own pigs, settled on Large Blacks, bought three gilts and then learnt to do artificial insemination – let’s see how successful I was….
We got goats – lovely Golden Guernseys – Iggy Pop, Ziggy and Zed. Iggy Pop went off to get pregnant and if everything goes to plan we should be milking her sometime in May-June …. home-produced goats cheese is in our near future now.
We built a giant poly-cathedral – the polytunnel of dreams. I grew some stuff (including aubergines) in it in grow-bags last summer but our Christmas project was to get it all set up for this season’s growing.
Then we built a heated, home-made propagator and seedling area in it.
I successfully grew aubergines last year and enough fruit and vegetables to feed us all year (not mentioning the lemons and bananas)
Last April we built a vertical garden – now known as strawberry world – and transplanted our strawberries and runners Christine and Nathan had given me.
Then last month I planted 1000 strawberry plants some in the gutters and some in the polytunnel.
As part of the new fruit cage we also established out currant bushes and put in fencing for peas and broad beans.
The hugelkultur continued to be great and I discovered how useful mulch was in stopping weeds, adding to soil structure and keeping moisture in.
We made our first apple juice and pasteurised it.
I got Zephaniah – the craziest, cutest, hardest dog I have had, but he apparently has a lot of potential – so if it all goes wrong it is totally my fault.
and with friends
and then carried on all through the winter at Sizewell Beach with my heroic wild swimming friend Alfie.
I managed to finish and publish two of the three books I was writing …. third one is in the final stages now.
N.B. I have been trying to get round to this post for a week now, but writing and other stuff keeps getting in the way. I have probably left stuff out, but this is all I can remember for now and if I don’t post it now I will still be thinking about it in May!
N.B. This coming year is going to be another exciting year of change and adventures …..