Source: Nestle Down Permaculture Project
One of our first big goals at the smallholding this year was to build our own polytunnel. This structure is useful for growing tender crops, starting to sow crops earlier(pre-cultivating), extending the growing season and to offer us warm shelter when the rainstorms come around!
Materials for construction
Soil cultivated before the building work starts on the measured area
Measurements made, holes ‘pinch-barred’, metal posts thumped in soil a metre for stability, plastic tubing measured, cut and fitted…We should have enough bought a 100m of it!
Wooden ‘footer’ boards screwed together and secured to the metal posts, wooden door frame being made in this picture
Poly-tunnel sheeting fitted, tightened and secured down with more wooden footer boards, this is a hard job for two people, next time we will recruit a few others to help. But we managed it!
Just getting finished with the sheeting, then its onto building 2…
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Good news!! Tansy had healthy twin girls last night. We have named them Zinnia and Petunia
Now back to the kidding sheds.. We are doing two hourly checks all through the night atm.. We still have more kids on the way xx
Sadly due to circumstances beyond my control, this year I will need to find a 5 star forever home for Bunny and Crystal, my two beautiful driving ponies. Aged 11 and 12. Such special girls xxx
They are palomino standard shetlands (Big chunky strong ponies) They have competed in driving competitions and drive really well as a pair and as singles or as part of a team of four. (They have done all three and worked as a unicorn too (Unicorn =three ponies harnessed together, two behind one.)
They are full sisters and a lovely matching pair. Really eye-catching when working together. Good to do in all ways.. They live on fresh air..Are not laminitic. Will live out all year (with a shelter)
They are both currently worked barefoot and are sound as a pound, but they can be shod if needs be and are both excellent for the farrier. Good to box. Great in the stable or tied up. Good to handle in all ways/ groom/ tack up/ bath/ harness/ put to the carriage etc..
Both have been lightly ridden by my nervous daughter , Crystal more so….. and so they are suitable as lead rein ponies for lightweight jockeys but have done very little serious work off the lead…They are not novice rides. .But they are happy to be led about.
They enjoy driving far more than ridden work but are adaptable and easy going girls with enough va va voom to make them really fun and exciting too. They drive well in all paces and are more suitable for someone who knows how to drive as they are very responsive. They are good in traffic / farm traffic / passing cattle, dogs etc.
Please only enquire if you are serious about offering them a longterm home where they can stay together for ever. I am sobbing as I type this as we will miss them so very much. This is a heartbreaking decision for me and my daughter, so I’d love them to go somewhere where I can stay in touch by email or phone etc.. Open to serious offers or longterm loan considered for the right people. Sadly their harnesses and carriages are not available. But they have outdoor and stable rugs each.
Leave a comment below if you have any further questions.
Based in Lincolnshire UK.. Prefer to sell or loan out locally. Thank you.
Blessings Naomi xx
The low winter sunshine slowed our pace somewhat and allowed us to meander from coop to coop and stable to stable quite happily… There was no rain or spiteful bone-chilling gales to rush us along today. No hurry to be inside away from the worst of the weather…. We decided to head straight to the ponies to give them their daily quota of sweet-smelling hay . We had to top up water troughs and clear the field of their manure too….. It is very muddy at this time of year and the ponies look pretty grubby in Winter but we refrain from brushing them too much at this time of year. Their thick shaggy winter coats are made to shed the worst of the weather and brushing them too much removes their natural protection from the elements. Whilst ambling along Dragonfly Path on our way to the paddocks (paddocks that are fondly known to us as The Swamps at this time of year ) we passed under a dead, ivy clad, elm tree, with 5 cawing black crows high up in its crown… They fidgeted about ….flitting from branch to branch, but they didn’t fly off … On closer inspection one of the birds appeared to be wearing a pale grey beret, jauntily worn on one side of it’s head…I looked at H, she smiled in recognition….. It was Arguine! The crow that H and I nursed back to health some time ago.. His ‘beret’ was a grey patch of bare featherless skin and a gap where his eye once was… He looked really well. His plumage shiny and glossy and his four companions all seemed to be in good fettle too. He hopped about above us.. We called his name and he looked at us.. tilting his head to one side….. His companions flew over the lane into St Edith’s churchyard … He was last to leave, and when he did he settled on a tall sycamore across the lane, still in sight of us.. We waved goodbye and carried on our way…..He looked over his shoulder at us, turning his good eye in our direction, before flying down into the churchyard to join his less than murderous companions… It is nice to know that he continues to look so well as we head into winter.from Facebook
….no earache..no dizziness..no dodgy throat… I am fine n dandy.. Hurrah!.. Animals here were all fed and sorted extra early, as we had to be at our paddocks to open the gates for the tractor to bring the rest of my winter hay this morning… Still no tricycle as the pedal has yet to be fixed….. so we walked there in the drizzle and mud…… H spotted a heron fly over us as we walked up Dragonfly Path. It’s long neck tucked back neatly, its long spaghetti legs trailing behind…. It landed in the field next to ours but slightly too far away to see clearly…My specs are broken so I struggle to see anything in the distance without them !.. A chattering cluster of gossiping long-tailed tits fluttered from hedge to hedge, tree to tree, along the way …..and then disappeared as suddenly as they had appeared….. We arrived at the paddocks with time to spare, so we busied ourselves opening gates, dropping a row of electric fencing and tying back the gate on the big field shelter, to allow Tom to drive straight over and drop our bales as close to the opening as possible…..He dropped the bales in the gateway and a small amount of manual manoeuvring, swivelling and rolling, soon had the bales safely undercover. So we now have 3 huge round bales of hay and two of straw tucked away in the top field shelter, to keep the girls fed and warm through the upcoming colder months.. and I have the promise of another 20 small bales at a bargain price to be delivered next week. Result!… I am home, muddy….but feeling much happier now that I am prepared and stocked up for any bad weather that we may get in the next couple of months,…. I have just cooked brekky/ lunch for H and I, and am now sitting down with a hot cuppa by the fire, whilst H starts work on her computer and the dogs snooze by the stove…and it isn’t even midday yet! xx
Yule is fast approaching and so I have been busy trying to make some frugal festive gifts for some of my friends and family. This year I made some pure unbleached natural cotton washcloths/ flannels (separate blog post to follow some time soon about making those) and some lavender scented goat’s milk and olive oil soap, and of course I used the raw, natural, creamy milk from my own goats to do so.
As you know I currently own a tiny herd of just 4 dairy goats. Boer and Toggenburg crosses, with some Saanen thrown into the mix for good measure. They have provided our home with plenty of milk for cheese making, ice cream making, drinking and for use in fermented products like kefir. It is lovely stuff! Facebook video of me milking Tansy
Tansy, our matriarch goat, milked through two seasons happily, hardly lowering her yield at all despite not kidding this year. My other milker, Marigold, reduced her yield over time and dried up slowly and naturally by the end of her second milking season. Tansy has now been put back in kid, along with Marigold, Anemone and Heather.
We had a rather gorgeous British Alpine boy pay us a visit, a bit earlier this year and so (fingers crossed) the resulting kids will be a real mix of breeds and will hopefully have that all important hybrid vigour. If all four of my girls give birth to twins then my herd may grow considerably overnight. From four to twelve! Exciting times!
The female kids will be kept here to grow on and will be added to the Riverside herd, and any males will be castrated and raised for the freezer. All kids are reared on their mothers and weaned naturally. I simply share the milk produced ,by separating the kids for a few hours overnight, whilst the mums get some sleep, then I milk the mothers very early, first thing in the morning (but I don’t strip them out completely) and I then let the kids back in with their mums by 8 am to finish emptying their udders… and the milkers simply produce a bit more milk for me as time goes on. Demand increases production naturally. It is a nice stress free system.
We shall have to wait and see how many kids we get this time. Singletons would be just fine! Triplets could be ..erm….interesting! Twins are the most common, so we shall probably have at least one set of those…. Two of the girls are due to kid at the end of Feb and two are due end of March. So watch this space!
Anyway back to the soap making.
I store my excess milk in my freezer, in bags and plastic milk bottles, and so even after the girls had dried up, I still had home produced raw milk available to use.
This is the soap making method I followed for my soap bars > ( click here to see video link) but remember that I substituted the distilled water for some very cold and icy defrosted goat’s milk. The milk being so cold helps prevent the caustic soda from boiling up too much, when you add it to your liquid, (goat’s milk in my case, but distilled water in the video). You must always add the lye to your liquid (carefully) and not the other way around. It can react quite explosively if done the other way around, bubbling up and splashing the caustic lye all over the place. So take note and always use lye with caution and add the lye to the liquid.. carefully!
I also used a hand whisk rather than a blender to get it to trace stage, as I don’t own a blender. But feel free to use either. Both work! As you can see below.. it reached trace just fine by hand and was thick and glossy when poured into the lined tray.
So my ingredients were just > lye (caustic soda), organic olive oil, raw goat’s milk and organic lavender essential oil.
You are advised to wear some rubber gloves and protective goggles when you are making soap and it is a good idea to keep some vinegar nearby to neutralise any spills that get on your skin, as the lye is a strong alkaline and can burn your skin quite badly. The vinegar will help neutralise the alkaline and reduce any burning if you should happen to spill any on yourself.
(Keep pets and small children out of the room whilst soap making) .
But PLEASE don’t be afraid of it. My twelve year old daughter can safely make soap and we have incorporated saponification into one of her science ‘lessons’ with great results. Here are a couple of links to saponification chemisty lessons/ resources for any other home educators out there .
And for all those of you still wondering if I have found a new home for us all yet..Sadly no I haven’t..I am still looking, so if you hear of anywhere in East Lincolnshire UK to rent ( as close as possible to Alford) then please let me know. Must be animal friendly and preferably have a very large garden in order for me to grow lots of fruit/vegetables and keep my poultry …..and/or have land to rent nearby.
Thank you. Blessed be xx
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