So, after much a do, here we are! 15 goats, 100 chickens, 60 ducks, 3 cows, 1 Bodmin Moor pony, 2 dogs and 1 cat make up the smallholding that we are calling home for the moment. We’ve been here three weeks and are learning huge amounts every day. From milking goats (you will remember I have experience from beautiful Buttercup in Canada and this is just a smaller, quicker version!) to getting tips on bulking out dinners to get big portions and make food go that bit further.
Himself has taken egg collecting, grading (Medium, Large, Extra Large), and stamping (egg station stamp) to a whole new level…”I shouldn’t have been surprised that I like collecting eggs – I love eating eggs and I now love doing all the work with them” he says as he tucks into the old/not perfect eggs which can’t be sold. Chicken egg selling is down of late so we are all coming up with ways in which to cook with eggs – frittata, American pancakes, tarte au citron (YES, it was immense!), and himself is eating poached eggs for breakfast every morning. Duck eggs, on the other hand, are extremely popular and the Khaki Campbell and White Campbells can’t lay enough for those Duck Egg Consumers in the Launceston area! One fish and chip shop has been pickling them which is apparently going down a storm! I’ve been given the job of researching the incubation of duck eggs to get some more layers on the go.
I’ve been having a high time of learning about keeping goats – they are hilarious animals, are they not? It has been fantastic as, aided with a Goat Husbandry book, I’ve been reading up on all sorts of ailments and how to treat them, the process of fermentation in the stomachs of a goat and a few things on top of that. Milking is how I start and end my day now and it is a very therapeutic way to do that. I’m sure that a few of you can’t think of anything worse than wiping sh*t from a goat’s udders before massaging the teats and then getting going squeezing the milk out, but I have a whale of a time chatting away to them. I have also introduced them to Beyonce (or my versions of Beyonce) who they don’t seem to mind too much, although they would probably prefer Beyonce herself.
Not that we would probably be able to keep a cow when we get our own place, I have nevertheless been learning lots about rearing cattle for meat. The boys that are here are Aberdeen Angus – two to go off at the end of the summer – and a calf who has another year to go. We let them out onto grass recently after their stay in over the winter and they had a whale of a time galloping about and bucking. The calf has been put with Gypsy, the Bodmin Moor pony, who has taken him under her wing – he follows her around and worships the ground she walks on. He’s right though – she is pretty fabulous.
Quick fact – Goats ADORE brambles and stinging nettles….