In the winter, our flock of milking sheep grazes happily in the woods, sheltered from the wind, keeping the brambles in check.
We rarely have too much strawberries. In past year, strawberries that made it to the house (most of them where eaten straight from the plant by kids and helpers) were turned into Strawberry frozen yoghurt. But this year, thanks to the diligent care of Adriana and our fantastic of helpers, we actually have a very abundant crop of strawberries.
So we’ve turned to jam making with this delicious recipe that combines strawberries with rhubarb.
Strawberry and Rhubarb jam
- 1 kg strawberry
- 1 Kg rhubarb stalk, chopped fine
- 2 Kg sugar
Put the rhubarb stalks and the sugar in a pan and cook until the rhubarb is tender. Add the strawberries, bring to the boil, and cook for a further 20 mn. Put in sterilized jars, close immediately.
Mead, sometimes referred to as honey wine, may not be a popular fermented drink any longer but it is one of the most ancient ones and it’s very easy to make. It is made by fermenting honey with water, usually with some flavouring added. Depending on the concentration of honey in the water, and on how the fermentation in managed, mead can be sweet or dry, still or sparkling. Dry mead will usually be more alcoholic (up to 20%), as all the sugar in the honey is fermented, and if you bottle the brew before the fermentation is completed you will end up with a fizzy drink as the CO² from the fermentation is trapped in the bottle.
Picking blackberries on a late summer afternoon is one of life’s simplest pleasure. But what do you do with your bounty?
Using herbal alternatives to chemical wormers to control worms in your horses
Most horse owners are aware of the need to worm their horse to avoid symptoms such as weight loss, colic and poor condition and indeed, controlling the worm burden of your horses is an important aspect of caring for them. It must be noted, however, that healthy horses can carry a small load of worms without ill effects. It is even possible that in a healthy gut, a small infestation plays a supportive role in maintaining a balance. But there is no doubt that a heavy worm infestation in a horse can be very serious and may lead to all sorts of problems.
Weaning is a very important stepping stone in a horse life, and it has to be done gradually and carefully. Horses that are not weaned properly may carry the trauma of a brutal separation with their mother for the rest of their life, and might never be happy horses. The brutal practice of taking a foal from his mother, shove it in a trailer and take it away for ever is not acceptable.
There are two aspects to consider when weaning a foal: the nutritional and the emotional impact of the separation from its mother.
The most obvious aspect of weaning is that it entails a change of diet. As the foal will no longer have access to its mother’s milk, nutrients that were supplied by the milk must be made available in its diet. Consequently, foals should not be weaned too early. A foal younger that about four months is getting a very significant part of its nutritional requirements through sucking and therefore shouldn’t be weaned. Only when the foal has started grazing for significant amount of time can weaning be considered. If you are keeping the foal over the winter, it is probably best to wait until there’s not enough grazing and you start feeding the mare (by which time it is more economical to feed the foal).
Over the last number of years we have embarked on many a project to help build (to use the word favoured by Rob Hopkins and his Transition movement) resilience. And while some of these experiments have had dubious results, our foray into milking sheep has been a resounding success. In autumn 2009 we introduced Tess and Frieda, two crossbred Friesiand ewes to the island. They lambed at Easter and we began milking Tess immediately as her lamb died shortly after birth. While both Christophe and I had some previous experience milking (cows and goats for me, goats and a mare for Christophe) it took a bit of practice and concentration to accustom our hands and fingers to sheep udders and teats. But we soon got the hang of it and found ourselves self-sufficient in milk. For a period of seven months (including our very busy summer period) Tess and Frieda gave us two litres of milk each per day. From this we made the most delicious, creamy yoghurt as well as soft cheese and our first attempts at hard cheese. We used the milk raw for breakfast, for cooking and baking, eliminating our usual order of large quantities of organic milk and yoghurt from the mainland. Read more
It first occurred with samphire, this only-locally-known marshplucked food became haute-cuisine overnight, in fact timbales lain with samphire sprigs in chic London restaurants are now so commonplace they are nearly passé. Then nettles: not just in soups, but in gnocchi, in vinaigrettes, and before long, the likes of sautéed foie-gras and roasted veal sweetbreads were being served on a bed of wilted Dorset nettles. Then game: woodcock on toast, head still on, beak spiking through body, became the sexiest starter. Now, with the latest rustic DIY trends, nudging into foodspeak is lacto-fermentation. It may sound horribly Heston Blumenthal, but lacto-fermentation is not only simple, but a highly nutritious, tasty, ethical and low-energy way of preserving vegetables and dealing with autumnal garden gluts. Read more
Some organic farmers, particularly on the continent are now seriously considering draft animals as an economically viable alternative to fossil fuel powered machinery for some jobs. Horses are a particularly interesting option for small acreage farms producing high value crops, such as market gardens or vineyards. In that sort of setting, they often make economical as well as ethical sense as the manure that the animal produces can also be used to fertilise the land, adding another attraction to the draft animal option. This has led to a vast increase in the availability of modern horse drawn equipment, and in this post, we will look at some of the equipment needed to work with draft horses on a small holding.
Ever since I got bees, everyone has been giving me books on beekeeping as birthday or Christmas presents, but is was still a lucky coincidence that two books on natural beekeeping arrived on my desk around the same time last autumn.
The first one was written by a friend of mine, Tim Rowe, who keeps about 100 hives near Bantry and has been keeping bees since his teens. Recently self published by Tim, the book, entitled “The Rose Hive Method, Challenging conventional beekeeping”, explains Tim’s system of beekeeping, based on the “Rose hive”, which he devised. I was already somewhat familiar with this system, as I had gotten my bees from Tim, but I learnt a lot more about it while reading through this book. Read more