Monday, 17 October 2016

Last harvest of the year........

We now have seven ewes and one ram. A week ago we had fifteen ewes plus their lambs, and one ram. The difference in the numbers between then and now is because we have now put eight of this years lambs into the freezer. We did two a day, but spread the work over two days for each two sheep. It was tough going. Not our most favourite task to do, but it had to be done if we are to have enough grazing for everyone this winter. We were going to put ten in the freezers, but we ran out of steam with the effort of it all.

It is not that it is dreadfully hard work, but working with innards and things does tend to sit on the mind after a while, which is why our minds could only manage eight. But I like that we are sensitive to the task we are involved with, as it stops us from being hard hearted, and helps us feel respectful to the animal who we have come to know over the previous few months. All the lambs were nearly a year old, and would have lambs themselves next Spring, which is why it was urgent to get the flock numbers down now.

But the job is done and the freezers are full, so my task this winter is to get as much of the meat canned as possible. Finally, after eight years of working to get a functioning house and smallholding up and running, it would seem that we are starting to get into the rhythm of farm life. It is a priceless way of life, but perhaps not for the faint hearted, especially if you are also providing your own meat.

Short sleeved t-shirt on today as I went out and about scything here and there in the lovely warm sunshine. Then some spinning. Then some patchwork. And all outside. Some people have had their wood burning fires on in the evening, but our house seems to be holding its heat, and anyway, our training with coping with cold weather when we were living in a caravan when we first arrived here tends to encourage us keep putting on warm clothing before we get fires lit.

Last task of the year in regards to the animals is getting the two adult pigs dispatched. With no signs of piglets at all after over a year of them being together we cannot but presume that they have finished procreating, which is not good seeing as how they are the most expensive animals to keep here. We have to watch the budget. The pigs can't be thought of as pets. So, just waiting for inspiration as to what to do with them. Either way, this will be another one of those heart string pulls, especially for Lester, who is very bonded to his Tamworth pigs. Ah well, c'est la vie.

Off to visit Lester in the cow barn. He has started milking Lissie in the evenings although Milly is still with her mum all the time, so two to three litres per milking at the moment. I am too busy with getting the recent meat harvest processed so don't have time to make cheese, so this is enough milk for us for the time being.

Bye for now.


My Life in the Charente said...

Well done, you have plenty to eat for the forthcoming future. I agree not an easy job, but one that has to be done if you run a smallholding with animals. Have a good week Diane

Dawn McHugh said...

wow eight in the freezer that was hard work, we have another two to do in a week or so we are trying to fit it in with Martins work scheduled, we have pigs ordered coming in a few weeks, if its not gluts of beans or courgettes its gluts of meat

Lisa @ Two Bears Farm said...

That's a lot of work you got done!

I hear you on the pigs. We bought some rabbits to procreate for meat and although they were young when we got them, a year later they have not reproduced. Oh the irony of rabbits that won't breed!

Cro Magnon said...

A family friend used to give me Rabbits; after skinning and emptying they would always go to the freezer for enough time for me to forget the process. Yup, we've been having fires but the early evening weather has been glorious, we always sit outdoors for an hour or so before lighting up.

Vera said...

DIANE, we would rather have animals here and put up with the not so pleasant task of getting them into the freezer rather than having no animals at all, and of course the meat is delicious because it is home grown!

DAWN, in the past we have spread the sheep harvest out over several weeks, but it just seems to go on and on, so this time we decided to shorten the time into just over a week. Slaughter two early in the morning on the first day, take the carcasses into the back kitchen to cool off, then butcher the following morning. A couple of times we did try slaughtering and butchering the same day, but that was a bit much! But we could not reach our target of 10 in the freezer, as we had had enough! Good for you for getting pigs. We have not finished with keeping pigs, but will not keep a pair of breeding adults but will buy in weaners when we run out of pork, of which we still have tons in the freezers!

LISA, oh what bad luck with your non procreating rabbits! We did not want to breed rabbits again, but a friend gave us two which were supposed to be the same sex, but no, they weren't because we ended up with twenty rabbits to go into the freezer!

CRO MAGNON, we always have a time of waiting before we eat the recently processed meat as well. As for lighting the fires, ....... we shall hang on for a while yet!

Coco said...

Good work. Do you do anything with the skins? I wonder how many freezers you have to hold so much bounty.

We were supposed to have an upright freezer, but it turned out they´d shipped a normal fridge instead. As 2 years had already past since the order (renovating always takes longer than you think), we´ve just gone ahead and used it. Until we get the barn done, I don´t know where I´d put a chest freezer now.

Have you thought about charcuterie instead of canning? I know it´s a whole new skill set, but lamb sausage sounds yummy.

northsider dave said...

Do you kill your animals yourselves Vera? We stopped slaughtering our livestock because it cost us 120 Euros to have a pig (half bacon and pork)slaughtered and butchered and 200 Euros for a heifer.

Vera said...

COCO, we have three chest freezers, and all are full to the brim. Charcuterie sounds like a good idea, but would take too much time up when we are putting into the freezer eight sheep over a short period of time. If I was going to go along the charcuterie route we would only be able to process one sheep at a time, which means that it would take an age to get through eight! So no lamb sausage for us!

NORTHSIDER DAVE, we kill all our animals ourselves, but we do not faff around with the butchering....we just cut the meat up into chunks then get it into the freezer. It is when it comes out of the freezer that I start to do fancy things with it! If we have a male calf we would also butcher him ourselves. Couldn't stand the thought of sending him to an abattoir.