The end of 06 was hectic and the start of 07 was even more so. We managed to get away for a week to Marakkech which was nice - a word of warning though - if you are bad with cigarette smoke and car fumes it is your worst nightmare. We all came back with awful coughs. If you do however go there be sure to take a tour of the tombs of the 7 Saints with Sacred Sites Morocco
. Lovely people.
Work has just been crazy since I got back which has meant the smallholding has suffered. The list of jobs is still a long as my arm and nothing much seems to get done. But this has been good in a way as it has made me re-think what I want from the land. Originally it was sheep, goats, chickens and veg. Now I am happy with a couple of goats, my layers and veg; although today I inherited 7 geese! More on that later. I decided against sheep basically as I dont think you can really bond much with sheep plus I have easy access to good quality lambs when I want due to the halal meat business.
So you all met Rumble the goat. At first I thought "I can't be bothered with this" and was trying to get rid of him. Nobody wanted him so I had the choice - a) eat him or b) get him some lady friends. I could not even consider option a as I had grown really attached to him. There is something about goats that are so so lovely - they have real characters and personalities and are so loving. So I was left with option b. I luckily have a friend with a trailor (yes you Val!) and she very kindly picked me up and off we went for a drive into deep, dark Devon to the goat farm of Anthea Bay (who once called me barbaric for doing halal slaughter! I sent her some info and it seems she has now changed her mind). Val picked out a couple of lovely nannies and we brought them back to meet their new boss, Rumble. They first night was a bit scary as t
hey bolted into the deep fog we had with Rumble galloping behind them. No sign of them! The next morning they seemed to have settled in OK. I originally built them a field shelter out of bits of wood which I lovingly called the Huckleberry Finn shack. 2 weeks later it was in pieces after they had chewed all the tarpaulin off and smashed it up. On top of that gale force winds took the roof clean off. In this pic you can see the shack in the forefront and their new mansion in the background (only cost me £179!).
I love them to bits now. One of the girls is called Abby (from the Arabic abyad meaning white) and the other is Mrs Toe (originally Mistletoe but my boy Zak called her Mrs Toe and it has stuck). It is a pleasure going out every morning and giving them their mix and filling up their straw. In the past few days they now even let me properly stroke them. I am hoping Rumble is going to do the business but at the mo it looks like he is firing blanks or the girls are not interested. It would be lovely to see a few kids jumping about in the spring and summer.
So I am leaving the main field for them really. I also want a horse but I am not rushing into that for now. As I mentioned earlier there is something special about goats and I came across this saying of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) which seems to sow that goats have some sort of blessed position among the animals:
"Sunan Abu-Dawud Book 40, Number 4705:
Narrated Al-Abbas ibn AbdulMuttalib:
I was sitting in al-Batha with a company among whom the Apostle of Allah (peace be upon him) was sitting, when a cloud passed above them.
The Apostle of Allah (peace_be_upon_him) looked at it and said: What do you call this? They said: Sahab.
He said: And muzn? They said: And muzn. He said: And anan? They said: And anan. AbuDawud said: I am not quite confident about the word anan. He asked: Do you know the distance between Heaven and Earth? They replied: We do not know. He then said: The distance between them is seventy-one, seventy-two, or seventy-three years. The heaven which is above it is at a similar distance (going on till he counted seven heavens). Above the seventh heaven there is a sea, the distance between whose surface and bottom is like that between one heaven and the next. Above that there are eight mountain goats the distance between whose hoofs and haunches is like the distance between one heaven and the next. Then Allah, the Blessed and the Exalted, is above that."
Pretty amazing that goats are the thing closest to Allah!
There is not much else going on. The chickens are all OK; for now anyway unless this bird flu thing blows up. I have 10 growers on the grow with a couple going in the freezer this weekend. Once they start to get to a certain weight you really need to eat them otherwise you just keep spending money on their feed.
I have ordered in my veg seeds in time for spring sowing - so excited! We miss quality tomatoes so much and this year the green house is going to be heaving with them. Am also going to give chillies a go. Apart from that it will be the usual suspects; sweetcorn, lots of beans and peas, carrots, beetroot, turnips, kale, etc. I still need to rotivate my veg plots though - have the rotivator in the shed, just need to find the time to go out there and plough it over. I did manage to clear a couple of herb plots though as I want to grow some garlic, mint, basil, dill, thyme and a few other bits.
Well today there was a bit of excitement at West End Farm. We have 7 geese! A friend upped and moved away leaving them behind so being the fool I am I said I would take them off him. I had to go round this morning and his wife was there to help me. I was petrified of them so being a true coward left her to catch them all!! Believe me when you see one of them hissing at you, you get scared. She gave me 7 of them and I slaughtered the other 3 for her. Now that was an experience! I have done chicken and lamb but a goose was a whole nex experience but it did have
a bit of a profound effect on me.
I think there must be something in an animal's character that comes to fruition when they die. When I did those 3 geese they went with such grace. Chickens usually flap about, makes loads of mess and are generally mad - pretty much like they are in real life. Sheep are pretty jerky and all over the place too. But these geese! They were amazing...very quiet, no thrashing about.
So anyway, now I have these 7 geese which will be fattened up and then sold and/or eaten over the coming months.