Thursday, February 20, 2014

A week of planning.

With the weather still not amenable to gardening we have time for planning what we will be growing this year and where things will be going. As we will be getting pigs later in the year far more roots have to be grown.
Our new seed order arrived this week, always exciting, and the seed box has been sorted out into seeding months.  Quite a few seeds can be started now in trays and modules, but the real seeding will start in March. I just hope the weather warms up  a little and the land dries up so we can  get growing.
The poultry also has to be sorted out, young pullets from last years hatch have to be moved to their appropriate  cocks. Many people have started hatching already, we will wait for warmer weather, we don't like to keep chicks inside for too long, I can see no point in having birds hatching this early.
We do however have kittens from one of the rabbits. We had bought rabbits from a friend a few weeks ago, plus  cages and runs. Unfortunately the runs were not mink proof and we lost a doe and two kittens to this horrible predator, it had however been unable to get the two 'bucks' which were in another run. We had a slight doubt as to whether these two rabbits were in fact bucks, their behaviour just seemed off. But we checked with our friends and were assured that yes, they definitely were. Well we were right, the white one is a doe and has today produced kittens to prove it, the buck was hastily removed into separate quarters. So all's well, we now have two does, unrelated to our New Zealand white buck.
Cider cured ham, yum! Can't wait to try it.
Since the decision to have pigs has been made I have looked at lots of books on curing, some of them are full of complicated seldom used recipes, some are very basic. What I wanted was a practical guide to wet and dry curing, smoking , and boning out the meat.
An excellent book.
 River Cottage Handbook 13 covers all this and more, even how to build a smoker from scrap materials. I can't wait to try the Cider Cured Ham or the Guanciale which is yet another use for the pigs cheek.
A new chest freezer has been ordered and will be here next Tuesday, so we will be ready for the half pig when it arrives.
With the kitchen still an on-going project not much baking is being done, bread has to be made three times weekly, but cakes are a  bit thin on the ground.
Glad we don't count calories!
I did however make a Lardy cake, which is a west country sweet fruit bread with lard. Another one of those childhood delights. Most definitely frowned upon in this day and age,  animal fat and sugar!. I'm afraid we find all these warning rather meaningless considering all the mass produced junk that is sold in supermarkets as food. Moderation in all things and you can't go far wrong.


  1. Nice surprise on your unexpected kittens but I guess from you point of view you have 'lost' another buck. Like you we are holding off on any chicken breeding though one goose is setting a clutch. Lardy cake looks very genuine.

  2. You are very organised, I envy your seed filing.... The pig will be a lot of work but worth it. Luis' family slaughter 4 a year and make everything - it's a massive job but keeps the whole extended family in pork and products for a year.

  3. I wish we had done the pig curing thing years ago, if it all turns out as well as the bacon we will be pleased. Do you not miss having bacon and ham especially with Luis's family doing their own?

  4. The cake looks lovely. I completely agree with everything in moderation rule. How about the cider cured ham? Is that a picture from the book? Looks lovely! x

  5. I don't often do the lardy cake, it takes a lot of time and is very fattening, the cider cured ham is a picture from the book, I will give it a go when we have our own pigs.