"We must achieve the character and acquire the skills to live much poorer than we do. We must waste less. We must do more for ourselves and for each other. It is either that or continue merely to think and talk about changes that we are inviting catastrophe to make. The great obstacle is simply this: the conviction that we cannot change because we are dependant on what is wrong. But that is the addict's excuse, and we know that it will not do."
—Wendell Berry

Friday, 5 April 2013

Bah humbug.

I've been mooching about the house for three weeks now. Home from work with a broken rib. The holiday has been nice granted, but the inability to use the time on many of the waiting projects galls me. On the plus side all of the small jobs that have been ignored for ages are now done. At the time of writing I think the rib is finally coming good and I am slowly getting into the heavier jobs I have been longing to do.

I have finally admitted that I will not have the hot house up for winter. As we can wait no longer I have turned the veggie garden over and will be planting out the winter crops soon. I have about three tonnes of compost, carefully hoarded, to enrich the areas that the excavator has denuded of good topsoil. Digging still causes me some difficulty - the pushing action in using a shovel, so I have yet to work out how to move all of the compost to where I need it. I might be able to cadge the use of a small loader from a neighbour. Otherwise the child bride and I will move it one barrow at a time in small doses.
Yesterday I placed my seed order for the winter planting. Mostly brassicas (cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli), peas, carrots, kale, lettuce, shallots, radish, leeks and some swedes. We don't bother growing onions or potatoes as they are grown in abundance in this region and can be obtained cheap or free most years. If somehow we are suddenly able to move ahead on the hothouse then a few plants will just have to get squashed in the process.

We are now milking twice each day as it is time to wean Timmy-the-little-bastard from his mother. I think his mother Anna is actually quite relieved. Meanwhile Timmy-I-vote-for-veal made his displeasure known by bellowing day and night for a week. He was probably quite overdue to be weaned. Anna's milk yield has been up and down for months but it levelled off at ten litres per day as soon as he was away from her. This indicates he was drinking erratically and was already getting most of his sustenance from the grass.
With all of this extra milk and the time on my hands I have been madly making cheese over the last couple of weeks. Cheddar, Farmhouse, Haloumi, Quarg, Ricotta, Blue, Camembert and I am trying a Stilton which is pretty much touch and go at the moment. Not an easy cheese. I have also managed to finally track down an aftermarket thermostat for the cheese fridge so I can age the cheeses at 12 degrees Celsius. The warmest the fridge would do before was 8 degrees.

When we are not making cheese we have taken to giving ducks a cuddle. Actually I am checking them so see how well they are fattening (and they are growing nice and plump too). The ducks have not yet guessed at my motives and probably think I am just the local friendly pervert. Probably better if they don't work it out.


  1. Ouch Ulf!!!! I have had a couple of cracked ribs over the years....self inflicted.... usually swinging from a large length of pipe on stilson wrenches trying to undo a pipe fitting or something silly like that. But yours sounds worse if you have had to take time off work. Good to see you have been putting the time to a good purpose getting some cheeses up and maturing.
    Not sure how old Timmy whatever his name is but I thought he may have looked a bit young to wean yet. Best veal is when the calf is kept on the mother until D day. All you have to do is make him work for you. This will probably call for more bellowing but keep him closed off from mum overnight then you take all the milk in the morning so he just gets the last little bit and whatever he can get during the day. It will mean he will have to be handfed overnight if he doesn't have a green grass run to live in.

  2. I have to confess that the photo of Timmy and Anna is fairly old, he was much larger when we finally weaned him. I have never actually slaughtered a calf for veal yet, I much prefer to grow them out and get more meat. In Timmy's case I could be persuaded to make an exception...
    The rib was caused by "occupational violence", I am a custodial corrections officer. They won't let me back in the firing line until I meet criteria for full duties as we have no light duties. It just goes with the job I suppose.