Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Go Green

I’m no eco-warrior by any stretch of the imagination, but I do feel that if we all try and do a bit more to save energy, we will all be better off in every sense of the word.

Since moving to Fallowfield over 20 years ago, Mike has planted hundreds, maybe thousands of trees to provide shelter belts around the house and the paddocks.  This might seem to be a bit of an expensive exercise, but there are grants available for this.  Trees not only enhance the surroundings you live in but give shelter to both your animals and your house.

As we have a lot of woodland here, we have a plentiful supply of logs for our wood burning stoves – you just can’t get the same quality of heat from central heating especially in a large house.  Keeps Mike fit too chopping and stacking all the logs!  We might seem to have a lot of logs stacked, but there is always the challenge to have a year’s supply of logs there so that they are really dry for burning. Surprise, surprise - we never quite get there!

We love living here at Fallowfield – it’s a very beautiful place.  But there is a price to pay for living in the country - no gas!!  A couple of years ago, Mike got really sick of our high oil bills and decided to install PV’s to generate electricity on our garage roof. I can’t say I was that enthusiastic about them at the time – not sure about the high cost nor their appearance.  However the trade off was that I got a brand-new electric Aga – happy days!!  I wouldn’t have liked the panels on our house roof but they look ok where they are and we use a heck of a lot less oil.  Needless to say we always try and use washing machines and dishwashers when the sun is shining – no washing today then since it is freezing fog!

I know I keep saying it but I am looking forward to Spring.  It MUST be coming because I bought my seed potatoes yesterday.  I’m planting Pink Fir Apple potatoes this year.  They are those little, knobbly, waxy potatoes which look really strange but taste absolutely gorgeous.  You rarely see them for sale in vegetable shops which is another good reason for growing your own.  They are standing in egg boxes to allow them to chit before planting outside.  There is something really good about being able to pop out to your garden to pick something for lunch or supper.  Last year’s vegetable gardening was a complete disaster.  The weather was so weird – hot and dry in March and then wet and cold for most of the rest of the year. 

Fingers crossed for warm, dry days in 2013 – not too dry though as I want some of that green grass!
PS  Hip, Hip, Hip Hooray, the sun is now out today - washing machine here I come! 


Sunday, 24 February 2013

The sweet smell of success!

Jolly cold here at Fallowfield again this morning although probably warmer than it was in Yorkshire last Thursday when we did our butchery course.  I don’t think the temperature ever rose above 1 deg centigrade all day and that was outside.  It was actually colder inside the building – honest!  Just ask Chris and Nigel Wildman of Paganum Produce!!!

After church this morning and a quick lunch, we got on with some husbandry tasks and halter training for all the weanlings – not just the show team. We also had to do a bit of revision work with some of our intermediate girls.  Isabella was not very good – to put it mildly – when she was at the Futurity last year and going by today’s performance on the head collar, she is going to be just as bad this year.   She did very well last year, getting a 1st place rosette.  I just hope she does us proud again this time around.  But who knows?!

Last night we had some of our sausages for supper that we made on Thursday and tonight we had a piece of the pork that Mike had so skilfully butchered.  The flavour was gorgeous – really quite special!  More baking this evening as well – got to get the freezer stocked up for all B and B and holiday cottage guests.  And before any of you ask – I have only had one piece of cake this afternoon!!!

And finally, congratulations not only to the brilliant performance of the England Rugby team yesterday but also to the Scottish team for beating the Irish today. Who'd have thought it!  I can only assume that our Scottish vets - not to mention our Scottish daughter in law - will be celebrating tonight.


Saturday, 23 February 2013

Pork Butchery Course

Mike and I had a great day yesterday in the Yorkshire Dales.   We had signed up for a pork butchery, charcuterie and sausage making course run by Nigel and Chris Wildman of Paganum Produce  We had intended to stay over there on Thursday night but as with the best laid plans of mice and men... we didn’t!  So we had a shockingly early start as we had to get all our animal chores done very early before we could set off.  The alpacas did look a bit confused at being woken up in the dark to be given their breakfast.

We wanted to go on this particular course as the Wildmans not only breed Saddlebacks and Oxford Sandy and Black pigs  which are the breed that we are getting, but they are very experienced butchers going back five generations in the same area.  It was so good to be able to see the sow and the boar and their weanlings.  They are the funniest creatures.  This particular breed is noted for their gentle natures and good meat – a winner!  

Many people have wondered if we would be able to slaughter and eat our own pigs.  The answer is always a resounding “Yes”!  I know that I’ve always said that I couldn’t eat our alpacas, but that’s because I never started breeding alpacas with the intention of eating them. 

We learnt so much yesterday from butchery, through charcuterie to sausage making.  Mike was concentrating on butchery and learning about charcuterie, whilst I focused on charcuterie and sausage making as well as honing my knife sharpening skills. 

Thursday, 21 February 2013

Cleanliness is next to Godliness!

Just a short blog tonight as I am completely cream crackered!  Whether you are doing self-catering holiday lets or bed and breakfast, it’s the finishing touches that take the time, but make all the difference to your guests.  So I spent all morning at our holiday cottage, then rushed back here just in time for our vet David Parkin to arrive.  Although Philly has put back on all the weight she has lost, and looks much stronger in general, there is still pus coming from the abscess.  We thought we were really getting on top of it, but now we are not so sure.  Consequently, we are going to switch to using another long lasting antibiotic, Zactran.  The only thing with this drug is that it can cause stomach problems in alpacas, so we will just have to monitor Philly’s progress carefully.  It was good to meet the two American students from the Royal Veterinary College in London who came with David and who are getting some work experience with Intake Vets. They have very little knowledge of alpacas.  I think it was probably a bit of a shock to the system coming to Northumberland where it was trying to snow today.  One of the girls is from California and one Louisiana – both a bit warmer than here!!!!

I think that I must have been really bad in a past life, as I even had to dash into Newcastle this afternoon to get the last bits and bobs for the cottage and didn’t get back until 6.30ish!  At least Mike had a bottle of wine in the fridge for deserving causes!!

I suppose I had better explain the title of tonight’s blog - the importance of disinfecting your animal trailers and animal barns at this time of the year.  Apart from the fact that you will not be welcomed with open arms (and rightly so!) if you arrive at a show with a filthy vehicle and trailer, it is good herd management to keep everything disinfected.  We use Virkon disinfectant for all these jobs.  If you have any teenagers who are looking for a job in their spare time, then let them loose with a jet spray and they will be quite happy for some time.  They might end up spraying each other, but I don’t worry about such things.

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

A Woman's Work is Never Done!

I wouldn’t like any of you to get the idea that Mike is the only one doing the hard graft round here and that I just swan around the place taking the odd photograph etc., etc!!!

Please note – I favour the more eco-friendly method of poo picking!  Apart from anything else it’s good for the ageing waistline and since I’ve always got plenty of home-made cake in the larder supposedly just for our B and B guests, I need all the help I can get.

This photo of me in action was actually taken yesterday morning and proves that we have had some sunshine this week.  It’s not like that today!!!!  It is dry to be fair but it’s overcast with a chill easterly wind.  However, the land is starting to dry out now.  I’m glad that our land is pretty dry anyway, as I keep seeing photos of people’s fields that are just a sea of mud. That must be really tough.

Talking of cakes, my favourite 100% reliable cake is a fruit cake that I’ve adapted from a Mary Berry recipe.  My version is a bit cheaper and I think tastes just as good.


450 g. (1lb) mixed dried fruit

100 g (4oz) butter or margarine

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

175 g (6 ozs) light brown or caster sugar

275 g ( 10 ozs) self raising flour

2 tsps ground ginger – optional

225 ml (8 fl. ozs.) water

 2 eggs beaten

Makes one 20 cms (8”) deep round cake.  I usually pop a cake tin liner into the tin which saves time which I am all in favour of.

Put fruit, butter, soda, sugar and water into a pan and bring to the boil for a couple of minutes.  Cool.  Then add flour, beaten eggs and ginger or preferred spice if using.

Cook at 160 degrees (325F, Gas 3 for about 1 ½ hours.  I usually check after an hour to make sure it’s not browning too much and if it is, then I put a bit of paper or foil over the top.

This cake does freeze well

I usually make at least two at a time and try to be strong-willed enough to freeze at least one of them!!


Monday, 18 February 2013

Buckets and Crias

Alpaca crias and weanlings are such a mischievous bunch and these photos just illustrate what I mean.  Mike had put these buckets into one of our catching pens with a little feed in each, just so that we could get them all together for a bit more halter training.  They were literally left alone for no more than 5 minutes and guess what – two of them were so greedy that they ended up wearing the buckets.  Actually Sylvester, the brown boy who has got the bucket on his head, didn’t seem to be that bothered about it – maybe it’s a boy thing??!!

However, on a more serious note, it just shows that you shouldn’t leave crias alone with buckets with handles attached to them as there will always be one that manages to get into a bit of a pickle!

It has been a gorgeous day here today – makes you really glad to be alive and living in the lovely Tyne Valley in Northumberland.  The weanlings are doing really well with their halter training – it’s never been this easy.  Perhaps they are lulling us into a false sense of security?  Yesterday, we tried taking them through the stable yard and round the front of the house, before leading them along the laneway running past the boys’ paddocks.  It’s amazing how seemingly insignificant things can spook them at first and they need to get used to as many different things as possible, whether it be walking on a different road surface or walking past different vehicles and dogs.  All of them were reluctant to walk past the corner of the house – they obviously couldn’t see the drive in front of them and they were reluctant to go on.  Hopefully, we have mastered that scary thing now!

Having been out and about all afternoon, it was lovely to get home to find we had got another order for a full set of bedding.  There is no doubt that word is getting out about how lovely alpaca bedding is and that we’ve got an amazing Introductory Offer on at the moment for bedding sets. This latest order included a bespoke extra large duvet and bespoke pillow sizes which we’re able to supply.  Check out the details on our bedding online store.


Saturday, 16 February 2013

Holiday Cottage Preview

After months and months of hard work, we are almost ready to let our holiday cottage.  It is to be marketed through Sykes Holiday Cottages from the beginning of March but we can also take private bookings.  It is called Eastfield and is right in the centre of the historic village of Corbridge in Northumberland.  You know the saying “Location, location, location” – well it certainly applies to this house and it is an absolute gem as well.

When Mike and I started our involvement in the tourism business, we decided that regardless of whether it was Bed and Breakfast or Self Catering, we would only run the sort of places that we would want to stay in and that we could be proud of.  We have stuck to this premise.  This house is very well situated with private parking, which can be quite rare in old villages; it has great character with original inglenook stone fireplaces, exposed beams but has been renovated by that architect I live with(!) to the highest possible standard and as a result retains the character but with all modern conveniences.

We have still got some finishing touches to complete, but we are almost there.
We are looking forward to welcoming visitors to Eastfield

Thursday, 14 February 2013

Company Branding - Support your local businesses!

The weather has definitely been a bit warmer here today although it has been pretty dull and cloudy.  I’m really bored with winter now and would like to see some mild spring-like weather.  Although to be honest, even if it was cold but really sunny, it might be an improvement on just plain old wet and dreary stuff – and mud!

I confess that I let Mike get on with the halter training on his own this afternoon whilst I was inside doing paperwork – well some-one has to do it haven’t they!  I don’t think that Isidor was too enthusiastic but then Mike has never led him before and they do get used to one person so it’s quite a good idea to swap around with different people if at all possible.

 I did intend to help but I was a bit late about it and when I went outside our Landrover was parked there and I got thinking about how pleased we have been with the Fallowfield logo that was designed for us by Lazy Grace in Rothbury  Mike was an architect up until he retired and he is ever so slightly picky about design matters, so we could never have just any old logo.  Lazy Grace are great fun to work with and not only designed the logo but our website as well. 

I feel really strongly about how important it is to support your local businesses.  Ok the internet is a useful tool but we would really miss the local places if they were not there.  Top Signs in Hexham  is another of our favourites.  They were the people who have made some of our banners and also did the branding on the Landrover.  We are always amazed at the number of dogs who stop to bark at the picture of the alpaca on the side of the vehicle – barking mad??!!!!

I’m now ready for a cup of tea and then I’ll get another alpaca bedding order made up and ready for despatch.  Our new online bedding store page certainly looks good and is attracting attention.

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Fallowfield Bird Life

Before any of you guys get the wrong idea I’m talking about wild birds – not the human variety!

When Mike and I moved to Fallowfield 20 years ago, there was very little garden and apart from the well established woodland of which there is about 30 acres, very few trees in general.  We immediately set about planting a 2 acre garden and hundreds of trees all around the place.  All of these trees are now mature and giving brilliant shelter to the alpaca paddocks.  Much needed as we are about 650 feet above sea level here!    Roll on summer and we get to see all that greenery again. There were very few birds to be seen when we arrived but now the place is a real haven for wild life.  We get lots of small birds on the nut and seed feeders and even get great spotted wood peckers feeding there too. 

We are lucky enough to still have a few red squirrels here although sadly enough we are starting to see a few greys.

There are loads of pheasants here and they provide good entertainment for our alpaca crias who love chasing them.  Actually I am the one who is getting chased by a cock pheasant every day at the moment.  The cocks are all getting territorial as the mating season gets closer and one cock pheasant in particular seems to think that he owns the area of the drive and garden immediately in front of the house. So every time I walk along that way or even drive in or out – out pops the pheasant and does his best to chase me away!  He was even having a rather noisy conversation with our free-range hens yesterday as to who had squatters’ rights over that part of the garden!
We've had such a busy day that the weanlings managed to escape their halter training session today.  Must get back to it tomorrow though as if you miss more than a day, you really notice that they are not as good as previously.  Little and often is the only way.  This lot are pretty good though and it’s only Isidor who tends to lie down if he thinks he can get away with it.  I find that as long as I keep talking to him and let him see my face as I walk in front of him, then he is ok.  Of course, walking backwards has its own inherent risks!!!
Having spent so long doing building alterations and painting our holiday cottage, in other words all the boring bits! – it’s great to be now hanging curtains and kitting it out with all the glass and china etc.  Found a great place in Newcastle today that supply china and glass to the hotel and catering trade.  They were such a nice bunch – so helpful! -  had some great stuff too.  Inevitably, we had to do the Ikea run as well – thank goodness it was quiet and we’ve learnt the shortcuts through the store.  We meant to grab a quick coffee there but couldn’t understand how to work the Self Service machines – that’s what happens when you’re getting on in years like us!!!

Monday, 11 February 2013

Alpaca Halter Training

It has been absolutely freezing in Northumberland today – a perishingly cold easterly wind, but at least we haven’t got any snow.  After finishing the morning feeding routine, we decided to do the day’s halter training there and then. Over the years we’ve learnt that alpaca weanlings are more receptive to halter training earlier in the day.  Actually my brain is better in the mornings too, but I don’t think that Mike would say that I was any more biddable in the mornings!!

We are really pleased with how the halter training is going – perhaps I should add “Alpaca Whisperer” to my list of credentials!  Just as well really as we are taking alpacas to the British Alpaca Futurity in March, which is not far away.  We had decided not to go this  year for a variety of reasons – one of which being that we had already sold two of our weanlings that would have been in our show team.  However, whilst Mike was away skiing last week, I booked the hotel, booked the house/farm sitters (aka my very kind sister Lucinda and her husband Andrew).  Having been so efficient in his absence, Mike could not possibly disagree that it was an excellent decision!  Nevertheless, it wasn’t easy deciding on our final show team – apologies to all those alpacas not included!


I realise that it is barely a week since I made the Piccalilli, and that you should really let it mature for at the very least 7 days but......yup you guessed it, we just couldn’t resist having some with our ham at lunchtime.  It was really, really delicious! I must admit that I was a bit concerned that it might have been a bit sharp-tasting, but it wasn’t at all.  The flavour was great and the vegetables crisp.  Mike now thinks that I should start making industrial quantities – He’s going to have to come to terms with the smell of boiling vinegar methinks!

Sunday, 10 February 2013

Treating an alpaca jaw abscess.

Philly, the alpaca that we are treating for an abscess got weighed this afternoon and we were thrilled to find that she is absolutely piling on the weight.  She has gained 6 kilos in two weeks – amazing!  Since we spotted the abscess, we have been running her with the weanlings and feeding her separately.  I suspect that she gets rather bullied when she’s with the main herd as she is such a quiet, gentle girl and is easily pushed away from the feed trough.  She is given Naxcel every 5 days and was given Finadyne for pain relief, together with Combivit to stimulate her appetite for the first three days after diagnosis.  She has a coat on to keep her warm and is kept in at night and also during the day if the weather is wet or snowy.  We swab the wound with Hibiscrub twice daily.  We are quite confident now that she is on the mend.

Saturday, 9 February 2013

Mucky Mishaps

I love working with our animals but every so often something happens when I really think that I must be mad doing all the stuff here that I do.   This happened yesterday when I was rather enthusiastically mucking out the animal barn.  I was working at speed as I seemed to have a lot to do before picking up Mike from the airport and I really wanted everything to look well organised as if I had been in complete control in his absence!  Hmm!!!

Animal poo on concrete is slippery - I know that.  But this knowledge didn’t stop me from going flying across the floor and ending floundering around in the poo on my back.  Still it could have been an awful lot worse if I had ended face down.  I’m just glad that no-one was there to watch or even worse photograph me in action.  You’ll just have to imagine the scene and the language!  I must admit that the few alpacas that were in there did look a bit puzzled!
Anyone else got any "hilarious mishaps" to report?


I might have been slogging away all week on my own but I had my best mate, my little terrier Scrumpy, to help.  After helping with the mucking out she smelt almost as bad as me!

As it’s the weekend, I have to crack on with making a pan of soup.  Butternut Squash soup today. It’s really easy.  Peel and roughly chop carrots, celery, onions and butternut squash and over a medium heat sweat in butter for about 10 minutes with the lid on.  Then add vegetable or chicken stock, just to cover the vegetables – you can always thin the soup down later with more stock or some milk.  Season well and cook until the veg is soft then blend.  Delicious with some freshly baked bread.  If you want to jazz it up for a supper party, then swirl a little cream or crème fraiche onto each serving and crumble a little crisply fried sage leaf on top.  Yum, Yum!

Off to local Farmway store for more Alfa Beet for the alpacas before we run out - forgot to do that earlier in the week!  Check out to see if there is one in your area.

Paganum Butchery Course | The Artisan Food Trail

Paganum Butchery Course | The Artisan Food Trail

Looking forward to our course on 21st February.  Sounds brilliant fun and just what we need before we get our own pigs.  Like you say - we want to use everything except the squeak! 

Mike and Melanie Douglas
Fallowfield Alpacas

Thursday, 7 February 2013

From Barn to Bedroom

Today is the Official Launch Day of the Fallowfield Alpaca Bedding website. and we have some amazing Introductory Offers for a very limited period.
We use Fallowfield alpaca duvets and pillows throughout our holiday cottage and Bed and Breakfast ( and receive loads of compliments from our guests.  They are filled with 100% pure alpaca fibre which makes them brilliant for asthma sufferers.  It's bad enough having asthma without being limited to synthetic bedding as it just doesn’t have that luxury feel to it, however much you pay!

But you don’t have to have asthma to enjoy the benefits of our alpaca bedding.  The unique qualities of the duvets enable you to remain at a comfortable temperature all year round. Although they initially feel lightweight they will keep you warm in the coldest of winters.
All of the items make brilliant presents.  Everyone must have some relations that are really difficult to buy presents for – not just me surely!  Not that I’m naming anyone in particular!!  They also make original wedding presents.

I’m not sure that Miranda really enjoyed modelling her duvet – but you know what they say “Never work with children or animals”. I think that phrase may have been coined by an alpaca photographer!
The next photo is more what it was supposed to look like - just as well there is no soundtrack!

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Good Food For All


 I am passionate about good food – seasonal, local and well cooked.  But I am equally passionate about giving our alpacas the best possible feed.  Hay is one of the all-round staples of the alpaca.  We are lucky that at Fallowfield we have the acreage to grow and harvest our own hay.  But this doesn’t mean to say that some years we don’t run into problems.  2012 was an incredibly wet year in the UK.  Our hay was very late in being cut due to the appalling weather conditions.  On the whole, it does seem to be ok, but today I came across a really dodgy bale.  This mould would have been caused by the hay being cut in a particularly wet part of the field.  NEVER use hay like this!  I know there will be many of you who understand this wholly, but there are a lot of new alpaca breeders out there who are new to livestock breeding and who possibly don’t understand these things.  I would always say to you guys, if in doubt ask someone who has more experience than you.

This evening I tried out the Piccalilli recipe I mentioned the other day.  It looks seriously good but of course we need to wait a few days for the flavours to mature. Just as well Mike is not here as he is not keen on the smell of vinegar boiling at the best of times, but adding mustard powder and chilli to that might be just a step too far!  I can’t wait to try it with some home-baked ham.  Our family love good pork and ham products which is why we are getting some pigs in a few weeks time.  More of that later!

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Alpacas for Sale

It is a sad fact of life that as professional alpaca breeders, we have to sell some of our animals from time to time.  In an ideal world, I wouldn't sell any of them but I suspect that Mike might agree to differ unless of course we won the lottery!  Unlikely!!!!!!!

I have just updated our sales lists this evening and have added Octavius and Nautilus.

I must admit that Octavius is not looking his best in this photograph - I shall have to concede that the farm labourer who is swannng around in the Alps is a better photographer than me!  It would also help if Octavius did not look quite so grubby!

What I would say is that this is a great opportunity to get some fantastic genetics into your herd at a very reasonable price.  Perhaps your preference is for coloured alpacas - but remember his sire is fawn and grand sire and grand dam are also fawn and brown, so I would not hesitate to put him over your coloured girls.  This is the way to get some better fleece quality into your coloured herd.

Nautilus is a lovely boy with a gentle temperament, but a character for all that.  He is used to being handled by many different people attending our various alpaca courses.  He would make a great pet.
We have also got a dark brown weanling called Fallowfield Sylvester, who is a brother to Nautilus, and who will be added to the sales list in the next few days. 

Alpaca Zumba!

Snowed again at Fallowfield last night and it’s still snowing.  Because husband Mike (the farm labourer!) is away skiing, I had to do the mucking out all on my own.  Whilst working away, I was thinking that I have no need to go to Zumba classes to keep fit.  In fact, why not play some Zumba style music and advertise mucking out as Alpaca Zumba!  Even better we could charge people for the privilege – no brainer really!!!

Monday, 4 February 2013

Alpacas love Alfa Beet

Our alpacas just love warm, soft Alfa Beet at this time of the year.  We don’t give it to the weanlings or the boys – unless they are a bit underweight.  It is great for any that need building up as there is so little goodness in the grass in the UK in the winter time.  We use Dengie’s Alfa Beet  Philly just loves the stuff which is good as it is easy for her to eat with a sore jaw.

I inadvertently let the weanlings out into the field next to their Mums this morning - whoops!  Mike just can’t get the staff you know!!  Fortunately it wasn’t a problem and the novelty of being so close to their mums again quickly wore off.  I introduced some of the little ones to head collars this afternoon - they weren’t exactly impressed.  Tomorrow is another day!

I decided that I needed a treat too today so I bought yet another cookery book.  Those who know me well will not be too surprised!  I love cookery books.  I bought “The British Larder” by Madalene Bonvini Hamel from Forum books in Corbridge which is a super independent bookshop.  I can’t wait to make the Cauliflower and Shallot Piccalilli.  It would be brilliant with some good home baked ham.  I sense a jam jar order coming on from

I get very excited about beautiful fabrics – a bit sad I know! I’m busy making some bedroom curtains for our holiday cottage in Corbridge.  Being a bit of a perfectionist, I make my curtains in a very traditional way, which involves a lot of hand-sewing. With a bit of effort and not too much wine, these should be finished this evening! Fingers crossed!

Sunday, 3 February 2013

Sunday at Fallowfield

Sunday is supposed to be a day of rest and, surprise, surprise, I did have a lie-in this morning and I let Mike feed all the alpacas, chickens and dogs before we went to Church.  Don’t start feeling too sorry for him though as he is off skiing for the week tomorrow.

Had a quick session down at our holiday cottage in Corbridge before lunch.  I keep making lists of things that still need doing before it is ready for letting by the end of this month.  It is an absolute gem of a house – perfect for holidays.  Right in the centre of the village, sleeps 4 and has private parking which can be quite rare.

Philly is looking a bit perkier today and was having a bit of a spit.  I never thought that I would be glad when one of our alpacas was spitting!  There is very little pus coming out of her abscess now – thank goodness.  I had a very sheltered up- bringing and squeezing pus out of abscesses was not what I was brought up to do!! She got her second injection of Naxcel, which we have found to be extremely effective in treating these things.


Halter training starts tomorrow .........Bring it on!!!

Saturday, 2 February 2013

Breakfast at Fallowfield

Woke up to a covering of snow this morning but it was such a beautiful sunny day that it made you feel good to be alive and living in such a beautiful part of the country.  I think all of our animals felt the same way.
We have still got the main herd of alpacas "in bye" - close to the house for those of you who are not familiar with the Northumbrian dialect!
The girls got very excited when Mike took them their breakfast – you always know which ones are going to be the first to push their heads into the bucket.

Even Tiger Puss, our farm cat (who really wants to be a house cat!) was enjoying the sun.

My Norfolk Terrier, Scrumpy, is in season and was determined to be a little tart with Sammy, Mike’s gorgeous cocker spaniel.

 Made some good soup and bread for lunch today - Wholemeal spelt bread and curried parsnip and celeriac soup.  I cannot understand why French people only feed parsnips to their animals as I think they are delicious.  The soup recipe was adapted from a Waitrose recipe.  Basically I diced onion, carrot, celery, parsnips and celeriac and sweated these off in some olive oil before adding 3 teaspoons of medium curry powder and covered with vegetable stock.  I then added some finely chopped ruby chard and some crème fraiche.  I know I’m supposed to be on a diet but I really couldn’t resist the crème fraiche!  Homemade soup like this ticks all the boxes for us in the winter – delicious, healthy and cheap.  A no-brainer really.

I would love to get more soup recipes – please send them in!

The only less cheerful thing that happened at Fallowfield today is that one of our yearling alpacas, Phyllida, has developed an abcess on her jaw.  She is the sweetest girl, so gentle and with a beautiful fleece.  However, we have successfully treated these jaw abcesses before so we are determined to keep a  positive outlook.

Friday, 1 February 2013

A Winter's Tale!

Despite the cold weather and the short winter days, our hens are still laying, if a bit spasmodically.  Or maybe they are laying regularly but I just can't find the eggs.  The latest nest of choice seems to be in the new barn behind the hay bales. As well as these two Buff Orpingtons, we have some Black Rocks and Light Sussex for a good colour mix.

This barn is going to be brilliant when I start halter training next week even if we do have more snow as is forecast.  I don't like to start halter training too early as the weanlings seem to get bored with the whole exercise rather quickly.  They also seem to quickly tire of going around the same field day after day -  they are not the only ones!  This year, weather permitting, we will try leading them up the drive right from the start and see how that works out.  It will be a bit like the Wild West, with the odd bucking bronco - but such is life!

Tomorrow morning we are off to visit some pig-keeping friends to pick their brains and learn from their experience as we are going to get some pigs in a few weeks' time.  I can't wait!