Spring

I mentioned in my last post that I had a few in drafts, but as often happens the moment is lost and I have decided to write an update encompassing those posts and more, otherwise it could be October before I post anything!

Animals

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One of the posts was about a dog attack on our rabbits, ten of twelve lost including Mummy rabbit and Peter rabbit, who between them kept up a steady meat supply. So much so that we had reached one of our goals, to become self sufficient in meat. The pigs, a lamb in exchange for crops, a dozen or so meat chickens and the occasional bit of venison helped in the mix.

Luckily one of the females that survived was pregnant and our supply will resume again in the near future and the cages and runs will be reinforced with a welded wire mesh. Lesson learnt, although we still don’t know who the dogs belonged to.

I mentioned before that we are are now up to six female goats, two in milk, three kids and the last doing an impression of a bus as she waddles around with who knows how many additions to the heard inside her huge belly. Expect an update on this soon. Of course having so many goats means that we have more milk than we can drink, make cheese and of course soap out of, so the cats and dogs get their share as well. It will be good to have pigs again soon so that we have something to eat all the whey that we seem to produce. Thankfully Gosia has developed a market for the cheese, I can only eat so much!

It is worth noting that with all these extra goats (three were an unexpected gift in the autumn) we ran out of hay and oats so we have had to purchase extra. My profit from pigs and rabbits was ploughed back into the business so to speak. A bit more planning this year, more oats and more hay, both achievable with the land we have and we have had an offer to use a neighbours field if required.

Wood

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Oats and hay are not the only things we ran out of this year, we also ran out of wood! The old wooden house that we demolished two years ago was finally returned to the earth as ash and smoke, not to mention what I thought was a good pile of firewood from the land. Alas the colder than normal winter and its duration whittled down the pile quicker than I expected and to make sure we could get through the final throes of winter we had to buy 3 cubic meters (about a cord).

Keen to avoid the same fate again this coming winter I have made inroads into our woodland and cut out and chopped a good 10 cubic to season over the spring and summer. We also have the promise of some ash, which was struck by disease, in exchange for some help moving and chopping, so I’m hoping we will be good.

With all the tree felling we decided to invest in a branch chopper that fits on the back of the tractor, it pretty much devours anything up to 5-7cm (2-3 inches) in diameter and spits it out in 10 cm (4 inch) lengths. This frees up a lot of time that would otherwise be spent doing the job manually and provides extra fuel that would otherwise have been left in piles to rot down as we never seemed to be able to borrow the neighbours implement of destruction! Recently aware of the cost of buying wood we calculated that the investment will be paid off in a couple of years.

Airbnb

I don’t know how many times I have said that the house is almost finished, but the house is almost finished! The only thing of any significance that needs doing is the terrace railing\barrier….the thing that stops people falling off! We have employed the skills of a local carpenter to make the components and we hope to be fitting in the next month or so. This will ultimately make it safe for guests to stay which is what had always niggled in the back of our mind and stopped placing the advert. Of course many dangers still remain, six goats with horns, potholes that the dogs have dug in search of moles, wild rabbit killing dogs, I better stop before the list becomes another reason why we cant take guests.

Of course anyone out there that may be reading this is welcome to contact us directly and make enquiries about availability, we would love to hear from you and offer a commission free, blogger discount!

In fact I’ll offer a free long weekend (short break) to anyone who can take decent photos to help promote our B&B, all you have to do is get to Krakow or Rzeszow airport and we will look after from there. Having looked at my poor attempt below I think we need something better.

Composting toilets

I know that many of you want to know how things are going with the pile? Well I’m pleased to say that I have just emptied one of the four piles that we are running at the moment, this was added to the second pile that has reached maturity over the last 14 months and between them we have at least 1000 litre’s of sweet smelling, crumbly, nutritious compost.

I have taken a slightly different approach whilst emptying  the piles this year by digging out from the centre, which leaves a nice giant whole to fill with new manure. I watched a few videos on the Humanure Handbook website and this seems to be a better method. I can tell you that once emptied the whole is filled again with eighteen 20l buckets of manure and 4 buckets of kitchen scraps. Topped off with straw and up to temperature (50c\120f) over the last month. I may try and do a time lapse on this pile, a picture every month, you may be surprised, if not interested!

Soap

I expect some of you fecophobes would like to wash your hands after reading the last bit, well help is at hand with Gosias hand made soaps!

Although there is nothing new on the site you can always get in touch via the contact form at www.winkos.co.uk or www.zielonakoza.pl if Polish is your preferred language. Or comment below. And for those of you who have bought soaps of us for the first time or as a repeat order, thank you, your support is very much appreciated!

Gosia must be doing something right as she recently received a request to run a workshop and demonstration in a local hotel, to a visiting group of about 30 guests from the UK!

Gosia has also teamed up with a friend, Iza, who is felting the soaps with her own designs. We are expecting a selection for the Easter markets so I will take some  more pictures, the only one we have left at the moment is a hemp oil soap. I’m sure you will agree that Izas artistic talent adds a new dimension to the soaps. So if you are looking for a unique gift idea then we have the answer.

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More

Probably, but it’s taken me a week to write this! The weather has been great and the tractor busy getting the oats sown and compost spread, I actually got sun  burnt whilst working out in the field!

The sad news is that Sunday, the pregnant goat, had stillborn twins. Mother is well though and shows no signs of on-going infection so we will put it down to one of those things. Nature can be cruel at times.

 

Making hay whilst the sun shines

That’s what they say so that’s what we did.

I’d guess a couple of acres, possibly a bit more, of grass cut by tractor on Saturday the 30th. And just like when lighting the BBQ or forgetting your umbrella it decided to rain, despite a clear 10 day weather forecast.

This changed our schedule a little and the hay had to be left to dry until Monday when we turned it all by hand, an all day job, as our neighbour with the tractor was working his 24 hour shift at the garage.

No sooner had we finished then another storm crept in, dropped a few more buckets of water on the hay and moved on.

Thankfully we have had temperatures close to 30c (86f) most of the week and Kazek turned up a couple of times a day with tractor and hay turning machine thingy, and so on Wednesday we piled the first nine stacks. No bales here, just odd shaped domes of fresh, sweet smelling hay. Apparently the way the hay is stacked varies from region to region, with that in mind I think I have invented a new way, although I doubt it’s a style that will catch on.

We will be putting it in the barn today along with the hay from the bottom fields that we have left in windrows as the weather stayed fine. We probably have have twice as much as we need for the Sunday and Monday (the goats) but then who knows what else will be eating it come the winter.

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A rare appearance from me next to the last and smallest stack of the day. I could never have done it without Malina!
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Look daddy, look what’s happened to that nice hay stack.

Room for two more? it’s just a couple of kids!

Gosia and I often talk of livestock; what to get and more importantly when to get it and with spring sprung the choice of young stock is at it’s height. We had some success with lambs a few years ago, but then we put things on hold as we put our energy into the house and of course Malina! Now we have the chickens and following the progress across at Farma Sadlowo we decided it was time to take the plunge. We have considered a cow for a couple of years, heading towards the Dexter as a more manageable breed with its diminutive size, but a cow is a massive investment and unless you have something to do with all the milk can they be a waste of valuable time and resources, and so, like Terry and Marta we opted for a couple of goats.

As heard animals you are advised to always get at least two, and as the future plan is to milk them it seemed like two young does would be the answer. We decided on young goats so that we can train and tame them to make life easier for us in the future. We will also be free of the milking task until next year, given us the much needed time to finish the house and open up for business. Well at least that’s the plan!

Checking the internet for likely orphans we soon discovered a spot selling goats along with lambs at a very good rate and a decision was quickly made to buy two of each, but not quick enough as the offer had expired by the time we made the phone call. Still we went for option two and managed to pick up two three month old kids for a knock down price. Both very similar to look at but from different mothers, which could work in out favour in the future if we start to breed (the goats that is, our breeding days are over!)

I had already taken the hammer, saw and cordless drill down to the stable and after explaining to the chickens what was going on they agreed to give up a section of the holiday let to some new guests. Six pallets, a set of hinges and an old Snickers (Marathon to me) display tray to catch any stray hay and we were in business to take in the new residents. A short drive, two dog leads and five bales of straw in the van and we shuck hands on the deal.

You may recall that the hens had already outgrown there purpose built enclosure so I was glad to give it a new purpose, and after the second day we let the little ladies out to take on the grass that the hens had refused or failed to eat.

And there you have it, two more mouths to feed, but they fit in well with the morning and evening ritual, enjoying extra treats of willow branches cut from any tree I happen to pass on the journey and a handful of oats first and last thing to help to make friends. They already come running when they hear my voice and Gosia and Malina have also bonded with buckets of fresh picked grass.

Goat update.

It’s almost two weeks since we picked up the goats, from this day forward to be known as Sunday and Monday. It should have been Sandy and Mandy, but I misheard Gosia (no she doesn’t have a cockney accent) and by the time she noticed that I had given them different names it was too late. Despite that I thought it would make naming the next five easier and who knows it could be the birth of the ‘Happy Days Milking Company’! Gosia didn’t get it either.

Anyhow, the update is to report that they too have outgrown the holding pen and after a weeks work, forty three posts, one hundred and thirty five meters of wire fencing and an additional gate, I released them onto the bottom pasture. Lots of lovely spring grass and weeds, wild raspberry canes, sloe and hazel trees poking through or overhanging the fence. A goats paradise? Apparently not as they found a gap in my yet to be fixed gate and headed off on a mission for some clumps of grass they spotted on an earlier bid for freedom. Thankfully a willow branch laden with fresh leaves and a ‘come on girls’ and they were back in the fold. Sometimes I wonder if these animals appreciate the work I put in for them!

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