Moving House

The work on site continues apace,

with the concrete waste tanks arriving tommorow; so with things hotting up (except the weather, of course) it was time to relocate the goose house, which is actually a lovely 30-bird henhouse but not exactly easy to move – it was dropped off here by the Domestic Fowl Trust in Honeybourne near Gloucester the day after we moved in. Owing to a lack of machinery & resources it was abandoned next to the haybarn on the arrivals yard & has remained there ever since, while we decided What To Do With It. 

Our initial idea was to get some electrified poultry netting (which we did) & erect it around said henhouse (which we also did).  However the ground was so stony & uneven beneath, that try as we might we couldn’t sink the electric fence posts satisfactorily, with the netting sagging more precariously than a pair of Nora Batty’s stockings.  So the netting remained unused, was gradually forgotten & eventually disappeared beneath the brambles; but when I realised it hadn’t been tidied away & went to recover it after work commenced on site, I discovered that unfortunately it had already been buried beneath the rubble.  What an appalling waste of sixty quid; it has taught us a salutory lesson indeed.

So beacause we were literally between a rock & a hard place the house was initially redundant with the hens remaining in the two Forsham Cottage Arks which have given us such excellent & sturdy service.  Whilst at the Smallholder Show at Builth Wells in 2006, we purchased a breeding pair of Brecon Buff geese; & the henhouse – being big & roomy, seemed an ideal solution for temporary housing until we could sort out something more permanent.  So two years later, it would seem that solution did become the permanent one, after all!  But now it was in the way…..

The geese vacated their accommodation for the day; & strops were attached to the henhouse.  It was then very carefully picked up by the makeshift sling using the bucket of the excavator, & carried across the arrivals yard & down to the farmyard; swinging precariously & literally just brushing the electric cable which supplies power from the house to the farm buildings (my heart was in my mouth at that point as you can imagine).  The strops groaned & the roof started to squeeze inwards; & I began to have real fears that the geese would not have a home at all, by evening!  But thankfully their accommodation was carefully plonked down beside the pigsties; & we set to work to repair the damage, with Paul & Tony swiftly putting it right again.

So work resumed on site with the excavator bouncing alarmingly along the edge of the hill to prepare for the arrival of the concrete tanks. Being very big & very heavy & at the opposite end of the site to where I thought they’d be, I have grave misgivings about how on earth we’ll sink them into place.  But I suppose that’s tomorrow’s challenge….!

As many people have already done so, I won’t post a pancake recipe for Shrove Tuesday as it would be overegging the pudding (or pancake, depending on which way you look at it & the ingredients you use!).  But I hope that all of you who indulged in said Shrove feast, thoroughly enjoyed it – we certainly did!  And Happy Birthday to Richard’s first-ever Southdown lamb – born this afternoon, with no complications.  Wonderful news!

About LittleFfarm Dairy

The LittleFfarm Dairy Team: Jo - Goat farmer & Gelatiere Artigianale, plus General Dogsbody; Tony - Airline Pilot & part-time Herd Manager, Product Taster, Accounts Secretary, Handyman etc!
This entry was posted in Diary, February 2008, Life, Poultry, Sheep, Smallholding. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Moving House

  1. katie says:

    We moved a 25 bird house the other day using rollers made from small round fence posts. We also had 5 reasonably strong people to manoevre it. It worked surprisingly well and we felt a bit like ancient Britons raising Stonehenge! I had been convinced that we’d never move it and I would have to build the run around it in the centre of the drive. Fortunately, I was wrong!
    By the way, the Domestic Fowl Trust is just outside Evesham – just down the road from us.

    What are the concrete tanks for?
    Lucky Richard having a Southdown. That’s what I’d really, really like.

  2. LittleFfarm Dairy says:

    Evening, Katie –

    we used to spend a fair bit of time at the Domestic Fowl Trust, when we lived not so far away from you in the Cotswolds (we were at the centre of the Bourton-on-the-Water, Stow-on-the-Wold & Burford triangle). The DFT kindly rehomed my first little flotilla of ducks for me after an RAF posting meant they had to go.

    Enough was enough; so I had to go, too – from the RAF!! In fact, we bought the henhouse whilst on a visit there, only the week before we moved over here. It cost about £600 so the geese have got pretty salubrious accommodation considering Roberta only lays about half-a-dozen eggs per year compared to the productivity we’d get from our chickens!

    Last year we let Roberta sit on the eggs; & she successfully hatched two, whilst another two died in shell, one wasn’t viable & the sixth was used by a neighbour who needed to bake a pretty serious birthday cake in an emergency (don’t ask!).

    Tragically, despite the fact that the henhouse is done up like Fort Knox (or should that be, ‘Fort Dux’?!) some nasty, murderous beastie – we still don’t know quite what – penetrated its defences, got past Mum & Dad Goose (quite a feat in itself) & bit the heads off the goslings when they were only a few days’ old – did not eat them or attempt to remove them, just upsettingly killed them both.

    We understand that this is typical behaviour of grey squirrels (AKA rats with fluffy tails) but how they could’ve squeezed in, we have unfortunately been unable to fathom.

    Now our gargantuan & expensive henhouse move has taken place, I intend to shore up the gateways in the farmyard, erect the superbly luxurious, larger & even safer shed my Mum & Dad generously bought the geese as their goosey ‘housewarming’ present the other year, & finally increase our flock size to get some more decent laying hens at last.

    Personally I’m hopefully plumping for yet more hybrid Black Rocks: owing to their proven longevity, hardiness, prolific, & (not least)endearing, individualistic, cheeky personalities.

    BUT ‘Caveat Emptor’ – BEWARE OF IMITATIONS – I urge you to buy from proven, reputable dealers of poultry if you want happy, healthy, fully-vaccinated, free-range birds, regardless of breed.

    Gloucestershire to South West Wales might seem a fair old distance to travel but Fosters’ Free Range have never let us down – & we care passsionately about the health & welfare of each & every one of our precious livestock – feathered or furred, All Creatures Great & Small.

    And as to those eeeeenooormous concrete tanks?Well; because we will be running a seriously serious dairy, the tanks will fulfill two functions: the first will hold the runoff & jar washings from the milking parlour & the second, the waste water from the process rooms (we are installing a state-of-the-art compostible loo in the Changing Room so we don’t currently require diversion to our septic tank as well).

    Thankfully, because of the ultimate saturation & recycling system we can carefully manage our waste disposal as a ‘green’ manuring/irrigation system.

    We consciously did not opt for much cheaper, plastic tanks; because although they are far more cost-effective initially, their ‘green’ credentials are lower; plus they would have to be encased in at least the same weight of concrete as the pre-cast tanks to preserve their rigidity, regardless.

    So although a pricier option, this nevertheless significantly reduces our carbon footprint – & we believe in treading upon what’s left of this lovely, natural Planet Earth, as softly, gently & carefully, possible.

    Basically we are doing everything we can to reduce our carbon footprint, with our new business: even the building itself is carbon neutral, being constructed almost entirely from wood grown in a sustainable manner. I worry it’ll be like the gingerbread house though, as goats love the taste of wood…!!

    Because of the reduced weight of the building compared with steel, the footings are more forgiving (& some are sunk, simply & directly, onto bedrock where possible).

    Meanwhile within the Dairy Complex itself, thanks to the natural slate-&-shale flooring our contractors have smoothed out, the actual goat housing will be on natural earth: warmer than the usual concrete, & with far better drainage…

    A system for all livestock which I enthusiastically advocate; & which I learned from an amazing ‘Horse Whisperer’ who took my wonderful Morgan Horse, Latchmore Moondance, out of obscurity & into adulation to become the Y2K European Champion in his class: at the In-Hand Gelding Finals, that horse looked like he had leapt with nobility from the Parthenon Freeze, marble made flesh – awesome.

    Admittedly I wept at the privilege of sharing my life with a world-class horse like him…..& I miss his top-model good looks & live-wire personality so very, VERY much.

    Anyway, back to some serious energy: as soon as the business starts to reap a little reward, we intend to plough any profit straight back in to everything we are striving to achieve – so that we ensure we do all we can, to utilise renewable energy sources.

    Incidentally we did enquire about doing this from the outset by applying for an interest-free loan from the Carbon Trust; unfortunately we haven’t been trading for long enough, to qualify. So maybe next year, eh?

    I love Southdowns too; but I must admit that since having cared for our male model MacDougal, the Greyface Dartmoor ram(bo), I’ve fallen head-over-heels with his breed: so gentle, & such amicable personalities as well as being irresistably gorgeous as lambs & handsome as adults.

    Did you see the photo of our GFDx lamb, in March’s (also the current) edition of ‘Smallholder’ magazine? MacDougal’s first ever progeny, little Beeorchid, looks adorable – especially those teddy-bear ears…awwwww! Thank goodness too, that these older, native breeds are so much easier to lamb!

    After all, I’m so wicked I don’t get enough rest as it is….sooo much looking forward (NOT!) to end Feb/beginning March thru June – our main lambing & kidding season – not bags under my eye, but SUITCASES! Health spa relaxing break anyone…grrrr!!!

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