Musings from a Smallholding.

In Animals, Garden on January 27, 2012 at 5:14 pm

Serves me right! A few days ago I was going on about the lovely Spring weather we were having. Three days later and we’ve had wind, rain, hail and snow. This was the scene this morning, grey skies and a bunch of birds in the Rowan tree at the bottom of the field. Don’t know what they were…I was’nt close enough to tell.

Half an hour later it is bright and sunny. As you can see the wind turbines are turned north to catch the cold wind. It’s only about 4 c here in the valley today.

The animals run into the shed when it rains. Goats hate getting wet, their coats are not waterproof like Sheep. We do not lock them in at night, the shed is left open and they can come and go as they please. The field is well fenced so there’s no danger of them getting into the garden. Theres a saying that “good fences make for happy goatkeepers”. I certainly believe that to be true! Smokie, on the right, is our oldest Goat, she has been with us for 11 years. We bought her when she was 2 so she’s about 13 years old now. Enid is our milker, actually we’ve just let her go dry, she has been milking for 2 years. The one in the middle is Bella, Enid’s daughter. She will be put in kid next Autumn. I have lots of Goat’s milk frozen so we won’t have to buy milk for a good while.

In the garden Carvello de Nero is going to seed. Also known as Tuscan Kale or black cabbage it has given lots of leaves since Autumn. They are delicious steamed, in soups or even shredded and stir-fried. We also eat them raw in salads, shredded finely. They are going to seed earlier than usual but it’s that sort of year. The seed heads are delicious, treat them like Purple Sprouting Broccoli. The more you pick them the more they produce.

Chives are surprisingly advanced for this time of year. I won’t pick any until the promised frost of the next few nights have passed and mild weather has returned. According to the Met Office this has been the mildest Irish Winter for 53 years. Interesting year so far, unpredictable weather, an earthquake in Donegal (2.2 on the Richter scale), Aurora Borealis visible from as far down as Claremorris and a white Blackbird seen in Dublin. It’s going to be an interesting year!

  1. Our goats don’t like the rain either – which is tough in Seattle! My garlic is doing well – but my chives are still asleep. I love your picture of all the birds in the tree.

  2. Thanks Bridget for checking out and liking my blog – really appreciate the support! Here in Northern Alberta…typically we should be -20 Celsius to -40 Celsius this time of year, but have been really blessed with incredibly mild weather. So both us and our animals are very happy about that! No goats in our fields yet…but they are definitely on the (very long) list….! Come Spring, we will see how much of an impact this lack of snow will have….

  3. It’s cold here too and we had snow this morning. My cavolo nero is going to seed too. I was just going to dig it up, I didn’t know you could eat the flowerheads like PSB. Thanks for the tip.

  4. I have just planeted chives 😀 And started a new blog about my journey to achieve a smallholding one day!

    I shall be watching your blog 🙂

  5. Goats with great names. Small holding bliss.

  6. I do enjoy reading about your life. It seems the topic on everyone’s mind is the non-winter we all seem to be having. I keep waiting to get slammed by a blizzard.

  7. This morning I may just have sourced some goats for here! We used to have some so looking forward to having them around again…. better start building fences too!

    Our chives are up and I even have globe artichoke in ‘fruit’ outside! Crazy weather!


  8. Love hearing your adventures – food for the soul of this city boy.

    Oh, the weather is so insane. I’m a weather sensitive (would have been the weather shaman/witch in ages past, but with modern weather forecasting – just vaguely whiny…) so I’m very aware of the freakness lately. Boston, MA is just has bad – flipping from mid 50s to 20s within a day. Rain, snow and sun in the same day!

    I really do want to see the Aurora Borealis though!


  9. I love Kale and plan to grow it in the garden this year. Your goats look terrific. Country living is not for the faint of heart but it does bring such rich rewards, doesn’t it?
    walk in beauty.

  10. Bridget,
    Enjoyed this post. That Tuscan Kale looks tasty and you described it so elegantly More on those cute goats…..

  11. Wow, an earthquake in Donegal! Your year so far sounds a lot like the year we had here last year. I experienced my first ever little earthquake. I had never heard of an earthquake around here before so it was a great surprise. Then of course there was the horrid wet season, the cyclones including the really destructive Yasi, and the flooding as well. Mother Nature is nothing if not unpredictable!

    I love the free and easy going way of life your goats have. It’s fantastic that they can wander around wherever they please and have shelter when they need it. Having never tasted goats’ milk before, I’m left wondering what it’s like!

  12. Hi Bridget, Murphy’s Law about the weather! Here in Victoria, BC, we have had horrific wind storms, tons of rain .. today started out frosty and then we’ve had a mostly sunny day! Love the pics of your goats! That’s a good shot of Smokie .. and the kale sounds interesting!

  13. Our chives have been pecked to bits by the chickens, and our kale has become really tough. Do you make butter or cheese with your goat’s milk?
    Isn’t the aurora borealis special? Makes me feel a bit small when I used to see it in Orkney.

    • I have’nt actually seen the Aurora Borealis yet. May have to go to Donegal for that. I usually make paneer with the goats milk. Paneer is a soft cheese which is then pressed, cut into chunks and used in curries or left whole to make paneer burgers. Delicious!

  14. Our weather is so confused…which means the wildlife is…the plants are….I am…
    Jane x

  15. Oh my gosh. I love your life! We had the same thing. It was warm and then got really cold. Now it’s wam again but supposed to get really cold when a sheet of rain hits us tonight. This is the type of weather you get sick in. Keep warm, Bridget. The kale and cabbage sound delish in a soup and the chives are so pretty and green!
    And I love, love, LOVED the picture with the goats. So cute!

  16. A white blackbird! Earthquake! It all sounds very dramatic. Keeping goats is impressive. We are having swings between sun and rain here too. Still waiting for winter. Maybe it will arrive next week. Meanwhile, my chives are solidly stoic and tough. Nothing new there.

  17. I have never seen Cavolo Nero go to seed – I shall leave mine in the ground now and see what happens. I used to keep milking goats a few years ago – I love them and really miss them around the place, I had about 14 when they had all kidded so it was quite a bit of work. We haven’t had the bad weather that you have had but it is still cold.

  18. Yes, things have got colder,just when we were thinking we got away with it. Sleet and snow in some high grounds down south here. But heavy cold showers here in Cork!
    Yea, I heard about the quake in Donegal, they said there is a line between Donegal and Wexford !!
    Your goats are lovely ladies 🙂

  19. Goodness and I thought it was just crazy over here in the US. We’ve had our share of crazy weather–tornadoes in January, 60 degrees way up in the northeast, making it feel more like May instead of winter–and earthquakes too, little minor ones. They’re blaming some of those on hydraulic gas fracturing but I’m sure not all of them are caused by that. It’s very odd.

    Your photos are lovely. I’ve always wanted to try the kale but I don’t have a very big space and I think it would be just me eating it–they hubby’s very finicky. Maybe I’ll bring some home from the farmer’s markets first and see if I can get him to eat it before I grow it.

    Thanks for sharing. And as Mark Twain said about our Connecticut weather (and it seems to be true of yours as well) “If you don’t like the weather, wait 5 minutes.”


  20. Yes! It’s been mental here too, in south Sligo. Crazy, crazy weather all day. And snow yesterday morning. Then again, it is January. Also, I’ve noticed that at half five, it’s still quite light outside – even though we’ve past the winter solstice/shortest day of the year, it just seems a bit odd to me that there’s still so much daylight at that time of the early eveing. Not that I’m complaining – we’ll take any bit of extra daylight (and sunshine) that comes our way.

    I’ve only just found out about the earthquake in Donegal…thankfully, it was only a very small one on the scale, but still….you’re right – it’s so far proving to be a very interesting year.

    Smokie, Enid and Bella are adorable, and look quite relieved to be inside, out of the wet. Thanks for sharing. Stay cozy and warm tonight – we’ve got our stoves going since early this morning.

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