Jonathan purports to be inept in the family smallholding, this is far from the truth. Managing a mixture of livestock, fowl and growing fruit and vegetables can be testing.
He is one of the nicest people you would ever meet and helpful to a fault, except in the case of his equally wonderful wife, who may have to deal with his occasional deviation from instructions. He is also a mean poker player and wants to find a bridge school, if you have a place let us know!
Here are Jonathan's articles written in his own style, send us your comments he is looking foward to hearing from like minded people who may add to his experience!
Talking Turkey: I don’t know how many of you were lucky enough to see the recent television show “My Life as a Turkey”. A simply brilliant reenactment of one man’s time living amongst wild turkeys in the USA.
Normally this would have been the type of show that I might pause on whilst channel hopping but in this case it seemed all too pertinent to miss. Turkeys are just great to be around. Although chickens are fun to watch in those idle moments between digging this, mowing that or shifting stuff around, unlike turkeys they are not actually amusing.
Turkeys, on the other hand, are definitely characters to be enjoyed, not so much as individuals as they are still young, but as a group they have already provided a multitude of amusing moments. As I mentioned previously our six turkeys have completely rejected their warm stable home (albeit shared with the sheep) with its high roosting spots in favour of hanging out with our chickens.
They roost overnight on top of our old dog /piglet raising pen which, incidentally, gives them a good view of the pig compound and the chicken paddock. Smart birds ! As soon as they know where I am going first with the feed they join in accordingly. (I know it might sound silly but at 6am I do occasionally amuse myself by altering my early morning routine).
When I head towards the chickens first I have the delight of seeing six turkeys bustling their way through the pig’s electric wire and, at a very comical run, making their way to the feeders. They know they are onto a good thing as I fill all three feeders before letting any of the chickens out and so, for a few precious seconds, the grain world is their oyster – except for some competition from our two rather aggressive guinea fowl who also take advantage at this opportunity.
Being a complete softy I have to admit that I linger to watch them feed … they are just starting to really grow and instinctively act more like adults, tail feathers are raised and spread, chins are tucked in and serious strutting emerges before they all disappear in, what seems like, adolescent embarrassment.
They are just starting to be able to meet the chickens on equal terms as far as size is concerned and are growing daily. Very much flock orientated, the turkeys have a wonderful repertoire of calls (which my wife swears she can imitate) and if they get separated in long grass or by being the wrong side of a fence frantic peeping ring out until they are reunited.
Despite helping themselves to the chickens’ grain they are obviously excellent bug hunters (often kept in the USA to help control the mosquito population) and move in an organized fashion across the grass pecking and eating as they go. I am looking forward to seeing them develop into the classic turkey shape over the next few months and will post regular updates.
As mentioned above we have taken delivery of the two Berkshires, so chaotically rounded up and put in the horse box last week. Beautifully butchered the meat from the Berkshires now resides in the freezer.
We knew that the breed was lean as it has the distinction of mottling its meat with fat rather than having an excessive outer layer but even we were surprised at how little fat there was. The meat does tastes excellent and the cured bacon was well received in the Community Shop – we cured using a commercial product rather than our previous home curing and were rewarded with perfect results first time.
To bring the pig herd back to full strength we are looking into taking two Old Spot / Berkshire crosses. My hope is to get the balance of fat/taste just right because although the Berkshire pork is more commercial, not many people seem to enjoy as much fat on their pork as I do.
Next week : Food glorious food … a few words on the wealth of fruit and veg my wife cajoles from the orchard and vegetable garden.
Lessons learned this week