Sunday, December 20, 2009

Home Kill Lamb for Christmas

Jeff had his 50th birthday last night and we all trooped over for a hog roast and a quiet drink (or four!). There were some fireworks to enjoy and a bar that Kirsty ran for most of the night ... she had the job sussed in a matter of minutes (not bad for a 9 year old!) . She would have given Betty from Coronation Street a serious run for her money!

I started talking to Mark's (of electric fence testing fame) Uncle Gavin who is a farmer from the north island. Gavin asked me if I would like him to kill one of our lambs for Christmas. It was an offer I could not refuse.

We got up early this morning and played a game of sheep dog in the front paddock. After being given the run around for 15 minutes or so, Mark finally caught the biggest lamb; it weighed in at 26kg. After looking at my array of blunt knives, Mark took them over to his place and got his grinder out.

Some minutes later, with the now sharp knives, Gavin promptly dispatched the lamb and we took it over to the wood shed to skin and gut.

Once complete, the lamb was dressed in a muslin cloth and left to hang to cool. I should be able to move it to the garage later today and butcher it on Monday evening. I used to work as a butchers boy as a young lad in Tom Horsefield's shop in Hornsea, East Riding of Yorkshire, so I am quite happy cutting it up into joints.

I guess we'll be bar-b-que-ing over Christmas and the New Year and no doubt the neighbours will be coming round to help!

I wouldn't have it any other way!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Oxford Sweet Oxford

Oxford is the largest settlement close to where we live in Canterbury. It has a population of approximately 2,000 people. However, it enjoys some fantastic amenities that would put my old village of Holme-on-Spalding Moor, located in the East Riding of Yorkshire, to shame. Both villages are about the same size. I have listed a few of them below:

No1: Clean and working public toilets.

No 2: A fire station (eat your heart out Cllr Engall - you can't close this one!)

No 3: A farmers market on a Sunday morning

No 4: A council service centre, library and post shop

No 5: A police station (not that we have much crime)

No 6: A skate park (didn't Holme-on-Spalding Moor used to have on of these - what happened to it?)

No 7: An outdoor heated swimming pool

No 8: A sports ground with squash courts, a bowling green, cricket and rugby pitches and a nice sports pavilion.

No 9: An adventure playground for the children

No 10: A community hospital with beds (so the old folk can be cared for close to home and friends)

No 11: The Town Hall

No 12 - A monthly craft market.

No 13: An observatory at the local school

No 14: The A & P Showground

It just goes to show, 'There is no place like Oxford!'.

I'm a Dad again!

The first chick hatched out this morning. I had been told it was really hard work to hatch chicks - I found it to be really easy - I was laid in bed at the time!

You have to remember to turn the eggs 2-3 times a day and make sure the temperature stays as close to 102 degrees F as possible but it is very easy to do.

I feared I may have lost the eggs due to the temperature surging well past the recommended level on the first day. I now know not to adjust the thermostat when you first set the eggs in the incubator!

The chick will be going into a nursery in the pump shed and hopefully joined by its brothers and sisters in the next couple of days.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Rural Broadband speed in NZ

I see there are complaints regarding the speed of broadband services where I used to live in the UK, a small rural village called Holme-on-Spalding Moor in the East Riding of Yorkshire.

I live in rural Canterbury about 7 Km away from the village of West Eyreton. NZ Telecom have invested in fibre to the cabinet and I can download in a very rural location (I am 500 metres from the nearest road!) at 4.8 Mb per second which is very reasonable especially when you consider the service is sold with a theoretical maximum speed of 7.6Mbps.

If New Zealand can deliver the services out in the sticks then I have to wonder why the UK struggles to provide similar services? Perhaps more importantly, why do the local politicians allow British Telecom to provide a sub-standard service?

All credit to Howdenshire Cllr Paul Robinson for raising the issue even though he lives outside of the village. What is the resident Conservative councillor, Cllr Doreen Engall, doing about it? My guess would be very little!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Tunnel House Update

The tunnel house is running away with itself this year. We have been already eating lettuce, basil, spring onions and radish. I can now report the new potatoes are rather tasty too.

Tomatoes and peppers to look forward too soon.

Vegetable Garden starts Growing

Our vegetable garden is starting to grow. We have put a lot of time and effort into the garden this year and it is starting to come together. We have lost a lot of seedlings germinated in the tunnel house due to late frosts; the last of which was earlier this week. The potatoes are doing well as are the cabbages, cauliflowers, beans, peas, pumpkins, courgettes and sweet corn.

Over 300 leeks have been planted this week along with a load of onions. There are a load of tomatoes in the tunnel house that we will be planting outside very soon.

It is all work in progress but it is coming along very nicely.

Sheep Shearing

My four ewes needed shearing so I gave Gayle a call.

He came over this afternoon to give the four ewes a short back and sides.

He checked out their hoofs and teeth and concluded that I am actually running an old folks home for elderly ewes! I will now refer to them as a parish council of sheep - over the hill, not fit for purpose with too much to bleat about!

I should get some more lambs next year from the the remaining 3 ewes who are still fit for purpose and the new one born earlier this year. They are still a good return on $200.

Anyway, they all seemed pleased to be finally rid of all their winter woolly coats.