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Gorse flowering on New Years day

Gorse flowers on New Years Day

Celebrating the New Year with new life – the gorse begins to blossom – such a hard working plant for us :
Ulex europeaus is dismissed as a weed by many, but its beauty is not its only benefit to us.
A legume which is converting nitrogen from the air into the soil all the time as well as having deep roots that bring nutrients up from low down. It loves disturbed ground, a true pioneer. Beware breaking it up, it sprouts from each part, as well as from severe cutting down. 
One simple pleasure is the scent on a warm day – almonds or coconut… depending on which aspect, and infusing the flowers in gin captures this to enjoy through the long dark winter. The flowers are also very popular with a variety of pollinators, any early insects will be pleased for these bright beacons. The buds can be pickled as capers.
Crofters have long used gorse bruised as fodder, a good wind shelter, and when it dries it makes super fast kindling, with older sections good hot burning firewood.
Covering veggie beds with pieces of gorse helps to keep the cats off.
We have let quite a lot grow too much and are gradually cutting it down, letting it regenerate to provide browse for the sheep, shelter for the hens, feeding our soils, filling our gin bottles !!
We are doing this gradually to make sure we leave enough for the wild birds to shelter in as the new growth regenerates.
More uses and information can be found at
Gorse is definitely our friend.
Gorse is wonderful 
– nitrogen fixer 
– protects saplings
– early pollinator and late pollinator
– nectar 
– browse fodder
– GIN! flavouring
– wind break 
– kindling – burns REALLY hot and fast
– bird shelter 
– protect seedlings on garden beds 
– feeds soil when chipped 
– buds pickle as capers
– flowers edible in salads (ed)
– tea from young shoots
– dye from flowers 
– soil stabiliser 
– flea spray
– high potash

Yuletide blessings to all

The shortest day is very nearly upon us, the weather is challenging, and everyone is caught up in the bustle of the celebrations.
Yesterday was such a dark morning, a soaking wet day but then the colours at the evening reminded us that the Light Will Return . and we have another full on adventure of a year to look forward to.

We would like to wish all a wonderful festive season, many thanks for your custom, your friendship, your inspiration, and your advice.
2018 was another of our busy years, getting a lot done as Jills recovery from Fibromyalgia strengthens a little more all the time, definitely benefiting from being outside more, even if some other parts of life then suffer. Its all a balancing act, and doing the best we can.
Exploring more of the permaculture / regenerative agriculture ideas has been exciting; benefitting the humans, livestock, fields and wildlife alike. 1200 trees planted “so far” is just one part of our growing Living Larders around this small piece of land. So many more ideas to increase habitat whilst improving the land for the sheep, poultry, pigs and ourselves to implement next year.
Spending time researching the local history we are reminded that we are simply custodians of the land, one of generations of families who have lived here since Neolithic times. Hopefully our small legacy in time will be positive.
Here is a wee album of photos from the year.

As usual we are here all over the festive season, but might pop out to visit friends etc. The feedstore remains open, and we have plenty of our delicious Jacob mutton and hogget, and the girls are getting back into the swing of laying eggs again. Check the box at the end of the road .. you might find some fudge in there for a special treat. 

In 2019 along with continuing to add habitat around the farm,  regenerating the land, raising our various poultry, lambing our Jacobs, we are planning a range of workshops : permaculture, herbal, craft, crofting .. please get in touch if you would like to be added to the advance notice mailing list. :  

Merry Christmas .. and a very Happy New Year to all 

Feeding poultry without grains

A challenge for the coming years is finding ways to effectively produce feed for our poultry that cuts out the use of grains.. especially imported grains. 
With a variety of species to feed and wanting better nutrition for them and us, as well as reducing the carbon footprint of the whole food cycle of the farm, any useful passive & energy effective ways to produce it are being researched and investigated. 

So far its identifying ingredients, that can be produced on farm (in Argyll climate!!), and then in sufficient quantities.
It may be impossible but as an exercise in exploring ideas, production and nutrition it will be very worthwhile.

Aim :
Ration that is at least 16% protein.

Possible ingredients
Mealworms : 20% protein, require daily attention, warmth, feed live ir dry and grind ?

Azolla : waterweed : cultivating on ponds, (protecting from ducks!) harvesting, drying (polytunnels?), grinding up, storing
This is a native water plant, that could really be useful : high in protein, minerals, nitrogen fixer, palatable to a variety of species, and grows well on ponds .. we have some and digging more .

Seaweed: harvesting from CLEAN shorelines, drying, grinding up, storing,

Compost / hen piles- often promoted by Permaculture gurus, but I don’t lije birds confined, I really don’t like birds on fresh /decaying foods, its illegal to feed kitchen waste to birds in thr UK, and my birds need better than just being an intensive cog the the production wheel.

Rockdust .. Micronutrients


Docken seeds



Grass and alfalfa nuts .. will these soak, or getting a powder maybe ? 

Crops – we cannot grow lucerne .. at least it is unlikely but maybe try some to see .. We do not want to be feeding grains if possible for personal health needs. 

Alternative bagged feeds : Flaked peas – but how much glyphosate ? 

…. much more to add…

Chickens generally eat 120gr layer pellets a day :
16% protein
How do we replace this

Muscovies 2018

We have had another bumper Muscovy year. Our girls are wonderful mothers, we have to limit who gets to raise youngters. 
This year one lady came off the nest with 20 (yes TWENTY) babies, and she raised all successfully 
We have kept our Muscovies free range for years, the babies start in the byre for their safety, then out in protective custody, before ranging with the rest, with access to ponds, shut in at night.
We have a good selection for sale, will be keeping some, and processing a bunch to add to our freezer for eating over the coming year. 
Feeding ourselves is one of the most important aspects of raising our livestock, sales help us to support our small farm, paying towards all those essential costs. 
It looks like we not only have black and lavender youngsters but possibly 2 white ones too this year . will be keeping them to breed from next year.