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As busy as bees…

July 26, 2010

July has been a busy month at Heatherhurst Grange. The long awaited departure of our Middle Whites finally came around and we, along with some local customers got to taste what had been rumoured to be the ultimate pork pig. Having tasted 4 or so rare breeds, in my opinion the Middle White tops the pork league table by far. Less fatty than other breeds (although all rare breeds produce more fat than commercial pigs), the meat was a beautiful colour, texture and taste. We think Middle Whites will be one of our breeds of choice and now the search has begun to find a perfect Middle White sow we can breed from.

In addition to all our regular customers ordering quarters, we dedicated a whole pig to sausages in order to fulfil demand for the BBQ season. Within 2 days of a mention on the Surrey Heath Residents web blog, we’d sold out and I spent a whole day last week delivering to local people.

Our remaining Oxford Sandy & Blacks have been having a whale of a time and one of them has turned into an escape artist. Twice she’s managed to burrow out of the pen, and run amok in the garden. In one incident whilst chasing her I took a tumble and stretched my cruciate ligament. The doctor was highly amused at the tale of my injury.

In other developments our hens strangely stopped going in to their house at night, and seemed a bit lethargic. Upon closer investigation we discovered the presence of dreaded Red Mite, a parasite that can be fatal to chickens. Back in the spring we took in some hens from a breeder in Hampshire that must have been infected, and they spread to one of our flocks. As a result we’ve spent the whole month systematically treating our hens to destroy the Red Mite colony and after a month of catching and treating the birds and pressure washing the hen house regularly, we think we’ve beaten them.

Yesterdays hive inspection of our three colonies confirmed that our hives are packed full of honey. As a result the largest hive has been rearranged to force bees down deep into the brood box so that next week we can remove the top box (or super) and extract and jar our honey.

This years attempt at elderflower champagne was a great success and unlike prior attempts we produced a highly drinkable sparking wine with very little effort at all. 4 bottles exploded during the fermentation process causing a real sticky mess (probably not as messy as next weeks honey extraction), in our store cupboard but the remaining bottles were a real treat and are nearly finished.

Having spent all those long winter nights wishing for summer, here we are in the height of summer planning for Christmas. In mid August our turkeys will arrive to be reared over the autumn in readiness for the Christmas table, so all enquiries welcome but we must have confirmed orders by 10th August for anyone interested, and in another step towards the end of summer we’ve taken our first few orders for log deliveries, so in addition to honey extraction and turkey fencing, we’ll be getting the log splitter out of mothballs and into service during August.

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