Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy New Year

We hope to meet you in 2013 - to visit our farm or to stay on our campsite. For our Slovak website click here, for the English website click here.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Two more weeks

Just two weeks left before the start of our lambing season. Our sheep look like hippos. I am getting slightly nervous. Just keeping my fingers crossed that all our animals will stay healthty and wont have problems giving birth.

Friday, December 21, 2012

We got feed

We rely on others for our winter feed. We do know very reliable others... but it took some time before our winter feed finally was delivered. It was already winter and we were already feeding our animals hay and silage. But now we got it all, or almost all, depending on the lenght of this winter.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Not too cold

It is rather cold for a slovakian December month. However our animals don't seem to be cold. We woried a bit about our horse Iris, being old and having lots of Arabic blood in her veins but she is even looking better than this summer (when we just bought her). Our Shetland pony Pjotr is lying at her feet on the picture below.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Mangalitsa: a new pork horizon?

We have just prepared the first pork chops from Mr.Pig our Mangalitsa pork slaughtered yesterday. I am not a great fan of pork meat but this was different! Hard to discribe, did we ate beef or pork? Blogger 'Mad Meat Genius' wrote this about a Mangalitsa roast: This was one special taste treat. I have never experienced such a pork flavor. The meat was very rich with a intense, pleasing pork flavor. If my eyes were closed, I might even say it tastes of a mild beef. The meat was a little darker than the usual pork we purchase. The flavor was accented with a buttery pork fat that made us swoon. The gravy made from these drippings was some of the best gravy that might have ever been made. I took a cup of gravy and just sipped it with a straw. Mangalitsa pork, where have you been all my life? This was a special treat that has opened our taste buds to a new pork horizon.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Weather has changed

Two days ago our sheep were still grazing green grass. Now all is white and we had to bring them home to feed them hay. Feeding hay in the fields is not possible, to many hungry deer around which walk through electric fences to get their feed. We have already tried this last year; all sheep missing and a deer traped in our electric netting. We have made the stable in such a way that they can walk in and out and room around in the orchard. Exercise is good for pregnant ladies.

Recycling

He ate all our organic waste, surplus apples and pears, stole serious amounts of vegetables and potatoes and now he will become dried sausages (Klobassa).

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Green grass

It´s end November and all goats sheep and horses are still grazing green grass! It´s perfect to train Louisa our little bit too enthousiastic sheep dog. Every afternoon she brings home our free ranging goats. This week our first hay has arrived. We are getting slightly nervous of not yet having the ordered winter feed for 20 goats, 35 sheep and 2 horses....

Fried cheese

Fried Cheese (vyprazany syr) is one of those lovely slovak dishes. Since we have lots of dairy sheep and goats it is a popular plate in our kitchen. Please have a look at the excellent website Slovak Cooking for the full text on how to prepare it. Here is Arnold making it:

Friday, November 9, 2012

Wool

From left to right: Friesian, Lacaune and F1 cross. ------------------------ Most of our sheep are Lacaune, a few are Friesian and all our lambs are F1 friesian x Lacaune crosses. Lacaune aren't very wooly and the quality of it's wool is very low. Friesians have the contrary. We have no problem to find people who want the fleeces of our Friesians. The Lacaune's wool goes into the garbage container... Next spring we will have the first wool of our F1 crosses I wonder how their wool quality will be.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Another three months to go

One of our favorite sheep is looking very pregnant. She is two months in lamb and has slightly less than another three months to go. Certainly we do expect twins from her like last year.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Winter coat

Since three days it is cold outside. It always suprises me to see that animals, inspite of a lovevly warm Autumn, develop their winter coat. The goats start to look like polar bears again and also our daughter now wears a warm winter coat.

Not in love

The pigs we keep will end on our plate. They arrive in Spring and leave somewhere in the Autumn or Winter. In the mean time they keep our farm and campsite free of organic waste and therefore unwanted pests and smells. We now have one big boy left which will be slaughtered when the weather is cold enough to make sausages without have to put them in the refrigiator. So somewhere end november or december. He is noisy, smelly and likes to destroy things for his own pleasure. He broke out of his pasture a dozen of times before we decided he would have to be confined in a smaller pen. There he demolished his shed so now only a simple corugated iron roofing sheet is giving him some shelter. Being (crossbred) Mangalitsa or Woolpig cold or rain don't harm him but he likes the comfort of a dry place to sleep. As a living being he deserves a good treamtment but thanks to being smelly, noisy, dirty etc, we are not in love with him and no tears will be shed when he leaves to his final destination.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

End of a long and warm summer

Yesterday it was ten degrees Celcius warmer than today. It seems that a long and warm summer has ended today. Weather forecast for the end of this week predicts snow! Hard to believe, but yesterday we were wearing shorts and t-shirts. So we will have a five day autumn before winter starts next weekend. Because of comming cold and especially wet weather we have taken our goat lambs out of the sheep pasture to join the adult goats. Now all goats (16! incl billy) are together. During the days they are completly free and at night they sleep in an open stable. If it rains they can go into any of our stables. The sheep will (have to) cope with bad weather without shed.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Black billy

In case that our young imported Saanen billy named Driekus would not yet be up to his job we got a young half nubian billy goat. We got him by exchanging one of our billies this spring. Luckily we did since most of our goats got back in heat after being mated by Driekus. It seems that Driekus was indeed to small to be able to do his job properly. This black billy wont stay so he didn't get a name, it then is easier to sell or eat him. We do not mind to eat goat meat but to eat 'Sarah' or 'Bep' would be very difficult.... It is hypocrite but it is how it is.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Free range food

Warm and wet autumn makes free, healthy and delicious food grow in our fields.

Goats vs Sheep

Goats have (taken) their freedom again. Since we have got permission to graze the Alfalfa field next to our meadows and they don't run away we are fine with this. Milk production has almost doubled! They walk great distances browse a bit here and there and enjoy being free-goat. Our sheep (and goat lambs) are still confined. They seem to accept this better than the goats. As long as they get their daily new pasture, fresh water and the weather is not to bad - sheep don't complain.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Big bellies

We stopped milking our sheep the 10th of September for several reasons. Grass was getting dry and did not grow anymore. We wanted to mix our lambs and ewes so that we only had to graze one field. We could also use the time very well since we had a caravaning group of 40 people staying on our campsite. And last but not least our sheep are young (18 months) already given birth at 12 months of age, lactated for six months (with really good productions) and most were in lamb again. So they could use some rest. That second week of september we both had enough rain and nice warm weather. So at the end of September and now even at the end of October we have plenty green grass again. So our sheep are looking glorious! Bellies are getting bigger and we do not (have to) feed concentrates. And even the this year lambs are getting in heat. We hope that severe cold will not arrive till end of December (wishfull thinking) so we can keep feeding our flok on (free) grass till late pregnancy.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Upgrading - goats 2.0

Our Slovak local dairy goats are very robust, do not need to be fed cereals, have no problem with hot or cold weather and are never sick. On the other side they are off course far less productive than Saanen, British Alpine or Anglo Nubian goats. We would like to improve them a bit on the production side without changing the way we keep them. Therefore a billy goat lamb named Driekus was imported. He seems to have had some problems adapting to the harder Slovak conditions ... he has not yet developed the way he should. However he mated most of our older goats last weeks. We are really hoping this was succesfull.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Winter rest

Bram's job has been done, he will probably be the father of the lambs of all our adult ewes -1. Our largest Friesian ewe might not have been in heat yet. However the risk that his daughters, who share the same field will be in heat soon is too big.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Indoors

Finally indoors! We are now only milking our goats and we are milking in our milking stable. So no hot sun, cold wind or wet rain disturbing this pleasant moment anymore. We stopped milking our sheep since their daily production dropped below 400 ml (10 September). They are all also pregnant and only a year old - therefore some rest will be good for them.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Back

So far only one ewe came back in heat. So it seems that we will indeed have a very short but hectic lambing season.

Plan B

We have 12 ewe lambs from our Friesian ram and our Lacaune ewes. Most were born at the end of the lambing season, at the beginning we got only rams. However a few might have developed well enough to be able to get in heat this year. Plan A was to mate them with a 50% Friesian/50% Lacaune ram which was bought without having seen him... a big mistake. We got an underfed sick looking lamb which is still not even 20 kg at more then 6 months of age. We even doubt if his mother was a pure Lacaune and not mixed with an indigenous breed like Valaska (he is too wooly). So there was need for a plan B. We bought a young beautiful Suffolk ram to sire our young ewes. Bob is his name and he has left a nice farm where the whole familly said goodbye to him to join our herd.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Home grown food

We had a group of Dutch tourist staying five days on our farm and camp site. They tasted several of our products; cheese, vegetables in the goulash we made for them with our own lamb meat and at their last evening our smallest pig was served roasted. However most didn't (want to) know that.