While taking time out at the weekends is incredibly important to Fiona and I we are here trying to hold ourselves to a higher moral standard both for our lives and the lives of the animals we eat, sometimes this means we don’t get that time out. Saturdays and Sundays we normally do the least work we have to do to care for the animals and process the milk from our expanding herd, and then take time out to do things we enjoy. Taking a coffee in the corner of a market square, going to a Brocante (flea market) or taking a walk somewhere beautiful which have no shortage of.
Sometimes however we have to do less pleasurable things which are no less a part of taking responsibility for where our food comes from. Because we like to have our chickens out in pasture following our cows around helping clean the pasture and spread and cycle nutrients, they have a choice not to return to the house provided for their safety. Presently we have a flock of 16 chickens destined for the table. They are reaching table weight and sexual maturity so there is hostility among the males and some of the birds are refusing to return to the house at night to avoid bullying, but this is putting them at risk of being eaten by predator (Foxes, Pine martens, or Buzzards.) To avoid the loss we have had to catch the wayward birds and lock them up separately for the night, realizing they are already at table weight we decided to kill and clean the birds but this coincided with saturday morning.
Having three apprentices on site learning the joy of the simple but consciously designed lifestyle we lead they had a choice to help out and learn or not. So instead of a morning off Fiona and I set to teaching new skills. I have the task of killing on our site and, depending on the animal, cleaning and eviscerating. With chickens I just kill and Fiona takes over plucking and cleaning the birds. Two of our apprentices joined in, helped out and learned a new skill.
I went off to move an electric fence we are using to protect newly planted hedges from our sheep as they are rotated around their designated paddocks. This is a regular job which is done when required, not to a schedule. If a paddock can carry the sheep for four days instead of three then the movement may need to be done on a Saturday or a Sunday.
Fiona is making cheese with this morning’s and last night’s milk and today is her first attempt at a Camembert with blue veins, which we are hoping will be one of our future sales products. This takes about four hours before the curds are ready for the molds and then the cheeses need to be turned once an hour for five hours so Saturday morning off will be somewhat delayed today.