Hooters Hall

Posts Tagged ‘goats’

Hooters Hall 2015

It’s a few days late but here’s our round up of 2015. The year got off to snowy start in January fortunately the cold snap didn’t last too long and it was pretty while it lasted.

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Spring saw the arrival of Poppy our first British Guernsey x Angora goat. Poppy is the world’s friendliest goat here he is just after being born.

The arrival of Poppy meant we could milk his mum Spice and enjoy delicious Guernsey goat milk and a bit of goats cheese. We also had a successful lambing with a lot of twins and even a set of triplets.

Our Gloucestershire Old Spot piglets that were born at the end of 2014 continued to do well. Here’s a pic of the girls with mum Beatrice and our other sow Eugenie

I continued my exploration of the fibre world in 2015. I’m still spinning and selling our super chunky yarns in the farm shop, together with the fleece from our Jacob sheep and the mohair from the Angora goats. I also started experimenting with natural dyes. Here’s a picture of some mohair dyed with Weld leaves and a yarn spun from mohair and wool dyed with Weld leaves.

As well as growing dye plants I also experimented with using Willow to dye our wool. It turned out really well and we now stock Willow dyed fleece in the farm shop.  

We’ve also started stocking a range of freshly harvested hedgerow dyes (in season) such as nettle, elder, blackberry shoots and apple twigs and leaves.

We did a lot of campfire cooking over the Summer and tried out our homemade spit roast.

We’ve spent the year working on our sausage recipes and we now have a Classic Pork and a Pork and Apple. Both made at Hooters Hall with our homegrown Gloucestershire Old Spot pork and delicious cooked over a campfire or in a more conventional kitchen.

As 2016 starts we’re looking forward to more baby goats (I think both Spice and Amber are pregnant), experimenting with straw bale gardening, more natural and hedgerow dye experiments, growing willow for basketry and trying out some more sausage recipes.

We’ll continue to sell our farm produce online through the Hooters Hall farm shop www.hootershall.etsy.com and you can keep up to date with what’s going on at Hooters Hall through our Facebook, twitter and instagram

Hooters Hall 2014

For Hooters Hall 2014 was very much the year of the goat. We expanded our herd of angoras and also added some British Guernseys. We also had our first Hooters Hall born kid little Molly.  Sadly we lost the lovely Sugar (one of our Guernseys) but her daughter Spice is doing well and is hopefully pregnant. Here’s Molly 20 minutes after she was born and a few days later meeting Bran one of our farm cats.

Molly wasn’t the only newborn at Hooters Hall. The ducks managed to successfully hatch some eggs and we now have 10 ducks instead of 2. The new ducklings also have some stylish quiffs.

We had a sucessful lambing with our Jacobs and our Jacob fleece is proving very popular with spinners and fibre artists. Here are some of the 2014 lambs and some pictures of fleece hand processed into rolags for spinning, handspun yarn and a hand knitted scarf. The natural colours of the Jacob fleece make a beautiful fabric.

Our rare breed, 100% Gloucestershire Old Spot sausages and burgers were really popular this year and we sold out really quickly ( we’ll have more in the farm shop around April). To keep up with demand we’ve started breeding our own Gloucestershire Old Spot pigs. We have two sows Beatrice and Eugenie. After a visit from Mr Boar Beatrice had her first litter at the end of October and we’ve just weaned the piglets. Here they are having a nap.

Our plans for 2015 include more fibre craft. We’re going to be experimenting with dying our mohair with natural dyes from British native plants grown at Hooters Hall, selling both the dyed fleece and the dye plants in the farm shop. If Spice the Guernsey is pregnant we’ll hopefully have some interesting fleece from her kid. I’ve got my fingers crossed for a fleece with the golden colour of the Guernsey but fibre quality of the Angora.

There will be more 100% Gloucestershire Old Spot pork sausages and burgers all handmade at Hooters Hall and maybe some hams as well. We made some glazed and smoked ham for ourselves this Christmas and it was delicious.

If Spice the Guernsey does have a kid we’ll also have goat milk and will try making some goats cheese.

We’ve got a bit of a change of direction for the polytunnel planned in 2015. We’ve spent the last few weeks planting a variety of fruit trees and soft fruits and we’ll be adding more grapes as well. As well as lots of delicious fruit I’m planning on using parts of the fruit trees, soft fruit as natural dyes for our mohair.

You can keep up to date with Hooters Hall and see lots of pictures of the goats, pigs, ducklings, horses & chickens on our  facebook page www.facebook.com/HootersHall

You can also find HootersHall on instagram and Twitter.

Meet the Angoras: Roy & Moss

Now we’ve finally named our Angora goats it seems a good time to introduce them properly. Thank you to everyone who suggested names on our facebook page. We tried out a few and settled on Roy and Moss ( from the IT crowd). Roy is very friendly and happily runs up to you if you’re in the paddock or passing by the gate. Moss is a bit shy and tends to hang back a bit but he’s slowly getting more confident.

Roy and Moss are castrated males which means they’ll put all their energy into fibre production rather than mating. We plan on shearing them ourselves and hand spinning the fleece to make mohair yarn. I might try to dye some as well.

Angora goat fleece has been used to make yarn and clothing since 14th century BC but was only really commercially exploited from around 1550. The fleece of angora goats is known as mohair which is derived from the Arabic word Mukhya meaning ‘ cloth of bright lustrous goat hair.’

For several centruries Angora goats and their fleeces were only available in Turkey following a ban by the Sultan of Turkey on the export of raw fleece and goats. In the mid 19th Century the ban was lifted and small numbers of goats were exporeted to South Africa, Texas and New Zealand.

A small flock of Angora goats was presented to Queen Victoria but they didn’t survive and so the UK flock didn’t get started until 1981 when a few goats were imported from Australia.

We found it quite difficult to find our goats. I contacted the British Angora goat society but eventually got lucky with a search on Preloved. We still had to travel to Essex to get Roy and Moss though.

The first thing anyone says about goats is that they’re great escape artists. Our boys have stuck to the stereotype and are very good at finding any weak spots in the fencing. They don’t go far though, generally they just start grazing on whatever is the other side of the fence. So far catching them and getting them back into the paddock has been quite easy. Generally they’ll either run back they way they got out or if they’re feeling curious just stand still, if you move slowly you can usually grab them.

Angora’s are shorn twice a year, generally in September and April so we plan on doing our boys fairly soon and then I’ll be spinning some lovely Hooters Hall mohair.

Here’s some picture of Roy and Moss. Roy has the number 5 on his ear tags and all the close up shots are of him. Moss is a bit more cautious so I couldn’t get as close with the camera.