Hooters Hall

Posts Tagged ‘natural dyes’

Hooters Hall 2016: our five year anniversary

Another year at Hooters Hall has ended and we’ve been here five years now. We’ve done a lot in those five years but there’s still a lot to do. In 2016 we were able to spend more time growing our own produce and our experiment with straw bale gardening was very sucessful. The fruit trees, particularly the apricots were very productive and my squash forest gave us 75 winter squash which should see us all the way through the winter.

The straw bales we used are still intact and I think they will do a second growing season. I’ve still got some red cabbage and spring onions growing in them. Looking back on our harvest for 2016 and making plans for 2017 I’m going to be growing more elephant garlic, spring onions, sweet peppers and melons. I think I’ll skip the Kohl rabi for 2017 it grew really well but there’s only so much you can eat. The same with turnips. I had early success with baby turnips, got a bit carried away and we had a bit of a turnip glut. Fortunately the pigs helped us out with that. I’m also going have a year off growing peas and beans. They are nice but there’s only so much room in the polytunnel and I want to try some different growing challenges.

One of the best growing experiences of 2016 was harvesting fresh, homegrown melons and raspberries from the polytunnel for my breakfast. The tomatoes did really well this year too and although we had a bit of a glut it wasn’t overwhelming because we made good use of our dehydrator which means we’re still enjoying our tomato harvest now. At the end of the season we had a lot of green tomatoes and they made a really nice chutney.

Here are some pictures of our 2016 harvest

 

When we first moved to Hooters Hall five years ago I thought I might like to take up knitting but I remember telling a friend I didn’t think I would get into spinning my own yarn or any other fibre crafts. How wrong I was. I’ve got two spinning wheels and several weaving looms now and we’ve turned one of the rooms in the piggery into a fibre processing room. My super chunky handspun yarn is proving very popular in USA as well as UK and hopefully there will be a lot more fibre craft to come in 2017. Here’s some pictures for the yarn lovers.

The fibre we process at Hooters Hall is our own Jacob wool and mohair from our Angora goats. The sheep did really well in 2016. All but one of our ewes had twins and they are all thriving. We had a much earlier lambing than previous years because we kept our ram in with the flock from Summer through the autumn. February lambing did work quite well the lambs got to enjoy the best of the Spring /Summer grass and have grown really well with lovely fleeces. We moved each ewe inside when she lambed and kept ewes and the lambs inside for a few days before returning them to the flock We have had predator attacks over the past 5 years and learnt through experience it’s better to keep the lambs inside for the first few days. Unfortunately Amber our Angora doe didn’t fall pregnant this year but fingers crossed for 2017. We did add another goat breed to our herd with the arrival of Jen the Bagot goat. She’s doing really well and is now quite happy to eat out of my hand and even sits on my lap.

Here’s some pictures of some of the other residents of Hooters Hall in 2016 including Big cockerel one of our first batch of home hatched chickens.

If you follow Hooters Hall on Instagram or facebook you’ll have seen some of my natural dye experiments throughout 2016. I’ve tried some rust dyeing using rusty objects found on the farm as well as some eco printing using foraged plant material and dyeing with botanical dyes that I’ve grown in my dye garden. In Spring and Summer we sell freshly harvested hedgerow dyes in the Hooters Hall farm shop. I’ve already posted pictures of the results of willow dyeing and in 2017 I’ll be showing what the other hedgerow dyes can do. Here’s s selection of my natural dye and eco print experiments on cotton.

In the five years that we’ve been at Hooters Hall we’ve really got into outdoor cooking. In the Summer, weather permitting, we’ll generally cook on the campfire enjoying our own Gloucestershire Old Spot pork with herbs and vegetables from the garden and polytunnel. We’ve shared a few recipes on our facebook page and there’ll be more to come in 2017. We’re going to be exploring the world of herbal syrups and I’m sure there will be more sausage and pork recipes.

Before we moved to Hooters Hall we lived in South London. I loved living in London but you can’t beat Fenland for big skies and beautiful sunsets. Also the dark winter days are more bearable when you can watch the sun rise while doing the morning feed. Here are some of the best big skies of the Fens from 2016.

We spent our New year’s bank holiday doing a bit of polytunnel maintenance so now I’m itching to get growing again and it’s definitely time to start browsing the seed catalogues. We might be lambing again in a few weeks as well so keep an eye on our facebook and instagram for cute lamb pictures.

Hooters Hall Facebook https://www.facebook.com/HootersHall/

Hooters Hall Instagram https://www.instagram.com/hootershall/

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