New ducks, Sloe Gin & Autumn colours πŸ˜€

Monday: Back to the day job, on my rounds this morning I noticed how well everything had been looked after while we were away, chickens and geese in the front had been cleaned out, everything looks happy and healthy. Made some bread today, but used a different yeast which did not work as well as the fast yeast so I will be going back to that, it’s still edible just didn’t rise as well as it usually does. Put out some Butternut Squash for sale in the little shed along with the recipe for the soup I put on here. Sometimes when people encounter a veg they have never had before they won’t buy it because they don’t know what to do with it and so I find printing off a recipe encourages them to try it, especially one that I have tried and tested. I have ordered some broad bean seeds but they have not arrived yet, last year I decided not to grow Winter veg but come Spring I really regretted that decision so I am on the ball this year, the cabbages and leeks I planted a couple of weeks back are coming on nicely and the poly tunnel is full of kale/cauliflower (both of which I could have planted outside, I just didn’t have the room at the time) carrots, peas, spinach, hopefully I can pick these throughout the Winter months. Also in the tunnel are the sweet potato, there is a lot of foliage and I have not been tempted to have a look under the soil yet to see what, if anything is there, you are supposed to leave them in the ground for as long as possible and fleece them over once the frosts come, but as we haven’t had any frost yet and the leaves are beginning to die back, I reckon it will soon be time to dig them up. Sweet potato are incredibly good for you full of vitamin C, thiamin, potassium and manganese, and if you have never tried them I would definitely recommend you do, one of my favourites ways is as a baked potato with cream cheese and spring onion topping, delicious. Chicken casserole for tea, I am trying not to use salt at all so plenty of herbs etc for flavouring. 

Tuesday: Dark morning and raining, tipping it down, when I went out to do the rounds it was only light rain, by the time I got to the geese at the back it was tipping down and I had to come back in and change my coat for something more waterproof. The chickens in the orchard were no where to be seen, all hiding indoors reluctant to venture outside even for breakfast. I can’t say as I blame them really, I was going to go out and do a bit in the garden today but as I had already got wet once I decided against it, I have few things to order, some straw from a local farmer, some powder for the chickens as the lot I ordered never arrived, they didn’t take payment so that’s good, look through the seed catalogues and decide what to grow next year, any suggestions (legal πŸ˜‰) welcome. Made some jars of mincemeat with Shelley ready for mince pie season πŸ˜€ Gammon for tea with cheese and potato pie and runner beans, pan fried apples for pudding, as I have some of the eating apples to use up. 

If you are inclined, now is the time to make your Sloe Gin, it will give plenty of time for the nectar to develop, I have still go 2 bottles from last years batch and 2 bottles of Sloe Whisky we will have to open them and have a tasting session, I still made more today it makes great presents for Christmas, last year I made Rumtopf as well although I forgot to do it this year for some reason. It’s so easy to do as are all fruit liqueurs, vodka is a great base for all fruits, blackberry, raspberry even strawberry, and obviously cherries in brandy is a great one although I have not tried it yet. Just fill a bottle or jar half full of your chosen fruit, add two teaspoons of caster sugar and top up with your chosen alcohol, put the lid on, shake and leave for around two months giving it a shake occasionally or lay it down and turn occasionally, open at Christmas and impress your friends and family. The longer you leave it the better the flavour, just the tonic after a cold/blustery/wet late afternoon walk with the dog. 

Thoughts of Christmas then took over the day and I sorted out the Christmas pudding recipe and started thinking about presents, not bought ones but made ones, we started doing this a few years back and I have done all sorts from Meat & Veg packs to Chutneys & Jams, Home made liqueurs, oils, herbs, I even did individual movie packs for each family one year, old movies tailored to their interests along with popcorn, pick n mix, hot chocolates etc it was fun to do, in return we receive, shortbread, fudge, homemade liqueurs, bottled goods, preserves of all kinds, home made candles etc, its great fun and very satisfying to give and receive presents that have had such a lot of thought and effort put into them. 

Went to feed the cat later in the evening, and saw rats in the stable block! 

Wednesday: morning routine included filling the rat bait boxes up, damn things and we have something in the wall on the other side of the house now as well 😝

What a cufuffle, found some point of lay ducks on a site but couldn’t remember my password, round robin game of resetting password via e-mail link that wouldn’t work properly, took me about an hour to finally get the message sent! Waiting to hear back now. Spent quite a bit of time messaging and securing 20 point of lay ducks to be picked up Early Sat morning, very excited, not sure if I will be keeping all of them or selling some on yet, will have to wait and see, however I do need to organise accommodation for them so logistics has taken up the rest of the morning and obviously I won’t need to incubate eggs now. Cleaned out the ducks and tried to organise the area for when the new ducks come, came to the conclusion that I worry too much, ducks make the biggest mess you’ve ever seen not matter what you do. However I did order some rubber sheeting to put down where they feed in order to reduce the mud. 

Thursday: dry found another quail dead this morning, something def not right but no idea what, may have to bring them inside, at this rate I will have no eggs to hatch and as fertility is low at this time of year I am reluctant to try, this may be the end of the quail eggs. My original birds lasted about 5 years with no problems at all. The Diatomaceous Earth finally arrived, although I re ordered from a different company, I made a dust bath up with wood ash and soil plus the DE and sprinkled it in the nesting boxes. It is supposed to help with mites, lice etc even worm if they ingest it with food. I am not convinced it is the amazing product they say but it is useful for dust bathing so any other side use is beneficial. Did some hoeing in the cabbage and leek bed, made a mental note that the Oca have grown well and will need harvesting after the first frosts, then watered the plants in the poly tunnel. 

Friday: dry sunny day, but monthly paperwork beckons and so that’s what I have done today, I have to keep on top of it or it drives me mad, fills my head with the nagging thought that it’s still there and waiting, once it’s done I can think clearly againπŸ˜€ in the evening we went over to friends to pick up half a cow for the freezer, they rear it at their smallholding and then we share half the costs and get an enormous amount of beef for the freezer, lucky timing as we had practically used up the last one, we are also picking up two lambs for the freezer tomorrow we shall be well stocked for the winter. 

Sat: 5.30am start, hubby is off to Warminster to collect the 20 ducks, we can’t both go because he needs to be there by 8am and I will need to let the birds out as daylight breaks so I will stay behind and do the feeding etc. I made bread before the sun even came up then got on with the feed routine and moved the old ducks to the paddock at the back and got the duck pen ready for the new arrivals. They happily settled in, glad to be out of their crates after an hour and a half journey, fingers crossed they lay some eggs sooner rather than later. The rest of the day was spent on the log splitter and going to collect the two lambs for the freezer, lamb chops for tea with a good slice of home made bread. I feel that we are ready for whatever winter throws at us now, freezers full of meat, veg and fruit, and a log pile, bring it on, but not too harsh lol.

I have noticed, over the last few days, the array of beautiful colours on the trees, they are quite stunning when the evening sun shines on them. Did you know that the Autumn colour of leaves are their natural colour, so red and orange, it’s just that the chlorophyll they produce turns them green and covers up the other colours 😬

Sunday: What a beautiful Autumn day πŸ˜€ we got various jobs done, did the feed routine, the new ducks laid 1 egg lol hopefully more will follow soon. On sat eve we moved what was left of the chickens for sale into the laying flock and Sunday morning John cleaned out the pen they were in. We discovered how the rat was getting in there and have blocked up the hole so that shouldn’t happen again. I dug up the sweet potatoes in the poly tunnel and harvested about 5 good tubers but that was it πŸ˜– The ground was quite hard and dry which may have hampered growing so after clearing the ground I put a few loads of well rotted manure on top and will leave that to overwinter. I also picked a good selection (albeit small amount) of veg ready for dinner later. Then I decided to have a look at the compost area, I pulled back the tarp and found a good collection of potatoes, so dinner was complete πŸ˜€ Normally if you get potato plants growing in the heap, it’s all tops but this time I actually found tubers. Meanwhile John did some wood cutting and we split the logs, the pile is growing bigger and bigger. We also got the tractor out and moved the shepherds hut right into the corner of the paddock, mainly so that it is easier to herd them in at night, I normally end up chasing them round and round it if I do it ( and swearing a lot) whereas John manages to get them in no trouble. Later in the afternoon I went to have a look at some hens I had sold earlier in the year, the customer wanted me to give them a check over before winter just to make sure they were ok. They are some very lucky hens living a 5* life I can tell you, we came away with a mixed box of beautiful rosy apples and freshly made cake, can’t get better than that πŸ˜€

The clocks change next week, can’t say I am looking forward to that, for half the year John is responsible for shutting the birds away at night time but as the nights get darker earlier it will be up to me to do that as well, good job we moved the goose shepherds hut otherwise I would be swearing all winter long 😝

Home reared (by our friends) roast beef for dinner together with home grown everything including sweet potato mash and toffee apple crumble made by Shelley 😁

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The Pied Piper πŸ­

Monday: After feeding etc I spent a couple of hours doing some shredding, the pile is enormous as we didn’t do any as we went along on Sunday. In the afternoon, I tided up the brassica cage. I am still getting small florets of broccoli and picked a good pan full, they will soak in water to drown any bugs before being blanched and frozen. The sprouts are not too bad considering the caterpillars got in there, there will be a boiling or two for Christmas which will please John no end. I picked a good trug full of weeds and plenty of old cabbage leaves for the rabbits to munch on. In the poly tunnel I did the weeding, I had intended to plant onions and put in some carrot seeds plus perpetual spinach but my back was hurting so I will leave it for another day. The horses will be moving fields soon so I checked the electric fence and took out a new battery ready for connecting up when needed. The batteries have all been topped up with distilled water and charged up fully ready for Winter

Tuesday: after morning routine, plant onions and peas in the poly tunnel, moved grape vine from outside to inside the poly tunnel, cover kiwi in fleece as the frosts ruin the blossom and therefore any potential fruit. Pot on the cape gooseberries and put them in the small poly tunnel, they will survive the winter and be ready to go again next spring no need to grow these every year from seed. Put some wires up for the thornless blackberry bushes, I found they sprawl the floor otherwise and the birds readily eat them before I get to them. Peeled a large bagful of cooking apples that I was given and prepped them for the freezer. Peelings to the geese. Made bread. Lovely sunny dry day again, how long will it last??

Wednesday: got up early to get the feeding and watering done, had a hospital appointment at 10.15 and getting through Oxford is an ordeal so need to leave plenty of time. Found mr rabbit dead in his run, I have no idea why he has died, he seemed a little quiet over the last few days but still eating and drinking also in the middle of a moult, there will definitely be no babies now! 

Thursday: Old Mr Duck died overnight, we knew he was coming to the end as I had to carry him out yesterday morning and John had to carry him back to bed in the evening, fly high Mr Duck I hope you enjoyed life here. Damn mouse in the airing cupboard, keep hearing it scratching about in the mornings and evidence of mouse poo in there, have had to put poison down as there are wires for the boiler etc in there don’t want it chewing through those. Rodents are always a problem this time of year as they look for somewhere warm to overwinter and preferably near a food source, we don’t have a massive problem just multiple areas where they are living lol 

Thought I’d better sort out the cctv, the front camera got hit by a branch during tree felling last weekend and was recording the ground directly underneath it lol, gave the lens a clean and then linked it to my mobile phone via an app so I can see when I’m not there, not that there would be much I could do about it. I have a forth camera but when I tried it before it kept knocking the system off so I got a new cable just in case it was that and will give it another go, failing that I will need to try the port to make sure it’s not that that is dodgy and if that is ok get a different camera. I want to use the last one for filming the paddock at night to see what is about, hope I don’t get more than I bargained for 😝 clowns or something 😝 I have also put a motion activated light in the egg shed for the darker evenings ahead ( I know, look at me all organised! ) although I think I may have to set a time for last buying of eggs, someone came 9pm on Saturday evening, have they nothing better to do? 

Made bread and butter pudding with some leftover bread and cream to use up, shepherds pie for John spag Bol for me πŸ˜€

Had a phone call this week, the cow has gone to slaughter and will hang for a couple of weeks then be ready for the freezer, I have also ordered 2 lambs from a local farmer so need to sort the freezer space out asap! 

Friday: John went off to get the feed this morning as we won’t be here tomorrow, and a couple of new blades for his chainsaw, the old ones can be sharpened but our local sharpener takes forever, about eight weeks last time to get them back so quicker if not cost effective to get new ones. Went to visit Mum and Ken for coffee, they are now back for the Winter after spending the summer on the canal boat. Did a bit of washing and ironing and packed for a weekend away in Eastbourne. 

Sat & Sun: left the farm in the capable hands of Charlie and Macca, and set off for Eastbourne, we decided a while back we needed a break, a change of air, fresh fish and chips and an ice cream or two. I couldn’t escape the events of the farm even then, well I presume the mouse I found up my sleeve had come with us from the farm, either that or it hitched a ride from the place we stopped for breakfast and that doesn’t bear thinking about πŸ˜‹ there I was in the middle of a busy shopping street fishing a mouse out from my sleeve, good job I am not squeamish, I didn’t bat an eye lid, just carried on walking and left onlookers dumbfounded lol. Of course I had to put up with the comments from John then, when window shopping he would say, ‘that looks mice’ or do you think ratatouille is cooking the dinner tonight or “did you bring your flute” ha bloody ha. All in all though it was a pleasant weekend and the weather was kind to us, and it was nice to see, hear and smell the seaside. 

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Gung Ho!Β 

Monday: spent the day cleaning, made bread, lovely day, washing. The chicken is still in her box, eye has gone down but still not right. The damn powder still has not arrived yet but I have some lime from our neighbour so when I get time I will have a go at painting that in the chicken house. Chicken casserole for John, Korma for me.

Tuesday: Got a bit of a shock when I found a strange man rooting round in my bush! πŸ˜‰ Turned out to be a man from the electric board who had thrown the ball for the dogs and it had gone in the hedge, he had come to do a visual check on the poles they had put in and check for any wire offcuts they may have left. Chicken with the eye problem still having trouble, if something was in there I would have expected to see infection take hold by now although antibiotics don’t seem to be solving it either, will have to flush it again later and make a decision, she can lose an eye and still be fine but if it just won’t heal she will have to be dispatched as it clearly gives her problems, she is constantly rubbing it on her feathers. Sunny dry day. Gammon for tea baked a couple of cakes to use up stuff in the cupboard.

Wednesday: morning routine, then Nanny duties, had Mia for the morning, then quick visit to the new Costa Coffee. Afternoon feed routine, then cut the lawn, water the poly tunnel, pick some salad leaves for tea, still growing in the poly tunnel are lettuce, spinach, peas, beetroot leaves, spring onions, basil, and peppers. Try to find out where the bloody powder has got to, online supplier won’t be using them ever again, second time the stuff has taken forever to come and you can’t get hold of anyone to complain. 

Thursday: usual routine followed by 5 hours in the fruit cage, repairs, weeding, etc, picked some autumn raspberries for pud later, make bread.

A new product I discovered arrive today Bees wrap, it’s an alternative to clingfilm, cotton cloth soaked in bees wax, tree resin and jojoba oil, I thought it was worth a try to cut down on plastic use. I found I had been short changed in the egg shed today πŸ˜” so I  turned the shed around so can see the customers on the cctv better, though it’s a sad thing to have to do 😞

Friday, morning feed routine also top up the nesting/bed areas with clean straw, because it hasn’t rained they are not too mucky so a top up of fresh bedding is all they need at the moment. Evidence of rats in the rabbit area plus a dead quail this morning that’s the second one this month not sure why. Need to think about hatching some quail eggs incase this lot don’t make it through winter. I was burning some paper rubbish when I spotted some lovely blackberries so I went and got a tub to pick them, had a lovely wander round the paddock edges and got a small haul, I grow thornless hybrid blackberries but you can’t beat the taste of hedgerow ones πŸ˜€ I hulled the remainder of the walnuts and now have a good amount for snacking on or using in cakes. 

Sat: feeding watering letting out, put few boxes of eggs collected this morning out, sold them by 9am with customers queuing up! Put out a notice to say next collection time is 4pm otherwise we are asked to go and get them all day long, it’s manic at the moment. I have no idea what makes our eggs so good but clearly it’s noticeable as a lady gave some to a friend and they wanted to know where they came from and now make a detour to swing by and buy them from us! Got the tractor out to move a bit of muck as John had had to go to work this morning, he obviously makes it look easier than it actually is, the first thing I did was knock down one of the posts oooops!  Went to our great nieces first birthday party in the afternoon, when we got back there were three lots of customers waiting for eggs and muck. 

Sunday: spent the day chopping down more trees! We had some help today which made a big difference but also made a hole in the side fence and ripped the gate post from the ground, a few little accidents nothing serious but def a gung ho work day, nipped down to the pub for a cheeky half after a hard days work, then back home for a nice piece of roast pork and some blackberry and apple crumble to round the day off. 

The photos are of the blackberries I picked , the Bee Wrap and the Sun shinning through the gap in the tree line πŸ˜€

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Bag for life anyone?Β 

I decided to get the week of to a flying start and tackle cleaning the boot/utility/dog bedroom, the dust layer on everything was getting a bit beyond embarrassing to be honest. I had intended to do it back in the summer but it gets a bit hot and stuffy in there so I left it. I now regret not doing it because the work coats and jackets are also hung up in there and washing them all on a rainy day wasn’t one of my finest choices. We have coats for all occasions, a bit of a damp day, thin raincoat, heavier rain, thicker raincoat, absolute downpour, blowing a gale, full head to shin, truss upable raincoat, cold autumn mornings, various fleeces, cold winter mornings, padded jacket that at least goes past the hips, full on freezing the balls off a brass monkey morning, full length duvet coat, all needed a wash or at the very least a hoovering. Then there are the hats, gloves and scarves, same type of thing, various degrees of thickness and style for different weather days, I left most of them in the drawer, dust can’t get in there right? 
I also discovered about 150 bags for life! Well perhaps not quite that many but at least twenty or so, all stuffed into each other and then into another bag, in one of them I even found a dress????? Don’t ask me how it got there I have no idea whose dress it even is let alone how it came to being there, it has a charity shop tag on it and it is my size but I don’t remember buying it.

I had to get a hen with a bad eye in from the front lot, I am not sure what has happened to it but it is clearly bothering her so I have bathed it and she in in an old recycling box in the back, I even discovered that the nets that go over the boxes make a great little cage, she can see out ( with her good eye) but she can’t get out, fab.

Later in the day I decided to light Rosie the Rayburn for the very first time this end of the year, it was a wet, coldish day and thought I would be a good time to fire her up, then after an hour of her burning away, the sun came out, it was bloody hot in the kitchen, still the oven temp went up nicely and so we cooked the dinner in her, and all those bags for life and coats are now drying on the radiator in the back room, love it when she is so useful, but I can see why flicking an instant heating boiler on for an hour has its advantages we will probably sit at breakfast and complain about how hot it was overnight. 

Tuesday: Feed routine first then sort out the eye on the poorly chicken, washed it out with some optrex, it looks as though she has cut the inner eyelid and it’s swollen, gave her some antibiotic via syringe and keep her in see how she does. Cleaned out the main duck house, a random chicken is living with them and has scratched up all the bedding, a good sign it needs emptying because she will be after maggots. Discovered a rat hole in the floor, into the house, prob where my eggs are disappearing to so mixed up a small bucket of ballast and cement and filled the hole, that will stop the little gits! Then onto the chickens at the front, picking up a bucket of those bloody apples for the geese on the way. Cleaned the floor area of the run and smeared petroleum jelly all along the perches etc to try and trap any red mite, still waiting for the powder to arrive. I am going to save the wood ash from the Rayburn to add to sand and a bit of compost for them to dust bath in. Collected a few Walnuts, the squirrel has been busy, although I never see him the evidence is on the ground, strips of walnut casing and empty shells. Cut three of the ripe pumpkins and put them in under cover, firstly to harden the skins but also so that the chickens don’t start pecking at them. Baked a couple of cakes in the afternoon as it started raining, had some lovely visitors for a cuppa.

Wednesday: feed routine, chicken cleansing eye routine, she laid an egg yesterday so must be feeling a bit better. Cleaned out the chickens in the for sale pen and gave them a barrow full of old horse muck to scratch through to keep them busy. Nothing caught in my home made rat trap yet but can def smell dead rat so the poison I put down previously must have done the job, however I will refill it just in case there is an army of them lurking in the dark somewhere. Still waiting for the powder to arrive for the dust baths so I made one without it for the time being, wood ash, builders sand and some compost should help them along. The plan is to get some lime and lime wash the chicken coup to help against red mite, they used to do this in years gone by so can’t hurt to try. The only other option is creosote but the chooks need to move out for a couple of weeks and we don’t have the space for that at the moment. 6 duck eggs this morning that’s 100% improvement on the last few days so plugging the hole with concrete has worked for now, just need them to up the laying, only half of them are giving me eggs. 

Lovely sunny day today, there is a fair bit of tidying to do in the garden but there are also other jobs that need doing round the farm so the garden can wait for a bit.

Walnuts: now I’ve tried various methods over the years to remove the outer husk, leave them to the weather to do its thing, the squirrel found my stash and nicked them, try removing the husks while they are still green, very difficult, bring them in and wait for them to go black, not nice, something in between is what I am doing this year, collect them up in a bucket and just when they begin to split peel off the husk, it’s a slow process only around 5/10 are ready each day! Once the outer case is removed I put them in an old wire shopping basket, you need to have an air flow all around them otherwise they get mould on the shell. If you fancy foraging for walnuts there are plenty of trees on the roadsides round here, once you know the smell of the leaves its unmistakable, when I was young we had a walnut tree in the playground at school and used the leaves as pretend money at playtime, you never forget the smell lol. Another tip, always wear gloves when peeling the outer husks otherwise your hands end up with a brown staining that is difficult to remove. 

Spent ages looking at broadband providers, minefield, with talk talk since they took over from aol but the reliability is awful, time for a change. 

Thursday: raining and a little windy, tired today. Rehoming a yard cat today so stable ready to keep her in for a week or so, good mouser we hope. Not sure what to do yet, prob give the house a quick clean, already feel like I need a nap and it’s not even 9 am!  Cat didn’t arrive, her transport broke down somewhere down South and she finally got here on Friday morning. 

The eggs are continuing to fly off the shelf this week, I can hardly keep up with picking them up and putting them out before I have to put the sold out sign up! 

Friday: to be honest as I have made no notes for this day, I haven’t the foggiest idea what I did, I have tried to remember but it’s lost in the depths of time πŸ˜‹ 

Saturday and Sunday, these two days I can lump together as we did pretty much the same each day after the morning feed routine etc, cutting more branches off of the huge conifers that we are gradually taking down, the easy bit is cutting the branches off, its the cleaning, shredding, and log splitting that takes the time, on Saturday we did it in between the rain showers and on Sunday, in the sunshine. We also took down the board from the muck pile as at least five people have been for manure, the old stuff is underneath the new stuff so we got the tractor out to scrape off the top so it can be got at. Re alined a couple of the bolts on the stable doors, as the stable is a dirt floor, they tend to move quite a bit depending on if the ground is wet or dry. Had to buy a loaf of bread as I didn’t have time to make any 😝

One very exciting thing I did this weekend was to book a cheese making course at River Cottage HQ, I had a voucher for my birthday from my lovely lot and that’s what I have decided to use it for. I can’t wait to go there and see the place for real plus learn a bit at the same time. 😁

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Soup, ducks and a big hole!Β 

Monday, felt great, well rested from not doing much at the weekend, decided to get a move on and start clearing the garden and tidy up, it was going well, I took up and old raised bed and moved all the earth to a new bed, dismantled the rotten sides and levelled out the ground, then went onto cutting the bottom stalks of the runner beans, I leave the roots in the ground because they have nodules of nitrogen on them which are released back into the soil as they die, then onto the fruit cage to get some clearing done and tighten up the wires where they had become loose over the summer with the foliage growing through. Most of the morning was a very fine rain but it didn’t get me too wet, and just as I was thinking, I will get a good amount done today, the rain became a bit heavy and definitely started to get me wet, considering there was no rain forecast I was a bit miffed! I came in for some lunch and waited for it to clear up which it did and set off back outside to carry on, I didn’t have to think about getting dinner today as we bought a lovely chicken, ham and leek pie at the country festival and that was on the menu along with the last picking of runner beans. Then some strawberries from the freezer heated up with some sugar and a dollop of ice cream. Went out picked 3 butternut squash, rain started again so I abandoned outside came in to hoover instead. Made Mary Berrys roasted butternut squash soup, delicious, recipe:



3 small butternut squash, about 1.6kg (3 Β½ lb) total weight

about 2 tablespoons olive oil

salt and freshly ground black pepper

freshly grated nutmeg

25g (1oz) butter

1 large onion, roughly chopped

2 large carrots, roughly chopped

2 large sticks celery, sliced

2.5cm (1 inch) root ginger, grated

1.1-1.3 litres (2-2 ΒΌ pints) vegetable or chicken stock

sprig of fresh rosemary or 1 teaspoon dried rosemary

Preheat the oven to 200Β°C / 400Β°F /Gas 6.

Cut the butternut squash in half lengthways, scoop out the seeds with a metal spoon and discard. Arrange the squash halves cut side up in a roasting tin just big enough to hold the squash in a single layer and drizzle over the olive oil. Season each squash half with salt, pepper and freshly grated nutmeg. Pour 150ml (1/4 pint) water around the squash. Cook in the preheated oven for about 1 ΒΌ hours, basting occasionally, until the squash are very tender. Allow to cool.

Melt the butter in a large pan and add the onion, carrot, celery and grated ginger. Cook for 5-10 minutes until beginning to soften. Add the stock, rosemary and seasoning, bring to the boil then partially cover and simmer for about 20 minutes until the vegetables are tender.

When cool enough to handle scoop the flesh from the squash and add to the pan. Blend the vegetables in a liquidiser or food processor until smooth. (If you use a food processor, it is easier to process the vegetables with a little of the liquid, adding the remaining liquid to the processed vegetables to make the soup).

Taste for seasoning and serve hot with crusty bread.

I didn’t have any carrots so just left them out also used powdered nutmeg instead of fresh

Tuesday, baked more bread, also tried baking a gluten free loaf from flour I had not used before result: Brick! Did a good couple of hours hoeing and cut the grass. Looking forward to my massage tonight, a treat to myself to relieve the aches and pains of work life. Lamb chops with mash and peas for tea. Had butternut soup for lunch with homemade bread. 

Wednesday, spent most of the morning setting up the duck area in the front paddock to move certain ducks for breeding, the new electric fence arrived yesterday so set that up, probably won’t electrify it to start with unless we get problems, it’s more to keep the ducks in than anything else, painted the house with wood preserver and made a pallet into a solid base for the water to go on, then they hopefully won’t muddy the grass too much and I can move it around. Going to put the Khaki Cambell females that are getting on for 5 years old with the Welsh Harlequin males who are only 1 the result should be some decent looking layers! Salmon for tea, Got to get the healthy bits in. 

Duck eggs are in short supply at the moment and customers keep asking me to save them, this is an impossible task so I refuse to do it, if I had duck eggs for everyone that wanted them I wouldn’t need to save them! Now I have a polite but firm notice telling them first come first served and do not ask me to reserve them 😝 very sorry but it’s not Morrisons as we keep saying! People are too used to expecting the shelves to have what they want. 

Thursday: after the usual feeding, watering and letting out routine, I spent a couple of hours cleaning out the birds in the orchard pen. The quail have been looking a bit ropey and ruffled, I thought I would find red mite in the hutch but no sign πŸ˜€ cleaned out their sleeping/laying quarters put in a dust bath for them then clean the outside area and put left over poly tunnel plastic around the open mesh sides to hopefully stop the rain driving in during winter and soaking the ground. Will also act as a windbreak although the light will still get through. We have a newcomer in the form of a Pekin Bantam, his name is Aaron, we have taken him in due to his previous nieghbours complaining about his crowing pffffft it’s more of a squeak tbh and a small yappy dog would be more annoying, he spent a day or two in a cage on his own but I have now moved him into the rabbit run. A larger area that has a roof so does not get muddy, this will be a blessing though he does not realise it yet, as he has feathered feet and could end up in an awful mess over winter. I thought he would have a go at the rabbits but turns out he is a bit afraid of them and runs away when they come over to sniff him out. I will probably put a little bantam hen in with him but am waiting for louse powder to come before I do, they all need a dusting before winter. I will also be worming the birds over a seven day period and giving them a home mixture of poultry spice which is turmeric, garlic, and a few other things, when the temperature drops.

I am keeping a close eye on the walnuts, as soon as they look as though they are beginning to split i will do my best to beat the squirrel to it, although I saw him only yesterday afternoon so am guessing the time is nearly here, don’t worry I will leave him a stash

Checked my home made rat trap this morning, nothing yet! Make more bread. A couple of hours end of month paperwork then a delivery arrived 60 cabbage and leek plants, off outside to plant them. Picked some butternut squash they seem to have small splits in them at the top, lack of water in the beginning I’m guessing. 

Friday, cleaning, shopping day, egg delivery in the evening, fried chicken night

Sat spent the day cutting back the hazel trees around the drive, high vehicles finding it harder and harder to get past! Shredded all the off cuts for the veg garden paths, cut the front drive grass, made bread, roast pork, hubby got the feed and dug a hole! Moved the ducks, drakes to the stable, breeding group to the front leaving the ladies, one drake and my old man in their original pen. Old boy is very geriatric now probably 7 or 8 years old, lost condition and limps but still eats, sleeps, drinks and poos so is a happy chap

Sunday, spent the day helping hubby, he has dug a large hole to be a soak away near the water butts, we get a lot of run off from the hard standing and the dogs running through the mud make it quite a mess in Winter. It is now edged with some kerb stones that we were given a few years ago and the earth mound levelled off. Unbelievably when he started digging he soon hit clay and a very deep seam of it at that, if you have ever done building work round here you will know that very near the surface is usually brash, no matter where we have dug in the past it’s hard going as demonstrated by the electric board last week, just where we could have done with it, clay turns up instead! We spent the best part of the day doing it, and also decided that the humongous crab apple tree that bombs apples at you and makes a racket dropping them on the tin roof, can be trimmed back quite dramatically once it has shed its leaves this year. It must be at least 40 years old if not older and each day I pick up a bucketful for the geese but there are thousands of them. Baked another loaf of bread and discovered that the strong white flour from Aldi makes a better loaf than other leading brands πŸ˜€

The egg sales have been full on this week and hopefully now I have separated the ducks I will get more duck eggs to sell as well. 

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Apples, Bread and Pumpkins = Autumn πŸ‚

I have been trying to keep up but the heat this week makes it hard, I spent too long in the Sun cutting the hedge last Sunday and paying for it this week, I should have been more careful but when the weather is with you, you got to work. 😝

So the Electric board came back on Wednesday and finally finished the job, hurrah, we now have the two old poles in the field. I ask if we could keep them as they come in handy, a lot of the outbuildings here have got old poles as main supports, they are great lengths of timber and mostly cedar wood so last a long, long time. And if we don’t use them for that they make great seats when you need an impromptu rest in the field. 

I began making bread again this week, it tastes so much better than the shop bread, even their freshly baked ones and although the proving takes a while the actual mixing and kneading only takes 10 mins. Through the Summer there never seems to be enough time but as the days grow shorter it feels like the right time to start again.

I picked a whole load of veg on Monday as I hadn’t done it for a few days and customers were wanting to know when I was doing it. The shed was nicely loaded with runner beans, courgettes, beetroot, tomatoes and even some jalapeΓ±o peppers. At some point in the week, I can’t remember when, I picked the keeper apples from the tree in the front paddock, they probably could have been left a bit longer but I find the birds start to peck at them if I leave it too long. There are not many this year only about half a bucket full, but they will keep for a good couple of months without losing their crispness, I have a great gadget for reaching the apples and picking them without bruising but there are always the ones at the very top that I can’t get and they always look like the best ones on the tree, I might have to get the ladder out. 

I have also been collecting buckets of cider apples and crab apples for the geese to eat, they love them, I swear they swallow some of them whole. The geese are very handy for eating up certain things, like the runner beans that have got a bit tough or the patty pan that have got too big, it makes a change from their daily diet of grass. 

The runner beans have come to the end of their fruitfulness and pickings of other veg are also becoming slim, the next crop that will be going out for sale will be the butternut squash. They are a great crop, once they are under way they don’t need much attention at all, the sprawling foliage does a great job of ground cover and weed suppressing and when they are ready the leaves die back to reveal its bounty, of course they store very well too so there is no need to make sure you sell them all quickly. The pumpkins are turning Orange and I need to make sure the chickens don’t find them and start pecking into them, these are for the children at Halloween, there are only 5 pumpkins but it is great fun to grow them and when the grandchildren are old enough they will be able to come and pick their own, hopefully as they get older they can start them off from seed, tend to them and watch them grow πŸ˜€ 
This weekend was a write off as far as work was concerned, though we had a job lined up, John had to spend most of Saturday at the hospital with his Mum, in the late afternoon and on into the evening we went to our eldest daughters birthday bbq. On the Sunday we spent a very pleasant day at the Cotswold Living Landscape Festival, it was their first year and I think it’s a grower, all the countryside skills, walling, hedge laying, wood carving, bee keeping, some great folk music and the food stalls were fabulous, yep definitely going again next year. 

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A mixed bag of a week πŸ˜‹

Monday was a wet start to the week but, as is often at this time of year, too warm for a raincoat, so either you get wet from the rain or damp from sweating with a coat on, I decided on getting wet.

After feeding and letting out all the birds, I usually go into the veg garden and either do some picking or some tidying, Monday was picking, courgettes, patty pan, tomatoes, and some radish. The tomatoes are coming to an end, I had a huge slug problem in the poly tunnel, you would be amazed on how much they can feast on in just one night! I watered the big poly tunnel, in there I have sown, peas, spinach, carrots and brassicas for over winter, still growing from the summer are jalapeΓ±os, basil and sweet potato. The sweet potato has a huge amount of foliage and I just hope there are tubers underneath it all. Later  in the afternoon I made a batch of crumble mix for the freezer, it’s so easy and very convenient as the crumble stays separated and you can shake out just the amount you need. We had a one pot dinner, everything chucked in, left over chicken, runner beans, patty pan, onions, dried herbs and potatoes. 

Tuesday was dry but very muggy, today I picked berries, blackberries, raspberries, mulberries, wine berries and blueberries, plus a basket of runner beans. They will do very nicely for a crumble for pudding later on, I put a beef stew on to cook early in the morning and left it on low all day which frees me up to get on with some tidying work in the garden. The electric board turned up to replace two poles that have been in forty years and are beginning to rot at the top. I have wondered what my poor woodpecker will do when he finds a newly creosoted post in place of his bug ridden old one, I hope he still hangs around.

Wednesday, another muggy/sunny day. I cleaned out the rabbits, quail and geese this morning. The rabbits have been digging large burrows, goodness knows how far they have gone but it seems to keep the happy and they love popping in and out of the ground.The half a day job the electric board promised has now turned into two days and they are not finished yet. The ground is so hard that it was much tougher than they expected to get the new poles in, or the old poles out. The huge lorry carrying the new poles has shredded the foliage on the nut trees, they are in need of a trim back but I was waiting for the nuts to ripen first. In the evening I cut the grass, I had to wait that long for the dew to dry out and then cut the front driveway, the lawn and the area by the ducks, it looks tidy again for a couple of weeks.

Thursday, the electric board are back again! This means the driveway is full of vans and lorries anyone would think we are having major work done not just replacing two poles. I continued with tidying the driveway by edging the grass and cutting back foliage that was obscuring the view as you pull out of the drive. I also cleaned out the ducks, they get so dirty very quickly, I need to separate some of them off to cross breed new ducks for next year but can’t decide which end of the year to do it, separate them now so they get used to it and are settl d by the time mating season comes or wait till Spring and separate them then. Instinct is telling me do it now but that means getting them a new home ready first.  John has mince and potatoes for tea and I am having stir fry cooked by Charlie and Macca πŸ˜€ Someone very kindly left a bag of cooking apples for me, thank you whoever it was. 

Friday, well would you believe the electric board are back, they still haven’t got the second pole in the ground and are back to try again today, we though, are off to Johns Dads funeral and so I won’t be here to make them cups of coffee. It is sunny today, which will make today a little bit easier to cope with. On our return in the afternoon I was delighted to see the post in the ground, however the old one is still there and still connected so I am guessing that they will be back yet again at some point to move all the cables and get the old post out. I told them they were milking the job on day two, now they are just taking the piss! Takeaway for dinner tonight, it’s been a long day, and we are babysitting our grandson for a couple of hours so no time for cooking.

Saturday, raining, I will be honest, I was in no rush to go out and do the animals, so I did a bit of housework first, getting a soaking and then coming in to do it didn’t appeal, I rather it was the other way round. John went off on the feed run, every two weeks he goes to pick up 12 bags of layers pellets and 2 bags of corn to keep the flock fed. The rain just kept coming down and we decided to have the day off, no point in trying to work round the showers, maybe tomorrow will be better. In the late afternoon we went to my Sister in Laws 50th birthday celebration, a much needed bit of fun after the last couple of days.

Sunday, sunny and dry πŸ˜€ one of the jobs on the list is the front hedge, over a hundred feet long, at least six feet wide and not been trimmed for two years! We decided to get stuck in and started about 8.30am eventually finished it around 4.30 with still a bit of tidying up left to do. Consequently, we didn’t do anything else that day, Charlie and Macca very kindly cooked a roast 😘 

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