Four Mums and a Dad πŸ˜ƒ

Firstly, sorry it’s been so long since I last posted, life has been busy in every way. Our grandchildren are, as expected growing daily, and it is my belief that everything must stop for time with them, it’s precious time, unrecoverable time, important time, much more important than blogging, gardening, cleaning or even cooking. Of course the animals still need feeding and cleaning but everything else, can and does have to wait a while. 

Having said that things are moving along nicely although I wish the weather would settle a little more into a pattern that we can work with, it’s either hot or cold not much in between. A fair amount of the veg is now planted but there are bare patches of soil still waiting and what is planted out is not exactly romping away. In the poly tunnel I have been picking, mangetout, spring onions, baby beetroot, raddish and lettuce, I also have new potatoes in there but they are not ready yet and some broad beans that are just beginning to pod. Outside I have planted cauliflower & broccoli under heavy netting and have sprouts to plant out when I get round to it, the strawberries are beginning to form and I have been picking asparagus, rhubarb and artichoke. I have also been busy drying herbs for Winter use. There are rows of carrot, swede, beetroot, sweet corn and celery doing their best to grow and of course runner beans, which have a wind break around them to try and help them on their way. In the fruit cage there are encouraging signs of flowering on the berries but the frost got the kiwi a few weeks back so I am not expecting anything from that this year. One exciting new project are my citrus trees, lemon and orange, they have survived the Winter all wrapped up in the poly tunnel and the lemon has flowers forming, watch this space, I may grow a lemon for my gin and tonic yet πŸ˜ƒ

On the poultry side we have had a new arrival in the form of a gosling, geese sit for thirty days or more to hatch and it was going very well, two geese sat on around twelve eggs between them, near the thirty day mark, one egg hatched and out popped gertie the gosling, 24 hours later her mum got off the rest of her eggs and took her outside. Unfortunately the mothering instincts of the other goose kicked in and she followed them leaving her eggs to go cold πŸ˜” so little gertie now has four Mums and a Dad proudly looking after her on a daily basis. This is the first year for the geese and so hopefully next year they will do a little bit better.

We replaced our whole flock of laying hens with 80 new younger birds, I say replaced but in actual fact the old ladies have been moved to the back to retire, about 30 of them are still laying and the rest are enjoying living off our generosity with no fear of dispatch if they don’t lay, not good business practice but it’s not all about the money. The egg sales have been through the roof, just as well with 80 pullet eggs to shift every day, we have managed to keep turning them over very quickly though, mostly through direct sale on social media, delivery included, it’s worked well.

A thousand and one things must have happened since I last blogged, most of it day to day stuff, some of it all part of the circle of life both animal and vegetable, some of it life altering such as the new decking hubby has built giving us a nice outdoor space to sit and contemplate life (only had to wait five years) and some of it life affirming like the loss of a very dear cousin whose passing has been heart wrenching but also reminds us to enjoy life while we are still here, even the crappy bits. 

I have a Robin that has nested in my shed on the shelf, I try not to go in there if I can help it, if I do go in I pretend not to notice, I did look once and she took off at great speed, luckily she came back. I have a quick peek if she is not there and I think there are about four baby Robbins although it’s hard to tell, I really need to tidy up the shed but that too will have to wait until they have flagged. We have Blue Tits in the boxes on the front of the house and a whole range of birds busying themselves around the garden, Great Tits, Bullfinches, Chafinches, Wrens, Blackbirds, Thrush, Long Tailed Tits, Yellowfinch, the list seems to get longer each year or maybe I just have more time to notice when I am sat holding the grandchildren πŸ˜ƒ

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This weather is ridiculous πŸ˜œ

There I have said it, I have tried to refrain from moaning about the weather  over the last few months but honestly this would try the patience of a saint. It’s a good job I have held off of planting anything much in the garden, if I had put in spuds on good Friday as tradition tells us then they would be frosted a good few times by now. As it is the ones in the poly tunnel have suffered some nipping but they should recover, yesterday I covered all the plants in the greenhouse with fleece and it was a good job I did, the temps must have gone down well below freezing never mind frosty. We all know what will happen next, straight into high temperatures and sunshine causing havoc in the garden (could be a bit of wishful thinking there πŸ˜‰) 

I have sown a few rows of carrots and onions on the sunny/dry days, yes we did have some, but apart from that nothing else, instead I have concentrated on seed sowing in the greenhouse and poly tunnel. In the latter I have been harvesting raddish and lettuce, the peas are growing well as are a couple of rows of carrots and broad beans, the new potatoes are up and the spring onions are slowing unbending. In the greenhouse I have a bit of everything growing and have started potting on the runner beans ready for planting out in May, providing the temps go up of course and there is no guarantee of that! It is a waiting game but I hope it changes soon or summer is going to be short 😝

Elsewhere on the farm Hubby has managed to break the tractor again, this time catching one of the hoses on a branch and snapping the fixing clean in half, I swear he does it to get out of any work πŸ˜‹ We had a chicken with a broken leg that we had to dispatch, I couldn’t work out how it had happened until the next day we found a dead chicken without a leg in the coop, the fox had been going underneath and getting at them through the narrow bars, this has now been covered in and no more leg problems. The geese are sitting on eggs so there are none for sale at the minute, I have known them since they were tiny but even I am not brave enough to go in there and get them off. The din they make when you go near them is high in decibels and I have to protect the back of my legs with a bucket as the males come running at me in a head down going in for a kill stance. 

As I mentioned, we have had some lovely sunny days and the scent from the blossom on the trees has wafted deliciously teasing us with what might be eventually, and on those days I have been hoeing and tidying and waiting but I feel like I have been doing it a bit too long now, everything is ready except for the weather. The horses are waiting to move paddocks as there is no point moving them onto new pasture if it’s going to rain constantly , it would end up looking just like the Winter paddock, the geese are looking on the thin side waiting for grass to emerge, they have been on pellet food all Winter and are longing to get the other side of the fence. The chickens however are doing just fine and we are getting plenty of eggs, trays of them in fact which I am trying to sell on various selling sites so that we don’t end up with a mountain of them. The rabbits are happy in their run although they keep trying to dig a warren, they dig it out, I fill it in, every day same scenario 🐰I am hoping I will be able to feed them plenty of beneficial weeds/herbs soon rather than mostly pellet feed, I have been buying them carrots and greens from the shop so they haven’t gone without but when I can pick my own for them I will feel much happier . 

Hubby is still getting over his accident, did I mention that? Probably not but he has, every day for the last few weeks, his van was written off and luckily he was ok apart from whiplash but it has meant that not much has got done for a while, then he had an abscess and a tooth out, put that together with the weather, did I mention that πŸ˜‰, progress has been slow outside, roll on warmer temperatures it will make everything feel so much better. In amongst all that we have had the arrival of our granddaughter who is totally gorgeous πŸ’• in all honesty I don’t care what the weather is like when our grandchildren visit because I would rather spend precious time with them than doing anything else 😍😍

Have a great week whatever the weather β„οΈβ˜”οΈπŸŒžπŸŒ¦βš‘οΈπŸ’¨

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Goose egg lemon curd……..cake😝

I like the moment I decide to make a cuppa and sit down to write my blog, sharing the ins and outs of daily life with you is one of life’s little pleasures, not that there is much to tell to be honest. 

It’s been pretty hectic some days, constant streams of egg customers, people coming for free manure, deliveries of compost, plants, the phone ringing, people buying chickens, everything always seems to happen at once, especially on the day I decided to make the lemon curd, more about that later.

We have taken delivery of 100 new point of lay hens, 80 to replace the laying flock and 20 that have gone into the sale pen. The old ladies had to be moved under cover of darkness, rather more for their benefit than for ours as it’s easier to catch them and they are less stressed. As always with most jobs it got left until the absolute last minute and of course it rained incessantly that day, luckily it had lessened to a drizzle by dusk and so we spent a hour catching, crating and moving 77 hens from the front paddock to the far back paddock, I think it was four trips with the crates precariously balanced on the wheelbarrow. By the time we finished it was pitch black and we were having to use the torch to pick our way through the mud puddles, as you can imagine there was much muttering from both hubby and myself mostly about his wheelbarrow driving and my navigation πŸ˜† The new ladies arrived just before the weekend and have settled in well, the old ladies are a little put out at having their roaming space reduced but are on the whole enjoying the relocation, most of them anyway, a few have decided to ‘go over the fence’ everyday and try to get back to the front paddock but they go back in the evening so we just let them get on with it. 

I have finally got under way with sowing seeds in the greenhouse, I was panicking, thinking I was behind when the last bit of dry, sunny weather was here, but I held off for a while and then decided to invest in an electric heater for the greenhouse. This goes against everything I believe in really but the truth of the matter is that if I want plants ready to go when the weather turns, I have to give them some heat to begin with, we are quite exposed which usually puts us back around two/three weeks, so I figured that I would counterbalance that with heating the greenhouse for a couple of weeks, we will see if it works out that way. So far I have sown a large range of veg, from beans and peas, to tomatoes and peppers, all doing well at the moment. In the poly tunnel a couple of weeks ago I planted, lettuce, radish, beetroot, peas, spring onions, garlic and potatoes, everything has come up except the potatoes which should make an appearance any day now. 

I spent one whole day just hoeing and cutting back dead stuff, raking the paths and putting the contents of the compost heap on the garden, a most enjoyable day that I felt I had accomplished a fair amount, which was abruptly undone by the small flock of unruly, free range chickens scratching the dead stuff, newly added to the empty compost pile, all over the pathway, one step forward, two steps back πŸ˜–

Mostly we have been busy tidying, that includes cutting back trees, bushes and hedges in the paddocks, picking up Winter debris ( which is a surprisingly large amount of twigs and branches) Hubby has also been setting up the other water tanks to collect more rainfall although they are not yet connected eventually they will hold around 14,000 litres of free water πŸ˜ƒ

The geese have been laying well and last weekend we sold 11 goose eggs in 10 minutes, egg sales have been constant but I did keep a goose egg back to make Lemon Curd, however, it was a disaster  as it would not thicken up despite a good half an hour of stirring πŸ˜” I didn’t waste it though, I turned it into a cake instead, I will have another go at some point and follow a different recipe, I will let you know how it goes. 

I gave my youngest sister a couple of goose eggs for her birthday and look what she did with one of them.

  
Our youngest daughters boyfriend revealed a useful talent a while back which I put to good use recently, his stint working in bars left him with excellent chalkboard skills, so I set him to work on our roadside board which now looks a whole lot better than my slanty, disappearing lines of writing πŸ˜ƒ

  

Hopefully, although we are getting a fair amount of April showers, the ground temperatures will begin to warm up and the grass begins to grow as well as the veg and fruit, because grass is an important crop for us too as far as the geese and the horses are concerned anyway. 

Have a good week and I hope the sun shines for you β˜€οΈ

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Imaginary labourer, you’re fired!Β 

Hello bloggers, sorry it’s been a while, have been busy with various things including entertaining our grandson πŸ˜ƒ

As always I can never remember exactly what I have been up to but it includes a lot of tidying, feeding, mucking out as well as the usual household stuff.

 I finally managed to poison whatever was in the wall, the downside is I think I can now smell it decomposing 😜. The female rabbits are now in their finished run and enjoying it very much, I will get pics soon I promise, Mr rabbit was in with the other chickens but I moved him out today as I don’t think he is very impressed with them nicking his food and water all the time. The chickens are a funny batch personality wise, this lot like to get right under my feet and peck at my wellies when I go in to feed them, how I have managed not to squash one yet is a miracle. We have had some ghastly weather along with the the rest of the country, one horrendous downpour in particular resulted in the paddocks flooding over night and a river running through the stable block, I have never seen that before, however we have now moved into some settled weather and things are beginning to dry up. Eldest daughters partner came over with his quad bike to drag the fields a couple of weekends ago after a dry spell, this encourages growth of the grass and gets out any dead thatch blocking out the light, they will have a months rest before anything is put on them to graze, ideally I would have like to top seed them but we are pushed for rotation space with the horses and so that probably won’t happen this year.

Hubby and I went for a rare day out to the Good Food and Good Life Live show at the National Agriculture Centre in Warwickshire, it was a lovely sunny day and all under cover lol, still it was nice to go and get some new ideas and renew our enthusiasm . As we are nearly out of our own home grown lamb and no spare fields to put some on this year, we called into a farm on the way back to purchase some supplies for the freezer. I would much rather do that than buy from the supermarket, the taste is so much better and it’s a great feeling to support the small rural businesses. 

As soon as the sun comes out at this time of year I always feel as though I am behind with planting, I’m not but it just makes you feel as though Spring has fully arrived. I have learnt from past experience not to get carried away though as the cold is still lurking around ready to bite as soon as you are not looking. Having said that I have done a bit of seed sowing in the greenhouse and a fair bit in the poly tunnel, I also planted some early potatoes and garlic in there, as it is much warmer than the greenhouse. Hubby has now built two raised strawberry planters that hold about twelve plants each and I invested in some new plants covering a longer season so that I am not frantically picking fruit everyday in June. I also planted up a couple of hanging baskets with strawberries in to go in the poly tunnel and see if I can get an even earlier crop. The broad beans I planted a couple of weeks ago have come up, well a few have the others have rotted due to the cold and wet, the tomato and pepper seeds went leggy due to lack of light and the sweet peas have been eaten by something, if at first you don’t succeed try, try again, which is exactly what I have done, finger crossed this time round.

The geese are laying very well and the eggs are selling just as well so I’ll notch that up as a success, if fact this week , egg sales have taken off immensely, I was worried that the customers had all gone elsewhere when we were low, but we have had a steady stream of customers all week, long may it continue πŸ˜ƒ

One thing I have learnt over the years, not just living here but generally is never to say to hubby ‘I am thinking of doing this particular job’ and then going out for a few hours because when I get back he has had a go at whatever it was I had mentioned. What is wrong with that I can hear you thinking, well firstly it won’t have been done quite how I wanted it, and secondly hubby appears to have an imaginary labourer, he must be imaginary because he never clears up the mess! I made that error on Sunday after mentioning cutting back two huge buddliea globosa (small round, orange flowers) in the front driveway, I came back to find the whole lot on the floor, 10 minutes with the chain saw for him, two days of moving and burning it for me 😝. We have some trees to take down at the weekend, they are either leaning or have come loose from windrock, I have already mentioned it, now I all I need to do is make sure I don’t have to go outπŸ˜–, or fire the imaginary labourer and find a new one 😜

Have a great week β˜€οΈ

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Goose eggs and Bunny runs.

Due to the dismal weather I had planned some editing of the website but after a couple of hours faffing about I had to get in touch with the online help only to find that there was a technical difficulty at their end, at least it was not me just being thick and unable to perform simple editing tasks! 

That left me with a few hours to find something to do, sort out the freezers, too cold out there was my thinking, sort out my wardrobe and get rid of anything I no longer wear, well I tidied it and decided that I ‘might’ wear it one day, you know how it is ladies. So instead I made a cuppa and decided to blog πŸ˜ƒ

Apart from the usual routine jobs that need doing everyday, I do lots of little jobs that are just as important but don’t really get a mention. This week for instance I have tested the soil PH levels, it dosent take long but is hugely important. The main one I needed to test was the blueberry trough as one of the bushes died for no apparent reason last year, the soil tested at 5.5 (acid) and so the soil was not the reason it died, at this point in time I still have no idea what caused it, too wet, too dry, who knows. Having decided the soil was fine I planted up two new bushes to replace the old one and hopefully they will fruit this year. I also mixed up and sprayed Bordeaux Mixture onto my apricot tree, this was moved the year before and now has some canker on the trunk, hopefully it will cure it but I have my doubts. The fruits are still edible but they don’t look very pleasing with marks on the skin so although I use them I am unable to sell them. I cut back the Autumn raspberry canes, knocked in any loose support poles on the fruit trees, riddled a couple  of barrows of compost on put it on the beds, wrote on the new egg board and put it out, and weeded the poly tunnel in preparation for planting. I have searched in vain for the eggs that the hens that live in the tree have laid, as soon as you find their hidey hole they move it somewhere else. The last lot I found under some ground cover in the poly tunnel,  30 + eggs! Again, although they tested fresh with the water method, we can use them ourselves but I won’t risk selling them to the public. I have found plenty of goose eggs this week though πŸ˜ƒ hidden at the bottom of a pretty large nest they have built in their hut.  We picked up four new laying ducks at the weekend to keep the duck egg costumes supplied, a new batch of hens for selling and I set the humane trap to try and catch whatever it is that is living in the ceiling, the other traps didn’t work as ‘it’ just kept nibbling away at the bait until it was gone. The humane one didn’t bring forth anything either so I have resorted to poison, not ideal but the damn thing keeps us awake every night. 

As well as the little jobs of course some bigger ones have been getting underway, after weeding the poly tunnel I then sowed, beetroot, lettuce, spinach, spring onions, carrots, dwarf beans and peas as well as radish, traditional French breakfast and Black radish as a novelty. Hubby as usual has been busy, this time he is building a bunny run, to house the five ladies that are currently sharing with the chickens, it’s coming on really well and I have included photos of work in progress.

The broad bean seeds I planted are just beginning to sprout and the seed potatoes are chitting nicely, it’s tempting to go full steam ahead but I know from experience that patience is key and that everything will grow just as quickly once the weather and ground warm up a little more. In the meantime there is the website to update, the freezer to sort out and I really ought to sort that wardrobe out properly 😝 

   
    
   

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Pancake day πŸ˜€

Happy pancake day, one of our milestone days here on the farm and probably our favourite! 

It’s a good job we have things to look forward too as the weather has been shocking to say the least, the constant rain had resulted in a lake in the paddocks, even the hay barn flooded which is only the second time since we have been here. On the upside the winds that came with it didn’t cause any damage apart from lots of twig debris all over the place. It’s a shame about the rain as the ground had begun to dry up beautifully, almost a pleasure to walk around in, ah well at least it should get drier, quicker from now on, fingers crossed. 

Hubby and eldest daughters partner spent Sunday working on the tractor, putting new engine mount brackets in place, we discovered that the old ones had sheared in half and at some point in its history had already been welded back together. Luckily we had the tractor in under cover so that made life easier for them, they were rewarded at the end of the day with roast beef and all the trimmings a good payment I reckon πŸ˜€ 

We bought new Quail and they have been readily laying and I have even had two goose eggs, hopefully more will follow. 

When you work on your own, self motivation is important, though hard, especially when the weather is crap! As I wrote in a previous blog I have been trying to get something useful done outside every day, however the weather put paid to that over the past few days, but I have managed to tidy and organise the greenhouse, get some more broad bean seeds in, no sign of them sprouting yet though. I have also set the seed potatoes out to chit and today I have lined and filled a super duper new strawberry trough that hubby built and planted the strawberry plants in it. It’s waist height so hopefully I don’t have to scrabble around on the ground picking the fruit, that’s the plan lol. I have also cleared an area of existing fencing in readiness for the new rabbit run to be built, they are still living in the chicken run at the moment and I don’t think the new arrival hens that we picked up at the weekend are too impressed with their room mates 😝

I let the ducks and the geese out to free range today, the horses are in for the third day running because it’s so wet so I thought it an ideal time for them to have a roam about and get some extra nutrition from worms and weeds! The geese are getting more aggressive as they often do this time of year, that’s why they are normally confined to their quarters as they tend to terrorise everything and everyone on the yard, eventually when mating gets serious they will even have a go at me so you have to keep your wits about you or end up with a nasty nip on the back of the leg, trying to make a fast getaway is even harder in the slippery mud!! 

The workload will begin to crank up from here on in as long as the weather permits so hopefully there will be more to write about as long as I can keep motivated and it’s surprising how the glimpse of sunshine can help. In the meantime enjoy your pancakes, lemon & sugar, or banana and choc spread, we even have salted caramel sauce this year, what’s your favourite? 

Have a great week πŸ˜‹

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Planning, ordering, making lists, I might even get some actual work done πŸ˜€

I kinda like this time of year, making lists, planning and ordering, it’s the calm before the storm in terms of workload.

The lists include things that didn’t get done last year and are transferred to this year in the hopes that they may get completed! Planning is nearly always undone by weather or circumstance, but it still needs to be done, and ordering of course is most women’s delight even if it is a combination of planks of wood and plants lol. 

Most of my seeds I ordered on Black Friday would you believe and got them half price (chuffed😁) but I also need to replace or replenish some plants, one of the blueberry bushes died and so needed replacing, in the end I ordered three to cover the whole season. The same  with the strawberries, they are four years old now and need replacing, so I ordered enough to cover the season instead of just the month of June, hopefully it won’t be a manic picking session every morning, I can take my time over a longer period. 

I ordered my seed potatoes and left it a bit late as the variety I wanted was sold out already! This year I decided to go for more earlies and less main crop as we harvested a large crop of late potatoes and I don’t think we are going to get through them all before the new season starts again. People tend to buy the new potatoes but not the older ones for storing so that’s the logic behind my thinking. I also ordered a couple of novelty items like black radish and endamme (soya) beans to see how they go. Although last years ‘trials’ were not so good, the cucamelon were a waste of time, the oca need a bit of getting used too as far as customers are concerned! 

I am going to have another go at sweet potato, the only time I have done them they didn’t amount to anything so a bit more research is in order and hopefully we will be more successful this year.

The planning isn’t just confined to the veg garden, I have been sourcing and ordering some new Quail which we will be picking up next weekend and I need some more laying ducks, I am on the case but the nearest I can find with what I want is in Bath, however a nice little trip out in the countryside would not be a bad thing. We intend to replace our laying flock of chickens but timming is key as we do not want to run out of eggs, although they are not laying very many at the minute anyway. The older ladies will be sold off very cheaply to make way for the younger, hopefully more prolific hens 😜

I am hopeful that the geese will lay this spring otherwise they will be heading for the freezer, I can’t keep feeding livestock that is not giving me any return, I have told them but whether they listened or not is another matter πŸ˜‹

The fluctuating weather takes a bit of keeping up with, downpours, wind, frozen ground, you never know what the next day will bring but it’s all heading towards spring so I am not complaining. I took some photos around the farm when it was frozen, it’s always quite beautiful on those days 

Our straw and hay supplier has run out of both already this year and so I have had to ring round to find another supply. That’s the first time in six years he has actually run out completely, some of his fields were too wet last year to harvest and so he had to plough it back in creating a bit of a shortfall. I realise how spoilt we are with him as he will deliver at short notice and now I have to be on top of things and plan ahead.

From this week onwards I have committed myself to trying to get something achieved in the veg garden everyday, so far, so good (I know it’s only Tuesday) but yesterday I cut back the herbs, and did the hoeing on that whole bed including the asparagus and rhubarb areas, and today I have hoed the bed next to it, counted up how many new boards I need to replace the rotten ones and planted some broad bean seeds to bring on and plant in the poly tunnel, I’m on a roll 😝

I have given Hubby the job of planning and building the outdoor rabbit enclosure for the five rabbits we have, at the minute they are in the chicken pen but we will need that soon for the new chooks. The rabbits won’t be making us money except for the odd litter we might sell but they are lovely to have around and you do need something just for enjoyment purposes, well that’s my excuse anyway! 

Have a fab week β˜”οΈβ„οΈπŸ’¦β˜€οΈ whatever the weather πŸ˜ƒ

   
    
   

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