Autumn, in July? 

Sitting drinking my morning coffee this morning, I could be forgiven if I didn’t have a calendar, for thinking it’s Autumn! I love Autumn it’s my favourite time of year just not at the end of July! What has happened to summer, it reared its head briefly at the beginning of the month and then went away on holiday. This whole year so far has been odd to say the least, as a consequence the green tomatoes on the vine are still green, the beans are trying to perform as are the squash but they are struggling. Only the fruit seems to have relished in the weather that nature has thrown at it this year, bumper crops of raspberries, gooseberries, blackcurrants, cherries and apricots mean we will eat lots of lovely pies and cakes in the winter months, something to look forward to at least.

With a short or non existent summer comes the realisation that ‘winter is coming’ sorry couldn’t resist and that will only mean something to Game of Thrones fans 😉. I am already making plans for the run up to the colder months, trying to get the birds in tip top condition to help them through. They have been given soluble vitamins and cider vinegar in thier water and soon it will be time to give them all a dusting to keep critters at bay from thier feathers. Hubby’s new chicken house is brilliant, well I think so but the chickens are refusing to go in still preferring to go back to the old hut every night. Drastic action is needed this weekend to remove the old huts so that they have no choice but to take up thier new des res.

Bella the cat has been in for spaying, we locked her in a cage as per instructions the night before surgery, in the morning she appeared on the doorstep! After surgery we locked her back in the cage and tied the handles with string, an hour after being put in there she appeared in the stable block, somehow she had managed to get her head collar off, get out of the ‘secure’ cage and rip out a stitch in the process! She is now locked in the toilet, we should have called her Houdini, how she managed to get out of the cage (dog cage type) I will never know but we have always had difficulty keeping her locked in anywhere, I will be glad when she is healed and able to roam free again without the added worry of her getting in the family way. 

I have just started a 14 day process to make Glacé cherries, why, you may ask when they are readily available in the little plastic tubs in the shop, curiosity is the answer, to see if it works and if they taste better than shop bought ones which I am sure they will. It’s quite a long process although a fairly simple, repetitive one, I will let you know the result in due course. 

Hubby is off from his regular job for two weeks fairly soon so I have been busy writing him a long list of farm jobs, no rest for the wicked lol, we having fencing to finish and a whole load of little jobs to be sorted, things like realigning bolts on doorways and gateways. It is surprising how much everything moves over the course of the year, resulting in having to lift the gates or doors to shut them, this takes its toll on my arm muscles so I will be glad to be able to slide them shut smoothly with no effort at all, for a while at least. We bought some large water tanks back in the spring and they need connecting up to the others, this will enable us to save at least 6000 litres of rainwater. Most of it is used for the ducks but apparently I am having a pump fitted so that I can use it on the veg garden as well,that will save a bit on the water bill. I try not to use the hose to water the garden if I can help it, only when the plants are looking close to collapsing and needs must. 

I have already started to think about how I will do things slightly differently in the veg plot next year, the strawberry beds are going to be raised off the ground and the dwarf beans need to be higher up too. I am trying to make things easier for myself, as time goes on the difficulties bought on by the Lupus are more apparent, generally speaking kneeling down to pick produce results in pain and so the higher up I can get stuff the better for my health. 

On the whole life is good as they say, and over the past few days I have felt a contentment I have never had before, yesterday was my 51st birthday (woah, where did the years go) I have a grandson on the way, my health is good to middling and the weather is not too bad. My favourite book is Cider With Rosie and these are the type of days I measure against the feeling I get when I read it, if you understand what I mean, I think today will be another Cider with Rosie day, long may it continue 😎

Have a good week 😃

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“I can smell smoke” 

So this week has been exceptionally busy produce wise,  the weather on the majority of days, for me has been just perfect, overcast but warm, this means I can get a fair amount done outside. 

We finally got the tractor repaired or so we thought, so I took it out to move some livestock housing and a mound of earth, but the clunking noise didn’t seem quite right, so I called the tractor man who came back and confirmed it wasn’t! More parts need to be purchased £££££ and it will be fixed sometime, eventually! Back to doing everything by hand then 😕 

As I reported last blog, the veg is coming on in leaps and bounds and so I began picking, freezing and putting any excess out for sale, well the minute I put it out it sold, which is fab but it turned into a frenzied couple of days picking, stocking and restocking the little shed. Available at the minute are garlic, beetroot, broad beans, runner beans, potatoes, bunches of herbs and raspberries. In the end I was working through the evening picking to get a head start on the next day. I also put out some jars of jam which were very quickly snapped up I am pleased to say.

Hubby has very nearly finished the chicken shed we hope to move them in on Wednesday evening. Last night was quite funny though as he had gone out to finish the door, eventually he came back in saying, I have been shouting you, I didn’t hear him honest. He had screwed the ply onto the door frame, but beforehand had bolted the door through the open framework so it didn’t move ( the bolt is on the outside) and then proceeded to screw the ply on, from the inside 😝 and consequently couldn’t get out lol, the options were to unscrew the ply or shout for help, luckily one of the livery girls was still in the field and eventually heard him 😂

Just as the produce sales were picking up, the hens decided to go off lay, when one goes, they all go, well at least half of them. I hate it when that happens as there are never enough eggs to go round and I have to explain to customers there will be a shortage for a while. We are hoping that a change of residence will kick start them a bit and at least a few more of them will start to lay again. Before we move them in we will have to catch them up one by one, give them a dusting of lice powder and put Vaseline on their legs to prevent mites. It’s always a good opportunity when moving them to do this then hopefully they will be bug free for a good few months. I will also begin to put garlic and cider vinegar in their water, all this is preparation for the winter months to make sure they are as healthy as can be before the weather turns cold again. 

The weather always makes a difference to laying hens, you might think that summer is ideal for them but they do not like prolonged dry spells which is exactly what we have had. The paddocks are beginning to look scorched and even some of the trees are beginning to develop yellow leaves,  a good indication of lack of moisture. Each time a cloud passes over that looks like it may rain I am hopeful but usually it passes on by leaving my hopes dashed. 

With it being so dry the one worry we always have is fire especially living in a wooden building! The other night we went to bed and at the minute we have the window open a little, I had gone to sleep but woke up when I realised Hubby was sitting up, “whats the matter” I asked him, ” I can smell smoke” he said, “yep now you’ve said it so can I” was my answer. We got up and went outside for a quick scout round, it was fairly strong outside but did smell more like a bonfire than burning buildings. We got back into bed but a few minutes later the smell was stronger so Hubby got dressed and went out for a better look this time, he checked over all the surrounding fields just to make sure they hadnt caught, satisfied that we were not in danger he came back to bed and we were still here the next morning 😁

We still have to re home two of the kittens and get Bella in to be done as soon as possible, I am ringing the vet today before she ends up pregnant again! I am hoping that an operation and some recouperation time will break her rather stupid habit of sitting in the middle of the road down the lane, otherwise I can see the op being a waste of time and money if she ends up squished! 

In the next few weeks I hope to be picking apricots and morello cherries, apricot jam is one of my favs and as I have never made cherry jam before that will be exciting. I have also been looking into the process of making my own glacé cherries as I use them in fruit cake, it’s a two week process though but worth it in the end hopefully,  I will let you know how it goes. 

The pics are of the cherry tree, apricot tree, veg garden, shallots  drying (that are more the size of onions ) and Patch in his favourite position, laying down 😜

Have a good week 

   
    
   

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Too busy, too tired, can’t be arsed! 

Sorry, for anyone who likes the farm updates, I have either been too busy, too tired or can’t be arsed to blog! However, it has been at the back of my mind the whole time, and as I have stopped for coffee this morning I thought now was a good time.

As you can imagine lots of things have been happening especially in the veg garden, well the fruit garden to be precise. I have spent countless hours picking and prepping Strawberries, Raspberries and Blackcurrants, the jam store is chocka block and on one particular day all I did for around eight hours was make jam until I was sick of the sight of it. 

I have just started picking broad beans, runners, courgettes and patty pan, any gluts will be for sale in the little shed. I need to freeze a fair amount to last the Winter months but first I need to sort out the freezers, you know how it is when stuff just gets shoved in on top of other stuff, you have no idea what is actually in there and end up just grabbing what you can see if front of you, replacing the space with more stuff. In the big freezers I have plastic sacks to organise the bottom half but at the minute it is all in the baskets on the top! 

We finally managed to a) see the kittens and b) get them down from the roof space. We had seen three and so that’s how many we got down, then heard another crying so there were four all together. We put them in the stable and left a space over the door for Mum to get out, the next day they were gone! She was not happy with the other cat, Desiel, hanging around and had moved them, we located them in the hay barn and returned them to the stable making sure that this time there was a barricade and she has been ok with that ever since. They will be ready for new homes soon, two have already been reserved but there are still two to re home if anyone is interested. 

We have lost a few birds, as it stands is 2-2 to the fox and the dog! The fox came marauding one evening and had a gosling that had got out of the paddock, then a couple of nights later he had a cockerel. The dog has had his two in the last week, both of them were ones that sleep up in the trees, they came down early on different days and went into the front compound where the dog patrols at night, his kennel now looks like a feathered nest and we are down a cockerel and a hen 😔

The hens that were sat on eggs finally hatched them out, one had 10 which are still going strong the other had 2 one of which has since died for no particular reason. The one with ten was in a stable but eventually became so ferocious every time I went in that I have put her outside in the orchard, she is still a bit feisty at times but a lot better than she was, good job I always wear my wellies or I would have battle scars on my legs 😛

Hubby, in between all the other jobs, is busy converting the field shelter into a hen house, it will be much easier to clean out than the old huts, much as I love them, they are around 100 years old and although still fit for purpose, I am not and can’t crawl around inside anymore. Over the last three months I have had some Duke of Edinburgh volunteers once a week to clean them out which has been a tremendous help, but now they have finished I need to make life a bit easier for myself and standing up to clean them out will go a long way to saving my aching bones. 

Patch, the puppy that we ended up keeping has grown as you would expect, he is taller than either his mum or dad and he likes to play with a football, or sleep, typical boy child, he is lovely natured though and not full on like a typical collie so the two of them are a nice mix as Mia is very typically collie, full on and obsessed with chasing the ball. In the picture you can see that she is looking down, not an accidental, oh I didn’t get her looking up, she is focused on the scrappiest bit of left over toy and waiting for me to throw it! 

  
  
  

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Summer is coming, definitely, probably, well maybe. 

Summer is on it’s way apparently, it’s just been delayed, no shit Sherlock (my fave saying at the minute) May was, wetter than average, colder than average and had less sunshine than average, all in all a weak and infective month for growing anything including grass. Customers are asking, when will there be any veg? When the Sun pulls it’s finger out is what I am thinking when I am stood there, of course what I say is ‘it’s just been too cold and wet for anything to get established’ fingers crossed the fireball will make an appearance soon. 

This week, apart from standing in the plot and willing the veg to grow, I have weeded (they grow no matter what the weather is doing) , planted out a few more things in the vain hope they won’t get blown away by the wind or drowned in a torrential burst, or eaten by pigeons, and, well that’s it actually,  it’s a waiting game now.

The animals have been at the forefront of activity this week, the cat has had her kittens, but she has had them right up in the roof space which is double roofed so no chance of seeing how many or what colours at the moment, she disappears for the best part of the day so I can only hope she is looking after them properly as she is only young herself. I lost 17 quail in a massacre, from the CCTV it looks like something small has bitten a hole in the wire, although I can’t tell what, it’s probably stoat. I can see from the footage the quail are agitated for a couple of hours, then the dog must hear the goings on, pushed the gate open and finishes off any survivors, all this right under my bedroom window and I didn’t hear a thing, the wonders of double glazing :( 

For the life of me, I can’t actually remember what else I have been doing this week, I know I gave the kitchen a deep clean one day but as for the other days it’s a mystery!

This morning I thought I had lost the goslings, I let them out and went off to feed the rest of the waiting menagerie thinking I will shut them in the paddock when I’m done. I left them out to pick at the weeds as they seem to like it better than grass, when I casually wandered up there with my coffee half an hour later there was no sign of them, but I did spot the Little Owl taking off from a fence post close by. The owl has been hunting in our back paddocks all weekend and I have seen it on numerous occasions, as there was no sign of the goslings in the back area at all I began to wonder if the owl had taken them one by one. I began a detailed search of the hedgerows and nearby paddock and field shelters, nothing, I looked all the way down the paddocks to the front near the road, nothing, I looked in all the nooks and crannies round the stable block area, nothing and I looked in the front drive, nothing, nowhere to be seen. So I set off and searched again, all areas covered, I resigned myself to the fact that they had gone, actually it was a little more than that because at this point, with the quail episode, the Guinea fowl disappearing, the veg not growing and ending up with five ganders this year, I just about decided to throw in the towel and give up :0 I made a coffee, went outside to drink it and right In front of me in the side paddock were six little goslings happily munching away on the grass, as I was looking for them they must have just been out of sight somewhere. I could tell by the way they quickly waddled back to the paddock, with me behind them, that they knew they were in trouble, nervous breakdown averted I went in to make more coffee ;) 

Pintrest is one of my favourite apps at the minute, besides Candy Crush of course, and I have been busy pinning all kinds of things from recipies I hope to be able to use, to ideas of how I want a seating area in the garden to turn out I am fairly certain the recipes will be used long before the ideas get put into practice. At the minute I am collecting strawberry recipies for the vast haul I am sure I will get this year, hmmmmm, actually despite the under achieving weather I have spotted the first red fruit in the patch, I will have to taste it later and see if it will be a vintage year for jam. I may or may not have told you and if I haven’t here comes the confession, but strawberries are the one thing I do not sell at the gate, it’s my favourite crop and I indulge myself by keeping them all for me, well not just me, sometimes I let the family have some ;) most of them go into jam making, if the crop is good some of them get frozen for use in the winter as a splash of colour and the rest get used in old favourites like strawberry torte or strawberries and cream, and some for new, yet to become favourites, from Pintrest :) 

Have a good week x

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A disappointing May

Don’t get me wrong, we have had some lovely sunny days in May, but overall the temperatures are cold and it’s been a disappointing month weather wise. Normally by now we can look forward to discarding the jumpers and extra layers of clothing but not this year, I am still having to put on a coat in the mornings and taken to wearing a gillet even indoors! The long range forecast predicts a colder than average summer too, not good news for the vegetable plot, things are growing but not at a great rate, I am mindful of the ‘be careful what you wish for’ curse, after all I am the last person who wants wall to wall sunshine, but if the temperatures could lift a little I would be most grateful :) 

In the veg garden I have planted up artichokes, squash, peas and beans this week and filled the poly tunnel with tomatoes, aubergine and peppers, the other tunnel has cucumber and water melon sat on the ground waiting for them to grow a bit more before they can be tied into their climbing apparatus. The rhubarb is continuing to grow well and I have harvested and sold at least twenty bundles so far, the asparagus is a little slower but it continues to push through so not too bad considering. I think fruit is going to be a bumper year this year judging by the amount of blossom and fruit setting, luckily as far as the apples and plums are concerned, I had already put grease bands around the trunks and I have set codling traps in the branches, you may remember that last year the grubs made around eighty percent of the fruit unusable, this year I hoped to have knocked that on the head. The only fruit that is not looking good this season are the Blueberries, for some reason they have not liked the over winter conditions and as a consequence there is very little fruit on them, I guess you can’t win them all. 

The goslings are growing daily, not surprising considering the amount of grass they are eating, they have already been moved to a third grass area. They were in the garden keeping the lawn down for me, it was alright until they decided that veg looked more tempting, I barricaded them in but they always seemed to find a way through  so I was constantly herding them back to their quarters. The Guinea Fowl lasted exactly four days before the wind blew the gate open and they haven’t been seen since, completely disappeared, probably made a beeline for the hedgerow in the paddocks and after spotting a fox the next night at dusk, I doubt they lasted long out there. Bella has still not had her kittens yet but it can’t be much longer, I would hazard a guess at this week being the week, then it will be a game of hide and seek trying to find out where she has decided to nest. 

I find this time of year my time is stretched much more thinly between tasks such as housework, cooking, bookkeeping, gardening, general tidying of the the farm and animal husbandry as a consequence I always feel that I can’t get a job done properly, each job always seems to be ‘important’ although at this time of year ‘urgent’ comes into play as well. If the grass is getting long in the driveway and rain is forecast, that has to go to the top of the list, if it’s left then the grass shoots through making it harder to cut, if it looks like a dry day, the temptation is to be out on the garden all day but then the housework goes to the bottom of the list and I forget to put the washing on, by the time I remember, it looks like rain again, going round in circles like a headless chicken springs to mind. I like order and control in my life and this time of year goes to pot a bit, I will be spread even more thinly when the soft fruits begin to ripen and jam making season is upon us, I will either need more hours in the day or an extra pair of hands ;) 

Have a good week :) 

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In fine fettle! 

Originally posted on frieslandfarm:

I have had a great week this week, the holiday did me good and I have come back in fine fettle :) The brain fog seems to have lifted for the time being and I set to at the beginning of the week to find some female geese, move the drakes into a different pen, set daily tasks and achieve them, missions accomplished :) #feeling smug.

I found some month old goslings in Cheltenham, they were off heat, green goslings, meaning they are eating grass and so no pellets required which is a cost effective bonus. We set off on Saturday lunchtime with the postcode typed in to a full battery phone, I set the navigation app to begin and noticed alarmingly just how much battery it was using before we even got to the Burford roundabout, I quickly decided that as we knew the way to Cheltenham I could…

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Technical hitch!!

For some reason my blog was not connecting to Facebook and so the last two have not been published on there, if you are receiving it by e-mail you should be able to see it. I am trying to sort this out, hopefully sooner rather than later. If by any chance this does publish to Facebook, you should be able to see the links and catch up.

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