Lots of eggs, an egg thief and baby rabbits. 

Sunday Eve: Having published this weeks blog I set about learning more about permaculture which is the direction I want to head towards especially with the veg garden, turns out that I already do a lot that comes under the heading but you can always learn and apply more 😀 

The pullets are laying well and we have trays of pullet eggs, we are managing to shift them so that’s fab but we do indulge ourselves with an egg based breakfast when the supply is plentiful 😀 pancakes being my favourite. 

Monday: I spent the majority of the day out in the veg garden doing a bit more weeding and clearing and also sawing, hammering and making some raised beds at the end of one of the veg beds for flowers 😀 all part of the permaculture plan I have in mind. 

Tuesday: Did the animal rounds this morning and then decided I needed to peel and cook some more of the cooking apples that need doing, there are still plenty left on the tree but I think I have enough in storage and in the freezer for our use now so if anyone wants any cooking apples come and get em 😀

Had Mia this afternoon, by the end of the day my top is covered in spaghetti sauce and my trousers have Peppa Pig stickers all over them 😜

Wednesday: Usually have Mia but not today so making good use of the extra time and dry weather to get some more clearing done on the garden, cleared away the sweet corn and squash plants and started to take down the brassica cage, the wind has blown it partially over anyhow. Planted up garlic bulbs that I had forgotten I had ordered 😝

Doesn’t seem much to write about now the hectic days of picking and processing the veg are all but over, just some hard graft ahead to get the garden ready to bed down for winter. 

Thursday: A busy day all in all, mostly in the garden, the fruit cage needs some attention so I have started on that. The raspberries have got a bit out of control, there are about 40 bushes that have all steadily grown over the years and now it’s too overcrowded and needs thinning out quite a bit so I took out one whole row and every other bush on the other two rows. The bindweed has also taken hold over that time so I have been trying to get as much of it up as possible, it will never be eradicated but if I can get it back to manageable that will be ok. We looked at the structure as a fair few of the post bottoms have rotted and we were going to replace them but I think it will last one more year, now I have said that it will probably collapse in the winter and we will wish we had done it 😜To begin with I thought I had raspberry die back as there is no new growth that I could see for producing next years berries but then thinking about it maybe I have just not seen the new growth which will now have died back anyway so I will hedge my bets, thin them out and see what happens in Spring. There are also two rows of Autumn raspberries outside the cage that need a good thinning, they have not produced much this year due to the weather patterns so I will probably dig out every other one, at least I may be able to get to them next year, at the moment they are more like a hedge! 

I weeded the polytunnel first thing and then put 6 barrows of manure in there to give the soil a good feed, at the moment there are just the peppers and the grape vine plus some basil and parsley growing in there, I have started off some peas to plant over winter and the beetroot have self seeded so I will let them do their thing and I will probably (at this point of typing I’m interrupted by John hollering, he is putting the birds to bed and letting the dog out and the dog has found a wandering chicken under the bush, this dog likes to eat fresh chicken, luckily he managed to grab the dog, the chicken got free and I’ve put into the orchard pen, we will see how it is in the morning😩) sow some broad beans for an early crop next year, I’ve given up growing winter salads because I tend not to bother going out there in the cold months. 

Friday the thirteenth! To be fair it mostly passed without incident, I got up early made some bread, John did the outside stuff, I cleaned the house and that was pretty much all I did all day, now don’t get me wrong I didn’t sit around but had a pretty constant stream of various visitors right through to 4 o’clock. Around that time I went out to do the feeding, all was well with the hens and ducks and I thought I will just check on the rabbits as I had spotted that they had drunk all their water, lifted up the lid and baby rabbits! Oh my days that is from their escapades last month digging out, 4 dead babies and about 7 live ones and not long been born by the looks of it so might still be more to come 😝 

Saturday: Cleaned out the rabbits, guinea pigs and quail in the morning the, babies are still there 😂😂 no more so far so that’s good. Got a fair bit of work done in the fruit cage, I have now dug out all the raspberries I want to remove and we decided it might be prudent to replace the posts around the cage as they have all but rotted away and one good storm will have the far side down. Went along to have a look at the village plan, caught up with a neighbour had a nice chat with her and she has some apples I can juice so am going to pop down there next week and collect some up, probably pick up a couple of jars of her honey while I’m at it 😀 We have Mia overnight, she looks very cute in her dressing gown before bed 😍😍 

Sunday: I haven’t done anything outside today as I had Mia to look after but John has been (and still is ) a busy boy, clearing out under the fir trees next to the stable block we found an extra 10ft of ground that will be allocated to the duck run, at the moment he is busy on the tractor moving muck from the pile to my veg garden ready to shovel onto various areas. I have made bread and washed the eggs so not all bad. 

We have had an eclectic mix of egg customers this weekend, we get em all! Friday evening we had one that didn’t pay, we know he didn’t because John had just emptied the money so the box was empty, we were leaving for him to drop me off somewhere as they arrived, they can clearly bee seen on the cctv with egg box in hand and John checked the box when he came back 10 minutes later and no money in there, they had the cheek to pick up free windfalls on the way back to the car too, we know who you are and will be watching for you 👀. We have customers from around the world, obviously they don’t come especially lol but we have one from Vienna who calls in for duck eggs on his way back home, this weekend we have Americans and also a couple from the midlands on a cycling holiday 😀 


Gingerbread men, rosehip syrup and doors on the shed. 

Monday: I thought I would take you on a pictorial walk of the ‘morning routine’ that I always mention. 

First up a visit to the feed room to be greeted by the cat waiting for his breakfast.

Take hay down to Jack and check his water buckets 

Then onto the older hens at the back, fill the water buckets, feed and let them out, collect any eggs they have already laid.

Back to the feed room where the cat is hoping (in vain) for seconds. Fill up the feed bucket for the ducks, go round, do their water, let them out and collect the eggs.

Take eggs to the boot room and return to feed room to get feed for the hens/quail in the front. Feed the hens, quail and chicks in the orchard pen, check water, feed/water rabbits and onto the front paddock.

Fill up the water buckets and feeders, let the hens out, scrape and clean the floor in the henhouse, collect any eggs.

Let the geese out.

Back to the boot room to wash the duck eggs.

Put out the clean ones for sale and feed Kai

Feed the other two

And time for cwaffee with homemade bread and jam, perfick. 

Charlie had a day off work today so we spent a few hours in Chippy looking round the shops and having a cream tea 😀

Lit the Rayburn in the evening as it’s a tad chilly with the wind blowing 💨 

Tuesday: Lovely sunny morning, did the feed round with one or two minor differences, extra sawdust in the nest boxes as the chickens had kicked a lot of it out, there was a dead chicken in the orchard, as I was up at 4.15 because the dog was barking in that direction I’m guessing the fox got it but it escaped then died. I will be setting the wildlife camera up to see if I can find out what is going on out there in the dark. Then I needed to plant the wild garlic bulbs that arrived a couple of days ago, so I took my spade and went out along the front hedge line and planted all 50 of them. They naturalise well, to the point where they can be invasive but out there is fine and hopefully we will have wild garlic on the menu next year. While I was there I couldn’t help but notice all the beautiful brown shiny conkers and so when I got back in I started to look and see what else you can do with them except putting them on a bit of string and bashing them together 😜 Obviously they make great autumnal decorations but they also contain saponin and so you can make soap 😀 it appears to be a very easy method and so I am giving it a go, Viking soap apparently, if it’s successful I will do another batch and some pictures. 

Wednesday: A sunny start though I don’t think it will last. Went out in my PJs to collect the sd card as I had set up the camera, all it had on it was a wild rabbit peering into the camera lol. Did the feed rounds and came in for coffee and some paracetamol as my hands, especially my thumbs are giving me jip today, I’ve had it before not sure why it happens but it’s surprising how limiting it can be 😕

We have trays of pullet eggs piling up so I went on a local selling site and have sold 10 trays to be delivered on Friday eve, I can always manage to shift fresh eggs on there easily and it’s a great outlet with minimal effort. The pullets are laying 90 eggs a day now so the numbers soon build up. 

Thursday: Well we survived the night lol that was a windy night to be sure, and I was just thinking at least it hadn’t rained much when the heavens opened and dumped a load of wet stuff. I thought I would wait for it to blow over and do some ironing and domestic bits, by the time I went out to do the rounds the Sun was shinning 😀 No apparent damage anywhere so that’s good. 

Decisions, decisions, do I go and work outside though my hands are no so good and the ground is wet, because there is a lot to do tidying the veg garden up or do I work indoors, cleaning, cooking etc and hope the ground dries out for the weekend and my hands improve……… In the end I did neither 😜 I thought I would quickly log into the farm website and do a bit of updating, ha, took me over half an hour and every combo of logging in before I finally got in, I haven’t used it for a long while so forgot the log in details and ended up not changing anything anyway! Then I went onto setting up and printing some cards to put with the egg deliveries we will be making Friday, why oh why does technology take so long and not behave in the way you expect to, so after half a day wasted on that it was onto the next job. While I was out chatting to an egg customer the wooden box that will be turned into an honesty box arrived, great I can get that sorted. You would think that would be straight forward enough wouldn’t you after all all the hardware for it had already arrived, it starts with trying to find the right tools for the job, after an hour or so faffing about trying to find the right size spade bit or any drill bit really that might possibly, remotely do the job, it wasn’t a pretty route but I did get the slot made and the hasp lock on so it’s good to go. I was going to pretty it up and decoupage it but in the end I thought, sod it, it will only get damp and mouldy anyhow so I left it bare and screwed it down to the shelf. Its only to stop anyone grabbing and running and as 99.9% of our customers and visitors are honest to goodness people it’s probably overkill, but people do like to put the notes somewhere safe so now they have the facility 😀 

Made gingerbread men for the grandchildren 😀

Friday: A bit chilly this morning but dry and looks set to be a bit sunny, did the rounds and then went for a walk up the lane with Josh and Shelley, came back made some bread Sam and Mia arrived to do Jack, then went to Swindon with Shelley to get some new bed covers for Josh’s room, got home and John had done the afternoon feeding and collecting the eggs. Had 11 trays of eggs to deliver and that when the evening got absurd! At the very first stop I got the wrong house and while I was looking for the right one John parked up in a side road, a man who lived on the corner was reversing his car but he was so busy watching John, presumably wondering what he was up to, that he reversed straight into the barrier surrounding the green, crunching sounds could be heard! Onto the next few without incident, then two in the same road, I did one, John did the other, the lad answered the door and the dogs came out, John came out to get a £1 change the dogs shot out of the gate and ran off with no intention of coming back when called so John and the lad ran after them quite a way, I was waiting in the car, John came running back into the road still chasing one of the dogs, he was puffing and panting (John, not the dog) and eventually the dogs went in, on the way back home a van just randomly stopped in the road and put his hazards on, no warning, no apparent reason unless he was lost, we were glad to get back to the country lol. 

Saturday: John did the morning routine and then we popped off to get my flu jab done which I almost forgot about good job John remembered. Martin is here putting the doors on the new egg shed, business is brisk this morning. When I got back I made some rosehip syrup with hips we picked on our walk yesterday, great for soothing coughs or even just pouring on ice cream or pancakes 😀John made a start cutting up the mountain of wood we have, I potted up some bargain plug plants I had ordered, 40 for £5, and then back in to put some apple turnovers in the oven for the workers 😀 The weather was a bit drizzly this morning but it has cleared up for the time being. 

Sunday: Misty morning but the sun soon burnt it off and it turned into a rather splendid day weather wise. John did some more wood cutting while I did a bit of gardening. I cut down and cleared the asparagus and then weeded the bed, there was also a banana squash growing in there so I’ve cleared that as the foliage had begun to collapse, I now have a giant banana squash I have no idea what to do with, I figured if anyone has a big family to feed then they are most certainly welcome to it, it would definitely do a vegetarian curry for around 10! Charlie popped in to say hello before going off to do a shift and then we went out to a birthday party for our great niece, lovely afternoon 😀 when we got back the lawn was dry enough to cut, it really needed doing but it gets wet and only dries out if the sun stays out for the afternoon which it has so quickly got that sorted. I hope we have a few more days like today I will be able to get a fair bit of tidying done on the veg beds before the weather turns for the worst. 

Unwelcome visitors, new egg shed & a broody quail. 

Monday: Sporting the wet look this morning, not in a sexy way no, in a frizzy hair, disheveled kinda way 😜First job was to move the little bantams outside, they have got too big for the cage and will appreciate a bit more room, when I left them they were tentatively peeking out the door. Then off to do the feed rounds, this morning I am letting the chickens that are at the back, out into the wider area because the paddock it getting a bit poached and sick, not good for the paddock or them and the egg numbers are dropping off quickly, this may give them a bit of a boost especially if they find the muck heap, happy days 😀

Come in to make a coffee and a lorry pulls up the drive and turns round, normally it’s lost folk looking for the stone yard but this didn’t feel right and they stopped near the skip and started loading scrap. I marched out and asked them what they were doing and they said they had a phone call to come and pick it up, now I know this is not true so I challenged them and they kept say that someone phoned, wait there I will make a call I said, and don’t load up any more scrap, with that I came in and they drove off! Got the adrenaline pumping I can tell you, and although I can see it on the cctv I can’t get the number plate clearly so we need to move the camera closer to the drive! 

The rest of the day was without incident thankfully 😀

Tuesday: A foggy morning that promises to burn off, did the animals, John cleaned out the hens at the back before nipping off to take his Mum for an appointment. I did a bit of clearing up in the veg garden, picked a few odds and sods that are still going, beetroot, runner beans and corn on the cob, put them out for sale along with some cooking apples that I picked, the windfalls are free to gather but the unblemished have to be worth a quid don’t they? I was getting a bit wet from the foliage so I decided to come in and cook off the rest of the tomatoes wth some garlic, basil and olive oil, I will sieve it later for passata. Mia arrived and having been to toddler group was already tired so a bit of book reading, playing and a walk down the drive to get the post and she was ready for a nap. The babbington leeks (wild) have arrived, I decided to have a go at growing these perennial leeks rather than neat rows of hybrid ones, I have also ordered 50 bulbs of wild garlic to plant round the farm hopefully they will be shooting and ready to harvest next year and then continually after that, I am trying to plant things that don’t need much looking after but will still be useful. 

I looked out of the front window to see two beautiful cock pheasants in the front paddock with the hens lol, I’m not sure which bunch will think their luck is in, the ladies with two handsome chaps visiting or the pheasants with all those ladies paying them attention 😝

Wednesday: Another good day weather wise, I did the morning rounds, found a dead hen, not sure what happened but she is an older bird so could be anything, then started a bit of tidying up in the back bit where all manner of junk gets dumped on a weekly basis. Mum arrived in her boots ready to do a bit of gardening and we got stuck into clearing and tidying, the squash plants have mostly now collapsed and gone mushy so they needed clearing away and there was plenty of weeding to do, the onion sets arrived in the post so I planted those up, pulled up some parsnips and carrots which we will have for dinner later, Mum picked a load of runner beans, some for selling some for drying and some for the chickens. Mia arrived after lunch she helped in the garden for a while and then it was time to come in. As I write this in the evening John is out in the pouring rain on the tractor tidying up the muck heap, the chickens at the back have been busy on it all day and scattered it everywhere, still it all helps with breaking it down faster. 

Kai got hold of one of the hens tonight, it didn’t go back to its bed and John hadn’t seen it sitting in the front area, quick as a wink he grabbed it, eventually John persuaded him to let go and he put it in the orchard with the others, we shall see how it faired in the morning 😏

Thursday: Another nice day on the cards by the looks of it 😀 Did the morning rounds, cleaned out the ducks and the geese while I was at it, the hen didn’t make it probably died of shock and a most likely a bite wound 😔 

Came indoors and caught up on an episode of Outlander 😀 then I decided to have a ‘normal’ day 😜 sounds odd I know but normal for me is outside doing outside stuff and animals, today I got the iron out to do some ironing whilst listening to the radio, put some washing on and do a bit of baking, all with the sun shining through the windows and the stable door open, birds singing, it really was lovely 😊 I made some bread, an orange and sultana tray bake and a lemon drizzle cake, we have plenty of eggs so now is a good time to make cakes for freezing although I suspect the lemon drizzle won’t get as far as that 😝 Chicken pie made for dinner from the left over roast chicken yesterday and time for a sit down I think.

Friday: A wet start and I don’t think it’s going to improve much today, did the morning feed round, nothing untoward today 😀 

Came inside did a bit of hoovering and polishing then onto sorting the walnuts, I have done a fair bit of reading about storing them and the process and I have tried many things over the years. This year, gathering them was the easy bit, the squirrel has not bothered with the walnut tree at all so I have able to gather them from the ground once the outer husks have split, so far so good as normally I have to gather them green and wait for them to split which can be a right mess in a bucket, previously I have left them out for nature to do it but the squirrel found the stash. The shells tend to go mouldy pretty quickly even if stored in an airy position, so this year I washed them and dried them and guess what, the shells still went mouldy. A bit more reading up later I find that shop bought walnuts are bleached with a food grade hydrogen peroxide, not having any of that to hand I also read that soaking them for 5 mins in white vinegar will kill off any bacteria, that is what I have just done, soaked them in vinegar and dried them off, now to wait and see what happens, if they still go mouldy then next year it will either be hydrogen peroxide or shelling the whole lot and freezing them, I may even still have to do that this year. Walnuts are a complete faff but so worth it in the long run as they have so many health benefits it would be stupid to leave them for the squirrels 😜

Went for a day out to Farmer Gows which is not far away, it’s great to see how other farms work and what animals are kept and how, you can always learn something new 😀

We appear to have a broody quail hen, I have mentioned before that quail rarely brood their own and it’s early days, if she goes the term I will be ‘cock a hoop’ but I’m not holding my breath lol. 

The bantam chicks we hatched out have now been outside for 5 days they seem to have adjusted well though we haven’t had cold nights yet but I’m sure they will be fine, the next stage will be to let them out of the cage and have the run of the orchard pen, more problematic than it sounds as the older bantams keep getting out and I need to leave the gate open for the hen to get back in to lay so we will need to remedy that somehow. 

Saturday: We had a great day, a productive day, a good sales day 😀 We got the other side of the fence done and moved the eggs and veg to the new egg shed, it seems to be working an absolute treat, egg sales were brisk including trays of pullets eggs and more encouragingly the veg sales were booming, I think because they were displayed better and can be seen, happy days 😀  The shed still needs some doors on and it’s all coming along nicely 😀

Sunday: A drab start to the day and the beginning of October, I have made bread this morning and as a quick nod to the end of harvesting, decorated the loaf with a sheath of corn and a mouse. I have in the past made full sheaths but in all honesty they are difficult to cut for toast or sandwiches 😂 Yesterday I donated some overgrown veg and corn stalks to the ladies doing the church decor for the month, hopefully they will add something to the harvest celebrations. I’m not in any way religious myself, if I had to categorise I would lean towards being a simple pagan (Earth worshipper) but that for me it’s a ‘feeling’ about how nature works and the changes to the seasons and moons, nothing else. 

I was out in the front putting the galvanised planters in place by the fence when I noticed all the little birds, the ones I told you about that had been squabbling over roosting places. I watched them going into lots of little spaces including the bird boxes on the front of the house, they had gone in the vent, behind loose cladding everywhere they could get in. We have a ton of wood so I got John to cut some for bird boxes, how hard can it be lol, turns out impromptu bird box building is not as straight forward as I thought, however we did manage to cobble together two boxes, they are a bit cumbersome and the hole would allow at least a blackbird size in so we will see if they start to use them, I’m not holding my breath as it took a couple of years for them to use the others that we put up, but I think we will now make lots more for around the farm just be a bit more choosy about the size of wood we use. 

Mushrooms, pizzas & pullet eggs. 

Monday: Got the animal rounds done then went to Oxford for a hospital appointment with Shelley. I didn’t do much after we got back except the afternoon feeding and a bit more mushroom picking, there are loads in the field. I cut some up for drying and out them in the dehumidifier and then we were out for a quick visit to a relative for a birthday. Tuesday: Today I decided to make pizzas 😀 I had some 00 flour to use up and I wanted to do something with the tomatoes so I made passata and pizza dough and voila some pizzas for tea later. I also made some bread and some chicken soup as John doesn’t eat pizza. I whizzed up the mushrooms into powder, I think I will be able to make a whole winters worth of mushroom powder with what is growing 😀 

Had Mia in the afternoon so didn’t do much but play 😀

John has an appointment this afternoon as his shoulder where he fell is giving him a lot of trouble when he is trying to sleep. 

Had a lovely surprise visit from my youngest sister who has just passed her test and her little one Zeri 😀

Wednesday: I have Mia today so have to crack on in the morning, did the usual feed rounds gave the ducks some clean bedding and cleaned out the little chicks who are not so little now. They are getting big, too big for the cage really but I need to wean them off the heat lamp, I have been turning it off in the day and now they are just having it at night, once they are fully feathered they will be without it full time and I will need to move them outside.

It was nice and sunny so I walked around the veg garden with my coffee to assess everything, the colder overnight temps mean that the more tender stuff is starting to collapse, courgettes particularly, it will very soon be time to start clearing plants away, the runner beans have all but stopped producing anything of any worth and it’s all looking a bit scruffy now. I haven’t decided if I am going to grow much over winter yet, possibly garlic and onions in the poly tunnel as they did not do very well this year and I don’t have a good supply of them to see me through. 

Thursday: Feel exhausted this morning 😩 so the jobs I was going to plough into will have to wait a while. Did the usual feed routine, then had a cup of coffee as that wore me out, sometimes it does, had a quick FaceTime with Shelley and Josh and felt refreshed by then time we had finished speaking so I went outside to get some work done in the veg garden. Picked 11 cucumbers 🥒 they are still growing well, a few tomatoes 🍅 a courgette and that was about it, cleared the dwarf bean bed as they have gone over now, then started on the herb bed. That needed a bit of a haircut, the oregano had got straggly as had the mint but mostly it was cutting back and weeding, moving a couple of things round to get a better balance, I planted a lavender in there as well, they are very at home in the herb garden and it will be nice to brush against it and get a waft of soothing perfume. Pulled up the remaining beetroot before they start to bolt or rot and thinned out some carrots which are getting to a good size. Our wood man has bought me some more useful pallet guards, that is all I can think to call them, and so I got those in position, it should all make for easier planting and looking after next year. Came in to get some lunch at exactly he right time as almost as soon as I stepped indoors the heavens opened ☔️☔️ I am going to order some garlic bulbs and get those planted asap. 

It’s a rainy afternoon so I’m looking on Pinterest for inspiration which I seem short of over the last couple of years, we are putting up a new fence at the front and moving the egg shed (making it bigger for all the eggs we will have) and I just couldn’t ‘see’ what it was I wanted out there, it has to be practical and functional and user friendly and my thoughts of what I would like have to go by the by to have what we need. However, after pouring over ideas and thinking I would like it to be symmetrical I have had a breakthrough and am going for a lopsided view instead 😜 One side of the gateway will have to be for the egg shed with a touch of artistic vision but the other side I can really do what I like and as I have lots of old galvanised junk lying around just waiting to be repurposed that is exactly what I will be doing, I have most of the plants I will need and hopefully it will turn out well, if not it will be back to the drawing (Pinterest) board 😀 

The pullets are laying 😀😀😀 I picked up 6 yesterday and today 19! Thank goodness for that, the egg shed will overfloweth 😝

Friday: Autumn Equinox and the daylight hours are slowly but surely slipping away. I would say thank god it’s Friday but my stress levels seem high this morning, I couldn’t get the tack room door padlock undone to feed the cat, the hoses had a mind of their own, like snakes, and kept coming out of the water buckets, there was slippery mud everywhere from the rain and the new chickens are getting more adventurous and trying to discover what my feet are for, the dogs just keep yapping and the geese are shouting at me every time I go out the front, I thought it was supposed to be quiet in the country 😜

John is at home this morning getting the new fence underway, that involves a jackhammer to break up the concrete still it will look good when it’s done. Went to the garden centre with Sam, Mia, Shelley & Josh for a coffee, picked up a couple of plants for the pots and tubs at the front gate and some mugs in the sale with geese, hens and hares on them 😀 When we returned I checked the egg shed as I normally do to collect any money and see if we have sold out, the bantam hen has taken freshly laid eggs to a whole new level, someone obviously didn’t close the door properly and inside was the bantam hen! Did the afternoon feed rounds and the pullets are ramping up the numbers, 24 today, good stuff although the ones at the back have dropped to 50 😏 

Saturday: Outside was all down to John today, feeding, cleaning and then on to the new fence and egg shed, I really needed to clean the house so that’s where I was most of the day, cleaning, hoovering polishing 😝 Had a visit from Shelley and Josh and Sam popped over to give Jack a brush and move paddocks. 

I was going to write about Hygge pronounced hoo-gur or something like that, if you have never heard of it it’s the Danish way of coping with the cold dark months of Winter and from what I have read it’s nothing specific just what makes you feel cosy and comfortable, a candlelit room, a hot chocolate in your woolly socks, belly warming meals definitely a notion to follow 😀 and I say I was going to write about it because the nights are drawing in and the temperatures dropping, but today was lovely, at times there was not a cloud in the sky so I will wait a few more days before I hygge down. 

John has a new evening friend, one of the new hens has taken to jumping from the ground up on to his shoulder and being carried to bed 😂😂

Sunday: Lovely morning and warm too, I fertilised the big paddock with our push along gadget, it wasn’t bad took about 1/2 – 45 mins, we are using one with no nitrogen as we have plenty of nitrogen rich indicator plants, what we are after is root growth/strength to bind it altogether better. After that I got some bread in the go and then went out to pick some more cooking apples, there are still loads on there and I don’t want them to go to waste 😀 Came in and did a bit of multitasking, next stage of bread making, put on box hair dye, whip up an apple cake, put the bread in the oven, wash off hair dye and dry hair, prep and cook off some apples for strudel later and get the veg chopped for a shepherds pie for tea. Meanwhile John is outside doing the new egg shed, mostly, because I clocked him for 45 mins talking to an egg customer, you can talk and work at the same time you know, it will get the job done a lot quicker 😜 

Tis a beautiful day out there, no sign of Autumn temperatures whatsoever, although we have had some long tailed tits doing what I can only assume is squabbling about roosting sites in and around the house, there have been some proper fights going on, I’ve also seen the woodpecker again, the number and diversity of birds has increased greatly over the years we have been here which is a fabulous achievement I happen to think 😀

Screaming rabbit, escaping rabbits, and a bit of shucking. 

And here we are again Monday morning, I’m not knocking it, I’m grateful to be here, it just comes around so quickly 😜John is back to his day job this week so it’s me doing all the morning feeding, watering, letting out but at least it’s not raining at the moment. 

I did most of the birds then went in to do the rabbits all was fine, as I went into the front paddock to fill up the water buckets I heard a ‘scream’ obviously a distress call, I looked in the rabbit run all appeared normal, the rabbits were all sat there so I walked away and again the scream? I went back into the rabbit run and where they had dug tunnels some earth had given way and one of the black rabbits had got her leg stuck in the grate on the top. Still screaming I managed to get her foot free and she seems none the worse for wear.

After everything was fed I picked a few bits of veg, the courgettes are getting few and far between and very much smaller, most of the veg that I was continually picking has slowed right down now including the tomatoes. I picked all the ripe ones then decided to pick all the green ones off and leave them to ripen indoors and then pull up the plants, got to start clearing up sometime might as well do it now. It’s been quite windy and so there are lots of hazelnuts on the ground to collect and a few walnuts too.

The weather was a tap on tap off kind of day, I put the washing out as it was nice and blowy, a couple of hours later out of nowhere came a burst of rain, too late I might as well leave the washing out there and so it continued through the day, eventually I got it in mostly dry and finished it off in the dryer 😝

Early evening we went to the annual ‘Feast’ fair with the grandchildren, I love all the sounds, smells, lights and of course, chips 😀

Tuesday: I was pleased to see the woodpecker had returned, sitting in the oak tree breaking nuts, we haven’t seen him since his favourite telegraph pole was changed last year. As the mornings are getting a little bit fresher I decided to start as I mean to go on and put enough layers on to keep warm, normally I hold out as long as possible and will actually feel cold rather than submit 😜 I was doing the hens in the back paddock when one of the liveries shouted that the rabbits were out, OFFS! I get to the front paddock to see Irene climbing over the fence with a net in her hand, it took a while to chase them and round them up and we only managed to get three of the four, all this chasing about and I was taking off my layers before I even got through the first part of the day! I did capture the forth rabbit about an hour later. 

I picked some runner beans, there are an awful lot of older tougher ones so I bagged them up for chutney and put them out for sale. Mia arrived for the day and after Sam left for work we went for a stroll up the nearby lane, there are still plenty of blackberries to be had but I didn’t take anything to put them in so may have to go back another day. Mia enjoyed eating them from the bush though 😂 There is a weather warning in place for later this evening, gusts up to 75mph apparently, I guess there will be a lot of windfalls tomorrow. 

I just discovered you can grow luffa gourds in the U.K. better know as loofahs, yep those things you wash your back with, whoo hoo I’m definitely going to try these next year. 

Wednesday: Well that was a blowy night, the postman said it kept him awake, I must have been too tired to worry but there were signs of high winds all over the farm. Mostly just stuff that has been blown about and lots of nuts on the floor as well as the apples, I spotted plenty of hazels on the floor as I went past to feed the hens in the front, I will get those in a minute I thought to myself, then the chap that brings wood turned up and I was thinking argh he is gonna run over my nuts so I quickly finished the hens and went to rake them out of the way to pick up later. I have Mia today but not until later so I made a batch of apple turnovers and cooked down the tomatoes which I will sieve and freeze for use another time. Shelley and Josh came over for a visit. The wind has kept up all day and the weather has not been very nice, we shall light the Rayburn again tonight just to keep the chill off. I ordered some loofah seeds 😀 and also some new gloves for winter use. 

Thursday: Had a great day today although the winds are still strong and getting on my nerves blowing everything around all the time. We had a dead duck in the pond, I say pond loosely as it’s more of a mud pit at the moment with all the rain, I’m guessing he got stuck in the mud poor thing and couldn’t get out, it wouldn’t take long for him to become hypothermic and die and he wasn’t in there yesterday morning or afternoon but John spotted him last night when he was putting everything to bed. I did the feed rounds and then you guessed it some more picking lol, I pulled up the swede as some of them are beginning to get rot, I also picked the sweet corn, this has not done very well this year, plenty of growth of the main stem but small cobs 😏. After working outside it was time to come in and process what I had picked, I peeled and cut the swede (while I am not a fan of prepared veg, this is one I can understand people buying already prepped 😜) I used a gadget my dad made, it’s a bit like a tiny guillotine, very sharp and better than using a hand held knife. After that I did a bit of ‘shucking’ 😝 that is basically taking the cob out of its sheath, I found the easy way works well, that is microwave the whole thing for two minutes, then make a cut through the green sheath about two inches from the bottom of the cob, hold each end and pull the top (hairy end) be careful because it’s hot so use a tea towel to hold it, and voila the whole foliage comes away together with the hair and you have a clean cob 😀 

I have quite a few lbs of runner beans that have got big and tough, the chickens won’t eat them like that so I broke them up and put them in the food processor and blitzed them, now they will eat them so nothing is wasted. On my rounds in the afternoon I was feeding the hens at the back when I saw something white in the jump paddock, I went to investigate I found they were what I was hoping they would be, field mushrooms, yippee and a fair few of them as well. I was pretty sure that’s what they were, they look, smell and taste like it and they don’t stain yellow when you break them but I did just check with some more knowledgable folks online before I went back to pick the rest, they agreed, fabulous 😀 🍄 

Friday: Did the morning rounds then Josh and Shelley came over and we went for a walk down the lane, I took my apple picker with me as there is a good apple tree just a little way up the lane. We picked blackberries on the way, then met Mrs Blackwell coming the other way who told me where there was another apple tree along the lane, I would never have seen it if she hadn’t mentioned it, we ended up with a good haul. I had my haircut at lunchtime then set about scratting and pressing the apples for juice, it was a bit of a faff getting it set up properly as I haven’t used the equipment before but eventually I got it sorted and made juice 😀 Later on in the day I pasteurised and bottled it, it will keep for a couple of years like that but to be honest it will probably be gone in a couple of weeks. 

Saturday & Sunday: I will roll them into one because we basically did the same thing for two days running which was clearing and tidying the front area and drive way ready to put up new fencing. We had to clear up and burn cuttings from the hedge trimming and move the old fence posts and rail that had been lying there, shovelling debris from the driveway that has built up over time etc etc etc, it’s now looking tidy and we can start the new fence as soon as the wood arrives. I cut the front driveway grass and the verges out the front of the property, stopped for a nice long chat with a neighbour as you do, potted up the bulbs from the front boxes that we have taken down, John also cleaned out the hens at the front and back and that pretty much took up the weekend 😀 

Oh yeah John slipped and fell in the mud pit that is the duck pond, I did shout and ask if he was ok, and then if he had face planted, because I was definitely gonna go and get a picture if he had 😂😂 but he just had a muddy backside and leg 😝

Runner bean chutney, Christmas mincemeat & Pontack sauce. 

Monday: Again already!Good job we took the afternoon off yesterday as it rained, a lot and it’s still soggy this morning. John is mostly at home this week give or take a couple of little jobs to fit in. The new chickens will arrive Wednesday so still need to finish everything off in their hut and get the paddock ship shape, Jack has been in there trimming off the grass and this morning I have moved him into the stable as it’s supposed to be quite muggy and he may appreciate a break from the flies which have been dreadful lately. There are some long areas of grass that need cutting, (ooops we just had a power cut for about 30 seconds, happens a lot after rain up here) and some nettles need a bit of a strimming round the apple tree and the electric netting needs to go up and then we will be ready for 100 new chickens, just hope the customers are as keen as they have been when we didn’t have any eggs! The veg has sold out this morning so I will be picking like crazy to restock, sometimes it sits there for a few days then all of a sudden it’s gone. Sold quickly over the weekend so it’s out and do some picking after feeding, runner beans, dwarf beans, tomatoes, banana squash, courgettes, shed is now restocked with fresh goodies. The runners are getting to the time of the year when they are coming thick as fast in fact I read something that just about sums it up ‘they keep growing until the picker is exhausted’ yep that’s about right lol, they also get a lot thicker at the end of the season so apart from making some chutney I wondered what else I could do with them and that’s when I learnt something new. Apparently it’s peculiarly British to eat them as a pod, in the green as it were, Europe and America eat the beans inside and not the pod so with the older beans I am doing the same as with the yang yang and butter beans and drying them for use during the Winter, fabulous as nobody wants to eat tough stringy beans and I don’t want to waste them. I also made a batch of runner bean chutney, it’s just finishing off as I write this and tastes delicious, just right for our Christmas feast 😀 Late afternoon we got the electric netting up and all is just about ready. 

Tuesday: I have Mia today so I get everything done early, I also gathered up some hazelnuts and cleaned out the goose hut. Then back indoors to sort out the pile of tomatoes that is growing bigger, I decided on soup today as the weather is a bit damp it will be nice for lunch. I kind of follow a recipe in terms of looking to see what kind of ingredients go in from a number of different ones but mostly make it up as I go along and that includes weights. In this one it was one large onion cos that’s what I have left, a large punnet of tomatoes as those are the ones I have sorted, a small bunch of fresh basil leaves, a couple of cloves of crushed garlic, salt, pepper, a sprinkle of celery seed, four small carrots, a splash of balsamic vinegar, a squirt of tomato paste and a pinch of sugar. Generally speaking a stock would go in but I don’t have any vegetable stock cubes nor any of my own stock made, I need to make a few jars of soup stock really, I made some a few years ago and it’s an ideal easy go to when you need it. Basically it is a blend of veg and herbs whizzed up in the food processor and you can keep it in the fridge for up to 6 months, it is a recipe from the River Cottage preserving book and it’s much better than stock cubes, especially if you have grown your own, contents include, celeriac, leeks, carrots, garlic, parsley, coriander, fennel, sun dried tomatoes and salt but you can put whatever you like in there in all honesty or leave out something you don’t like or haven’t got. There is quite a lot of salt in the recipe in order to stabilise it but you could always leave the salt out and freeze it in portions and add salt to taste when you use it, you could probably freeze it in portions in a bun tin, which would be about the right amount you would need, and then bag up the frozen portions to use whenever. 

Gosh it’s a foul evening out there, definitely a storm brewing up judging by the clouds and the wind, still at least there should be plenty of nuts to pick up in the morning 😀

Watching Bake Off makes me wanna bake biscuits only trouble is it would take John only half them time to eat them as it would to make them 😂😂

Wednesday: I have Mia again today so I get everything done outdoors as early as possible, John has the whole day at the farm today and the new hens are arriving later so that’s extra hands to get stuff done. I set him to work on cutting the hedge down the front driveway, he always insisted on doing it when the hedge was bare, and it wasn’t until someone knowledgable agreed with me that it should be done in September that he agreed to do it, well it’s looking good just a bit of tidying up to be done tomorrow. Mum came over and emptied out all the soil and separated the bulbs from the flower boxes at the main gate, we are putting new fencing and a new gate up so we will also have new boxes and it will all look very smart. Meanwhile indoors I made bread and later on some biscuits and entertained Mia who is just starting to toddle finally 😀 We did go outside and picked some of the cooking apples, Mia found it very funny when they fell off the tree narrowly missing me 😂

Went shopping in the evening mainly to get the ingredients for my Christmas mincemeat which I will make over the next few days hopefully, I need to buy dried fruit but I will be using our own apples and nuts in the mixture, I didn’t get the cherries in order to make my own glacés this year, maybe next year. 

Thursday: Swept up the cuttings from Johns hedge cutting, well I pushed them under the hedge to rot down and feed the hedge I figured that was better than burning them and they are a nightmare to shred. Went out for a fruit smoothie with Josh and Shelley and a mooch round Burford. When I got back I gave the feed room a sweep out then noticed that the door could do with a coat of wood preserver to get it through the winter so I found a tub of green and gave it a once over. On the way back from collecting eggs later I gave it another coat, should see it through 😀

Picked some elderberries late afternoon and set about making Pontack sauce, I’ve made it before and it’s a great sauce to add to dishes in the winter to get extra vitamin c, I also chopped up and mixed together all the ingredients for my Christmas mincemeat. If you have never made your own before I urge you to give it a go, it’s very easy and it tastes so much better than the shop bought stuff, I have been making mine for years and can’t stand the commercially made jars of it nor the mince pies they sell with it in. Find a recipe and be creative with the ingredients, as long as you have the dried fruit quantities in there you can swap and change the other ingredients to your liking, swap in some amaretto or a liqueur you like for instead of brandy, nuts you prefer, it’s your mincemeat add the flavours you like, my sister is making pear and walnut this year can’t wait to taste that 😀

Pontack sauce Makes 1 x 350ml bottle

500g elderberries
500ml cider vinegar

200g shallots, sliced

6 cloves

4 allspice berries

1 blade of mace

1 tbsp black peppercorns

15g root ginger bruised

Place elderberries in dish with vinegar put in very low oven for 4-6 hrs or overnight. Remove strain through seive, crush berries to obtain max juice. Put juice in a pan with sliced shallots, spices and ginger. Bring back to boil and cook for 20-25 mins until slightly reduced. Remove from heat and strain. Return to pan and bring back to boil then boil for 5 mins. Pour into warm sterilised bottles and seal. Store in a dark cupboard and enjoy. 
Friday: Likely to rain a lot today apparently! Did the morning rounds and then a quick trip to town to get my bloods done and book in for my flu jab. When I got back I decided to finish off the pontac sauce and make the mincemeat as it has been soaking overnight, the mincemeat smells amazing and the pontac sauce is done and ready for vit c boosts over winter. You could add sugar to it and make it a sweet sauce but I tend to use it to depend flavours in stews and gravies. 

Had some heavy downpours already ☔️ but not complaining in light of what the rest of the world is going through at the moment.

I made some apple flapjack, most of it stuck together well but some of it was crumbly so I have bagged that up for the freezer and labeled it for crumble topping, I reckon it will do the job nicely. Sam and Mia popped over and bought me a bag of windfall pears they are quite firm so I have put them to store in the apple rack for now, love it when I get given freebie food and will be looking up recipes to use them. 

Very excited as my Ancestry DNA package arrived today for me to spit into 😜 and return, hopefully I can find out a bit more about what parts of the world my forebearers came from. 

Saturday: Dry start to the day and John did the feeding this morning while I cleaned out the bantam chicks in the back, they have got to the ‘gorky’ stage where there feathers look too small for their bodies 😜 but they are all still alive which is the main thing. John then went on to cut the other smaller hedge, but it wasn’t done last year so is a bit of a mission this year, first he had to move some old fence rails we were given from next door which he is aiming to cut up later today. I did a bit of picking, there is not much left now, the courgettes are getting smaller, the runner beans are getting tougher and thicker, and there are a lot less tomatoes than before. I also cleared up the area around the compost heap as it was spreading further and further outwards and there will be a lot to go on it in the next few weeks as we begin to pull up spent veg plants. Did some cleaning then popped off to get some bits of feed for the rabbits, dogs and cats, treated the dogs to some ‘postman leg’ bones, the big beef bones, that should keep them entertained for a while. 

Rain set in during the afternoon making jobs outside a bit more difficult a kind of on/off /on again time. 

My sister bought me some more pears 😀 and I am hoping to get some more apples so I dug out my fruit press and gave it a clean, it’s been in the shed with spiders and stuff, we didn’t have any apples last year so it was idle.  I have had to order a straining bag as I can’t find mine anywhere and while I was looking I discovered I already had a decent sized scratter that I had forgotten about whoop whoop, apple and pear juice coming up, I shall be pasteurising it before bottling so it stores longer, I was going to freeze it but I will be running out of space in there before long. I almost forgot I had the equipment, how bad is that, it’s because it’s in a shed I don’t have to go in very often, maybe I need to clean the shed out and have all my various bits of usefulness in one place! 

We had ‘the great escape’ tonight 🐰 The rabbits decided it was time for a bit of freedom, their floor in their run is nearly all caged over bar one small bit, they have been digging there for a while but I assumed (stupidly) that they wouldn’t dig out……wrong! John went to put the hens to bed and something ran past him, a rabbit, then he spotted the others out in the paddock, he comes to get me to help round them up, easier said than done. While he was busy chasing one of them all over the big paddock (should have got a video but didn’t really have time) I was putting a net over the hole to stop them escaping once we had rounded them all up. We managed to get them all back in and cover up the escape route but you know as well as I do how quickly rabbits get their shizzle on and so I wouldn’t be surprised if one or more of them ends up, up the duff, there are so many wild rabbits out there and I certainly saw one or two little white tails bobbing around. Picture all this then add into the mix the cat who probably thought all his suppers had come at once as he was quickly on the scene and in close proximity to said bunnies, luckily we were quicker than him thank goodness and order has now been restored. 

Sunday: Another dry start, set to work with the usual jobs then I went onto give the rabbit pens a proper clear out and get them prepped for the colder nights ahead, plus block up any holes 😜 Then I did the same with the quail house, I had some heavy duty plastic so used it to cover the ridge and down one side of the hut to stop any rain and provide a buffer from  the winds they should be nice and cosy and most importantly dry. After that I got on with bashing the walnut tree to bring down any almost ready nuts which then needed to be washed and dried and put in a tray to dry off, I have trays of nuts, buckets of apples, baskets of pears, the kitchen is starting to get full lol. Meanwhile John cleaned out the hens at the back and then cut up the fence rails, I think they are all done now thank goodness.

Had the afternoon off so popped out to make a couple of visits, when we came back we decided it was cold enough and wet enough to light the Rayburn and stave off any chills or damp, hopefully it won’t turn into the full time job just yet, evenings only.

Apples, tomatoes and another grandchild on the way 👶

Bank Holiday Monday: Phew what a scorcher of a day that was, hottest on record for the time of year, floods and hurricanes in Texas, wildfires in Oregon and also Australia these are coming up on my news feeds from Facebook friends around the world so I better not complain it’s too hot 😝
I got an early start and yes the customer arrived at 6.30am for their eggs, there were some out there so that’s ok as I was not going to save any. Got on with feeding and watering then went into the garden to get some weeding done and some beds cleared and sorted, until it got too hot for me and I went inside. John on the other hand spent most of the day outside creosoting the front hut, then it even got too hot for him to be out there so we popped to get a bit of shopping, milk etc and lingered more than normal in the chilled section lol. The hens that we moved the night before were let out and wondered where on earth they were, had a few escape and one even laid an egg on the floor of the hut John was working in, there were no boxes in there and no perches as he had taken them all out but the urge to lay where she normally does was obviously strong. Did some watering in the evening as some things are looking a bit dry and that was bank holiday over. 

Tuesday: Supposed to another hot day but it didn’t really pan out like that as the cooler weather has made an early appearance. John did the chickens at the back before he went to work and I sorted out the geese, ducks, quail and rabbits, I cleaned out the ducks and quail, gave the quail a dust bath to play in and also took a dust bath up the back for the hens up there to get in. Collected a few nuts that have fallen on the ground and raked up the area under the trees so that I can see them more easily when they drop. There are a lot of nuts this year and I only want what I can use so the squirrel will have a good haul for Winter.

Mum came over early and got started on some clearing in the garden, she worked on the areas I can’t get to very easily, once the sun hits it on a hot day I can’t work and so it great to have someone who can do it for me 😀 She cleared the artichoke plants that I don’t want there next year and also the cucumber plants I had put there because they were spare and had nowhere else to go, I didn’t realise there were that many fruits on the plants, about 12 in all. 

Wednesday: I have Mia today but first an early start feeding etc then as much as last week was plums, this week it’s apples so I need to get them sorted. I had a few eaters on the small tree in the garden, the wasps haven’t started to attack them yet so I picked them the other evening, I have cooking apples this year thank goodness and they need picking fairly soon, the windfalls are being used up as they fall and in the front paddock I have an eating apple tree that is a ‘keeper’. Keepers do just that, keep, provided they are unblemished, wrapped and stored properly they will keep through Winter to be used as and when needed, it’s actually a bit early to pick them but I picked a few as Jack has gone into that paddock for a few days and I picked the good ones that were in his reach (well within my reach mostly) the rest will get picked later on in the month with the apple picker. I got them wrapped up in newspaper and will get the storage rack out and dust it off before I put them in there to store. 

Thursday: Did the feeding etc then some picking lol same old routine, took the chickens at the back some odd shaped courgettes and cucumbers then I came inside to prep some stuff for the freezer. Apple and blackberries that I picked this morning, and as I have a lot of tomatoes coming on and will soon be swamped with them I made some pasta sauce to freeze. It smells amazing and everything in it but the salt and oil is home grown, herbs, onions, garlic and of course the toms. In the slow cooker today is duck and again everything in there is home grown or produced so it’s a good day food wise 😀

I had a fair few small cucumbers so I decided to have a go at fermenting these in a salt brine with coriander seeds, peppercorns, garlic and some fresh fennel, I tasted the tomato one and they are like little burst bombs of goodness. It’s an ideal way to get some freshness in your diet during the winter months, and I shall be looking at what else I would like to ferment, and of course it’s very good for your gut bacteria 😀 In the afternoon I decided to pick some of the cooking apples, we didn’t have any last year so I am making sure we have enough for this year and next if needs be lol, my apple picking gadget is great but you still get hit on the head by rouge fallers and end up with neck ache in the process, still, a good couple of hours work, well executed. 

And there are plenty of windfalls going free if you want to pop down and get some 😀

An order of Aronia berry (chokeberry) bushes arrived, the new super berry on the block apparently, and also a strawberry tree, I didn’t realise you could eat the fruits of this tree so I will be looking forward to tasting them next year.

I haven’t seen Josh and Shelley this week as Josh has been poorly and it’s risky for me with my crap immune system so have missed them but I can now announce that Josh is having a baby brother or sister due March next year 😀😀👶 yay. 
Friday: I seem to have missed note making for today, prob did the usual, then a bit of picking, then Josh and Shelley came over to visit and Sam and Mia arrived too, can’t remember what else I did 😜 I did remember that Mum came over and cleared the brassica cage 😀

Saturday: Oh my days, I’m sitting down to write this and ache all over having put in a hard days work, seriously my knees ache, my neck aches, my back aches. I did the usual stuff first thing then, weedkillered the front driveway, then pulled up the now dead peas and tided up some of the veg bed then decided to remove the bed under the nut trees. First I had dahlias growing in there then eventually they died after about 4 years so I used it for veg and this year I had garlic and potatoes in it but because of the shade of the trees they didn’t do very well. I had already decided it was going to be removed and set about the task, obviously it is filled with soil and I riddled every bit of it to turn it into the smaller raised beds I have put on top one of the bigger beds. The soil depth is too shallow on the big beds and someone gave me some pallet retainers (so I am told) and they make perfect little beds, actually even my hands are aching, I will turn the area into a little seating place as it is in the shade and I have a picnic table that can go there, what it really needs is a deck chair that I can fall asleep in! 

Meanwhile John has still been plugging away at doing the front chicken hut ready for the new arrivals, he has taken everything out, creosoted, put a new floor in, taken walls apart to creosote and is putting everything back together again, he has used a whole big container of creosote and every night stinks of it, hopefully any red mite have been obliterated! We need a day off I reckon 😝

Sunday: Morning routine completed first, then I burnt the rubbish while John cleaned out the hens at the back, the apples in the buckets are now all wrapped in newspaper and stored in the apple rack for use over the next few months. We then turned our attention to Rosie the Rayburn and she had a thorough clean ready for the cold weather, she has a broken firebrick which we need to repair but apart from that she is good to go when the temps drop. Went for Sunday roast at a local pub which was a lovely treat and basically took the rest of the day off apart from feeding and collecting the eggs.