Monday 10th April : Damp this morning with fine drizzle 😐 however it feels ok temperature wise.
Did the morning rounds, 1 egg from the new ladies and evidence of eaten shell, I suspect as we moved them into the outdoor run, we actually do have a rat nicking them, no other reason for them to go from 5 to 1 egg so I need to remedy that and possibly move them back to the stable until further notice and see how many they lay there.
Put out the eggs in the shed which is looking very full of every type of egg we do 😀 and then went round to collect some bits for the rabbits, dandelion I have been growing into a big plant, bits of hazel, blackcurrant and some lovage. I have ordered a book called ‘beyond the pellets’ to learn about feeding rabbits naturally all year round with fresh produce but also ‘tree hay’ which is basically chopped and dried twigs, leaves etc for the winter feed. A mention of it of one of the smallholding sites sparked my interest in being able to feed the bunnies without buying pelleted feed, they get fed a lot of fresh greens during spring and summer but not winter so it will be an interesting read and hopefully a way forward to natural feeding.
I picked the very first lot of rhubarb 😃😃 that makes me very happy and now I just need to decide what I am going to do with it, of course stewed rhubarb and custard is a must as I always say, if you haven’t tried it since childhood do give it a go now you are older, it is delicious.
Then a task I wanted to try all spring but didn’t get round to it and I saw a quick easy way to have a go so that’s what I have done, tapped the maple tree, only I haven’t bored a hole in the trunk and done it that way, I have cut a small branch and taped a glass bottle onto it, fingers crossed I’m not too late for the rising sap and get at least a bit to try. I will check it later to see if I am going to get anything.
The smells this morning have been enough to lift the spirits, the black currant is very strong even just brushing past it, the rhubarb smells divine, the blossom on the trees is heavy, it’s all full of promise and deliciousness 😀
Now going to look at all the rhubarb recipes I have been collecting 😀
Made rhubarb crumble and extras for the freezer, a rhubarb tea bread (simple and quick (except soaking the fruit bit) recipe) and I have some stewed rhubarb and vanilla ready to eat with custard 😀 also made a loaf of bread today.
Rhubarb Tea Loaf
• 300g sultanas
• 200g roasted rhubarb (see note below)
• 300ml strong earl grey tea
• 100g dark brown sugar
• 275g self-raising flour
• 1 egg, beaten
1. Mix the sultanas, rhubarb and sugar together in a large bowl. Cover with the tea and leave to soak overnight.
2. Pre-heat the oven to 150°C(fan)/170°C/gas mark 3. Grease and baseline a 2lb/900g loaf tin. Stir the flour and egg into the fruit mixture. Pour into the prepared tin.
3. Bake in the oven for 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 hours until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Cover the top with foil if it’s getting too brown.
4. NB: to roast the rhubarb chop into 2cm pieces, toss with 20g caster sugar (or more if you prefer it to be sweeter – I don’t think it needs more sugar in this recipe), cover and roast for 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally, in an oven preheated to 200°C.
This is a recipe from sneakyveg.com as always I used what I had rather than what’s in the recipe so instead of Earl Grey tea I used a Green Tea and a Tetley tea bag and steeped them for about 10 mins, I used currants instead of sultanas and I added a splash of orange juice (just because 😜) I also did not wait overnight for the fruit to soak, I did two hours soaking because I couldn’t be bothered to wait 😝 it will still turn out fine I’m sure.
Tuesday 10th April 🤣🤣 spot the error, I figured I would leave it as it was and it’s turning into Groundhog Day round here as regards to the rain anyhow!
Wet, muddy, slippery, I’m beginning to think this is our lot, seriously, it has rained pretty much every day for nearly 3 weeks at least, how much more is there?
Although there is evidence of the grass growing through the mud so that’s a more positive outlook, more grass = more grass roots = something to soak up the rain 😀
According to the forecast (though it seems to change daily) tomorrow is the last day of rain for a while, fingers crossed 🤞
Cleaned out the duck shed with the help of Mia while Sam was doing the horse, Mia was plastered in mud by the time she finished but she enjoyed helping out, I think she will be a great asset as she gets older as she likes to get stuck in ‘I help’ is what she says 😀 After that we went for a well earned costa 😀
Fed the chickens late afternoon and collected the eggs, we are managing to keep up at the moment and we have some fall back in the form of pullet eggs as they are all laying now. We moved the new ducks back into the stable overnight to see what was happening with the eggs as I only got 1 yesterday, I think it’s because they don’t lay as early as my established lot, they have all laid by 8am which is when I let them out. The new ones seem to lay all during the morning and so yesterday they would have probably laid outside and the birds would eat them. I opened the stable at midday and they have gone for a wander so I may have to keep putting them in the stable for the time being otherwise I won’t get any eggs at all.
The book about feeding rabbits naturally arrived and I have part read it, very interesting, there is a lot of fresh food that I knew they could have of course but also some that I had no idea about. I think I have an abundance of assorted material that I will be able to feed them on and save money on pelleted feed, as I have said Spring and summer will be easy it’s the winter and autumn will be more difficult. With that in mind I have knocked up a herb drying screen, it’s rudimentary but it does the job and I made it with stuff I had lying round so free as well 😀 It will be for drying summer herbs that I can make a herb hay with in time. When I started researching it I was amazed that you can buy freshly cut willow sticks for your rabbit online at £12.99kg and dried raspberry leaves, two resources that I usually assign to the compost heap, not anymore, everything will be assessed for rabbit fodder!
Wednesday: A pleasant enough morning, early drizzle but that went and after the morning rounds I got on with some things in the garden. I put some water in a large bucket and then a sack full of manure in the water to make some manure feed, I still have some concentrate left from last year but no time like the present to make some more. Planted up some of the Pak Choi seedlings, some in the large tunnel and some in the small, the weaker seedlings I have planted in a square mushroom container to grow on for the rabbits, I doesn’t matter if they don’t survive but if they do that a bonus. Uncovered and moved the citrus trees into the large tunnel also gave them a feed, they haven’t done too badly over winter and two lemons are still clinging on in there, then tidied up the small tunnel where they have been overwintering. Pinched out the tips of the broad bean plants now that they have started to flower, the soft fleshy tops attract black fly and they are good to eat so they will be wilted and I will eat them with fish later today. Everything else is still a bit slow but hopefully once the temps climb they will burst into life 😜 Still all too wet to do much on the garden itself, too wet to hoe, to wet to walk on really so it’s a waiting game. I read an article about earthing up potatoes, ha, they haven’t even gone in the ground yet! I collected some forage bits for the rabbits to eat, I am looking at everything as potential rabbit feed now 🤣 I even thought about giving them the bean tops then decided against it, they can have the plants when they go over and I will have the tops 😝
Thursday: Got a little bit excited when my weather ap said 24 and sunny today, then it quickly corrected itself and went to 7 and light rain 😩 It’s grey and misty/damp out this morning hey ho beginning to get used to it now. Still waiting for the wire to arrive for the fruit cage otherwise I could have got on with that at least. The nighttime temperatures are no longer dropping so that’s a bonus, it means I don’t need to worry too much about the seedlings in the greenhouse as they should be fine, I can’t see a frost forecast for the next two weeks, famous last words 😜
Went in the greenhouse after feeding and pricked out the broccoli seedlings, once again I have about 50 plants lol don’t know what I’m going to do with all those! I also potted on the Aubergines and moved them into the large poly tunnel underneath another cloche, I have no idea if they will survive or not but they have got too big for the windowsill and there is no where else to move them to at the moment. I did the same with some pepper plants, the tomatoes I did last week seem to be holding their own, waiting for some warmth like the rest of us. The courgettes I had in the propagator on the window sill rotted away, I have never known a year like this one, normally things can be slow but this is ridiculous! There are things that are growing however so all is not lost, the strawberries in the tunnel have grown some flowers 😀 the garlic has sprouted that I planted out last week, the peas in the small tunnel have flowers on, the rhubarb is getting bigger, hope springs eternal, as Pope said.
Came in about 11.30 with the intention of doing some baking but the Sam arrived and we went out to clean the tack room and throw a whole load of crap away, then sorted out all the fencing stakes and electric tape so that it was all in one place finally. Then the rain came, again 😟
Came indoors to make an egg/dairy/gluten free cake, sounds like a recipe for disaster and may well be, it’s still in the oven but I’m not hopeful that this mix is going to bind together while cooking 😝
Then out to do the pm feeding and egg collection, take a couple of photos of the quail house on my way round for someone who wants an idea on how to build their own, then off to look at a property with Shelley and Martin, busy day 🤪
Friday: Road trip 😀 actually it was five minutes down the lane to the Cotswold Wildlife Park, so I got the morning rounds done quickly and off we went, picnic packed, plenty of layers on, had an exhausting day but thoroughly enjoyed by all of us😀
Back home in time to do the afternoon feeding but not before a well earned cup of tea and a sit down.
Did the feeding, collected the eggs, fed the horse then cleaned out the POL pen at the back, John came home halfway through doing it so gave me a hand and then we went to pick up some new pets 😀
You will remember the story of what a rogue ferret did to my guinea pigs back in November, well I have two news ones, meet Tinker and Tucker, two little boars from a friends of ours that breeds them.
I ordered 100g of wild flower seeds for heavy shade, we have put poultry fence all along the roadside of the side paddock, it has a lot of trees along there and we decided it was heavily shaded and as it is fenced off at the moment hopefully the seeds will grow.
Saturday: Cracking day, Sun, Sun, Sun all day long 😀 After feeding this morning we got on with wiring the fruit cage as the rolls had arrived finally. In my search for the right size hole and the right height and length as I wanted 25m long 1m high x 2 I didn’t check the quality of the wire and as a consequence it was not really a great quality, the top and bottom wires were pulled too tight causing bagging in the middle, however we have put it on and it dose not look too bad. Just got the netting to put over the top and the door to wire then it’s finished 😀
Grand National Day, and whatever your thoughts are on horse racing, in our house the GN has always been a big day, normally we would all be in the living room screaming at the telly (except last year when none of us had any horse anywhere near finishing) this year we had a group FaceTime as Charlie is in Italy and Sam was at her house, Shelley and Martin came to ours for the event, Martin and I both had the winner this year 😀 However I made the mistake of doing the bet online, not the same I would rather go and collect cash winnings from the bookies. And that was pretty much it especially as I had to spend a couple of hours on hold while trying to unlock my betting account (which I opened for the occasion) having cocked up signing in in the first place 😝
I was hoping tomorrow was going to be similar to today but rain is forecast ffs!
Sunday: Well it’s not too bad to wake up to, it’s dry at the moment and though obviously a lot cooler than yesterday, it’s not bad at all. Got the feeding done, cleaned out the geese and put fresh bedding in for the ducks, then it was on to finish the fruit cage. We joined together the two lots of wire, top and bottom and then got the net out to put over the roof, John had tensioned two wires across to support the netting. Almost immediately it became apparent that the net was a bit too short, we turned it round and nope it was not quite going to stretch, umming and arghing we decided to put up what we could and we would have to get another piece and stitch it together, not ideal but we had already bought this piece. At this point John decided to measure the length and width, now I did ask him to do this in the beginning and he told me it was definitely 8m x 5m, on measuring it properly this time he admitted it was 8.5m long, no wonder it won’t reach 🤪 I made an executive decision to reorder a piece big enough to cover the whole thing and will use the other netting elsewhere.
After we couldn’t finish that, John went to clean out the hens at the front and I did some hoeing on the veg beds, the asparagus is just starting to poke through so I weeded that bed and a couple of others. I no longer think weeding is a chore as it is now seen as rabbit fodder, I always used to give them the dandelions but now they are having nearly every weed and tuft of grass, two birds with one stone comes to mind. Then I did a bit of work on a new bed I have made at the bottom of one of the raised veg beds, I decided I don’t have enough flowers and so marked that area off at the end of last year for the purpose. I have a small raised bed in front of it which is also filled with primula, cowslips, dwarf lavender and a rose, I put some tete a tete bulbs in there so it will mostly be a spring bed and the first to give colour. Most of the plants I have chosen to go in there will be single flower because that is best for the insects and especially the bees, they can’t gather pollen from double headed flowers. There won’t be much uniformity to it, it will be what I have got already and planted haphazardly (until it gets on my nerves then I will re arrange it all 😜) It began to rain while I was doing this last part but it wasn’t cold so I carried on until the rain became a bit too heavy, no point damagingthe soil by treading it down.