Posted in Friesland Farm

Procrastination, lots of rain & leftovers.

Captains Stardate 7th October 2019 😜 Monday again already, I’m pretty sure that along with the rest of you, I’ve no idea how time flies by so fast so enjoy every day, enjoy the little things that make you smile, a favourite tune with the volume up, take a few seconds to really feel the sun, rain, wind on your face (this might not make you happy but they are a confirmation that you are alive and well, which should) put your wellies on and jump in a puddle, go on really have a good splash around, look around on your journey and take note of something you have passed by a million times and never really seen before, life is precious and can change in a split second so make the most of everything.

It’s raining this morning 🤪 I procrastinated a little by cleaning the area around the hob where the piece of kitchen fell down, it’s now back up but the area needed tidying and the dust wiping down. I should have gone out and done the rounds first though as by the time I did it was raining much heavier 🙄 A quick round, as John had already topped up all the water buckets last night, and back inside to have a coffee and a think about what to get done today.

I picked up some garlic bulbs yesterday when we went to the garden centre to get some more compost, I need to divide up a few plants and pot them ready for spring time. The circle of the year constantly turning never ceases to amaze me as already the saffron crocus and the muscari are pushing up some tiny shoots of green, spiderwort tips are also beginning to emerge though of course they will all slow right down in mid winter it’s nice to see they have hope lol. The sunrise this morning was a vibrant pink, though if you had only looked out of the front windows you would have said it was grey, different aspect gives a different outlook.

I rather feel I am procrastinating again sat here typing away so I’d better get on with something useful 😏

So firstly I set to making the red tomato chutney:

2 1/2 lbs ripe tomatoes all sizes cut the bigger ones

7floz red wine vinegar, cider vinegar if you don’t have red

6oz muscavado sugar or any sugar will do you just get a different colour result

4 small onions chopped

4 small cloves of garlic chopped

1 cooking apple chopped

A couple of handfuls of sultanas, I used the ones I made from the grapes

A sprinkle of ginger powder

A sprinkle of paprika

Put it all in the pan bring to the boil then reduce and simmer for approximately 1 to 1 1/12 hours, put into sterilised jars, they will store for at least a year if not longer.

Did you know that 24 million slices of bread are wasted every single day in the UK! This house is no exception when it comes to leaving the crusts, generally I throw them out for the birds but today I have about 4 crusts, a hunk of bread and a couple of flatbreads that should have been eaten over the weekend and weren’t so I made a bread pudding. I’m am not keen on the traditional looking pudding with slices of bread, the edges always seem to end up hard so I did it the other way. The bread was whizzed up into crumbs, we had a seeded loaf but that’s fine, all adds to the flavour 😀 I added milk, sugar, sultanas, egg, mixed spice, melted butter and let it all soak in so the mixture is soft and then bake it for a delicious pudding or as a cold slice with a cup of tea. You could doctor this anyway you want to, orange, lemon, cinnamon, ginger, cherries, dried fruit of any type, even chocolate chips whatever flavours you have or fancy. The basic measurements were, 250g bread, 300ml milk, 50g melted butter, 1 large egg, 70g brown sugar, the rest is up to you 😀 John doesn’t like bread and butter pudding he says, my guess is he has never had it and I won’t tell him what it is just leave on the side until he asks if he can have some lol, I’ll let you know what happens, if he really doesn’t like it all the more for me in the freezer 😀

I have been taste testing the chutney as it reduces, I think this one is going to be one that needs to mature, the temptation is to add more sugar but I’m going to leave it and hope that after a couple of months in store the flavour has deepened.

I’m on a roll now with the whole ‘making’ things, especially with leftovers today, next was the vegetable box at the bottom of the fridge 😀 A few sticks of celery, some wrinkled mushrooms, and I am on my way to making vegetable stock for soups over winter. We all have those bits that need using up and there is no better way than throwing them all in a pan with some herbs and seasoning, simmering it for a couple of hours to end up with a useful pan of goodness that can either be drunk as a gut healer or used in winter soups like leek and potato. When you peel your veg put all the scraps in a bag and pop it in the fridge until you have enough, nothing is off limits here, peelings, provided you have washed them, from sweet potato, carrots, swede, parsnip, etc, anything remotely vegetable like that is lurking and unlikely to get used otherwise, add a chopped onion, some garlic, a tomato or pepper, brassica, literally anything (except beetroot unless you want a red stock 🙄) You will get a different result each time probably but all will be tasty. Separate the veg from the juice and either use the juice or freeze it, don’t discard the veg, whizz them up and use them in your soup recipes as well. You can of course just whizz up the whole lot at the end of simmering and use that but if you want a separate stock for any reason that’s the way to do it.

Tuesday: I got woken up at 5.30 by a peculiar noise a bit like someone trying to shoulder a door in but it wasn’t, I got up and looked out but it was pitch black and I could see anything or hear anything more, it’s a mystery. The next odd thing was Benny wasn’t around, he is usually there miaowing away in the morning for his breakfast, by the time John had gone he still wasn’t there. I went out and called him and he came running from the haybarn, phew, I guess the nice comfy bed of hay is a lovely place to sleep 😴

I am also buzzing this morning with an idea given to me by a visitor yesterday. Kellee is over from the USA and she used to live here on the farm with her Mum (Sue, my Dads partner) and her sister Robin. She loves to come and visit as it bring back childhood memories, she mentioned Airbnb experiences where people get a unique experience in the things they are interested in. I have looked it up this morning and am thinking, yep, I could easily do that here, gardening, grow your own, smallholding, chicken keeping, any number of things really, it’s all buzzing round in my head now lol but it definitely something to think seriously about.

I did a stint in the big tunnel, weeding cutting back getting the dead stuff out then picked a few raspberries, the Autumn ones are doing well if you can get them before the rain spoils them. After having a good few days of feeling quite able, by lunchtime today I was flagging. Being able to recognise the fact that I am feeling tired is helpful because I no longer push myself to the limits and end up much worse, these days I go and have a sit down and maybe even a short nap 😀 to recharge my batteries.

It hammered down in the afternoon, just as well that Shelley, Josh and Flo called in after picking Josh up from school. After the left I did a bit of hoovering and then sorted the walnuts out again 🙄 I had washed them and dried them all then put them on a rack, from the apple storage, but some of them still developed a mould so I wiped them all over with a dry cloth and I have put them in the oven on 50c probably for an hour to try and dry out the shells better. I don’t want the nut inside to dry too much though I want that to dry naturally. I did think about shelling them now but the not meat is still too soft and it’s a bit of a mission just to get one out.

Wednesday: It rained quite heavily in the night and so it was a bit soggy this morning 🙄 I did the morning rounds and I’m keeping the stable birds I for a few days as they have become freeloaders 😜 actually, I have no idea where they are laying and we could do with the eggs. I then went into the greenhouse and picked all the remaining peppers, the foliage is starting to fall off and so that’s pretty much the end of those. There were plenty to pick, mostly small but they will still be useful, I then thought I may as well do the same to the courgettes and cucumbers, if we get a sharp drop in the overnight temperatures they won’t be much good after so pick them now while they still have a bit of substance to them. I also cut some lemongrass, that has grown really well and I would definitely grow it again, it has such a wonderful smell 😀 if you like Thai cooking I would encourage you to grow it or even if you just want to make limoncello 😀 I need to find out what other things I can do with it.

I had quite a few smallish cucumbers so I have begun to make some cucumber relish, ideal for hot dogs, at the moment they have been finely chopped along with onion and red pepper and are sat in salt to draw out the moisture, I can then make the relish tomorrow.

I’m not sure if I have mentioned this before so apologies if I have but going back to the peppers, I have never had much luck with them, I usually end up with one tiny pepper lol, but this year in the new greenhouse, wow, they have done really well and they didn’t even go in there until quite late so I’m excited to plan again for them next year, maybe even a few chillis and I may even try an aubergine again 😜 Just goes to show that the right tools for the job is the way forward.

I also pulled a few ‘mooli’ radish, these are the round ones, accord I think, I got free seeds and thought I might as well give them a go, well they taste great and they grow bigger than a French breakfast radish (size of a golf ball or you can grow them to tennis ball size) but don’t ‘blow’ so they don’t get hollow and woody, these will be a definite regular from now on, they will replace the more familiar red and white radish.

I am off out to Sudely Castle tonight for a audience with my favourite author Phillipa Gregory, very much looking forward to that and we are having Tudor tapas, the mind boggles but I will let you know what they consist of tomorrow lol. In the meantime I have got shepherds pie ready for an early dinner and I will be doing the rounds earlier than usual.

I am hoping that we have a couple of dry days in store so that I can get out on the garden and give it a good tidy, plus I need to dig up the self set potatoes before they rot in the ground.

This afternoon we were sat having a cup of tea in the living room when I spotted a Hummingbird moth on the Verbena which was bobbing about in the breeze, amazing little moth, though I had to have a look at a picture online as they don’t stay still long enough to see what they actually look like lol.

This is a pic from the internet not mine 😬

Thursday: A lovely sunny morning, slightly chilly but hopefully it will warm up a tad over the course of the day.

Last nights outing to hear Phillipa Gregory was fabulous, a talk on the hidden women in history, which was most of them as they were only recorded either through their husbands, through work they may have done and thus recorded in household journals or through crime, was riveting and I could have listened to her for hours. The Tudor tapas were venison sausages in onion chutney, kipper on top of bruschetta and a veg option of avocado on bruschetta followed by a lemon posset/parfait type dessert, fab evening 😀 I do have her new book (signed 😀) to read but I shall resist the temptation during the daytime unless is raining in which case I think that’s allowable lol.

I have bloods this morning and my flu jab 🙄 I have had varying reactions to the jab each year, sometimes nothing at all, sometimes a very sore arm that flared up every few weeks, sometimes decidedly unwell, however I think the alternative doesn’t really bear thinking about especially if there is an epidemic, we have all seen how it can move through animal populations rapidly (bird flu especially) the devastation it would cause in the human population doesn’t bear thinking about, so off I go.

Friday: Ooo what a terrible morning, it’s raining, sometimes hard and it’s blowing a hoolie. At first I thought urgh I don’t want to go out in that but then I had an attitude adjustment and figured at least it will be refreshing and might wake me up a bit lol. We have a long wait until Spring so I am going to have to make the most of what Winter brings, dark mornings and dark evenings, wet weather, cold weather, freezing weather, ice maybe even snow. It also brings the opportunity to get things done indoors, a bit of crafting maybe, reading, catch up on films I have missed over the summer, planning for next years veg. There are also a few of my favourite times of year to celebrate, All Hallows Eve, Bonfire night, Winter Solstice, a few winter birthdays and of course the great Winter Feast that is Christmas.

I started growing pumpkins the year before the first grandchildren were born I think and now it has become a must grow item for me to be able to carry on the tradition lol. I tend to grow small ones that are also suitable for eating but might have to move into the realm of giant pumpkins later on 🎃

I procrastinated a little until the weather looked more acceptable then went out and fed and watered everything letting them all out as I went. It was actually quite mild out there and I wanted to get a couple of jobs done, the first was to divide up my hardy geranium and get some small plants on the go ready for next spring. I got 11 in total, I won’t need most of them so they will go out for sale next year providing they take and make through the winter. The next job was to dig up some self set potatoes, these particular ones come every year in the same place, they are from a batch of Red Duke of York that I planted about 5 years ago. Each year they grow back, strong, healthy plants, no sign of blight no scab they just do really well and they are mostly growing in old manure! It just goes to show that you really don’t need to faff about with some veg they will make it anyway and without any problems. They produce whopping big spuds, ideal for a hungry worker who wants a baked potato 😀 the only problem that does occur is slug damage to some of them because they are growing in something that holds moisture which is why I wanted to get them dug up sooner rather than later. Those were the two things I really wanted to achieve today and so job done ✅ I had a few more walnuts in the greenhouse that I cleaned the outer cases off last week so I bought those in and gave them a wash in some white vinegar and then dried off the shells in a very low oven for about an hour. It should be air drying but I found that because we don’t have constant heating, mould starts to appear on the shells so properly drying them off is a must.

Went out with Sam, Shelley and the children for coffee and cake in the afternoon.

Got a hammering from the rain when the heavens opened at feeding time 🌧 I was trying to find the turkeys who had wandered off, the rain was pouring, splattering onto my glasses which were steaming up, the wind was blowing wet hair onto my face despite having my hood up, urgh hate times like that lol times like that I think what the actual ‘bleep’ am I doing 😜 Came indoors and went straight to the kettle for a nice hot cuppa ☕️

Saturday: Wet, nothing more to say about it than that! John did the morning rounds which gave me a chance to catch up with all the bits indoors that needed doing, the usual mundane stuff such as hang up clothes, put the rubbish out, wash up, a plethora of small jobs that all add up to an hour or two of busy 😜

I had a phone all from the doctor last night about my blood results and no wonder I have been feeling tired, my white cells have dropped too low again 🙄 great, there never seems to be an even keel these days, at least I know why I haven’t been up to speed I suppose but it gets me wondering about exactly how to handle this disease 🤔

We didn’t do a lot more today other than go and get some bits of food shopping and visit Mum and Ken, the afternoon rounds when we got back and light the Rayburn.

Sunday: Oh my days it has been raining heavily all through the night, there hasn’t been much let up for a couple of weeks now so you can imagine what that brings 🙄 I woke up at 6.30 that was not the first time mostly due to the noise of the rain on the tin roof, I got up and made a cuppa then went back to bed and did a bit of reading. I couldn’t sleep because I was wondering what we would be greeted with out there come daybreak and what to do about it. The horses have been grazing a large paddock all summer but it has no overhanging shelter apart from trees at one end, there is plenty of windbreak from the hedges but that doesn’t help in these conditions, we had left the other paddocks to work as standing hay hoping that by the time we needed it the grass would be exactly that. But needs must when the weather drives and this morning I need to move them to a field with a shelter, I couldn’t bring them in as they are already soaking and would get cold standing in a stable, we don’t have luxury features such as a dryer lol. When I first went out to the paddocks the water that is standing came over the foot of my welly by the time I had got the hay nets and gone back out a river had formed down through the middle of the all the side paddocks and the rain is not letting up 😏 I moved the horses and they seem happy to be in a field with grass but they can’t gorge on too much grass all at once, I don’t have an alternative at the moment though.

Delighted that I just managed to secure a load of wood chip from a tree surgeon next week 😀 that will go on the veg garden paths, they are in desperate need of doing especially with all the rain.

The rain eventually eased off though how long for is anyone’s guess.

My brother went to a garden centre that was selling off all its stock ready for a refit, he picked up some packets of seeds for me at 10p a packet, I think I need to plough up a field 🤣

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Posted in Friesland Farm

Lots of rain, passata & baked beans 😜

Monday 30th Sept: Oh don’t you just love Monday mornings 🙄 I wanted to get on but the gremlins are at it again, half way into feeding the electric trips again 😏 Our electric consists of 4 fuse boxes each one reaching further out into the farm, so the main box is in the kitchen, then we have another in the outer building another in the stable block and then one in the hay barn. This means multiple trips backwards and forwards to discover which fuse is actually causing the problem, I unplug everything and turn everything off and go through a process of elimination backwards and forwards, plugging back in as I go until I am left with the stable fuse box which is knocking out the main box in the house. Eventually I find the individual fuse that is causing the problem so now we have everything working except the sockets in the stable block, everything is unplugged but it’s still not staying on so I’m guessing it’s actually a socket that is the problem but which one 🤪 The problem is that this ring of sockets are the ones out to the electric fencing in the side paddock so I’m hoping the horses and the chickens don’t work it out until we get it sorted 🙄 At least I can make a coffee now 😀

I spent the rest of the morning out in the veg garden, it is supposed to rain later so I’m taking advantage of the dry morning. First some weeding and tidying of the small poly tunnel and then onto some small raised beds, all the weeds went to the rabbits and turkeys who were happy to have some greens. I’m covering beds with weed membrane as I clear them, it will save me a whole heap of time in the spring and I did a couple of beds last year and it worked well, besides if I don’t get round to planting into them they will stay manageable. I squished a few caterpillars in the brassica cage, mainly on the sprouts, John loves them and so I grow 2/3 plants each year for Christmas. Then onto picking a few things, I still have plenty of tomatoes, a few courgettes, some peppers, the odd cucumber, thousands of hazelnuts on the floor 😂 so I’m still gathering in the harvest so to speak. I picked a few raspberries then some blackberries and by this time it’s lunchtime so I made an almond milk, banana, raspberry and blackberry smoothie and had a quick sit down before starting on tidying the house 🙄

The rain came on cue as I was hoovering 😏 so I spent some more time tidying up and sorting out tonight’s dinner, then out to do the afternoon rounds and collect the eggs.

I saw Cyril the squirrel tip toeing across my lawn, I said ‘I can see you Cyril’ at which point he stood stock still lol, then I said ‘it’s ok you can have the rest of the nuts I’m done collecting’ 😜 and he scuttled off towards the walnut tree.

John came home and we deduced that is one of the actual sockets that is causing the electric to trip, we now have to figure out which of the sockets it is and what’s causing it. As they are all inside at a guess something has got inside but that’s the best guess we have at the minute. The electric fencing will have to be plugged in the back here instead of the stable block and it needs doing before the horses realise it’s not on so that is Johns job later as I am going for a massage 😜

The lady and little girl that we got the pony from came over to see how she had settled in, very well so no worries there. We were in the field when a VERY LOW FLYING Chinook came right over where we were standing, you can imagine how the horses reacted not to mention the chickens flying everywhere. That has to be the lowest I have seen one fly and it’s bloody dangerous for both the horses and people when you are in the field and that happens. I sent a complaint via the website e-mail but it was returned as undelivered, typical, I have complained by phone in the past and found it doesn’t make any difference anyhow, so in future if I hear a helicopter I will get out of the field quickly!

Tuesday October 1st 😮 We are trying to get up earlier, we have been getting up around 7.15 which is quite late really. Last night I set the alarm but apparently did not turn it on 🙄 so again today it was around 7.15 before we got up. I like to think it’s the natural body clock and that it’s something we should follow and perhaps if we were both working here we would but John has to be at peoples houses before they go to work so that’s out of the window, for him at any rate 😜 I got the morning rounds done and it was already spitting with rain, by 9am we had a full on downpour and I think it’s set for most of the day so I haven’t made any plans to go back outside until necessary at feeding and egg collecting time later this afternoon. I have plenty I can turn my hand to indoors, some very outstanding paperwork, making some kind of sugar free goodies, checking thoroughly through the cctv to see if I can find out what actually happened to the cat. The more I think about it the less I think he just took off, I think he would have returned by now if that was the case, so I’m left with an accident of some sort or he has been taken, by what or who I don’t know and maybe the cctv can help, but there are nearly 100 hours of footage to look through 😏

I just had a quick look at the forecast, heavy rain right through to 9pm 😮

So rather than wall to wall rain, the sun actually came out ? By that time I was knee deep in paperwork 😏 but on the plus side the farm accounts are up to date, just need to do the plumbing ones but that can wait for another day, my eyes are tired, not used to doing a days paperwork anymore lol.

I felt the need for some stodgy food for dinner so we had a beef slice with homegrown mash potatoes and broccoli and then I made a sugar free pudding, basically I made a fruit sponge pudding with stevia instead of sugar, we had a small amount of ice cream with it and felt very full and satisfied. I know there are many people moving to a plant based diet but I wonder how many of them do a proper physical job, heavy lifting, digging, carrying 20kg sacks, lugging stuff about all day, working outside in the cold, I would bet not many, you really need some excellent fuel when you are doing jobs like that I think. Not one to write something and then carry on regardless, I looked it up, it seems you can do manual labour but supplements are mentioned and careful balancing of the diet is a must.

Wednesday: I had finished the morning rounds and was just finishing my coffee when Mum arrived to do some work 😀 I’m sure she has more than enough work of her own but she comes over to help when she can, love her 😘 Rather than work on the veg garden which is sodden we decided to sort out the plants directly in front of the house. When I put them all out there I had a definite idea of how I wanted it to look, which never really transpired due to one thing or another and now it’s looking, frankly, a muddle at the very least. So we moved pots around and took things out and put other pots in then got some of the weeds out of the gravel until it looked more structured and less cluttered. The sun was shinning so it was a good location to be working in.

John came home for lunch and a cuppa then after he left I cleaned out the rabbit which Josh has named Rosie and she is doing really well he even held her on his lap yesterday 😀 Then I went out and planted a few of the tulip bulbs in the driveway grass area, a bit of cheer for spring, we planted some crocus under the apple tree a month or so ago so it should be nice and cheery in the early part of the year. It’s getting near to (but not quite time for) feeding and so when I go out at this time of day I have stalkers 😋 the pitter patter of tiny hens feet and sometimes they are not even that subtle, launching themselves on a bucket if I happen to have one in my hand no matter what is in it!

By the way it’s a fab day, the sun is shinning and it’s not cold a real boost after the last week of rain.

Thursday: A frost again this morning, that’s two in a row and so the high water content veg will soon be showing signs of going over, the courgettes and outdoor tomatoes especially, the rhubarb leaves which were already wilting will fall off, the leaves on the trees will begin to brown and fall quicker 😔 There is no stopping the march of time into Winter 😜

Cor blimey that is a tad chilly out this morning, I came back in and put my wax jacket on instead of my gillet and even the ends of my fingers were feeling it inside my gloves 🙄 I flicked the electric fire on in the living room to take the chill off the air. John and I discussed lighting the Rayburn but it’s a difficult time of year to get it right, the building does not take much to heat it up so having the Rayburn on would make it too warm in here but without it it’s decidedly chilly in the evenings and early morning especially when it’s a cold night like last night. The temps today are forecast to be up to 13c but that is even through the night which would then be too warm and we would be sweating lol, ideally once the Rayburn is lit it wants to be kept going so it’s game of wait and see how long we can tolerate the chill for. The lucky thing is that the year before John cut enough wood for two winters, this will be the second one so he will have to cut more next Spring, lucky because he hasn’t felt well for a few months and so would never have got it done and we would have had to buy in. The good news is that he is feeling and looking much better, he is getting the hang of a healthier diet and rarely has cake, choc or biscuits and has cut down to around 5 cups of tea a day, anyone who knows him will realise what a big change that has been 😜 But he is much better for it 😀

I am having a coffee contemplating what jobs to do today, topping up bedding straw in some of the sheds/huts is a definite, especially as it’s got colder and wetter, the torts need to be monitored closely now to watch for them closing down towards hibernation. They need clean straw packed into their hut which they will spend more and more time in, when they no longer come out they will be packed away and put in the shed until next spring. There are the tomatoes of course lol, I will probably have a go at the Passata today, the last of the walnuts need cleaning up and drying ready for use and there is plenty I could do on the garden, some self set potatoes that need digging up and always at this time of year clearing of dead or dying stuff ah decisions decisions 🤔

I decided that first off, as I have been talking about it long enough and besides it was still a tad cold out, that I would make the passata. As I was doing it I was still thinking that I would freeze it but I have taken the plunged and put it jars and then in a water bath whoo hoo go me 😜 I will put two jars in the fridge just to be on the safe side but the other I will put in the dark preserves cupboard and leave it a while to see how it stores. I did the traditional Italian method (almost) but I think I would change a couple of things next time, the Italian way is processing the fresh tomato so no blanching to remove the skins as a lot of the flavour is in the skin apparently. I used some overripe toms and some just ripe but I would always use overripe in future as they are much easier, the bigger toms I used had a lot of flesh so they were fine but the smaller ones probably should have been scooped out and the middles put to the side, only small changes but things I think would make it better, the Italians by the way do scoop out but these were cherry toms so a bit fiddly. I kept the pulp pure so no basil or garlic because I may use it for chilli which won’t require basil. Not having a mooli 🙄 I used, firstly a steamer pan and squished them through the bigger holes then a sieve and the back of a wooden spoon to get as much as I could from them, a bit of effort required but not too bad with a small batch. I didn’t weigh the tomatoes but I ended up with three 1lb jars which I felt was a good ratio for the tomatoes I used. The pan has a clean tea towel in the bottom and wrapped round the jars to stop them moving about and as a bonus my tea towel gets a good boiling, win win I say 😀 It smells like a Chinese laundry in the kitchen with the tea towel boiling away, I know the smell because pre children I used to work in one (not a Chinese one but I like the saying) it reminded me of the hot washed sheets as they went through a huge roller machine that would dry and press them at the same time, funny how smells can bring back long ago memories.

Well I got the jars out of the water bath and the passata has separated 😏 nothing was ever mentioned in anything I have read so I did some further research and it seems that blanching the tomatoes is a very good idea, I didn’t do it remember, it’s a good idea because it destroys an enzyme that cause the separation of tomato and liquid, so in future I will definitely be blanching, apparently it’s still fine to use, it just doesn’t look good in the jar lol.

This is what I found:

‘During storage, pulp and juice in home canned tomatoes may separate, especially in sauce or juice made with crushed or puréed tomatoes. Separation is caused by an enzyme, Pectose (Pectinesterarse), found in high concentrations in tomatoes. The enzyme is activated when tomatoes are cut. To reduce separation, heat tomatoes quickly over high heat to 82 C (180 F) to destroy the enzyme’

We decided with the weather forecast for this evening, windy and wet, that we would light the Rayburn and so not one to waste the use of free cooking I cooked the first dinner of the winter on the top 😀 It will be nice to have warm dry towels and a overall warmth in the house.

Friday: I did the morning rounds and then mostly had the day off 😜 I went with Shelley, Josh and Flo to soft play where we met Sam, Mia & the twiglets as they have become affectionately known. By the time we got back in the afternoon John was already home and had lit the Rayburn, he went and got a few bits of shopping and then did the afternoon rounds while I did some tidying and hoovering. Shelley, Martin and the kids came over after tea and picked up Rosie the rabbit to take back to theirs and then early evening Charlie came over and we had cheese, wine and a proper natter, day done, bedtime 😴

Saturday: We got the rounds done had a coffee then went off to a local tractor spares jumble sale 😀 not just tractor parts there I should say but plenty of old and interesting bits and pieces too. I bought some lovely old tools, the craftsmanship is so much better than today’s stuff, a lovely old back hoe, I have been wanting to get one for ages and a lovely old fork, nice and light, little and beautifully made, no doubt it was a much loved tool for somebody. I also bought an old galvanised paint bucket, yesterday I went to the garden centre looking for something to plant into and everything is so expensive for what it was. This cost me a fiver, a bit of time cleaning it up and making holes in the bottom and voila a lovely planter for a splash of colour, happy as a pig in poo this morning 😀

When we returned John went to power wash the POL pen and I went into the garden, the outdoor tomatoes have blight which is a shame as there are loads of fruit on them, some beefsteak and some cherry but none of them any good so I pulled them all up and took them to the burning pile. I watered the poly tunnel, I keep forgetting that it needs doing now that the rain is doing the job outside 🤪 and I weedkiller the pathways, they are just too weedy to hoe and I’m not sure what else to do with them, I need a whole load of wood chip delivered ideally then I could use that to smother the weeds perhaps.

I still have plenty of tomatoes ripening I the tunnels and greenhouse but there are also a lot of green ones as well, that’s where green tomato chutney recipes are useful. I do though have a lot of very small cherry tomatoes that are ripe but smaller than average, I think I might do a ripe tomato chutney with these 😀

Sunday: Up and out to do the rounds, I was doing the orchard when I heard John chatting away and wondered who he was talking to, I suddenly remembered that the lads with the ferrets were coming this morning to do a bit of rabbiting lol. John went off to visit his Mum and I took a coffee out to the greenhouse, the sun is shinning this morning so it was a nice place to be for an hour or so. I spent my time, potting up some Chinese lantern that I had grown from seed but not yet divided and they were becoming a bit crowded in the one pot. The rest of the time I spent shelling beans and this is where the baked beans come in, they are haricot beans which I trialled and they did very well considering the few plants I grew. I also did a few kidney beans which also grew well, they have both been drying in the greenhouse waiting for the moment for me to shell them and now they are done. There are not many of each but it just shows that I could plant plenty more and they would be a good crop. I don’t think we use dried beans and pulses in this country as much as we should, me included. There seems to be divided opinion on wether to soak your dried beans prior to cooking or not, I think I may have to excitement with the soak and no soak methods and see which I prefer. I think I would err on the side of caution for the Kidney beans mind you as they contain a toxin that needs to be extracted before eating apparently but I shall still look forward to making a chilli with them at some point in the future, provided I remember to soak them prior to thinking, I’ll have chilli today 🤪

I let the turkeys out into the orchard pen today and the first thing they did was fly over the top! So they are currently grazing in the front paddock, turkeys are quite sweet birds, much more gentle than I thought they would be and quite timid, the chickens soon see them off and tasty morsel lying around.

With the daylight hours ever decreasing the egg numbers are dipping drastically too, I think currently we are feeding twice as many birds than are laying 😏 The last new lot have never got up to speed with only 38 eggs out of 50 and now they have dropped down to around 28. We have tried leaving them in until lunchtime to make sure they are not laying elsewhere, they have a light on for a few extra hours in the evening but it’s not helping much. They have been a ‘rouge’ batch from the beginning, the first day half of them flew over the electric fencing and we have not been able to keep them in despite multiple attempts at various things including heightening the fence, a lost cause is what they are I think.

Posted in Friesland Farm

A missing kitten 😔 a new arrival 😀 & nuts 😜

Tuesday 24th Sept: We arrived back at around 10pm last night, it was raining most of the day in Guernsey, all the way home it has rained non stop and it’s still raining this morning. I woke at 5, I think I heard rumbles of thunder, and it has not stopped at all, it’s now 8.30 and I really should go out and let all the birds out, it doesn’t look like it’s going to stop at all today so best get on with it.

Oh the joys of getting back to work 🙄 wet and muddy out there today lol. All seems to be well with the farm, I found a few eggs that Shelley wouldn’t have known where they lay as I forgot to tell her but it was checked on Thursday so they are still ok. The only thing out of order at the moment is that we can’t find one of the kittens, TC, I haven’t seen him at all since we got back and I have checked all the sheds and called him but as yet no sign of him, I’m hoping he turns up sometime today. On the other hand Diesel who has not been around for about a week has turned up for feeding this morning, I know cats are a law unto themselves but they sure cause worry 😏

The geese have still been laying while we were away, not sure what is going on there but never look a gift horse in the mouth as they say.

10.30 still raining, quite heavily too, I guess that summer is over then 😏

Shelley has been collecting the walnuts as they have been dropping while we were away, I thought the squirrel was getting them but obviously not which is great for me 😀

Still no sign of the cat and you feel out of sorts when something isn’t where it’s supposed to be, I have checked in all the outbuildings just to make sure he’s not locked in somewhere, I’ve checked the roadside to make sure he hasn’t been run over, it’s odd because he is always the one under my feet and the pair of them haven’t really ventured very far as yet. Benny is on his own for the first time ever and keeps sleeping in the dog bed, good job the dogs don’t mind him bunking in with them 😀 hopefully TC will just show up after being off for a wander 🙄

John and I spent two hours tonight once everything had gone to bed and it was quieter, trying to listen and see if TC was stuck anywhere. I kept thinking I could hear faint miaowing and we searched every tiny space we could find, up in the roof space, down the walls, behind the walls, under wood stacks, up pipes, literally every inch was searched but no luck and the noise I thought I heard occasionally never got louder the closer we got to anything. At one point John fell over and knocked all the grass seed everywhere and hurt his shoulder, the opposite one to the one he hurt last year falling over in the duck pen. To be honest it could have been anything that I heard, John would say can you hear that bird, nope, my hearing is not that great since I’ve had tinnitus 🙄

Wednesday: I feel despondent this morning, the cats missing, one day back at work and John is feeling tired and achy, it’s been raining so it’s wet and muddy everywhere, these are the kind of days I think ‘yep let’s give it all up’ 😏

On a brighter note our new resident arrived last night just as it was getting dark, Biscuit, the Shetland pony 😀 she is a lovely, obliging little pony who likes to be brushed and fussed. Her long term field companion died of a stroke a few weeks ago and her owners were looking for a new home for her, we went and had a look at her and she is very sweet and the perfect height for the grandchildren to interact with plus a gentle temperament. Jack has not met her yet as she is in the stable for the moment but hopefully he will be happy to have a ‘little’ company 😋

I did the rounds this morning then onto some picking, still plenty of tomatoes and courgettes, also some cucumber and a melon. I need to pick the grapes soon and I have been collecting more walnuts.

Shelley came over to help have a quick look for the cat but nothing. Sam arrived with the twiglets and we skipped out Biscuits stable then took 9 pallets up to the small back paddock to protect the trees I planted as the geese are going in there for a while. I had to drill a new hole for the bolt in their hut and put in some clean bedding, that was all in between rain showers and feeding the babies 👶 👶 After they left I cleaned out the stable that the chickens and ducks are in, put clean bedding in the other duck pen house, somewhere in amongst that I got the dinner ready. John came home and put a piece on the bottom of another stable to make it fox proof as I will be moving the light Sussex into there before dispatch.

After dinner and putting the birds to bed I had a customer come to pick up some plants, John went to get a bit of shopping and Shelley came back to listen in the dark when it’s much quieter to see if we could hear the cat, she has much better hearing than we do 🤣 we spent about an hour or so out here but couldn’t hear anything that sounded like a cat 😏

Thursday: Although it’s rained overnight it has been a fine sunny morning this morning. I did the morning rounds changing bits of electric fencing as I went round, the front hens now have free range of the whole paddock, they were getting out anyway so might as well make it easy for them 😂 I checked on Biscuit who is still in the stable at the minute and all the hens have had a scoop of calcium and grit to boost shell and gut health. Then onto the garden, I had quite forgotten just how abundant this time of year is, not only are there thousands of blackberries and hundreds of nuts but I picked a whopping load of tomatoes and a basket full of grapes. I just have to decide what to do with them all, some grapes have been frozen, I ate some with my lunch, some have gone into a jelly for John and some out for sale, I will give the girls some and have told the wider family if they want any grapes or tomatoes to pop by. At some point I’m going to have to do passata lol and I did think about dehydrating some grapes for raisins for cooking or snacking. Fruit leather is another thing I really want to try so if I get a bit of time I will do that as well, plenty of berries around to try that with at the moment. The elderberries are abundant though I haven’t actually picked any of those yet but I will hopefully get to some before the birds do.

I think someone somewhere has thought, right you haven’t got enough to write about in your blog so here you go have some of this 🤪

I messaged Charlie yesterday and said I am going to rename this place Chaos, no explanation needed and today it’s still the same. A busy morning and a busy afternoon as well, then Samantha came over with the twins and Mia as Mia wanted to see biscuit. They skipped her stable out and gave her a swede to chew on, took her into the ménage for a frolic and then out to meet jack for the first time, which incidentally went very well. Time to get her back in, she caught well and off went Sam back to the stable while I minded the twins and Mia, next thing Biscuit is dragging Sam back down to the paddock ‘I’d forgotten how strong they are’ she said 😂 I run and get an apple cut it into four pieces and we are leading her back with the proverbial ‘Apple instead of carrot’ in front of her nose to get her back, meanwhile the twins are crying and so is Mia. They leave and I get on with prepping dinner and hoovering the floor which has mud clumps from my wellies where I have been in and out all day, inbetween I am messaging people who want to buy plants. John comes home with the inserts for the tap that has been dripping for a fortnight, filling a small saucepan overnight, I kid you not the minute he walks in with his tools the tap fails to drip and we watch it and watch it but no drip, this often happens to customers he tells me, they say my tap is dripping badly and when he gets there nothing but at least he knows how badly this one has been dripping so that’s something at least even if it is a bit bizarre. Dinner is cooking and I get a message from the chap with the rabbit to say he is bringing it round now, ok, we quickly get dinner on the table and munch that down just in time for when he arrives. He comes in with the rabbit and I put the kettle on, I’m busy making a cuppa and we are chatting next thing we hear is a very loud crash right beside us, We have a recess alcove behind the hob and the top bit, so the ceiling of it, has just fallen off and landed on the hob knocking all my bottles of oil and herbs everywhere 🙄 What the actual 🤬 We go and get the rabbit hutch in and he has bought a glove to handle the rabbit, it’s four months old, it doesn’t bite but growls due to not being handled very much 😋 I wasn’t expecting that 🙄 so as this rabbit is intended for Josh and Flo I shall have to handle her until she is petable lol. The day is still not over yet, I cleaned one of the other stables this afternoon which is where the light Sussex are going, to clean them up and fatten, so off we go to round up 12 rather large chickens which make the most horrendous noise when they are caught, honestly anybody would think we were dispatching there and then.

If you can imagine that as this is all happening usually the dogs are barking at something or other, the phone is going, there are chickens and ducks getting under my feet, customers are turning up for plants and this has been a daily occurrence this week you can see why it’s chaos, I won’t even go into the two nightmares I had last night and woke in absolute terror at one of them, all adds to the mix 😜

Have you ever seen that picture of an aging lady in wellies and a straw hat on a farmyard with all the animals everywhere, that’s me I think 🤣

Once we put the animals to bed we nipped to Charlie’s for a cuppa.

Friday: After the morning rounds I spent nearly two hours processing the walnuts we have been picking up. First they need to be taken out of their green coat, sometimes they are already out but not often and sometimes the coat has turned to brown mush. So I spent a good deal of time in the greenhouse doing that then it’s into the boot room and put some white vinegar in the sink and tumble the nuts with my hands, this does two things, get any remaining casing bits off and makes sure there are no bacteria/mould on the shell. When you buy walnuts in the shell from the supermarket they will have been treated with a food grade bleach which is why they are a lot cleaner than mine will be in the end, I could do this but I prefer the vinegar and it works very well. Next the nuts are dried, I put them in a towel and roll a few at a time, and then they will need to air dry so they need to be somewhere that is not damp, the kitchen works well as long as the air can get all round the basket. If you put them in a container that the air can’t circulate in they will form mould again, my thoughts are that if the mould is on the outside it could penetrate to the inside which could potentially make you ill if you eat them like that. I generally keep them in their shells until after the New Year when I have more time to shell them for storage in jars, you can eat them straight after picking, they are called wet walnuts and that means the nut meat hasn’t dried, if you leave them to cure they become the walnut you are probably more familiar with and then they store much better. I like the taste of wet walnuts many people don’t but I see it as a bit of a foragers treat. The whole process may seem bothersome for many people but for starters the nuts are free 😀 (expensive in the shops) and then there is the fact that they are a great brain food so it would be a little idiotic for me not to do it, besides the fact that I end up with very dark brown fingers and thumbs (walnut is a great dye) it’s rewarding to have a store of nuts I have gathered and prepared and that will last well into the next year for snacks and cooking.

Luckily the hazelnuts do not need the same amount of work, they just need to be stored in damp free conditions until they are ready to be eaten or cracked for storing and using.

Sam, Shelley and the children came over in the afternoon to see Biscuit and the rabbit 😀

When they left I did the afternoon rounds and collected the eggs for putting out as usual. Yesterday I had put out a punnet of grapes and covered them in cling film and was pretty annoyed to find that someone had lifted the film and pinched a few grapes from the bunch, I could see they had been taken as they leave that little mushy tail behind, what kind of a person does that? I bought them back in and won’t be putting anymore out, last week it was the cherry tomatoes, I could tell one or two had been nicked and sure enough when I bought the punnet back in and weighed it there were some missing 😡

Dinner done and dusted we are having a quiet night tonight, famous last words 😋

Saturday: It’s forecast to be dry today which is good after the last few days of on off rain. I had a plan to keep the hens in the stable shut in this morning because I have no idea where they are laying their eggs, John and I talked about it last night and this morning he went off up the back to do the geese and hens in the small back paddock. Meanwhile I came out and fed and watered the ones in the stable being kept in and then went round to do the ducks in the side pen, next thing I see is are the hens out everywhere, there followed an exchange of words, mostly ‘you never bloody listen’ & ‘I forgot’ 😜

With the rest of the birds and animals sorted it was onto the jobs for the morning, I sorted out the egg shed and picked a few bits for putting out along with some pumpkins and a couple of spaghetti squash. I pulled all the remaining carrots, at this time of year if you don’t get them out either the rain starts to rot them or the slugs start to eat them. Johns job was to deep clean the Rayburn ready for lightening when we need it, it’s a pretty big job it includes sweeping the flue and pulling all the grates out and a mucky job to boot 😀 I cleaned all the carrots then sliced and diced them, blanched them and they will go in the freezer to open freeze once they are cool.

I am still trying to figure out what to do with these grapes and Pinterest isn’t giving me much inspiration on that front lol

I decided to have a go at dehydrating some of the grapes to see how well they would do and of course raisins, which is what they will be, will come in handy for cooking. I put a few of the hybrid blackberries in to see how well they do, then I started thinking about Christmas mincemeat and how lovely it would be with the raisins, dried blackberries and some of our chopped hazels/walnuts in there as well mmmm just got figure out a way to make it low sugar enough to still taste good but I think it’s entirely do able, it’s a shame I didn’t get the cherries this year as they could have gone in as well, but all that together with our own apples and I am looking forward to making it.

Sunday: It rained heavily last night and is lighter but still raining this morning, as I always say, once it’s here it doesn’t stop 😜 John was up early breakfasted and out doing the morning rounds before I got up 😀 that is an unusual but welcome occurrence, it means I don’t have to go out and get wet until later 😂 He has now gone off to visit his Mum picking up Shelley on the way, I am having the twins for an hour this morning while Sam does the food shopping.

I realised that we had lost the lights in the kitchen and out the back, normally after heavy rain the pump from the water tank is the culprit but not this time, so far I have unplugged and turned off everything outside in the stable block but it’s still tripping, John is not back yet and so I decided to wait until he is otherwise it’s numerous trips backwards and forwards to the fuse box to figure out what exactly is causing the problem, freezers, tumble dryers, washing machine who knows at this point 🙄

John Home problem sorted, it was the pump after all, it just took a while to settle for some bizarre reason.

Today has had a definite winter feel to it 😏 wind and rain although the sun did shine occasionally.

Still no sign of TC, I find the whole thing a bit odd to be honest, he was extremely friendly and always here, I guess we may never know what happened to him 😔

Posted in Friesland Farm

The farm, The fair & then to Guernsey 🇬🇬

Monday 16th Sept: Not a bad morning, overcast but warm enough and perfect for me to be getting on doing some jobs I want to get sorted. First the usual rounds, feeding, watering and letting out. Then onto watering some seedlings, winter spinach, radish and french beans, water the poly tunnels and then pick a few bits. The raspberries have picked up no end since we sorted the cage and I managed to pick a good few along with some blackberries. I went in a made a sugar free jelly with the berries added, it’s a favourite of Johns and he will be happy to have that considering he has had to forgo any cakes and chocolate 😜 I cleared 4 wheelbarrows of stuff we have been clearing in the garden and took it to the bonfire area. My compost heap is overflowing and some of this has bindweed in and the leaves from the courgettes have mildew so although burning is not the best option sometimes it has to be done. While going round I noticed that one of the hens has scratched up my freesias 🤬 so I replanted them, watered them then made a temporary cage around them so they can’t do any more damage, I honestly could wring their necks sometimes! I cut the lawn, it’s been getting on my nerves lol but the hot sunny days are no good for me to do it so today was perfect.

I had Josh and Flo for the afternoon while Shelley and Martin went to a wedding. Yesterday Flo walked in front of a swing at the park causing a bloody nose and only 20 mins into my Nana stint while I was washing up it seems Josh tried to pick her up from a sitting position on the floor, Flo resisted and then bang her head hits the floor, we have hard floors 😟 luckily it wasn’t too hard of a bang but it made her cry, then Josh cried because he had made her cry, I picked her up to carry her to the living room not realising that Josh has crouched down on the floor right in front of me, I didn’t trip but caught his arm with my foot, oh my days, we spent the rest of the afternoon safely on the soft sofa watching telly 😬

I love it when I am brilliant 😂 not that it happens very often but just sometimes I am 😜 Our cctv had gone wrong last week, there were no images on the screen from any of the three cameras. John, not understanding how it works at all ( I was the one that installed it all) says ‘just turn it off and on again’ ok I’ll try that 🙄 nope not working (obvs) Three cameras all individually coming back to the box have lost image so turning it off and on again just wasn’t going to achieve much but hey I’m happy to humour him. Next I made sure all the cables were attached and working bearing in mind this system has been fine for at least 2 years, took the box apart and did a hard reset, nope nothing changed, tried taking off input cables one by one and moving them around in case there was a dodgy connection, nope, by this time I am flummoxed. I have established it’s not the box so not the hard drive, not the batteries, not the connections and it’s not the cameras themselves and apparently not the cables coming back. As an off the cuff remark to my sister who I was messaging to get ideas, I said maybe it’s the splitter cable, tried that with independent spare camera and splitter cable nope still the same by this time I am right back down to only one component, the power to splitter cable, changed it and alleluia we have images again, yes I am chuffed I worked that out 😀😀

I need to order autumn planting garlic bulbs, I didn’t have nearly enough this year and don’t want to be short again, garlic is so good for you that you should include it in everything that you can 😀 and roasted garlic is the bomb 😋 Drizzle a whole bulb in olive oil sprinkle a little salt on and roast until soft, one very important tip, don’t eat the whole thing (tempting though it will be once you have tried it) as you WILL get stomach ache, take it from someone who knows 🤪

Tuesday: A Lovely morning and Samantha’s Birthday today 😀 I did the morning rounds and the thought I would ‘potter with purpose’ in the garden as it’s such a lovely morning. I picked tomatoes and cut back foliage in the big tunnel so the sunlight can get in and ripen off the rest of them. I found a few strawberry runners in the tunnel that had started to throw roots even though they were just sitting on the path so I potted those up, not sure where they will go next year but I can always sell the plants on. Next I started tidying up the area where the coldframes are, at the moment they have no tops so the plants are just sat in there but that has been useful as I can now see how I want them to work and I think I will only put tops on half the space and leave the other half open, I may change my mind come spring but we will see. I found the fattest frog in there 🐸 good chap, keep the slugs down, I also found that my lupin plants all have aphid that’s why they are not doing very well so I have squished those and will have to do it every day for a while to get the numbers right down. All the while I am picking up hazels and putting them in my pockets 😀 I had a look at the torts, during that cold weather they went off inside the hut but with the temps climbing again they have reappeared, there are lefty of tomatoes and cucumbers to feed them at this time of year along with weeds of all kinds, I will give them some of the aloe vera plant just to give them some extra nutrients before they think about hibernation.

Whereas I was tired last week and dejected 😔 this week I am not tired and so thinking ahead to Spring next year and what/where to plant things, I need to remember that when I am tired again it will pass lol.

Johns ailments are taking a while to right themselves as he is still very tired, he is doing pretty well though considering he has had to totally change what he eats really, I told him that the sugar withdrawal will be a real thing and he will feel the effects of that but will begin to feel so much better once that has passed. He is still having a bit of sugar but probably reduced it by 90% so that’s a lot for the body to get used to.

The great thing is that we are going away for a long weekend with my sister and brother in law on Friday, we are off to Guernsey to follow the ‘Guernsey literary and potato peel pie society’ trail and delve into all the other treasures that the island has to offer 😀 A lovely little break which we are looking forward to.

Wednesday: Another lovely day, we got the Indian Summer after all, the ground is very dry though as we have not had rain for what seems like weeks. I did the morning rounds and then a bit of hoeing in the garden. The big raised bed that had carrot in it has now finished and I weeded it and covered it with weed suppressant, it will probably stay like that until spring now. It’s not really situated in the best place as the hazel trees cast shade over it for the last part of spring and most of summer so I really need to decide what would do the best in there before next year.

Thursday: Cracking morning again 😀 loving the sunny mornings and the warm days. Mostly today has been about getting things done ready for going away tomorrow, although Shelley will be moving in I like to make things as easy as I possibly can for her.

I started off doing all the morning rounds, then onto washing and ironing clothes we will be taking with us, packing then making sure the veg garden area runs smoothly by putting things away (small children and lump hammers/secateurs don’t mix lol) a bit of cleaning, get the dust bins out, watering the tunnels and greenhouse etc. Then Shelley came over and we walked through the rounds, it changes all the time so a walk through just ensures that she knows where everything is and what they have. She will have help from Sam and Charlie which is great, we are very lucky that they are willing to farm sit for us otherwise we would probably never go away. In the afternoon the feeding and egg collection was done, then watering some of the plants in pots out the front, top up all the water buckets so tomorrow morning is a bit easier for her etc. By the time I have finished with everything I am so ready for a break lol, it takes a fair bit of organising, and even then I am messaging with bits of info I have forgotten to give her when she was here 😜

Shower and early to bed as we have an early start to get down to the ferry.

Friday, Sat, Sunday, Monday: An amazing weekend in Guernsey, we packed a huge amount into our few days there and saw a lot of the island and its treasures and a large slice of Island life. The scenery is incredible and we had the first two days of glorious sunshine which made it even more beautiful, the people are lovely and very friendly. We went on the Potato Peel pie trail, up and down steep hills and cliff tops, we learnt so much about the occupation is was mind blowing. The fortifications are on a massive scale for such a small island and I was struck by how they have just been incorporated into every day life, in gardens, as museums, even a school has been built near one and the gun area changed into a mini amphitheatre with a garden. By chance we were there when a hill climb time trial was going on, on our walk we encountered a local wedding, we happened to be there at exactly the right time for a rare visit inside a gun battery. The weather changed on the Sunday but it still wasn’t too bad but Monday it rained all day lol and that continued through our travels home and it’s still raining here this morning, back to real life for me today and it’s time to go out and get some work done and get a soaking by the looks of it 🤪

Posted in Friesland Farm

Bindweed, hazelnuts & a goose egg!

Monday 9th September: I have a diary that belonged to someone that lived in the cottage just up the road from where we live now, my Dad found it when Sue bought it and renovated it. It covers two years and is mostly about the weather, the routine, and small daily happenings, nothing unexpected, nothing untoward and nothing extraordinary, which in itself is extraordinary as it was written right smack bang in the middle of WWll 😮 I have searched every day that was written and there is not a single mention of the war. I always thought this was very odd indeed until I began to write this blog, on the whole you won’t find a mention of anything much other than what happens here, even though our country is engulfed with BREXIT we have it morning, noon and night, it is the main topic on nearly every news broadcast every day. I guess that I feel this is not the platform for it and that this blog is my little bubble, one that I control the content of, so now I understand the diary and the writers omission of the bigger things happening around them.

A good morning in the garden after doing the animals, Mum arrived to dig up a row of raspberries, these are outside the fruit cage and I hardly get the berries because the birds eat them all before I can 🤪 I did some digging up of self set potatoes, cut the pumpkins and spaghetti squash and put them to ripen in the greenhouse before the hens start pecking at them, I pulled up the kidney, haricot beans and a sunflower and they are also drying in the greenhouse, I picked cucumbers, peppers, tomatoes, cabbage, beetroot and blackberries. Then into the kitchen to sort it all out, I bagged up some goodies for Mum to take home with her and sliced and blanched the carrots I pulled on Saturday. Our dinner tonight I am chuffed to say is very low on miles, the veg all came from the garden, the lamb from a local smallholder, the berries and pears for pudding were grown here so only the sugar, flour and butter have any miles at all and they are all of British origin 😀 smugness overload 😋

I’m feeling the cold today, sure hope this Indian summer comes along 🙄

This afternoon I had a message from a friend which quickly spiralled into potentially having a new member on the farm, can’t say anymore at the minute but watch this space 😜

On the way home from shopping the other day we were listening to the radio as usual and there was someone on there talking about all kinds of skin remedies. One of them caught my attention because working out in the winter air causes my hands to become chaffed and split and this was about a hand cream developed by a farmer, or his daughter can’t remember which, that would help. If someone who knows the problems developed something to help it’s got to be worth a try right? Obviously I ordered some straightaway lol and we will see how good it is, if you suffer with ‘winter’ hands it’s called ‘O Keefes’ and it feels a lot different to normal hand creams, here’s hoping it’s not just spin 🤪

Tuesday: A cracking morning this morning shame I didn’t think to take photos but I was just enjoying the moment. A misty morning but with the sun leaking through, quiet and peaceful 😀 We were up a little earlier today 😜 so John did the feeding while I put some washing on and then got on with burning the paper rubbish and a pile of bindweed roots that Mum dug up yesterday. Then I did a bit of this and a bit of that, some picking, some hoeing, and cutting back the long new tendrils of the thornless blackberry. I try and keep it under control so it’s easier to pick the berries and cover with netting so the birds don’t eat them all. A bit more hoeing on the pathways and then indoors to get the hoovering done. I wanted to get that sorted as it was annoying me and the sad fact is that today I can feel that I won’t be able to do a stint in the garden and then come in and do the hoovering as I am already feeling fatigued. The problem with this disease and many others is that I don’t look ill and I’m not, not as ill as I can be but I do have to listen to what my body is telling me at times. That has been a hard lesson to learn, as someone that has always been on the go it’s difficult to reign yourself in, however needs must as my system can’t cope with me pushing it if it isn’t firing on all cylinders 🙄

After hoovering, a catch up with gardeners world, a couple of blogs I follow and a coffee 😀

It’s nice to read other blogs especially ones who live similar lives to us, they always inspire me to do something, passata is something I really want to try but I’m a little afraid of ‘canning’ it in case I end up with botulism or something! I love the rows of jars stored ready for use when you want them. I have ventured into dried beans that’s a start and of course the freezer is always fit to bursting, last year I collected, dried, shelled and stored as many nuts as I could and I felt a sense of achievement when I could reach for a handful of nuts back in April or May 😀 We do not live in an isolated area like some of the blogs I read, I could easily pop to Morrison’s as many times a week as I want to but I don’t want to and that’s the whole point of being self sufficientish.

Watching gardeners world reminded me of a couple of jobs I wanted to get done, one was collecting the seeds from some beautiful apricot coloured wallflowers that I had growing outside the gate and also some deadheading to prolong any flowering so off I went and did those couple of little jobs.

While I was working in the garden I heard a noise and wondered what it was, I looked over the fence and saw the geese cracking open hazelnuts lol, the dogs do it too, I was wondering why I wasn’t finding that many on that side of the fence 🤣 I shall have to start picking them off the tree to get my quota!

Wednesday: Not a bad day a bit dreary but dry and not cold so that’s a bonus. I did the morning routine this morning, then onto collect some greenery for the rabbits/guineas. They had an assortment of fruit bush cuttings, weeds and herbs, I also try and give some to the turkeys who love green stuff and the quail and the light Sussex. Then I watered the poly tunnels they don’t need much now but they do need a bit of watering to keep them going. I studied the grapes in the big tunnel, they are nearly ready to harvest, it will be all at once lol so goodness knows what I am going to do with them all. There are not enough to warrant getting the press out for juice so I will have to have a search and see what the next best thing is. I am aware that there are lots of jobs to do and I am wandering round thinking this needs doing, that needs doing but I never really get anywhere so a coffee and a list is in order. I find that if I have a list I will go down it and cross things off one by one, very satisfying. The tomato harvest is in full swing and I am getting a good variety and plenty of them, I keep banging on about passata but today I decided to make fresh bread and fresh tomato soup 🥣 for my lunch. John has been feeling a bit under the weather and has had some blood tests which he is awaiting the results for so I dug out a chicken carcass (always save them) and bundled that with various veg, garlic and turmeric into the slow cooker, chicken soup you can’t beat it if you are off kilter 😀

For the tomato soup I have just bunged it all in lol, I chopped up tomatoes, a fair few, I didn’t weigh or count them, 3 cloves of garlic, a stick of celery, a few carrots (grated) salt, pepper and olive oil, that’s it. Basically it is on a low heat until it all breaks down and then I will whizz it and possibly strain it depending on how many seeds I can see but I’m not really bothered by them so they may stay. One thing, don’t take the skins off of your tomatoes, a lot of the flavour is in the skin, I have just had a taste while it’s still cooking and mmmm it’s delish it won’t even need any stock it’s that good already. Some of the tomatoes I have grown are beefsteak so they have a fair bit of flesh to them if you decided to use shop bought you may want to scoop the middle out so you just have flesh and not too much liquid.

Sam, Mia, George and Lucie plus Shelley, Josh and Florence came in the afternoon so it was a full and chaotic session lol. I had made a cake which pleased the children, I made it with oil as I didn’t have any butter left, it was a normal jam sponge and tasted great 😀

In the evening we popped to the shop to get some bits and I have been eyeing up an apple tree half way down the lane, I made John stop on the way back so I could pick a couple and see what they are like. I think they are a cox apple and they are not quite ripe yet but they are not sour or sharp so should be lovely once they ripen, I will be going back to get some more 😀

Thursday: I thought it was going to be a good day today, for the washing that is, so I put on a couple of loads but found it was a very fine drizzle when I went out and that hasn’t let up yet so the washing is still in the basket 🧺

I did the animals and then a bit of picking, the courgettes are still coming though getting smaller now, cucumbers can apparently keep producing until December if they are indoors so I am still harvesting and looking after those, the tomatoes are in full swing, and the cultivated blackberries are doing well now I have netted them to stop the birds. One thing I always wonder is why salad stuff I.e toms, peppers, cucumbers all come at what is virtually the end of the season when you don’t really want a salad lol, I know there is plenty of other stuff that can be grown and used as well it’s just that these mainstay salad items seem to be maturing at the wrong end of the season 🙄

Off to get my bloods done this morning, the last lot were all normal and I expect theses will be too, I can usually tell if something isn’t right. I get tired but that’s just part of the condition either that or I am very unfit (a considerable possibility 🤪) or due to the fact that I am getting on in age although I still try and pack as much in as when I was 30 lol. I never want age to be a factor in slowing down, I don’t want to be that person who says ‘I’m an old age pensioner now you know’ My Mum still does a lot and can still dig over the garden, haul things around, put a good day in, I never consider her to be an ‘OAP’ because she doesn’t come across as one and that’s how I would like to be 😀

I finally got round to picking some flowers from the garden 😂 a bit late in the season but hey at least I have done it and hopefully I can continue to do it for a few weeks more. I was always of the opinion that flowers belong out in the garden and not in the house but I guess attitudes change over the years and now I am looking at each plant with new eyes, would that look good in a vase? It brightens up the table and makes me smile so they are as good as any reasons for doing it.

John had some blood tests last week as he was feeling extremely tired, the results show he is low in folic acid and is pre diabetic 🙄 Hmmm ‘I told you so’ springs to mind, considering the amount of crap he eats it’s no wonder, till now he has always been able to mostly eat what he wants and burn it off but as you age the body processes things differently or not at all and so a diet overhaul is in place 😀 It’s not at home that he eats it well apart from the cakes and puddings that I make occasionally but when he is driving around for work it’s crisps, cake, chocolate not to mention the obligatory umpteen cups of tea on a plumbers must have list! Cutting down to just three cups of tea a day will save on approx 20 teaspoons of sugar, I kid you not 😬

Friday: I heard the gate go quite early in the morning and Mum was back to get the rest of the bindweed out 😀 I think that’s two full wheelbarrows of the stuff now 🙄 it has been burnt on the bonfire so it can’t infest anywhere else. That won’t be the last of it either the stuff is a pain in the arse, we will have to keep on top of it all the time, I did try weedkiller on it twice in spring but still it persisted and swamped everything in its path.

I did some bits around the rest of the garden and I need to have a good think about how to rearrange things. It didn’t work at all this year with bits here there and everywhere so I will probably go back to a more orderly way of veg gardening with some blocks of flowers but I have the winter to think about it 😀

Saturday: The weather has once again switched and we are back to summer temperatures although the mornings and evenings are much cooler. Today’s jobs on the list were clean outs. John did the two mobile hen huts while I did the turkeys, rabbits/guineas, light Sussex and quail, 6 houses/pens in all. So nice when it’s all done 😀 inbetween doing them the deliveries of hay and straw arrived, we haven’t had any for a while so a nice chat and catch up with the supplier was in order 😋 We had lunch and a sit down to recharge for some more cleaning out in the afternoon but Sam, Mia and the babies arrived and then Shelley, Josh and Flo, a friend came with her husband to pick sloes for her sons wedding favours of sloe gin next year and by the time everyone left that was the afternoon done lol. The eggs needing collecting the birds feeding, the dinner getting on and before you know it the evening has arrived and that’s another day over.

At the moment I am collecting hazelnuts, I usually have pockets full of them and yesterday I spent some time collecting them off the tree, well a hour and a half to be precise, I couldn’t believe I had spent that long it only seemed like half an hour. I have cut the mesh to lay in the bottom of the apple racks so that they can dry out with air all around them, they still have a lot of moisture in them and so they sweat if they are in a container and that leads to mould which you don’t want.

Sunday: Another nice day on the cards, I spotted a squirrel at the end of the driveway early this morning, bad news for me and my walnuts, I did hunk it was odd that there were none on the ground yet 😏 After doing the birds I got on with cleaning out the stable that some of the hens and ducks are while John went off to visit his Mum. When he got back he cleaned out the front hen house while I did some hoovering, washing etc. Then we spent the afternoon at Charlie and Maccas along with Shelley, Martin and the kids and Sam, Luke and the kids, it’s Sams birthday Tuesday so Charlie had made her a birthday cake as she probably won’t get time to make her own 😂

We came back early evening to do the eggs and feeding and John came back from collecting and said ‘you’ll never guess what I picked up’ I went through the list of eggs and it’s a goose egg! Geese are seasonal layers and generally lay from Feb to May sometimes into June and ours stopped laying a couple of months ago but now one has laid again 🙄 it’s definitely a fresh one as we look there every day for hen eggs, I’ve no idea what’s going on with that lol.

I had a nice little blast from the past round at Charlie’s, Macca is very into his music and bought an old turntable, then someone gave him a load of 45’s, oh my days looking through those, the labels, the songs, the bands, bought a whole load of memories flooding back 😀

Posted in Friesland Farm

Jammin, not the musical kind 😜

I decided to change the theme layout of the blog this week to keep,you on your toes 😋

Monday 2nd September: Oooo we are proper rolling into Autumn now. Dad and Sue enjoyed their week and did some helpful jobs around the place, mowing, picking, weeding etc John was off as well and got a few jobs done, not ones that were on my list for him mind you!

It turned out that mostly, the plums on the Victoria tree were fine so I have been picking those, some were stoned and frozen for winter use and this morning I have made some jars of jam. I love the colour of Victoria jam, a beautiful jewel colour and you know Autumn is just around the corner when you can start the blackberry picking in earnest.

I like whole fruit jams rather than jelly, the latter is made by cooking the fruit then straining it overnight through a jelly bag to get the liquid, if you like seedless then that’s what you would do but firstly I can’t be bothered with the faff and I rather like to use all of the fruit, with the exception of apple, I’m not keen on the texture and so apple jelly is altogether nicer in my opinion.

I have still been regularly picking tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, beetroot, runner beans, carrots, courgettes, raspberries and hybrid blackberries, I keep testing the grapes for sweetness and they are almost ripe, the melons are doing nicely and the pumpkins and spaghetti squash are beginning to ripen.

Last week I dug up my blueberries and repotted them, they have not done well where they are, I don’t know why, but time to move them and see if I can get a better crop from them. This is the time of year to sort out the strawberry beds and so that is on the to do list as are a hundred and one other jobs lol, seed collection, dividing and a bit of planning for next year.

I made a ‘chuck it in’ sauce for the freezer, I used courgette, tomato, celery, garlic, onion, green pepper, carrot, oregano, basil, parsley, salt and pepper. I used what I had that was ripe and ready or needed using up, no particular quantities just what I had available, the tomatoes were blanched and skinned but apart from that everything else was just chopped and chucked, I sweated it off with a bit of avocado oil and then it will simmer gently down in its own juices. With all that in there it can’t fail to taste good, each different batch would of course taste slightly different but I will freeze it and use it for pasta or even as a base for soup in the winter. I always freeze, I have never got round to thinking about canning on a serious level though I probably should some day.

Tuesday: One of the first jobs this morning was to re boil the jam as it didn’t set! Pain in the bum as all the jars need re sterilising etc, it’s done now and looks like a set has been reached, I did throw a lemon in with it to help it on its way. I have a feeling that the fruit has a lot more water content this year than previous years as too much liquid seems to be the problem. I am going to Swindon with Shelley this morning so I will look for a new thermometer as the bubble keeps separating in mine which can’t help much either 🙄

I still have this ridiculous cough, I had it all week while Dad and Sue were here, it is getting better but slowly, last night I was up two or three times and consequently am tired already today and it’s only 9am 😏

While I was in Swindon Mum was here working away on the strawberry bed, I have strawberries all over the place and they need consolidating, the bed also needed raising as the slugs were getting most of them as they were trailing on the floor. This is the right time of year to sort out the strawberries and thin out any old ones and use the new runners as fresh plants.

Wednesday: Rain overnight which is good because the garden needed a sprinkle 😀 I am making more jam this morning 😜 plenty of berries to be picked at the moment and this is mainly blackberry but there are a few raspberries, mulberries, blueberries and a couple of cherries in there too so this is a mixed fruit jam.

This time of year is packed with preparing and storing the harvest, berries, top fruit, veg, nuts it’s an abundant time of year and a busy one. I have a basket full of tomatoes to do something with not quite sure what yet maybe soup, you can’t beat some fresh tomato soup in the depths of winter.

The hens are laying very well now and we have an abundance of eggs 🤪 I also have some pears to use up and when I see the words ‘one bowl, no fuss’ that’s a recipe I know I’m going to love so I made a cinnamon spiced pear cake.

We went over to my brothers after dinner as John had to pipe up a couple of radiators for him, when we got back it had rained again and it felt decidedly wintery 😏 so a good mug of hot chocolate was in order, soon be Hygge time again 😀

Thursday: Sunny but chilly this morning, looks like it will be a nice day though so I got some washing on first thing. Slight problem with that at the moment as a spider has taken up residence in the wash basket 🙄 I tentatively pull clothing out knowing that any minute a 10ft hairy eight legged monster is going to leap out at me 🤪

The wildlife is still abundant round here, each morning when I open the side door around 20/30 sparrows are startled and start flying from bush to bush, it’s quite a sight. They appear to be feeding on the ground in the gravel at the front so bang goes my notion to weedkiller it at the end of the month, I am not really sure what to do, leave it all to grow and mow it?

I watched John for five minutes trying to catch an escaped chicken in vain on his way to his van this morning, I could have gone out and helped but it was much more fun to spectate 😂

Not sure what I am going to do today, that’s the beauty of this place and my life, I can decide in a moment ‘to do or not to do’ I write that glibly as very often a situation arises that needs sorting or something comes up that really can’t wait.

The rabbits and guinea are still on their green diet, I have not bought a bag of hard feed since way back in spring, nor should it be necessary really with all the forage there is available. The kittens are doing well and are right at home here now, we have seen a lot less of them this week mind as Alfie (Sams dog) has been staying and he, for the want of a better word, is a tit 😬 continually chasing the birds, horse, cats, anything that might move and give him a game, the kittens, quite sensibly stay out of the way when he is around. I am keeping a close eye on the torts, they will begin to eat less now the heat has gone out of the ground, they will wind down until it’s time for them to sleep for the winter. If you think about it, it’s half a life, the sensible half mind you in the warmth of Spring and Summer 😀 Everything else is doing well, the three remaining turkeys are growing and occasionally make that gobbling noise which is funny to hear, the light Sussex are getting to the point where we will have to do what was intended with them 🙄 the laying hens are laying well and we have plenty of eggs available every day, just the young ducks that are slacking and still have not produced a single egg between them yet 😏

I went out and did a bit of picking, mainly courgettes 😂 they grow like weeds! I don’t even eat them but they sell well and if they get too big the chickens love them 😀 I had a pot of agapanthus that came from Johns Mums and it was well and truly pot bound so I have divided it up into about seven new plants, now is a good time to do it, when they have gone over agapanthus need deadheading and feeding for six weeks according to Monty Don so splitting them and putting them into fresh compost will serve them well hopefully.

The wind is still cold and I feel a bit tired today which in turn makes me despondent 😭 gets me wondering, why I am doing all this, what/who am I doing it for? Shall I cut back massively but I know it’s just today and tomorrow if it’s warm and I feel good I will be back on track 😀 When we started this journey the Lupus was not even on the radar and I was used to hard graft, in our previous house I had not only dug out the footings for a very large extension with only a jack hammer to aid me but completely transformed a large mostly lawned garden into a wonderful space with interest and abundance. The garden was opened once a year for viewing to aid a local charity and that meant being on top of things all the time, when we moved here the momentum to achieve something great was intensified but year by year it waned until I was so poorly that my system completely collapsed and another chapter in my life began, living with Lupus 🙄 However, I am not and never have been a quitter, always in it for the long haul and I still am but days like these when I am too tired to motivate myself leave me wondering, how about a small house and garden, lots of holidays and free time lol.

I found a little bit of energy later in the afternoon to do the egg collecting and feeding and a few other little jobs, the sun was shinning and the wind had dropped so it was quite lovely outside. Part of the tiredness is a this bloody stupid cough I have got, I have to sleep practically sitting up and wake up coughing a couple of times a night so it’s no wonder really but it is getting slowly better.

Friday: We were up late and so it was me doing the animal rounds this morning, John has been doing it for ages and doing a sterling job. I’m not complaining 🙄 about his routine but……the birds have been getting away with murder, well not murder exactly 😜 but they have been left to become a bit delinquent, so this morning I reigned in some control 😮 Not just let out to run wild but kept in to eat and drink before being let out to run wild 😂

Then onto a good few hours work in the fruit cage, pruning, cutting back, trying to dig up stinging nettles, until my legs felt like jelly, I haven’t done that much hard work for a long while 😀

I had to reach into the back of the wardrobe this afternoon, no door to Narnia in there but there was a long woolly cardi with my name on it 🥶 I can’t quite believe that just over two weeks ago the temperatures were so high, it’s like a roller coaster ride, slow ride to the top then whooosh we are hurtling headlong into Winter in a split second, that’s a temperate climate for you, bloody temperamental it should be called 😏 Now I am sporting a very fetching look of long cardigan with my gillet over the top for no other reason than I love my gillet and can’t let go of it just yet 🤣

Saturday: More work in the fruit cage and Mum came to help so we got it all done, looks a whole lot tidier and more manageable now, I have put a fair bit of weed membrane down on the side that is troubled with stinging nettles and bindweed I fed all the raspberries in the pots, I was going to put them in the ground but that’s a whole lot of work and they spread like crazy so I decided to leave them in the pots and look after them a bit better 😜 I harvested a load of carrots, I intend to make some tomato soup so will need some for that but the rest will be prepped for the freezer. Then I picked some blackberries and open froze them for using later and then a sandwich and a sit down, got to conserve energy as I have Josh and Flo this afternoon and overnight while Shelley and Martin go to a wedding lol, and we are taking the kids with us to an 18th birthday bbq 🤪

Sunday: Pretty much a non day for me on the smallholding, I stayed over at Shelleys with the grandchildren last night so John was in charge all day 😀

Posted in Friesland Farm

The wrong shoes, plum moth and hard working Mums 😀

Monday 19th August: whoo hoo Monday again 😬 Not a bad day weatherwise so far, cool enough, a touch of sun, no rain and no wind 😀 After doing the morning stuff I got on in the garden, not veg gardening, today I am giving that a rest but flowers instead. I have a few plants that are struggling where they are and I wanted to save them so I have dug them up, a fushia, delphinium, lupin and gaura, and potted them in fresh compost and put them in the greenhouse for a boost. Then I went out to the front by the egg shed and hoed and weeded, dead headed and brushed, so it looks a bit more presentable now 😀 The ranunculus have died back and I want to try and store the bulbs over winter as they were pretty special so I have bought in the pot to sort them out and in its place I have put a dahlia which should flower soon.

I got dinner sorted for later, we had a roast chicken yesterday and got to use it all up lol so I will be having a baked potato/salad with mine and John will be having a throw it all in the pot and reheat job 😀 I also made a summer fruit pudding crumble with the blackberries and raspberries I picked this morning, I mixed them up with some greengages and I meant to take a photo before putting the crumble mix on top as the colours were vibrant, but I forgot 🙄

The Victoria plums, I have discovered have plum moth 😟 I had a trap in the damson tree which is about 20ft away and I thought it would cover it but it seems not 😏 so I have ordered some more traps and grease bands to do as many fruit trees as possible. It’s a pain in the arse to wait all year only to find they have moth in them grrrr

I keep eyeing up the mulberry tree and there are loads on there but the blackbirds are beating me to them every morning, mulberries turn very quickly, red one day, black and very squishy the next, hard to get them at the right time, I have not had one single berry yet 😏 The biggest problem with the soft fruit is that the birds will eat them before they are ripe enough to pick!

When John came home he noticed some of the new hens had got out and on further investigation a big hole has been chewed in the netting, I think the geese are to blame but also the charge was not going through so John spent 2 hours fixing it. I went out when he had just about finished and he asked if I was going to help him put the birds to bed, I said, I haven’t got the right shoes on. Anyone who works outside especially in and around paddocks/stables will know you need the right shoes, anyhow I obliged and went to the stables block to lock the birds in, I turned on the main light, turned around and caught my foot under the rubber matting which was slightly proud. I kind of flew, hands sprawled out in front of me and then belly flopped onto the hard ground beneath me, I cried out and then just lay there whimpering until John found me, concerned at first but then laughed when he realised I was grazed but not broken 😜 I feel lucky that I didn’t break anything, especially my wrist which took the brunt and lucky that I had taken some ibrufen an hour before for my sinusitis (I know, I’m a walking disaster at the minute) I’m sitting here typing with bits of me smarting and I can imagine in the morning it will hurt or at the very least be stiff🙄

Tuesday: A little sore this morning but nothing much thank goodness 😅 I spent a good deal of the morning trying to get the fruit cage under some sort of control, the bindweed has been awful this year and has rampaged through the raspberries smothering everything. I did other things but forgot to write them down and now poof, can’t remember 🙄

Wednesday: I got busy doing some cutting back and tidying in the garden, then Mum came over and also got busy doing some weeding and tidying and suddenly it’s all starting to look a bit more under control lol. I think I have decided that I am going back to the way I gardened before 😜 I will plant trees and shrubs in among things but I need a bit of order 🤪 and can’t really cope too well with what seems like haphazard gardening. I think we have decided I should garden to what suits me and not try and follow a regime as such, much better for my sanity lol.

Some more plum moth traps arrived today so I have put them up in the trees to catch the males, I have until early September to trap them and hopefully slow down the numbers.

Thursday: A bloody good session outside this morning 😀 following on from Mums sterling work on the feverfew, which has gone beserk and taking over everywhere, I did a bit more to the same area and the pathway which is so weedy it’s a job to distinguish from the garden! Then onto the hazel trees at the side of the house, normally at this time of year nothing needs doing to them but last autum we cut three of them back to let light into the tunnels on the other side. You can image how much growth they have put on and the tomatoes in the tunnels are struggling to ripen so I have cut back some of this years foliage and the stinging nettles to hopefully help with the light issues. Then I noticed that the ripe hazels are beginning to fall so I raked the area clean, it’s easier to spot them that way 😀

Yesterday and today I have felt fit and well whoo hoo hence some hard graft, have to be careful though as wham it will hit me when I’m not looking lol.

I went on chicken watch because despite John spending another hour last night fixing holes, they have still got out today, so I am sat waiting to see where exactly they are doing it, luckily the sun isn’t out 😀 At the moment the hens are behind electric that’s because they are only just starting to lay and we want them to lay in the nest boxes. If we let them free range straightaway they would just lay anywhere and we will not find the eggs, chicken training, who knew there was such a thing 😜

I been sat here for 20 mins and no one has made a bid for freedom but I know as soon as I turn my back they will be out 🙄

I spent the evening sorting out, or trying to sort out, the office, going through old paperwork that we no longer need so that I can find any paperwork we do need!

Friday: It’s lunchtime and so far I have split my time between cleaning the bathroom and doing some washing, picking veg and sowing some winter seeds.

I am cleaning because Dad and Sue are coming to stay for a week, they arrive Sunday, I am not cleaning because they will mind the a bit of dust but because I would like it to be nice and clean when they are here lol. My thoughts reminded me about a conversation with Johns Dad once, asking me if Women dressed for Men or for themselves pffft, themselves of course (most women anyhow) quite conceited of the male of the species to think that we dress for them 🤣 We used to have some good conversations, generally we saw things from opposing angles which you would think put us at odds with each other, not in the slightest, we enjoyed discussing our different opinions and often learnt from each other’s views, and he always enjoyed playing devils advocate 😜

The winter veg I have sown are not very exciting but will hopefully provide some fresh veg in the ‘hungry gap’ some winter spinach which is always useful, sweetheart type cabbage which will be ready next spring and some mooli radish. The latter I have never grown before and they were free seeds, from experience weird and wonderful veg rarely grow well but no harm in trying, they grow as big as a tennis ball so will make great additions to soups and stews over winter.

I have picked a bit of veg this morning but to be honest it’s meagre pickings, that’s because whatever I haven’t used or frozen has sold out quickly and now I’m struggling to keep finding things to put out, there are worse problems to have I know 🙄

Saturday: Turned out to be a scorcher of a day with more to come over the next few days! We were up early because we wanted to get into town and get some shopping before it got too hot. Just before we left another early bird was up and over here, Mum came to do some more work on the weeds, it’s all now looking pretty good largely due to her hard work 😓 so thanks Mum 😘 I did a bit when I got back and John did a few jobs but by lunchtime it was very hot and in the afternoon the temp gauge in the greenhouse was off the scale which stops at 50c 🙄 Shelley, Josh and Flo came over and we sat in the shade until that even got too hot, after they had gone it was just basic jobs that got done.

I was babysitting Mia and the twins for a few hours while Sam went off in search of her sanity 🤣 with Luke to their local pub. I said to her ‘hats off’ I don’t know how she gets everything done, it took two hours to feed, wind and change them both then another two hours to settle them and in fact Lucie didn’t settle for the whole evening. Mia was fab, patient, helpful and obliging at bedtime which made it a whole lot easier.

Sunday: An early sign off this week, temps are set to climb even higher today although at the moment it’s overcast so we will see what happens. Again we were up early, I got straight on with watering as I couldn’t do it last night and somethings are struggling, amazing that this time last week it had been raining for days! Then the last bit of cleaning before Dad and Sue arrive for the week, I probably won’t blog much if at all as I will be very busy entertaining etc 😀

Have a great Bank Holiday 🌞