Hatchlings, butter making and Plum sauce.Β 

Monday: Mid August and summer appears to have left us lol, dry this morning but colder than I would like for the time of year, the rain was not far away either! Did the rounds all was well then turned on the water in the big tunnel and forgot to turn it off until later in the afternoon, that won’t need doing for the rest of the week 😜 Went out and got some oil for the generator so that I can get that going on Thursday when the electric goes off, need to keep the incubator going in case they haven’t all hatched and need to have a heat lamp on any that have hatched. 

Pulled a muscle in my arm throwing the chickens some food would you believe, now it hurts every time I try and do something, stood and halved and stoned 1.5kg of Victoria plums that’s enough in one sitting, I am going to have to give a lot of them away I think as there are many kilos of them, only so much plum crumble you can eat and this evenings job will be looking for new recipes for plums! While I was out getting the oil I found a Medieval cook book in the charity shop, well it’s not actually Medieval otherwise it would have cost a lot more than Β£1 but the recipes are from those times so I will see if that has any plum recipes in it.  

Tuesday: Foggy damp morning that blossomed into a beautiful sunny day β˜€οΈ did the rounds and then did some bits in the garden. I have a fair few perennials that were planted in boxes a few years ago that have now outgrown the positions, the boxes can’t sustain them and they dry out too quickly so although it’s not quite the right time of year year I have been taking them out and dividing them up and potting them so that I can redo the beds and replant them next spring. I will also have plenty of plants for my new flower bed πŸ˜€ 

I decided to shut the dogs away and sit quietly and drink tea in the garden, I rarely do that mostly I drink on the go, sitting there all I could think was, the grass needs cutting, I better check on the few pears I have left in the orchard, I really should pick some plums, the geese need cleaning out and I hadn’t even finished my cup before Samantha arrived, all the best laid plans lol, so I was up and about it again before very long. I picked some, well quite a lot actually, of the hybrid blackberries, they have sweetened up a bit and Mia certainly enjoyed a few, then I picked a few weeds for the rabbits and guinea pigs I gave them a few of the squished blackberries to see if they like them. In no time at all it was egg collecting time. In the evening after dinner I cut the lawn as it had grown a fair bit in one week and was dry enough at the end of the day, and I watered the plants in pots because even though we had rain overnight the August sun is still strong enough to dry them out. John cleaned out the geese and my sister came over to have a little go in the caravan (yep the one we haven’t worked on for ages 😝) We were given a complete awning for it but we only wanted the top bit so set about cutting it up until we had what we needed.

Wednesday: This morning I had Josh for an hour while Mummy did some errands so we went outside, picked up some crab apples from the floor to give to the geese, went for a walk up to the back paddock where I taught him about Hawthorn and Sloes lol, then Sam and Mia arrived and then my Mum turned up to do a bit in the veg garden for me. I gave her the task of pulling up all the strawberry plants that I don’t need anymore, saving a few runners to be potted up, half the plants I gave to the rabbits as they love them and the rest went on the compost heap. When the youngsters had left I went to pick yet more plums, I discovered that a large bough had broken under the weight of the fruit, I pulled it off but need to cut it properly and hope that it doesn’t get a condition called silver leaf which can happen if it’s too late in the year. 

John is going to be late home, he is busy rescuing someone with a split water tank, so I set about looking for plum recipes to make. A German plum cake was a must as one of my egg customers who happens to be German was telling me about it the other day, then onto plum ketchup, a mix of plums, onions, spices, vinegar and sugar. The recipe I have is a Delia Smith one and has chilli in the spice bag but I don’t have any dried chilli at the minute so I used Star Anise instead and hope that it tastes good. I also made a loaf of bread, good job I made it tonight as I nearly forgot the electric was going off tomorrow and on that subject I can hear chirping from within the incubator πŸ˜€

8.30pm checked on the incubator and we have our first hatchling πŸ˜€

Thursday: So today the electric was due to go off and it did but not at 10am as I thought, no, 8am 😜 off went all the gadgets. I was busy getting everything done so as to be in time for boiling the kettle and filling a flask when click everything went quiet. I rushed outside to get the generator going as we now had 3 hatchlings and more on the way, plug the incubator back in the the extension reel as well as a heat lamp for the newborns. I looked at my phone 1% battery OFFS and not much more battery on my vape stick either, I suddenly remembered I have a battery pack that will charge these up and it still had life in it phew, then messaged Sam as I knew she was coming over to bring a flask of boiling water or a coffee, great all back on track for the time being. Picked some tomatoes and groomed Kai for a good 30/45 mins he looks great now, no longer has lumps of moulting fur hanging off him. Sam turned up with the hot water and after a quick beverage we got on with the job we had set for the day which was collecting up debris from broken fencing and trying to repair what we could, the fences are a state, quite a lot have rotted away and the horses have trashed those and a few that haven’t rotted as well! It was a good days work well done, we have lugged and barrowed broken rails and hammered and sawn new bits of rail to put in, hardly made a dent on the repairs but at least we have started. For some reason all horses are chewing the rails at the minute, until we put some electric up that is and one of them got a lovely surprise ⚑️😜 

Shelley came over in the afternoon with some lovely cold drinks and I was able to show Josh 7 new hatchlings, hopefully we will have a few more yet. The electric came back on around 3pm so not too long a day without. 

Sam is cooking dinner for us at hers tonight, looking forward to that and she has a few stray buddlieas that I am going to collect. 

Friday: Promises to be a nice day, I got going with the feeding then straight onto picking, the rain/sunshine weather is making everything grow like billio, got a couple of unintended marrows on the go now, I did sell the last one so somebody somewhere still eats them lol. A basketful of courgettes, a tray full of runner beans, punnets of plums and tomatoes have all been put out for sale this morning. I processed another 1.5kg of plums and 500g of apples for the freezer.

We had eight hatchlings in total, 5 of the 6 Orpington bantams have hatched however only 3 of the silkie eggs were fertile out of 12! Those 3 did hatch successfully though, now we just have to wait and see how many cockerels we end up with 😜 as they are pure bred they shouldn’t be too hard to rehome though. 

I had a tub of double cream that was past it’s best date, I had previously frozen it then got it out to make something and didn’t so I was about to throw it out when I thought, ah ha I shall make butter with it. You can do it in a jam jar with the lid on but I bought a little gadget a couple of years ago with every intention of using it but never did, a fair bit of violent shaking later and I have butter and buttermilk whoop whoop, I froze the buttermilk in an ice cube tray for later use maybe in pancakes πŸ˜€

Saturday: Up and at it, different day, same routine lol, after the feeding it was time to get started on finishing the fencing round the orchard pen, this will securely house the bantams, the fox was getting over the flimsy fence before but now we have new posts concreted in and tomorrow the wire will go on then it’s finished finally. While we were at it we tided the area behind the greenhouse and it’s all looking good, we spent most of the day doing that plus a bit of housework. Shelley and Josh came over in the afternoon and bought doughnuts to go with a cup of tea β˜•οΈ lovely jubbly πŸ˜€ 

I went down to the postbox in the afternoon and found the letter I was waiting for had arrived 😝 I can’t remember if I mentioned it in a previous blog but I had been summoned for Jury Service 😏 Five years ago I would have jumped at the chance, maybe even a couple of years ago but here and now it was going to be a logistic and financial nightmare to say the least so I returned my form asking for an excusal on many fronts, one being that I don’t drive and there is no daily bus service, two I am solely responsible on a day to day basis for the livestock and three I provide free childcare for my granddaughter during the week. I don’t pay myself a wage so I wouldn’t be able to claim for anyone to cover my absence and Sam would have to potentially pay for childcare that also couldn’t be claimed for. I asked for an excusal hoping that at least they would defer, on opening the letter I found they had excused me, phew, that is a weight off my shoulders I can tell you. 

Sunday: Love Sunday mornings, they have a special feel to them, quiet and relaxed and even better when the Sun is out πŸ˜€ We had a cracking day working and getting the orchard pen completely finished, the whole area is looking clean and tidy and it’s good to go as soon as the bantams are big enough 😜 We took an hour out of the job to finish picking the Victoria plums, the tree was heaving with them and we have picked many kilos, I will process them tomorrow, some will go out for jam making, probably some more in the freezer and some just for the pure pleasure of eating. Shelley, Martin and Josh popped in and Josh spotted the basket full of plums straight away we had to limit him to two though I did take him off to pick a few raspberries and blackberries which he scoffed in an instant. We carried on tidying until quite late into early evening, cutting back a few branches from the trees that had grown a bit low, then shredding them up and raking the area tidy, a great weekends work and we finished just before the rain came down 😜

For some reason I seem unable to upload the photos of the area we worked on into this blog, having tried multiple times I will see if I can get them onto a separate posting, damn technology! 

Greengage, Victoria’s, its a plum week πŸ˜œ

Monday morning: I have done the feed rounds this morning and got a soaking while I was at it, that fine drizzle is a pain you go out thinking it’s not that bad but somehow it manages to seep in and drench you. To be honest I am knackered this morning, still tired from 9 hours of walking round Countryfile Live, I have aches that really should have gone away by now and to make matters worse I jarred my lower back this morning putting on my knickers of all things 😜 There were no acrobatics involved just caught my toe on the elastic and ping a muscle protested and won’t calm down about it. 

I candled a selection of eggs in the incubator and they all seem to be fertile and growing nicely, I have a small problem coming up the day after hatching day as we have had notification that the electric will be off for the day. Come on, every time I have the incubator on? Is someone listening in or something? Not quite sure what I am going to do just yet, I have another 8 or so days to figure it out, luckily it’s not winter and I may be able to keep them warm just by bringing them indoors as long as they are dried off. 

The weather forecast for this week is still changeable and I have resigned myself to the fact that Winter is coming 😝 and I just have to make to most of what we are given in the meantime. There seems an awful lot to do at the moment as the late summer produce will soon need picking and processing, apples, pears (not that there are many left but I do have one tree in the orchard the birds haven’t attacked yet) plums, nuts, my squirrel instincts are getting stronger lol. Shelley processed some windfalls for me while we were out on Saturday and made a crumble for us which was delicious, I always look forward to getting the apples in the freezer which reminds me that the freezers still need sorting maybe a job for today as it’s wet out. 

Freezers βœ… at least I have a rough idea of what and how much is in there now, prepped a few more beans for open freezing, did a bit of cleaning. Looked up some recipes for the banana squash, Shelley is making curry with it tonight and has invited me over for a taste, I think it will lend nicely to curry also an alternative to Bombay potatoes, and the recipe using sugar and baking it in the oven, serve with ice cream sounds delicious. I will let you know when I have sampled it πŸ˜€ 

I picked the ripe blackberries from the thornless bush I have, these are not as tasty as wild berries I find but just as good for putting in pies to get the vit c, I also picked more greengage, told you I hit the jackpot, the ones that were not much good I threw to the geese much to their delight. I shook the tree to bring them down, word of advice here, wear a hat, hard preferably, not only do they bop you but the creepy crawlers end up in your hair otherwise. I could have made jam or froze them whole for pies etc but I decided on a compote, great for adding to ice cream, yoghurt or just with a dollop of clotted cream πŸ˜€ I made mine with honey as the amount of sugar going into recipes like that is eye watering. Some I will freeze some will be in a jar in the fridge for using daily if I desire and some I will give away to my nearest and dearest. 

Greengage Compote – easy peasy πŸ˜€

400 g greengage halved and stoned

Honey 1tbs is recommended but it’s your compote if you want it sweeter add more, I keep squirting it in until I stop grimacing on tasting 😝

Juice of a lemon

Warm honey in a heavy based pan, add greengage and lemon, increase heat and simmer for about 5 mins or until you get the consistency you like. That’s it! 

Clean sterile jars if you want to keep it for a while or a clingfilmed dish will do

Keep in the fridge. Use at will πŸ˜€

This won’t keep like jam as the cooking temperature is low but it is easy and versatile. 

Because it’s so quick and easy you can have a little play around with other flavours if you like, add some crushed ginger, cook a star anise in with it, vanilla, cinnamon the choice is endless and all depends on what you prefer. 

As an added tidbit of information the greengage is the only plum tree that will grow true from seed, so I shall be saving some of the stones to dry out and plant, hopefully next year I will have some saplings to plant in the hedges πŸ˜€

A couple of things I forgot to mention in last weeks musings, I pulled up a good basketful of potatoes, we have used the last lot and I refuse to buy any, they have flowered and gone over so I figure they are ready. I left the little tiny ones in the soil, they will grow again, hopefully in time for Christmas potatoes. The other thing was that while John was moving the log pile to block up the gap he found a toad! A frog I would have thought ok it’s a bit far from any water but a toad is even rarer to find here, nice though πŸ˜€ except he now has to find a new home lol. Also Martin has now put the mast up on the pirate ship, it makes me smile in the mornings. 

The banana squash curry was lovely the squash has a pleasant flavour and does very well in a recipe like this. 

Tuesday: Forecast is wet for today but it’s dry this morning while doing to the rounds so that’s fine by me, picked some courgettes and cucumbers before going in and making bread and getting the dinner ready for this evening. While we were stood drinking our tea this morning John spotted Cyril the Squirrel running along the top of the fence towards the nuts trees, that’s it, the race is on to see who can gather the nuts fastest 😜

I made bread and got the dinner prepped for later then Mia arrived full of beans today, I made make shift cot out of wine carrier and hot water bottle cover for a blanket for the baby doll I got from the charity shop last week. As a rule I wouldn’t stereotype children but she is a real girly girl, putting things on her wrists like bracelets etc, it’s what she is drawn to. 

A strange thing happened that proves things are not always what they seem. A car pulled up and parked and a mid teen got out and went to the egg shed, the lady in the car was talking to him (the dogs barked so I looked out the window) he walked back to the car with what looked like a rat, held up by the tail at arms length, he got in the front passenger seat and was still holding it like this as they drove away. What the hell? Was my first thought, I checked the cctv to see if he had it with him when he arrived πŸ˜‚ I couldn’t see much on there so I went out to the egg shed to have a look, my curiosity was well and truly roused. Casting my eyes over the contents of the shed I could see that two items had been bought, one punnet of greengage and a small beetroot, I laughed this was obviously what he was holding, clearly he either does not like beetroot or the fact that it had a little mud on it or both 😜 Never take what you think you saw at face value, always investigate a little further, rat or beetroot? πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚ 

Wednesday: Yet another wet day in store, and a little chilly too as the breeze is from the North, I decided to put the horse in the stable to give him a break from the wet and cold and did the rest of the feed round. Back indoors I had two options, sit down and do nothing or cook, I decided to cook. I had been uber organised on Monday and got out various meats from the freezer to have for dinner each day, however, my plans did not go accordingly, first Shelley invited me to dinner to taste the banana squash curry so the salmon stayed in the fridge. The next night although I cooked John a chicken casserole my piece of chicken stayed in the fridge and we went over to visit my brother for his birthday where there was a selection of food on offer, and for tonight I have a shoulder of lamb in the slow cooker for John and I am off out with friends for supper. Rather than waste the salmon and chicken I decided to make fish cakes and chicken pies for the freezer, I also made the chocolate/courgette cake and baked a piece of banana squash in the oven with dark brown sugar and butter, mmm tastes a bit like treacle toffee. 

The rain carried on into the late afternoon and that’s another day done.

Thursday: The Sun is shinning this morning and there is a promise of a decent day, where do I start there is so much to do! Picking first, the runner beans, dwarf beans, courgettes, found a marrow 😜 tomatoes, cucumbers, then onto cutting off some of the tomato foliage that will not produce fruit, weeding the big poly tunnel then watering it, then onto picking some of the Victoria plums. The tree is laden with them this year although they are smaller than usual, I will have to give a lot away as I will never use that many! This is the time of the year when I feel that I am spread too thinly, the weeds mostly have to wait as the picking and processing takes priority and all the plants are putting on straggly growth that makes is difficult to keep things looking tidy, I definitely am going to have to scale it down next year, we are not getting enough dry days to do everything and I need a massive rethink on a fair few of the beds. The raspberries have gone over early due to that hot dry spell and there are no signs of the autumn berries 😏 to be honest the two rows last year didn’t produce much either so they really need to come out. The brassica cage is like a jungle that all needs pulling up as I have harvested most of what I need from them, there is still a fair bit to come, swede, parsnip, celeriac, the beetroot, more banana squash, sweet corn and butternut squash, I need to transform into an octopus πŸ™. On top of the work load I don’t feel on top form, I am a bit under the weather which has a knock on effect to my muscles and joints, got a few aches and pains and I’m losing more hair than I would like, hopefully it’s just a blip in my immune system, I’m also sleeping like a log, that’s not a good thing as I find it very difficult to wake up lol even after a short nap trying to rouse myself is getting harder, autoimmune disorders suck. 

After a quick smoothie for lunch I went out and pulled a few weeds and picked some peas, sat and podded them in the shade, delightful past time, and then harvested some herbs for drying. The herbs smell divine today, basil, sage, oregano, thyme, parsley and chives all picked and drying in the drier ready for storage for Winter use. I find drying them easier for my use but you can make herb salts, oils, vinegars or even frozen cubes of olive oil and herbs. Bay and Rosemary are evergreen and so available all year round however they are at their strongest during the growing season and for that reason can be dried or used in the same way. 

We made the decision to up the number of chickens, I did the figure crunching and it’s as cost effective, if not more so taking into consideration fence repairs, as having three horses, one of the liveries is relocating and one of the other horses on loan is being re homed so we will be getting 100 more hens to keep up with the demand for eggs which has increased considerably since the chap up the road has packed up. John is busy tonight getting the back paddock ready for the older ladies to retire to and the new ones will go in the front paddock, we have invested in some more poultry netting and this will be on the mains so Mr Foxy hopefully won’t be able to pick them off one by one. I’ve been looking up the current regulations and we are well within the boundaries, phew, and we are already registered with the APHA so don’t need to do anything except get the hens and make them comfy πŸ˜€ 

Friday: Up and at the housework first as it really needed doing then out to do the feed rounds, put some bread on, Mum came up to do some hoeing, I cleaned out the ducks and did many other little jobs inbetween everything else. There always seems to be stuff to do even when you think you have finished you walk into a room and yep there is something else to be put away or sorted! I had half made the decision to scale back the veg garden next year and talking to Mum finalised my thoughts, it’s far too much for one person and the veg haven’t sold as quickly this year as previous years so I will go back to just growing what we like and putting any extra out for sale rather than growing it to sell. The raspberry bed that is not under netting will come out as that doesn’t do well, I think the birds must get to the berries before I even see them, half of one of the veg beds will go and be replaced with flowers, I miss having flowers so it’s an ideal opportunity, the bed under the nut trees will go as things struggle for light under there and the strawberry bed will be dug up like it was supposed to be in the first place but I couldn’t bear to do it. I am not going to grow brassicas next year unless it is very early or very late as no matter how hard I try the butterflies still eventually find their way in and the caterpillars decimate them. I am going to grow what we eat and only a one or two plants of other things such as courgettes etc, I figured a smaller amount of well tended veg is better than the masses I have out there this year. Potatoes will be grown in containers as that is much easier than digging, less bean plants, more rows of carrots and peas and just a couple of rows of winter veg like swede, parsnip, beetroot etc. I feel a weight lifted from my shoulders already πŸ˜€

Saturday: Up early for another day out 😜 this time it was Retro Festival, what an absolute treat that was, a mix of retro and vintage from the 30’s through to the 80’s so many things I had forgotten about and so much to see. Everyone was happy I guess that’s what nostalgia does to you. Shelley looked after the farm for the day again bless her, she made the greengage and vanilla tart for me while we were away, it is delicious, she also picked a basketful of Victoria plums which I will need to do something with very soon.

Sunday: A lovely sunny morning and after feeding I spent some fabulous hours pottering in the garden, a bit of picking, a bit of potting up divided plants ready for my flower bed next year πŸ˜€I had to pull up all the outdoor tomatoes as they have blight, that foliage will need to be burnt, to be fair they were just extra plants that I didn’t have room for under cover and so although there are loads of green tomatoes on them I’m not too disappointed.  John finished off the bit of fencing by the decking area and then went on to cut up and tidy the wood area. My sister came over and picked a basket full of plums to make jam with, and some apples (she later returned with a pie πŸ˜€πŸ˜€) it was an idyllic kind of a morning to be honest. 

Butterflies, pitta bread & Countryfile Live πŸ˜€

Monday: I was a bit preoccupied last week what with visitors and John off and forgot to mention that I got some bantam eggs and they are now in the incubator, we also had no hot water as the immersion heater went on Friday so cold showers all round until its fixed, I have ordered the part and hope it arrives soon. Strangely enough we suddenly have some luke warm water this morning?? No idea what is going on with that (found out later John had fixed it) 

The sun is shining this morning and the two buddliea globosa, which have orange ball shaped flowers, are dancing with butterflies, mostly painted lady and red admiral, the odd peacock and also plenty of bees, all feeding on the nectar.

Well the day went a bit pear shaped when my neighbour shouted to me over the fence, she thought someone had dumped rubbish in her field but turns out that someone had been trying to nick Johns well hidden scrap from behind the hay barn, they had 30 bags of it lined up ready to go. Luckily John had heard the dog barking around 12.30 last night and got up, turned all the lights on and let the other dogs out, I guess they scarpered! He had to come home and retrieve it from the field, sure hope they don’t come back again it makes you feel very uneasy to know that people are prowling around. Activity has been high in the last couple of weeks as we have had some undesirables move in just a couple of miles down the road. 

Tuesday: All was well overnight thank goodness. A bright sunny start to the day, I did the feed round and then took Kai up to the back paddock for a grooming session, he is moulting like mad at the moment and the field looks like something has been massacred but it’s just fur. Mia arrived and sat out in the garden for a bit while I picked some tomatoes, which she kept pointing to and saying ‘egg’ lol, pulled up some weeds for the bunnies and guinea pigs, then she got bored of that so we went inside. 

Another couple of showers again later on in the day, I really think that might be it for summer now😝 the seasons seem to be all different the last few years, usually the ants start flying around early August but they have already gone a few weeks ago and this mornings mist was definitely autumnal.

Made bread once Mia had gone home, while I was at it I made a batch of ginger biscuits and something I wanted to have a go at for the first time, pitta bread. I don’t like the shop bought pittas, they are at the very least, disappointing 😏 and I have never had one that has been made by someone so I thought I would give it a go. They take 5 mins to mix up, an hour to prove the dough and then 1 and half minutes each to cook, brilliant, the results were mixed, some puffed up, some didn’t but apparently that doesn’t matter unless you want to fill it, but for humous non puffed is fine and they will freeze fine so don’t have to be eaten all at once lol. They are quite delicious and nothing like the cardboard things in the supermarket, they would easily lend themselves to dips, mopping up curry, chilli, stew yep a definite winner. 

Wednesday: Filthy day from start to finish! Didn’t really get much done outside apart from the routine stuff and a bit of picking early on, Mia arrived and Shelley and Josh came over to play and that was pretty much how the day went. Sure hope the rain eases of soon 😜 

John spent the evening outside moving the woodpile to fill the gap that the nighttime visitors were obviously trying to use.

Thursday: Not raining but windy and spitting and overcast, the jet stream is too high up for good weather it seems 😝 Nevertheless jobs need to be done so did the usual feeding routine, sold out of eggs by goodness knows what time this morning 8.30 I think, the earliest customer coming around 7.30! The chap a couple of miles down the road has given up his 150 hens due to ill health and I guess some are coming here however we don’t have enough hens to supply them all. 

After feeding I did picking, runner, dwarf beans, courgettes, tomato, swede and beetroot, the veg suddenly seems to be getting snapped up at a great rate too, maybe new customers? I pulled up some weeds and perpetual spinach plus some herbs for the rabbits and guinea pigs and a tub full of herbs for the chickens to peck over. I saw a programme where the local chicken farm was feeding a mix of chopped up leftover herbs from a herb farm so I thought I would try it on mine and see how they like it. Then onto the POL pen as it is getting very muddy with all the rain, I think it is still coming in through the roof and I will have to watch it to see what is happening as John appears not to have fixed it with his two bits of wood propping it up 😜Cleaned up the floor, chucked in some bits for them to scratch around for and changed the low water trough for two buckets as this may be part of the problem, when emptying it you can’t help but tip it all over the floor, better to have buckets that can be carried away for emptying. 

I had to look up two potential problems, one, blood in chicken poop but a chart analysis reassured me that it was just the shedding of lining and normal, thank goodness for that, the hens are all vaccinated but coccidiosis is always a worry, technically they shouldn’t get it but it’s possible one may have escaped the vaccination process and the second problem is the yellowing of the leaves on the tomato plants, it’s not blight and it doesn’t appear to be a nutrient deficiency, at this time of the season it is more likely to be the plants beginning to shut down. They have done their job, grown, produced flowers, then fruit (which is starting to ripen) and that’s a job done as far as they are concerned, I think it’s a little early but then so is everything else this year! 

In the afternoon I cleaned out the quail and then the ducks, both huts are mucky from the wet weather, at this time of year they shouldn’t need cleaning out so much! Then I went on to burn the paper feed sacks etc and remembered I needed to check out the greengage plums. Normally I don’t pick anything until it’s ripe but the greengage are the exception to the rule this year, I usually leave them until they are just about ready but find that the wasps get there first. Gages are the sweetest of plums, there is a scale measurement for fruit sweetness but I can’t find the reference now, gages come pretty high on the scale even though they look like they might be sour, trust me, they are not. I usually end up with a couple of handfuls but this year I have hit the jackpot with them, the damsons on the other hand are not so good and as I still have some in the freezer from last year I may leave them all for the wasps πŸ˜€ I also have Victoria’s but they seem, contrary to everything else, well behind schedule ?? Plums grown commercially are picked before they are ripe, then stored, then pumped with ethylene which is the same gas given off by bananas and some other fruit so all I need to do with the gages is leave them on the side next to the fruit bowl to ripen. I will probably put a few out for sale but mostly I will be eating them in their natural state πŸ˜€ I just realised that they are also free of coddling moth grubs this year so the traps I put up last year and the sticky bands have done the job, in fact all the top fruit is free of it so well done me 😝 

Friday seems to be lost somewhere 😝

Saturday: Whoop whoop we are off to Countryfile live today so up early to do the animals then off out for the day, Shelley is in charge at the farm πŸ˜€

We had a fab day out, it was one of the best shows of that type I have been to, something for everyone, everything to do with the countryside and a little bit more. I learnt a lot, ate a lot, walked a lot and talked to a lot of people. So many people are very passionate about their breed or their product or their skills it was the perfect place to showcase them all. The rare breeds, bees and using a scythe really caught my interest and we both thoroughly enjoyed watching the Stihl Timbersports British Championship. 

Sunday: Lol, John was up early this morning and when he was dressed realised it was Sunday and not Monday as he had thought 😝 The weather looked set to be fair and so we got on with feeding and then a bit of picking for me while John cut up some of the wood from the pile that seems to be multiplying while we are not looking. I swept the front driveway and cut the grass, it does look so much better when it’s done but I can’t help thinking it won’t be long until the Autumn leaves will be making a mess. There are little villages of mushrooms sprouting up all over the place, they look fabulous when they first bloom and add another dimension to the garden areas. 

Short and sweetΒ 

Monday: I thought I was doing really well this morning, John is off for the week to do farm stuff providing he doesn’t get endless phone calls 😜 and we were up for an early start. The weather is a bit crap for July and Dad is visiting so I thought I will get some braising steak in the slow cooker and get some bread made then go out and sort the animals. Came back in and the bread timer pinged but the bread dough was still flat, muppet, I have forgotten to put the yeast in, that will teach me not to rush around trying to multitask! I have now added the yeast given it another knead and we will see if it responds, if not I will have to start again. Well the bread did rise so that was good, I also decided to make some more courgette and chocolate cake and I make courgette and potato soup for lunch which was quite delicious.

John is doing well on the task in hand and we got the cement mixer out and mixed up some concrete for the base of the new run but ran out of ballast, to be fair we were using some left over in a tonne bag and it didn’t go as far as we hoped so will have to get some more to finish it off. He was digging holes for the posts and came across a fair few bottles in the ground, plenty of bottle dumps around here as it used to be part of the military camp, most were broken, however one was fully intact and it still has the stopper a rare find indeed, I googled the company and they are still brewing ale today. The area he is digging in has some foundations either from a path or from the old Nissan huts that were once in the front paddocks, or as dad tells me the latrines were also here 😜

Tuesday: A good day weatherwise but we are forecast heavy showers tomorrow so need to get as much done as possible, I had Mia but she fell asleep in the pushchair after her lunch so I was able to take her into the garden and do some dividing up of plants that are going over such as Solomans Seal and Diacsia, I did some Lilly of the Valley and the Tete a Tete daffy earlier in the season.

Wednesday: The showers are here πŸ’¦ saves me watering the garden but it’s difficult to get much else done, John worked until he was soaked. I ordered some bantam eggs online as I can’t seem to find any point of lays within an hours drive, so I have set up the Incy again, only trouble is that the automatic pump packed up on it so I will have to monitor the humidity and hope I get it right. I did try moving a broody hen into the rabbit house with her own hut but the minute I put her in there she decided not to sit any longer 😜 bloody typical. I have tried in the past leaving them where they are but the other hens always want to get in and lay in the same place causing problems and broken eggs. 

Feeling a bit stressed today as the job in hand is not moving as quickly as I would really like and if it doesn’t get finished before John goes back to work that will be another half done job and we have plenty of those. 

Made some bread and prepped some runner beans for the freezer, I really need to sort the freezers out as everything just get put on the top and I can never find what I’m looking for. I saw an idea using a felt tip and writing on the top what is in there, I might have to implement this ideas somehow. 

Thursday: The new rabbit/guinea pig run was finally finished to day and I think they like it πŸ˜€ certainly much more space for them to run around in than their little cages, nice and secure, wind proof and with a roof, life of Riley! I too, them some weeds to celebrate and all is well, hopefully as they have not all lived together before. Most of the morning was spent finishing that off and tidying up then John and I went for afternoon tea at ten Crazy Bear Farm Shop, a nice little getaway afternoon that Charlie and Macca got us for Christmas, delicious and we bought some goods from the farm shop to bring home for supper later. 

Saw Josh for the first time since Monday as he has been poorly, he went to hospital in an ambulance on Monday night with croup, he still has a really raspy voice bless him but still smiling. 

Friday: Dad and Sue decided to stay on for a couple of days more for my birthday weekend, in the afternoon we tried to put the gazebos up. First one was ok though a little blowy, the second frame went up and then we tried to get the roof cover on and a gust of wind took us all up up and away, bent poles the lot so we abandoned that for the day lol. 

Saturday: Today the family are coming over for a picnic in the paddock with sack races, egg and spoon races, aunt Sally and a bit of dancing. Hope the weather is kind to us as it’s been crap ever since the kids broke up for summer hols😜 We had a good few hours in the dry but the rain came on in the early evening, luckily we had cleaned up the back covered area just in case and so retreated into there until late evening. A good time was had by all πŸ˜€

Sunday: Today is my birthday, John did the animals while I cleared up some of the remnants of the night before, then I opened my presents and cards β™₯️ did a bit more clearing up 😝 the girls came over with the grandchildren and Martin, Sam cooked me a bit of dinner, and that was pretty much it for the day. 

A potato bird scarer, self set potatoes, apple jelly.

Monday: All was going well until I discovered that all my lovely pears have been stripped from the tree, it was loaded with them and now they are all gone? One of two things, either we have night time visitors picking their own or more likely the bloody rooks are doing it, we have had hundreds of them in the paddocks this week. There is a I’m guessing, unmanaged, rookery up the road and the numbers are increasing ridiculously. Normally they descend on the chicken feed but as that is now fed inside they are raiding everything else. Disheartened is not the word I can tell you, waited all year for those 😀
I don’t know if we are headed for a harsh winter, or if the long dry spell and then hot spell is driving it but they are stripping fruit bushes and trees before the fruit is even ripe. I have covered the small Apple tree that has some apples left on it although they have been eating them while they are still on the branch, the bigger trees hopefully have enough on them still to get a good crop from but I am beginning to wonder if there is much point to any of this at all πŸ˜” I have never had a year with so many different problems! I ordered a plastic owl with rotating head to see if that works, then I remembered something my Dad showed me many years ago using a potato, a stick, some string and some feathers, I have goose feathers lying round from when they moulted so I made a potato bird and we will see if it works. 

So I gave it half an hour wandered down the garden and there was a crow sat right next to it on the fence………clearly they don’t work lol, might have to try a cardboard cut out of me with a gun! 

We moved the geese back to the front paddock, mainly because they are nervous at the back since the fox attack but also because we are getting a few windfall apples now and they might as well be put to good use clearing them up πŸ˜€

Went out this evening to Charlbury to water youngest daughters hanging baskets and put the bins out as they are away, a summer evening drive through the Windrush Valley has to be one of the most beautiful things to do, combines are out cutting the crops, billows of dust in their wake, feeling very lucky to live here. 

Tuesday: Did some picking this morning, got a haul of courgettes again 😜 picked and cooked some beetroot to go in the fridge for eating with my salads, also dwarf beans and runners, and some more self set potatoes, one or two big enough for a jacket πŸ˜€ picked a mix of berries and had a power packed berry smoothie for breakfast 😁Mia is here today so lots of playing lol, hopefully an afternoon nap, eventually! 

John cut the front driveway grass while I got the dinner and that was about it for the evening, waiting for the storms now. 

Wednesday: Well we didn’t have storms, not that I heard anyway, but we did have rain, it’s lovely and fresh out there this morning although the temps are already climbing. I won’t be doing any picking today, I will leave the rain to work it’s magic for a day or so mind you the courgettes may well be marrows by then.

The egg customers seemed to have disappeared this week 😝 over the years I have noticed a pattern, the week before the school holidays begin, the egg sales slow right down, my theory is that as most of our customers are older they take the opportunity to go away on holiday before the kids break up, either because they will be looking after the grandchildren over the hols or they want a child free break. I’ve never actually asked any of them but it seems the most likely explanation. 

I said that we have moved the geese partly to eat up the fallen apples, these are from the June/July drop which occurs naturally to thin out the fruits on the tree but I suspect that lack of rain is also causing fruits to drop, most have been ravaged overnight by insects and early birds but occasionally there is an intact rather nice looking apple. I wondered if it was safe to use such early windfalls and googled it, seems I’m not the only one who wants to know, there are, as you would expect, a range of opinions from a scientific study stating that mould spores on the apples are dangerous and you should only eat/use ones picked from the tree to ‘I use the windfalls bruises, bugs and all to make cider’ I suspect the truth is somewhere in the middle. The best answer I found was a practical one that stated it was difficult to peel them for use as they were quite hard, makes sense so for the time being I will feed them to the geese and hope there are still some left come September. While I was looking for info I came across an article by Rose Prince in The Telegraph, and a recipe for apple jelly, it wasn’t so much the recipe that intrigued me but the way the jelly was then used in various ways. 

‘I eat the best of windfalls and make purΓ©e out of others, but apple jelly is the real reason I beg windfalls from friends. I put a sprig of thyme in each jar and add it to gravies or eat a spoonful with roasts and grills. I also make a jar without herbs and use it as a base for fruit sorbets or melt it so I can brush it on to a baked apple tart or fruitcake.’ 

That is my idea of a useful bit of information and I will certainly be making apple jelly and using it as described above and as many other ways as I can think of, the article ended with this statement;

‘Squirrel instincts satisfied, I can look at my stored jars of setting iridescent liquid and foresee a winter of goodness. Pectin may be invisible, and apple jelly not the most essential food, but to me it is the difference between a winter that is interesting and one that is dull.’

Rose Prince – The Telegraph 

A girl after my own heart ❀️ 


Sterilise three or four half-pint/300ml jars, heating them in a low oven or putting them through the dishwasher. 

Put 4lb 8oz/2kg quartered apples into a large, heavy-based pan. Add enough water to cover one third of the depth of the apples. Bring to the boil slowly and simmer until soft.

Spoon into a jelly bag then hang the bag over a bowl. Let the juice drip through the bag naturally, without forcing, or your jelly will be cloudy and will not set well.

Measure the juice, then add 1lb 2oz/500g granulated sugar for every 1 pint/600ml liquid, boil for about 15 minutes, or until the jam reaches 110C/220F or the right setting on a sugar thermometer.

Pour into the sterile jars and place a wax disc on the surface of the hot liquid. It will set into a delicate pink jelly. Add a sprig of thyme once the liquid has cooled. Add juniper for a gamey flavour, or red chillies for a hot jelly.

Thursday: Rain again overnight, found a dead hen in the hut, she had fallen in the water bucket last night John said, I think it’s the one who has been brooding all this time even though I keep throwing her off the nest, some hens you just can’t break. I had a quick look in the veg garden πŸ‘€ it’s sprouted like a jungle! I need to go and pick courgettes later before they become marrows, yes a courgette is just a mini marrow in case anyone didn’t know that 😜 

Last night I asked John if he wanted to know what I want for my birthday, normally he asks me and I say ‘surprise me’ not the best idea so, I took matters into my own hands and I decided I would like a ‘nutribullet’, ‘where do I get one of those’ he asked, luckily for him I can order it from Amazon which is exactly what I did and it arrived this morning πŸ˜€ I have already had my first nutriblast and I have to say it’s very good, I can see I will be easily able to use up odd bits of fruit and veg in a great way, soup looks like it will be an incredibly easy affair and I’m hoping nuts will easily to pulp into butters. We will see how it goes but I can probably get rid of my juicer and blender leaving much needed cupboard space for other gadgets 😝 

I made courgette (actually marrow but we covered that bit) chutney this morning, a fairy easy recipe, I didn’t follow it exactly but swapped ingredients I didn’t have for ones I did, I also cooked it slowly a lot longer than stated as I wanted a spreadable chutney rather than chunky. 

I’ve been thinking recently about how much I have unintentionally veered away from being eco friendly, convenience is exactly that and it’s easy to fall by the wayside so I will be making a concerted effort to get back on track. A lot of what I do is eco friendly, but some of it definitely isn’t, like the use of plastic for instance, I try to use recycled wherever possible even pegs and I try to reuse but so much of what we use today comes in a handy plastic container or wrapper, and I really wish they would provide paper bags for loose produce like the old days. First step is a bamboo toothbrush I think, I never really gave it much thought until I saw a Facebook pop up for them, now I’ve seen it and thought about it, I need to do something to rectify my years of plastic toothbrushes. I shall take it small steps at a time but I will be thinking a little bit harder when making my shopping choices in future. 

Friday: A squally day weather wise, we have gone from raging sun to wet, windy and colder there is definitely an autumnal feel to the weather, that’s not the only thing, the blackberries are about a month early, are we in for a hard Winter I wonder? 

I prepped some veg I picked yesterday for the freezer, made bread, put some sliced onions in the dehydrator for turning into onion powder, made an onion, potato and bacon bake to go with chicken for dinner and then a lot of visitors descended upon me lol, first Sam and Mia, then the Friday garden help, then Shelley followed by Charlie and then Dad and Sue, full house 🏑 

The rain came down and that was that for the day, dinner was delicious. 

Hold that thought, that was not that as I had stated, it’s hammering down, we finished watching Ripper Street on catch up and John says, ‘you better get your work clothes on’, ‘why?’ I ask, ‘water will be pouring in the chicken run at the back’ ‘what the one you fixed last time it rained and poured in’, ‘yep that one’, ‘why will it be pouring in didn’t you fix it?’ ‘I propped up the roof with wood and it fell down in the week’, ‘you didn’t think to put it back up while it was dry then?’ ‘on your own matey, I would have made sure it didn’t happen again especially when heavy rain was forecast’ so that was that for me but not John 😝😝

Saturday: Wet overnight but a dry start to the day, gave the rabbits and Guinea pigs a good clean out after I had finished the morning feed round, John started work on the fencing at the back of the decking area which will also be the fence for the other rabbit run, we will be concreting the floor of this run so that the rabbit can’t dig her way out. We went out for lunch with My Dad and Sue and that was pretty much it for the day then until afternoon feeding and egg collecting. The egg sales are still flying off the shelf, I wish I could say the same for the courgettes πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚ or any of the veg for that matter, last year I couldn’t get them out fast enough this year nobody seems to want them, so next year I definitely won’t be planting as much and will need to think about what exactly I will do with the ground instead, after all there is only so much veg we can eat or freeze. 

Sunday: More rain yesterday evening and overnight and again a dry start to the day, this morning after feeding I cleaned out the duck shed, pick a few veg including cucumbers and then went to sort out the chicken pen that John was trying to sort in the rain the other night. The trouble is once the dirt gets wet the chickens make a real mess, so I scraped it up and moved the water bucket away from the wet area and then Sam and I put a piece of board over the wet soil which will help to dry the whole area up, I think the chickens think it’s a giant mud paddling pool. Dad and Sue called in to see if we wanted to go down to the pub for a pint, John dropped everything very quickly and off we went 😝 

Courgettes, courgettes and many more courgettes πŸ˜œ

Monday: It’s cooler this morning which means it’s a lot easier to be motivated as I’m not sweating doing the morning rounds. I did a bit of watering but we are expecting rain tomorrow so I have left most of the garden, if it doesn’t come I shall be watering for hours 😝 Went to Millets Farm with the grandchildren today to see the animals, fell in love with the Pygmy goats lol, definitely would like to get some one day. 

We had a bird come in the window again today, this time it panicked and flew into the room then into the kitchen, eventually I managed to get it out of the side window, bizarre, it’s radar must be well off centre. We seem to have quite a lot of small birds especially sparrows at the moment, by my reckoning the bird boxes have had two possibly three lots of hatchlings in each box this year which is fabulous but they must be getting pretty full of debris by now and will need a good clean out eventually. 

Tuesday: It finally rained β˜”οΈβ˜”οΈ just a bit overnight, but hopefully we will get more, the grass will be refreshed with just a bit but the trees and the shrubs need more so fingers crossed. 

I have a feeling I am going to have hundreds of courgettes this year lol so I have been looking up recipes, I tried the Parmesan fingers, they are ok but I need to cut them thinner I think, I like them crispy. Also chocolate/courgette cake, I am always a bit wary of these recipes as mostly the veg doesn’t really add anything to the cake but I have found a recipe that uses oil instead of butter so I consider it to be a little more healthy. I am not a great lover of courgette, I add them to stews etc to bulk it out but never really tried much else with them, this is obviously the year to go for it and see what happens. 

While searching through Pinterest I found a recipe for something entirely different that I am going to have to have a go at making, banana and peanut butter bread pudding, mmmmm all of my favs rolled into one and useful as a winter breakfast I reckon, I shall be saving all the end bits of bread for this one πŸ˜€ 

The courgette cake tastes lovely, definitely will do that one again.

I glanced out of the door to see one of our rabbits hopping round the garden, I looked over to their run to see the door wide open and also the door to the orchard pen 😝 we had a child visitor this morning who went to see them but didn’t close and bolt the doors properly, I put Mia in the pushchair and under a tree as it was spitting with rain and proceeded to round them up, luckily they were easy to round up and it was done fairly quickly, lesson: it’s worth double checking the gates even if someone says they have shut them 😜
Well it’s has definitely rained and rained good, thank goodness for that, the garden and paddocks were desperate, I mean really desperate, the raspberry bushes were beginning to die back, the fruit trees were dropping their fruit, the paddocks, especially the chicken paddock was bare and dry and brown but it will have a new lease of life after the rain. Normally we could easily go three weeks without rain but not with the temperatures we have had as well, you can spend hours watering but nothing is as good as a rain shower, it’s charged with energy to start with and blanket coverage means every root gets a drink. 

Wednesday: Got some picking done, the runner beans are getting big enough to pick now, had Mia so didn’t get much else done apart from playing 😜

Went out into the back paddock in the evening, John missed a bit of ragwort so had to show him where it was, saw the little owl while we were out there and discussed having mains electric fencing instead of post and rail as the wood seems to rot away so quickly, either way we will have to spend some dollar 😜

Thursday: Rained a little over night which is welcome. This morning I am multitasking in a big way lol, I’ve stripped the sofas to wash the covers which will take 4 loads, done the feeding, got the sourdough bread on the go and picked fruit and veg, then on to clean the house. 

I picked more courgettes, not quite sure what I am going to do with them all 😝 picked a few runner beans and some purple dwarf beans and a couple of outdoor cucumbers. In the fruit cage I picked raspberries and then some loganberries, these are like large blackberries and they need picking on time as they readily fall off the bush onto the floor. I need to make some jam with them but I also still have ironing to do from weeks ago lol, which activity will win, I’m leaning towards the jam. The sourdough bread is going to take a lot longer to prove than normal bread I think, I have done a fair bit of reading about it all to try and understand exactly what needs doing and why I’m doing it, so far I seem to have got the hang of it but we shall see how the bread turns out before I can say it’s a success. 

In the end I did the ironing so I could watch the tennis at the same time lol, thinking about it I could do with a tv in the kitchen then I would never have to sit down πŸ˜‹

Things were going well, I was getting loads done and then pain struck in the bottom of my thumb joint, you don’t realise how much you use your thumb until you can’t! I must have strained it somehow and it was very painful, took a couple of ibrufen and waited for it to get better which is did but slowly, turning off a tap, lifting a saucepan even doing up your jeans is so much more difficult never mind putting the covers back on or prepping veg.

The sourdough was ok, not 100% but around 90 I would say, I think the mix was too wet as when it was proving it started to spread over the side of the tin, tastes good though and the texture is good, the next one will hopefully be even better. 

Friday: whipped round his morning as have routine blood tests to get to. Later in the afternoon my Friday help came and did some picking, the courgette numbers are ridiculous, I have no idea what I was thinking planting that many! We inspected the chick peas and there are loads of little pods on the plants, happy with that. I did a bit of tidying and some picking, then collected the eggs, the pullets are laying really well and we are getting 36 out of 38 birds already which is helping out in the egg shed massively. 

I was very sad to hear that our local fencing supplier had died, he was ‘old skool’ and a real character, I shall miss him ringing up for duck eggs and giving me abuse if we didn’t have any lol. 

The air tattoo is on his weekend and we have had noisy aeroplanes around all day today, it would be nice if the cloud lifted so we could actually see them and get a free show. 

Saturday: Got off to a flying start, John did the birds out in the front paddock while I did the others then he went off on the fortnightly feed run, meanwhile I cleaned the boot room, burnt the paper sacks and rubbish and started tidying up the back covered area, John helped to finish that when he came back. I had put the wildlife camera out last night up the back and checked out the footage, Mr Fox, no surprise there. Did a bit of veg picking while John watched the qualifying and I had a good haul of self set potatoes, they will feed us for a week or two at least. I spotted 10 apricots on the tree, the birds had already got to a few of them but I ended up with six, not bad considering I thought the frost had got all of them, maybe next year will be better (I say that every year, last year they were plentiful but pitted). Such was the success of the courgette/choc cake I have made another two today along with some more sourdough bread and a regular loaf. The sourdough takes ages to prove, I think I may go back to the old way but not until I have used up the starter and at least I know how to do it now even if I don’t! 

We have another fly phenomenon in the living room this time, I hoovered up around 30 flies yesterday, we have identified where they are coming from and John has gone to get some expanding foam to fill the hole. The problem is the wooden hollow walls and the rat poison, bad combination 😝 still at least we can fix it, he is also picking up some wasp nest killer as I still have a nest in one of the compost bins and I can’t work near it because they get angry, I will show them who is boss πŸ˜‰ We have a bees nest in the feed room but I won’t be killing them off as they tend to mind their own business as long as we mind ours and we can co exist quite happily. 
Courgette and Chocolate cake recipe

Basically just put it all in a big bowl and stir, then bake at around 160c for approx 40mins or until the knife comes out clean. This make two lb loaf tin size cakes, give it a go you won’t be disappointed I can tell you. I used pecans in the first one and walnuts in the next lot, also olive oil in the first because that’s all I had and sunflower in the second lot. You can buy courgettes in the little shed 😜😜 or actually I have that many that if you are reading this and just ask me I will give you some for free πŸ˜€
I have set the camera again tonight, lets see what, if anything, we get.

Sunday:  Checked the camera and have more video of Mr Fox, I have tried in vain to transfer it from my laptop to the iPad if I actually succeed then it will be on here fingers crossed. In the end I had to video the video!  Nope I couldn’t upload it even then πŸ˜” I will try uploading it onto the Friesland Farm Facebook page and hope that works. 

​Martin came over to do some more to the play pirate ship, just some finishing touches to go now, the smile on Joshua’s face was a mile wide when he went in, Mia and him will have such fun although I think us adults will have just as much, can’t wait to dress up and play pirates, yo ho ho and a bottle of rum. 

Pulled up an enormous swede today, there were a couple more that were quite big and I don’t really want them any bigger so I dug four up and hopefully they will store well until they are needed. A drop more rain this afternoon means I won’t have to water πŸ’¦ yay. A common problem this year is tomatoes not setting fruit, mine included, plenty of flowers but they are not turning into fruit at all, it was the hot spell that caused it, the pollen becomes sterile if the temps are consistently high, there are a few tomatoes on each plant so all is not lost but it would have been nice to have had a jackpot load. 

Life on the farm, warts and all πŸ˜œ

Monday again 😜 Where does the time go? Still no rain and things are looking a bit desperate, I watered the fruit trees we planted in the front paddock as they are only a couple of years old and look like they are flagging. After doing the feed routine and nothing untoward happened, I went straight into the veg garden to do some cutting back and some hoeing. The garlic has developed rust so I pulled that as it’s nearly time, disappointing small bulbs but still useful, it was mostly due to their location under the nut trees and I am going to remove that bed as everything struggles in there. I burnt the garlic leaves and sterilised the secateurs as rust is a fungus that will spread if not careful. Our lovely chap who brings us useful things in exchange for muck has brought some great stuff for making raised beds and I’m already planning where they will go. I’m thinking that they will go on top of the existing beds, which are far too shallow and it’s a struggle to get stuff growing, rather than making a new area, is it sad that I get excited by receiving stuff to make raised beds lol. Picked some dwarf beans, a couple of courgettes and some artichoke as well as raspberries and a few blueberries. The blueberry bushes have been disastrous this year, they had been fine in previous years but seem to have come loose at the roots, they need coming out and possibly replacing or if I can get them back, replanting in new soil. I caught a magpie stealing my cherries, I don’t think there is much hope of getting a crop, they are morello and much tarter than ordinary ones but the birds don’t seem to care they ransack it anyway. Watered the garden in the evening, I am using pumped rain water from the tanks for one half of the garden I don’t how much is left but hope we get some rainfall soon 😝

John spent a couple of hours digging up yet more docks. 

Tuesday: My word it’s very close out there this morning, either that or I am running a temperature! The air is as still as it can be and it feels suffocating, all is well with the animals, I moved Jack onto a bit of long grass to chew it off save me mowing it and I shall spend a couple of hours in the veg garden doing whatever needs doing. If the sun comes out today it’s gonna be hot, good job the tennis is on and I can escape indoors to watch a couple of matches 🎾 

I decided to rescue the blueberry bushes which as I have said are in a sorry state, I dug them up, pruned them right back and have plunged them into a water and rooting powder solution. My first port of call was to test the soil, they need a ph of around 4.5/5.5 so out comes the science bit but the soil seems to be acidic enough so the only thing I can think of is wind rock as the roots were very loose. There don’t appear to be any critters that would harm the roots in the trough and the one in a recycling box on its own is doing fine, so I will see if I can nurse them back to health, if not I will have to buy new ones for next year. I have some tiny little lemons on the lemon treeπŸ‹ nothing on the orange tree mind you but I am pleased with what I have as long as they keep growing. I was thinking of moving them but they seem to like it in the greenhouse and they survived the winter in there although last winter was fairly mild in comparison to other winters, two figs are growing nicely on the fig tree and again I would like to move it but don’t want to tempt fate. I have seen some huge fig trees in the area when I was gardening so it is possible to have a good harvest however the conditions need to be right and they quickly die if it’s not. I can’t see anything on the kiwi and I only have 1 or 2 apricots on that tree. 

Wednesday: 9.30am and I don’t mind telling you I’m flagging already! It’s hot out there and I have managed to do the feed round, water the poly tunnel, pick some raspberries and a few runner beans, sat and shared my coffee break with a red legged partridge. I planted the pumpkin plants yesterday, to be honest I forgot about them and there were about 10 so put some up for sale and sold them, they were doing ok in the greenhouse just getting a bit leggy! 

I think I will be mostly indoors today keeping cool 😎 

Spent the evening watering once it had cooled down enough.

Thursday: Got up early, and I mean early, 4.15 lol, I was going to get up and have an early start anyway but not quite that early, however, I woke up, decided to go into the kitchen and see what time it was as there was daylight outside and discovered it was 4.15, so I stayed up, had breakfast, got dressed and went out into the garden. It was delightfully peaceful, I had the farm all to myself, no chickens, no ducks, no dogs and no humans, as I was pottering around I watched a snail make slow but steady progress across the lawn, just the pace that life should be. They say it will be around 30c today so that’s why I went out and got started, John got up, eventually 😜, and did all the feeding and watering so that I could carry on 😘 came indoors around 11 feeling knackered lol and still hoping for some of these thundery showers! 

Goodness me what a warm day β˜€οΈ I had a sleep at about 3.30 woke up feeling tired lol shouldn’t have bothered, although I would probably have been grumpy if I didn’t 😝 The air is close and no sign of any breaking so I shall be watering this evening, it takes me a good couple of hours, one hose is on the mains the other pumped from the rain tanks so I can do two lots at once but still it takes forever. 

Friday: Warm again but I didn’t get up early today, did the morning rounds then indoors to do paperwork, the end of year paperwork has be up together for both the farm and the bathroom business, so I made a start on that. 

The egg sales have been mental today and not only have we sold yesterday’s but all of today’s by 5pm! That means there will be no eggs tomorrow until the afternoon. John is off to pick up some more pullets in the morning, hopefully they will be near to laying if not already. I shall be watering again this evening, the situation is getting rather dire, the chicken paddock is brown and bare, the only reason the veg are ok is constant watering, rain needed pleeaase. 

Picked a few courgettes and some raspberries, started off some raspberry vinegar, and a sourdough starter, I’ve been making bread for a while now with conventional ingredients, time to become artisan 😜 I love sourdough and as long as it toasts and make sandwiches John will eat it, so now is as good a time as any to begin. 

Saturday: Fabulous day today, we were up early again because John was taking Charlie and Macca to the airport for their holiday, then picking up some more POL hens,  I figured I may as well get up at the same time, early morning is the best part of the day in Summer. I did some picking and a bit of watering before doing the feed round, the geese needed water and on connecting the hose I discovered some muppet had shut the gate onto the hose, pinching it and causing the metal grill covering it to pierce a hole straight through it so I had to mend that first. I have collected sage and that is in the dehydrator ready to dry out for Winter use, the other herbs are still in flower so I will leave them for the bees 🐝 then cut them back and harvest the new growth to dry. While I was working I could hear an unfamiliar bird noise, and then a return call, I thought it was buzzards to start with but when I went to look where it was coming from I saw two Kite sat on posts calling to each other. They are huge when they are close up, shame I didn’t have time to get the camera, I did call John down from the paddock so he could see them though.

 There are some beautiful flowers in the garden at the moment and I picked a bunch of sunflower, English mace and asparagus fern to adorn the kitchen table, I did think they would make a lovely simple, graceful, bridal bouquet. The cornflowers always make me smile whenever I go past them, I will be collecting the seeds from them when they go over and spreading more smiles around the garden πŸ˜„πŸ˜€ Then the little fairy rose has become a favourite of mine as well this year, I bought them with the intention of putting them in the front boxes but they need a bit of a revamp first so I will just keep potting them on for the time being. 

We spent at least an hour drilling out the remains of the handle in the fork I snapped off in the week, lol,who knew it would be such a tough job, new handle on its way πŸ˜€

Then a sit down to watch some tennis 🎾 

I forgot to mention that I finally got round to sorting out the tools we inherited, there were about ten different sets of screwdrivers and I will never be short of a lump-hammer or nails ever again! I found a few curiosities, well they were to me anyhow, I told John I found a home made mini pick, he looked at it and said ‘that’s a twating hammer’ who knew there was such a thing lol, apparently it’s for glass work. A pair of mole grips was eagerly spotted by himself but I quickly put them away out of his reach, however now he knows they are there I’m not sure how long they will remain in my toolbox 😜 

Our man came with some more useful wood tonight and John was still out in the field at 10pm cutting down docks, while I was watering I spotted πŸ‘€ a rat πŸ€ running along the back of the duck run so I fed him well tonight 😝

Sunday: Today I have had enough!!! And it’s only 10am, firstly, I let the geese out, walk away 100 yards to watch the chickens enjoying sitting in on top of a cabbage I hung out for them, hear a commotion in the goose paddock turn around and the eeffing fox has got my gosling, I chase after it retrieve the gosling but it dies of a puncture wound and shock. Then as it’s already getting hot outside and I am exhausted counting the number of cabbage white butterflies (why are the pain in the arse ones never endangered) I come indoors to tidy up, pick up the raspberry vinegar I have had going for two days and the lid comes off and it’s all over the bloody counter ffs, days like today are deflating and I think, fuck it, I can’t be arsed anymore. There are no eggs for sale as we sold out in 15 minutes flat yesterday, which is good but the customers keep coming and John wants to get more chickens but I don’t as I don’t physically have the time to do anymore especially when it’s hot. Why the hell the fox doesn’t get the rabbit numbers down and do us all a favour is beyond me, the pigeon numbers seem to be going up and they are a pain, knocking over plants everyday that I have out for sale, sitting above the doorway on the telegraph pole and shitting everywhere, the rooks are getting into the houses nicking the feed and eating any eggs they find, rats are back doing the same, the bloody dogs keep digging a hole outside the back door chucking dirt all over, I keep sweeping it up and they do it again, and we neeeeeeeeed some rain, just a little bit will do as the paddocks are nearly dead and the apples are falling off the trees because it’s so dry. I actually cannot find anything positive today ( right at that very minute of writing a bird flew in the window and sat inside on the sill)  a reminder to shut up moaning maybe, today is a strange one for sure 😏 I was going to edit the last bit out, but there you have it a warts and all lifestyle 😜 At least the sourdough starter didn’t get vinegar in it! 

Five minutes later and a knock at the door, can they have some ice for one of the girls who has had a head butt from the horse and now has a fat lip, I told you, I don’t think it’s me, it’s the day itself and not even high noon! 

John is on the home run digging up the docks, last little bit in the last paddock, I don’t know why we have so many this year, probably because we didn’t tackle them last year or the year before lol. Later this evening he is off to help the chap pick up some more wood and crates for the farm later, there are some large frame crates and I mean 6ft tall, I’m thinking they will make good sheds, love getting stuff that can be repurposed or reused. 

Picked a whole load of courgettes, no shortage this year, I can see we will have a glut, need to find some good recipes for them. 

The rest of the day went without incident I am pleased to say πŸ˜€