Steaming the pudding, more unwelcome visitors and cuddling a chicken

I picked up some reduced cranberries in the supermarket, had to be a bargain at only 5p 😀 I will probably use them to make a cranberry and orange sauce to go with cold meats at Christmas as we are not having turkey this year. I may pick up some more if they have any next week they will always be useful for making something different.

Monday: Cold start again today so I made sure I had thick socks on, plenty of layers 1and thick gloves as well. To give the hens a bit of heat I mixed in some poultry spice with their feed this morning. I make my own as it’s cheaper than buying the pots that you can buy, they contain turmeric, fenugreek, garlic and one other ingredient that I can’t remember at the minute, but I just looked on the pot and ordered bulk individual items and mixed them in a tub, it makes loads. Hopefully it might boost egg production which has dropped off considerably due to the lack of daylight hours and the cold temps. I did a bit of cleaning out of nest boxes as I went, that helps to keep the eggs clean and makes my job easier when I am boxing them up later in the day. I checked the baby rabbits and fed all the small animals, we now have five in there so one of the escapees has come back! The small garden birds have discovered the feeding station that now has bird seed in and judging by the excited chirping this morning they are very grateful. I am going to make a couple more seed holders as I only have one and there are a lot of birds, easily around 20 I would say and these are the ones living in and around the nest boxes (and gaps in the cladding)on the front of the house.

Then on to feed the dogs and give Kai’s kennel a clean out and give him a nice clean duvet for his bed for the colder months.

Inside then to light the Rayburn and the temperature is not going to go much above 4 degrees today ❄️ and I want to try and stay warm to see if it helps my hand problems, I think it does as yesterday they were fine until I had to go outside then all evening they were playing up.

I fed the Christmas cake some brandy and it will now be wrapped up and stored for a couple of weeks when I will get it out again and lace it with more brandy 😀

Tuesday: The day of epic boiling of the Christmas pudding, 8 hours of bubbling water to cook it so an early start is needed, and I better put the timer on as I will probably forget over the course of the day how long it has been in. Again I followed a Mary Berry ‘figgy pudding’ recipe. I made bread, leek and potato soup and some rock buns while I was at it. Had Mia from lunchtime and Shelley and Josh came for a visit, I can nip out and feed the hens and collect eggs while Shelley is here so that’s what I did. John came home in time to put the birds to bed and found a bag of live chickens dumped at the gateway! Going through the the cctv we could clearly see who it was and they are known to us so John will be calling in there tomorrow for a few stern words 😤 Clearly they don’t want to look after them so there is no point taking them back to him and after all it’s not the chickens fault, but there is the risk of contamination to my flock so they will all have to be wormed and de loused/mited just in case. Very unfair on us and the chickens.

On the upside I have found a home for any of the baby rabbits that are female so I just need to sex them and see how many that is, just the boys to find homes for as there are definitely both sex’s among them.

Wednesday was lost somewhere 😝

Thursday: I have a fair few jobs I want to get sorted today, the main one being separating the boy and girl rabbits! I’ll tell you though you couldn’t write this stuff, I went out and fed them caught the three up that are in the run I made, the others have escaped 😜 then I looked at the one in the guinea run, 2 boys, 2 girls great, I go off to prepare a separate hutch for the boys and when I get back I check the bunnies again in the run and remove the boy, go to get the one from the guinea hut and it’s gone!!! I’m sure it will be back but it means I don’t get the job done and dusted just yet. One of the babies died, I don’t know why, it was looking quiet yesterday, can’t see any obvious signs of anything but they have been getting out and so anything could have happened to it at some point. Just having a quick coffee then I have 10 sweet chestnut trees to decide what to do with. Some will be potted up for sale, some will be planted in the hedgerow.

Among many other jobs on the list today, the rat poison arrived so I needed to put that down just as it got dark, the rubbish needs to go out though I have no idea what colour week we are on 😝 had another look for the baby rabbit but that one is right under the hutch and I can’t reach it, meanwhile another is out in the paddock chomping on grass but I can’t find the net to catch it with.

Friday: ❄️ brrr very cold this morning! Did the rounds quickly lol, topped up the wild bird feeder as they will be hungry in this weather as well, thought about working outside but gave it a miss and did indoor stuff instead. Had a visitor drop in for a chat and as we were talking at the gate another egg customer pulled up, good job because two minutes later a very dodgy couple in a old van who couldn’t speak any English pulled up. They were trying to buy 1 chicken??? Well that was what they were gesturing but as I have said before you know when someone doesn’t seem right, the chap wouldn’t take no for an answer and I was grateful that there were others there with me, one took the registration number and the other wrote down directions to go and find chickens for sale, I don’t think they were real directions lol. They left and my visitor stayed around for 10 more minutes just to make sure they didn’t come back. With all the activity in the area at the moment you got to keep your wits about you 😜 As a consequence I am now spending every five minutes looking out of the window just in case, puts you right on edge. The egg customer came back twice, once to give me the reg number she had jotted down although I had already committed it to memory and then again to tell me they were still hanging round the village an hour later so they clearly didn’t head off to look for chickens for sale, at this point I rang 101 to report the incident just in case they were up to no good.

Saturday: The weather started off ok and slowly deteriorated 😟 John was away early this morning on an errand so it was just me manning the place. Did the morning rounds and found that something had attacked my guinea pigs and killed one of them, poor Stuart Little, Herbie the other one I bought in and tended his wounds which were superficial and purple sprayed him and put him back out, hoping that whatever it was doesn’t come back and if it does he can fend it off as I don’t have anywhere else for him to go. I’ve half a mind to think it was the baby boy rabbit that was in with them but he didn’t have any blood on him and the neck had been eaten out so looks like stoat maybe, if it was a rat they are usually only interested in food and there was some in the bowl. The boy rabbit has now been put in with the other boy, so now girls and boys are separate thank goodness, so we won’t have any mishaps!

We often have some strange customers and visitors as this week has already shown 😜 and today’s request did not let that custom down, ‘can I cuddle a chicken’ luckily it was John who was out there and he can be very obliging lol and so the lady’s request was granted 😝

The rain continued to come down and once I had finished the housework and John had finished outside we called it a day and watched a film in the warm and dry 😀

And that’s it for this week as I am off with the girls tomorrow morning for some great food, great drink, spa treatments, relaxation and general time out leaving John in charge for the time I’m away.

I haven’t got any photos this week and I was looking back through them to see if I could find one or two of general interest, what I decided was that I will do a blog just of past photos sometime next week, it’s interesting to look back at what we have done form year to year, keep your eyes peeled for that 😀


Naughty bunnies, rainy days and Winter celebrations. 

Monday: 3.30pm just sat down with a cuppa after a bit of a day, I’m back on a daily dose of painkillers at the minute, hands hurt, muscles hurt, pain in the arse, not literally but it’s difficult to get stuff done when bits of you won’t work properly! Anyhow, this mornings shocker was, wait for it, two more baby rabbits just born, although they were both dead, this means that the rabbits were getting out for longer than I had suspected. Did the feeding rounds then went and gave both the rabbits and Guineas a good clean out and I really needed to round up these babies that are getting behind the boarding and out into the field. Samantha and Mia came over mid morning and we set about trying to catch them by means of lying in wait for them one at a time, We caught two and caged them, by his time Mia was getting a bit bored so we decided to wait until after lunch when she had her nap, to finish the job. In the end we managed to round up 5 of them, one has a chunk missing from its ear and one has managed to get a wound on its back probably from scrabbling in and out of the small gap, two are still on the loose. We think one of them is now too big to get back through the gap and as it could be seen on the other side of the fence nibbling grass, if we don’t manage to catch it, it will have to fend for itself. This morning I had to turn the horse out without a rug on because I couldn’t do the fastenings, see these pains are really inconvenient, but as the sun was looking like it was coming out Jack didn’t mind too much, Sam mucked out the stable then did his field and put his rug back on and all is well again. I planted the pea and bean seeds I had growing on the windowsill and fingers crossed nothing will eat them 😜

Caught another one when I was putting the birds to bed, just one more to go.

Tuesday: Rainy day 😕 on and off rain so bad luck if you get caught like I did doing the afternoon feeding. I had a 10 minute window to feed and collect the eggs as Mia was asleep and John came home before he had to go to the dentist. I quickly discovered that my waterproof needs reproofing, I was only out 10 minutes and was soaked through literally to the skin in places, urghh need to sort out wet weather gear as well as the cold gear. I remember why I hate the winter now, I could be heard muttering about having only a few chickens for self sufficiency purposes rather than a large flock. The rain is coming over the top of the guttering inside the stable block, I did tell John he needed to clear them a couple of weeks ago when I did the ones I could reach, need to start those lists again I think 😝 At least I had already lit the fire so it was nice and warm when I came back in. 
Wednesday: Cold this morning but at least it’s not raining. Did the morning stuff, put the eggs out for sale and had a conversation with a regular customer who is retiring to the coast next week so will no longer be coming. I wished him all the best and hope he finds a nice little farm to buy his eggs from where he is going. I have been remiss about making bread for the last couple of weeks, I just didn’t have the time or the inclination but I’m back on track with that again, I may even make a cake today 😀

Definitely got my cooking head on as I decided to prepare a lamb stew for tomorrow which will cook in the Rayburn this evening, an apple and blueberry sponge pudding, a batch of dumplings, some for the stew and some to freeze for another day and some fully loaded potatoes that cook in the slow cooker to go with the pork chops later. Stews are great because you just make it up as you go along with whatever you have, this one is stewing lamb, potatoes, butternut squash, onions, rosemary, thyme, garlic, salt, pepper, red wine, some pontack sauce, vegetable stock and cornflour. 

I would have done more cooking but I had Mia from lunchtime so Bing and babies were on the agenda instead.

Thursday: I plan to pack a fair bit into today so I was up early and got the bathroom and living room cleaned before daybreak came 😜 Then out to do the morning feeding etc, the grass in the back paddock particularly, is like a skating rink so we have decided to move the hens from there and put them into the POL pen for the winter as nothing else will be going in there. They will be let out to free range every day but not until mid morning that way we will hopefully get the eggs laid all in one place instead of all over the farm. But my first job on the list is to make a secure pen within the rabbit run for the babies, bit of a mission as they can seemingly squeeze through the tiniest of gaps, an hour later, a roll of chicken wire, staple gun, wire cutters, scratched hands, dirty knees and the sides of a run and objective achieved 😀 I can now let them out into a bigger area and assess their health etc. After that it was on to prepare the POL run for the hens, my plan is to get it all cleaned, put in a dust bath made up of diatomaceous earth, wood ash, louse powder and shavings, extra nesting boxes which will be plastic buckets and tubs, and lure them in at the afternoon feed with corn. I very nearly managed to get all but about 10 hens in so that’s not bad, the rest we will gather up when we have time or hopefully they may follow suit later tomorrow. 

Meanwhile I have been making a list of jobs for John to do at the weekend and a shopping list of things we need for the Farm, lightbulbs for the hay barn, rat poison, I’m determined to not have the same problem we had last year and the cats seem completely useless, feed, including wild bird feed because the little birds that have grown in number are raiding the rabbit food to the extent that there are bird droppings galore in there, might as well get something to feed them as it’s costing me which ever way I do it 😜

Josh and Shelley came over in the afternoon and helped me to feed the rabbits some fresh veggies and feed the horse, I didn’t get round to cleaning the rest of the house but there is always tomorrow😀

The stew, complete with dumplings was superb, only I forgot to get a photo before we ate it 😝

Friday: Up early again as I forgot to put the dustbin out last night so need to get it out before 6am, not that they come before 8 but on the day I don’t do it you can bet your life they will be early! John was also up early so he went out and cleaned out the front hens, fed the and let them out, saves me a job 😀 
The weather yesterday, by the way was cracking for early November, this mornings sky is dark and ominous, however it is windy so I’m hoping the dark clouds will blow around us and not towards us.

One of the jobs in the mornings that I do now is laying the fire in the Rayburn ready for lighting as soon as I think it’s getting cold, at the moment that’s usually around 1pm as the heat from the night before slowly ebbs away, we have been burning pure logs for a while as I have been saving the wood ash for the chicken dust baths and for the garden. It needs to be good wood and not wood with nails for obvious reasons and it needs to be untreated, then it’s perfect for all sorts of uses around the farm. 

I went out to do the rest of the feeding and discovered there are only 3 baby rabbits in the run, ffs! They have chewed through one of the ties, pulled the metal fencing forward and escaped, I think that’s my lot with them they can take their chances in the wild 😩

Gave the windows a clean, I say that rather loosely, not my forte, window cleaning 😜 I hate it but at this time of year with the low sun you can see all the dirt and eventually it starts to really annoy me so out comes the bucket, cloth and the window rubber thing, my windows are small and few but I do need the hop up to reach the top, and now I have cleaner windows with a few smears, that will do for me 😝😝 I have better things to do than spend an age getting them smear free 😏

I started thinking about the Mid Winter feast and the various components, the meat is in the freezer as are the veg, I have all the ingredients for making the pudding, I just need to pick a good time that incorporates, the soaking of the fruit, the children coming to stir it and the hours of steaming it will need, I went onto testing the sloe gin I made last year, yep 10am I’m on the booze, well a little sip at least, I think I need to add a bit of sugar syrup and I might add a cinnamon stick to give it a deep, warming quality, not that it doesn’t have that already 😀 but I fancied giving it a go. The mincemeat has been developing nicely for a few weeks now and in our house we traditionally start making, and eating mince pies from Dec 1st, I don’t usually make a Christmas cake as we are always still eating it for weeks after we have got fed up of it but we will have visitors this year so I shall make one very soon. Obviously we have the nuts I gathered and plenty of fruit in the freezer to make many a splendid dish with 😀 We shall eat like kings🤴 and queens 👸 

Once I began thinking about it I couldn’t resist getting the Christmas cake underway, so I dug out all the dry ingredients I needed and set them to soak in brandy, as usual I went off piste and used what I had so instead of currants I used dried figs and some sorry looking satsumas in the fruit bowl went in as well, I whizzed both lots up separately in the food processor, and in they went, along with sultanas and raisins, I don’t have glacé cherries at the minute but the soaking is a three day process so plenty of time to get some and put them in. I am loosely following a Mary Berry recipe just to get the weights and I didn’t have any oranges hence the satsumas, I also don’t like waste so the whole lot went in not just the juice, the membrane can be taken out once the flesh has fallen off and incorporated, just pick it out. 

Saturday: Today I thought it was high time to tackle the office come dumping ground! That was a big job that took most of the day, everything pulled out sorted out, piles for the charity shop, piles for the rubbish bin, piles for giving or selling on. It is a multifunction room really and most things are stored in there, grandchildren paraphernalia, Christmas stuff, photo albums, hoover, spare chair, fold out bed, a small chest of drawers filled with stuff we haven’t worn for a few years, cctv monitor, music system as well as the desk, filing cabinet, folders of paperwork, printer etc you get the idea, it’s pretty rammed. As a consequence when I am cleaning I kind of look in there hoover the floor and shut the door so it was well over due for a de webbing and dusting too. I felt it was a great and worthy achievement when it was finished, how long it will stay like that is anyone’s guess 😝 Meanwhile, John took care of all the outside work and feeding, cleaning gutters out, tidying the muck heap, burning rubbish, all the jobs on my list and a few more besides 😀

The rain has put us squarely back into winter mode and the dogs were filthy by the end of the day so they had their first bath in a while, they were not happy but what’s not to like they have a bath to stand in AND hot water to boot, can’t please some. 

Sunday: The weather is windy today so that should dry things up a little, I went out and checked the baby rabbits but apart from that John did the rest, including cleaning out the ducks. I came in and got started on mixing up the Christmas cake ready to go in the oven.
I’m on a roll with the Christmas eating ideas now and I think I will try a pork pie with hot crust pastry, never done it before so excited about giving it a go. 

Apart from the usual domestic chores and going down to do the horse that was pretty much it for the day and we are having dinner at Charlie and Maccas tonight so I don’t even have to cook 😀

The photos are the stages of the cake, it smells divine, now just got to decide how to decorate it in a few weeks time. 

Clocks change, Halloween and Bonfire night, Winters here! 

Sunday : Late afternoon evening, it feels like that time is all over the place today, first the time goes quick then it seemed to slow down to almost a stop lol, one thing is for sure the evenings in will be longer 😝 roll on December 21st when the nights will draw out again.Monday: Bit of a shocker to the system, must have gone down to around -2/3 last night judging by the frost and ice this morning. I always find it quite exhilarating though, the first real cold snap of the Autumn. The leaves will fall from the trees rapidly as the sun gets on them today, it’s quite a phenomenon if you get to see it, anything tender in the garden will wither away and hibernate until next year, and we will dig out all the warm clothes we need including my isotherm wellies which keep my feet warm down to at least -10 shouldn’t need them to go lower than that! First job after feeding and watering (and coffee) is cleaning the ducks out, John did the hen huts at the back yesterday and the front hens get done each morning as part of the routine. Then I cleaned out the rabbit hut, I thought there was a dead baby in there this morning but it was all the fur that the mums pulled out to line the nest, it has now gone a bit soggy, time to clean it out and put in new bedding, although the babies are nowhere to be seen again, eventually they will get to big to get behind the wood. As it is such a lovely day I did a bit in the veg garden, clearing some dead foliage from the other asparagus bed and the banana squash then onto clearing the beans, note to self don’t tie the canes up so tight next time they are a bugger to get undone once the vegetation has grown all around it! I did save some of the beans and I will dry them to use for planting next year, there were a few more butter beans to be had as well. I put double layers of fleece round the peppers in the big poly tunnel, we will see if they survive or not, nothing to lose by trying.

It was a pleasant morning, the ducks kept me company rooting about where I had dug up weeds or plants, there were three cock pheasants strutting their stuff in the paddock, brave of them I thought, obviously no one has told them it’s hunting season 😜

In the afternoon Sam and Mia came over and we had Josh as well for a pumpkin carving session, while the adults wielded the knives the kids got their hands in pulling out the pumpkin guts, pretty sure Mia will be a large animal vet when she is older judging by the way she went in up to her elbows without a care lol. 

Tuesday: All Hallows Eve, The Feast of the Dead, Samhain, the end of the harvest season and the beginning of the dark months, celebrated with feasts, bonfires and when the livestock are bought in for winter.

It was raining first thing but brightened up now, whizzed round and did the morning chores, only one dog with me this morning as Mia dog is hobbling on 3 legs so is on bed rest for a few days, it’s no wonder the way they charge around the farm all day long. I put a basket of sweets in the egg shed, well we can’t let the children have all the fun, hopefully it will give the egg customers a cheeky smile or two. I had Mia in the afternoon and now the clocks have changed John has to come home just before dark to put the birds away on the days she is here as it clashes with her dinner time and a toddler and their dinner won’t wait lol. 

Wednesday: Went round and did the morning feeding etc all is well, it was a lovely sunny day so I set about cutting back and tidying the flower bed (lose term 😝) next to the back door. All the elder I cut down I have left in a pile for bugs to use as Winter quarters and I haven’t raked the ground over as I want it left to decompose naturally and add benefit to the soil. There are tons of leaves around too but any gardener worth their salt will either put them into a leaf mulch bin or pile them onto any available beds because they are full of nutrients and gathering them up for the green waste bin would be sacrilege, they will eventually replace any leached nutrients when the worms have done their job. I have used a bit of old stock fence to put round the bed as the dogs seem to use any space that is useful for a toilet! I have also done one of the few bits of weed killing that has to be done which is the ménage and the back driveway, I did wonder what it would be like if I just left the driveway to grass over but I think, slippy, is the answer to that. 

While Sam was here this morning we managed to get all the baby rabbits out of the hidding place and block it up so they can’t get back in (fingers crossed)……update on that, had to unblock it as I realised after looking at photos there are seven and we only got five out! 
Thursday: Cold morning but the sun should come out, got the morning jobs done then went straight into the veg garden to do some more weeding and cutting back. I took the before and after photos this time 😀 I still have plenty of weeding and digging up to do so am hoping the weather stays fair 😜 Shelley, Josh and Charlie came over and made chocolate crispie cakes, by the time they left it was time to do the afternoon feeding, light the fire and put the bins out. Somewhere in between I ordered some new pocket torches, the ones we had have given up the ghost and the on,y other one is a great big rechargeable one, which is, as I type, charging ready for the dark nights. Tonight I have set the wildlife camera up in the front drive, I want to see what is munching on the windfall apples, probably only rabbits but you never know, might be something interesting. 

Friday: Foggy this morning and I don’t think it’s going to burn off any time soon, it doesn’t really inspire me to work outside today lol. Did the feeding then checked on the baby rabbits as they appear to be getting out, I’m thinking they will probably eventually leave or breed close by 😩 not what I want to happen but I can’t get them altogether, maybe have to try catching them one at a time and locking them up till I have them all. Going for a foggy walk with Shelley and Josh this morning, hopefully get some nice atmospheric photos. 

Lit the Rayburn at lunchtime as it’s still foggy and not lifting, it seeps into your bones urgh. 
Saturday: I don’t feel too well today, nothing specific but a few aches and pains and no energy to do anything, John did the morning rounds while I sorted out the horse who has been coming in because of the fireworks and then I didn’t do anything all day except lay on the sofa! John had to go to work and he did the animals when he came home, I did managed to sew the seam on my winter farm coat and get the dinner but that was about it. Huge full moon tonight.  

Sunday: Guy Fawkes 🔥 Feeling better today although still sluggish but capable 😝 John did the animals and I did the horse again then I got myself ready as I am spending the day on a workshop learning something new 😀 hopefully you will see the results in a photo providing I can do it lol. 

Might be a bit later posting this as after the workshop we are off to watch some fireworks and bonfire, I do love Guy Fawkes night 🎆 

So I am back from the workshop, had a very lovely relaxing day being taught how to use Powertex and we made little fairy houses with it but the possibilities are endless. 

If you want to know more get in touch with Mo Lafford email find her Facebook or call on 07837173708.

Dead duck, disappearing baby rabbits and parsnip cake. 

Monday: Woke up with a touch of vertigo today so just about got round and did the feeding then mostly tried to sit still all day until the next lot of feeding in the afternoon! Thankfully it had passed by early evening and fingers crossed it won’t come back for a while. Bit of a waste of a day but sometimes the body is just trying to tell you to stop. 

Tuesday: Better today, not dizzy but have a head cold blurhh, sweating as I did the morning rounds. Got a few things done before Mia arrives, some potatoes that needed digging up and put up some protective fencing around the fruit trees in the front paddock, the geese keep trying to strip the bark which will kill them off if I don’t stop it now. 

Wednesday: Lovely sunny morning ☀️ got the feeding done then onto picking the rest of the veg I started getting in yesterday. There are potatoes, parsnip, celeriac, snack peppers, hot peppers. The pepper plants in the poly tunnel are huge but did not produce much, however they are still healthy plants and as peppers are perennial plants I will see what I can do to overwinter them, it would be great to get such a head start on them next year, I also think I need to keep the plants smaller so that they produce fruit quicker, can’t hurt to try. After that I went to clean out the geese and then put fresh bedding in for the ducks, which by the way we are lucky to still have this morning after John did not shut them in, either their house nor their pen, the gate was wide open this morning and they were taking themselves off down to the paddock! Still have a touch of vertigo but not too bad, I think it’s caused by this head cold which is also something and nothing at the moment, hope it doesn’t get worse 😝 

Ordered some ‘meteor’ pea seeds as the last ones I planted got eaten by something, I will be growing them the way we used to in school, well starting them off that way at least, on a wet piece of tissue on the windowsill along with the broad beans. I’m guessing it’s mice pinching the seeds before they even get started, I can’t blame them really but they are interrupting my growing attempts, so starting them off then planting them will hopefully give me a better shot at it. 

I am making roasted celeriac soup today, have not made it before so I am hoping it tastes good, I made fresh bread yesterday so that will be dinner tonight, we try and have a meal in the week that rests the gut a little, besides soup is such an easy and delicious thing to have. There are recipes for apple and celeriac soup but I opted for just the celeriac, with a touch of garlic.

As I was looking for recipes I found one for parsnip Madeira cake, yeah, I will let you know what it tastes like once it’s cooked lol. Next to chocolate cake, Madeira is one of Johns favourite cakes so we will see how it goes down. 

Verdict is still out, it’s edible and not at all unpleasant, John asked me not to tell him what was in it so I haven’t and he has been eating it just fine lol, I quite like it though I wouldn’t put it on my favs list. 

Thursday: Drizzle today, as the mornings are quite dark, before even going out to do the feeding I cleaned the bathroom, after feeding I got on with some washing and cleaning the rest of the house and that was pretty much the day for me, John was home early so he did the afternoon feed and collected the eggs and lit the fire, Sam came over and did the horse, I did do a bit of paperwork that needed doing. 

Goodness I haven’t noted anything for Friday or Saturday lol so I will have to round up, did the usual feeding etc. I can’t actually remember what I did Friday except that I thought all the baby rabbits had gone, turns out they were hiding behind the side of the hut and a wall, so much for me blocking up all the holes! Had Josh in the morning while Shelley and Martin went for a scan on baby, she is a pink one 💕😀 Sam and Mia came over in the afternoon and Charlie came round in the evening. Saturday morning I did a bit of clearing in the poly tunnel, I have cut back all the peppers as they won’t produce anything now, but they are perennial so I have given them a good watering and covered them to see if they will survive winter, no harm in trying.  I also put fleece jumpers on my lemon and orange trees, gave them a good last watering and bubble wrapped the pots they are in, I have about 5 small lemons growing and hoping they make it through the winter. I intend to move them into the large tunnel next year but need to build some raised boxes for them so that they are not in wet cold ground, ideally a conservatory is needed but we don’t have one so  until we do I hope they survive, they did last year but it was fairly mild. 

On one of those days the disabled duck died 😩 she has had a bad leg, I tried rest and all kinds of other things but in the end she just seemed to get on with it as it was, she was eating and drinking fine, she even learnt how to stand on one leg, just using the other which was pretty useless, to balance on but when I opened the hut one of those mornings she didn’t come out and had died overnight. 

Sunday: Sunny but a cold wind, and the clocks have gone back, that will mean dark nights and it really doesn’t seem much lighter in the mornings either! 

Storms, apples and fluffy bantams. 

Monday: Today we have this tail end of the big storm looming, we are on the edge of it but predicted winds are looking quite high! Strange weather as the temps are also predicted to be high for the time of year, with the winds in mind I spent an hour or two picking the rest of the eating apples before they end up on the floor. Some are small and they will go to the horses or the rabbits and chickens but most are the perfect size and look and taste good. Sometimes, just sometimes, I wished I lived remotely so that I really had to gather it all in and store/freeze/bottle it because we relied on it to get us through winter but of course we don’t and if we run out the town is a five minute drive away. Doesn’t stop me saving and prepping as much as possible though but my nature/nurture/gatherer/provider instincts are not completely fulfilled lol11 o’clock and I’m glad I got the apples, the wind has picked up only slightly but the sky is full cloud cover and a dusky pink, and it’s warm out there! 

Decided to do some paperwork as I can no longer see the desk, why is it when you sit down and turn the computer on it wants to update!  

Tuesday: No wind damage to speak of just stuff blown around. Got the morning rounds done and as it is one of my days for having Mia I prepped all the dinner for tonight, Charlie and Macca are coming so best to have everything g prepared in advance. Hoovered through and then made a coffee to sit down and catch up with Outlander, it’s not on 😭 they are taking a weeks break, yeah thanks for ruining my day 😜 never mind I have been another drama series on Catherine the Great and although it’s subtitled it’s pretty good so I will watch that instead, love all these series of strong women in history. 

Watched celebrity hunted in the evening, not something we would normally watch but they turned up at Sam and Luke’s door back in the summer so we were watching it to see them really lol, odd seeing someone you know on the telly 😀

Wednesday: Dark this morning and raining slightly although it had stopped by the time I went out to do the animals, farrier arrived first thing. After feeding I put up some more solar lights in the yard for the dark mornings and evenings ahead, much better to be able to see what you are doing 😜 swung the magnet around the area the farrier was shoeing, they keep leaving the little shards of nail they cut off and if they end up in a tyre that’s not good. Mixed up some bread dough to prove and got something out for dinner, left over lamb casserole which I will make into soup, we have had a few bulky meals lately, time to give the gut a bit of a rest. Trying to decide if it’s a good idea while we have a lot of eggs, to mix up some batches of Yorkshire pudding mixes for the freezer, and contemplating if cake mix would freeze also, anyone know the answer? I will have to google it 😜well it appears you can if the method is a creaming method so I will think about doing that then if we run out of eggs I can still make cake! 

Browsing Pinterest I saw an apple cake recipe using oil instead of butter and as Josh likes a bit of Grampys cake and can’t tolerate lactose I thought I would be the ideal recipe to try, strange mixture but we we see how it tastes later.

Had someone come to get some manure for the garden and bought a bottle of wine for us 😀 we won’t have much muck left for our beds but I won’t care I shall be drinking wine instead 😝 love a bit of barter 😀

I have Mia today, she has discovered Bing and likes him a lot lol, so I can at least now leave the room when it’s on to check how the cakes and bread are doing. 

Thursday: Definitely a day for ducks! However it’s not cold so I wasn’t going to let that put me off doing some stuff outside, not on the garden as that is too wet but some bits of tidying and clearing up of various areas. Firstly rake up the leaves that are blocking all the drainage and clearing the leaves from the guttering as it’s blocked and can’t cope, sending water over the top causing a right mess on the hardstanding. Plenty of leaves to rake up that are becoming a soggy carpet, I don’t do all the leaves there are millions of them, just the ones that get trodden indoors or block drains, I tend to dump them on the nearest bit of ground or rake them under the trees, might as well replenish the ground with good nutrients, some end up on the heap as well but not many. 

Did a bit of egg selling on Facebook, great way to shift all these eggs they keep laying 😀

Next I went out to try sorting the freezers, first I gave them a was down as the tops and sides get dusty from every day living, next dive in and try to a) find out what exactly is in there and b) try some kind of organisation 😝 your finger start to freeze pretty quickly even with gloves on so it’s not easy, what I do know is we probably won’t get through all that beef in the next two or three years! I can’t even get to them bottom so no idea what actually is in one of them, the other is better organised with fruit and veg in separate sacks which are all full, better start having a few dinner guests I reckon. 

Friday: Blood tests first thing this morning so gotta get a wriggle on and get the animals done. The weather is bringing in storm Brian and it has a cold wind with it although it’s sunny. The grandchildren came over and we went out to have a peek at the baby rabbits, I still can’t tell how many are in there! I took a photo of what had turned out to be my favourite bantams, I never really got the whole silkie thing until I hatched these and they grew up and now I am in love with them, like little snowballs on legs, cute, very cute, may have to have more of these 😀

I’ve just discovered that chilli pepper can deter rodents from eating chicken feed as they are an irritant, while birds have no reaction to eat thus being able to consume it along with the feed, in light of the changing rodenticide regulations I am definitely going to give this a try. 

Saturday: Storm Brian is arriving today 😝 great! Not too bad for most of the day actually, after the morning routine John went off to get feed, I put fresh bedding in for the ducks and filled in holes in the rabbit run because the babies are beginning to move around and it won’t be long before they come out and the holes are small enough for them to fall down into. In the afternoon we went to my nieces 1st birthday party and it was a most magical time in the woods, we were worried the weather was going to interfere but the rain held off until we got home. The good thing about the nights drawing in is that you can light the fire, shut the curtains and get cosy with a hot chocolate and a book or a film, bliss 😀 

The weather got decided filthy later on in the day lol

Sunday: Storm Brian is still around and it’s colder today than yesterday, although dry we still have the constant wind. 

Having an off day mentally (and stress levels are climbing) today, my onions that were growing beautifully have been flattened and dug up by the ducks because the wind had blown the netting off of them, and something has eaten every single one of the peas I had planted, doesn’t sound like much but it seems like I’m constantly battling some thing and I’m wondering what is the point! 

Melancholy gone I decided to try out a recipe my neighbour put my way for toffee apple jam, might as well give it a go with all the cooking apples I have. The result was more just apple jam but delicious never the less, I think I should have cooked the sugar more on its own first to get the ‘toffee’ I shall give it another go soon. You can add brandy but I left that out as the grandchildren will probably want a taste, leave the alcohol for the grown ups batch. 

Woken up by the dog barking furiously at 11.30 got up to see the police in the driveway, went out, they had the wrong address! 

Lastly a photo of my brother who climbed to base camp this week, a mighty achievement indeed 😀

Lots of eggs, an egg thief and baby rabbits. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gingerbread men, rosehip syrup and doors on the shed. 

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

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

Take hay down to Jack and check his water buckets 

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

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

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

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

Let the geese out.

Back to the boot room to wash the duck eggs.

Put out the clean ones for sale and feed Kai

Feed the other two

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Made gingerbread men for the grandchildren 😀

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

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

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