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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Runner bean chutney, Christmas mincemeat & Pontack sauce.Β 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pontack sauce Makes 1 x 350ml bottle

500g elderberries
500ml cider vinegar

200g shallots, sliced

6 cloves

4 allspice berries

1 blade of mace

1 tbsp black peppercorns

15g root ginger bruised

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

Had some heavy downpours already β˜”οΈ but not complaining in light of what the rest of the world is going through at the moment.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Apples, tomatoes and another grandchild on the way πŸ‘Ά

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blackberries, bantams and a drone.Β 

Monday: Peculiar day but then I wouldn’t expect anything less with a solar eclipse happening even if we can’t see it. The weather was just an added peculiarly, my weather app showed black clouds, just that, no rain or anything so I couldn’t really work out what the day was going to do, well it just stayed cloudy and thick cloud at that although the sun did try to come through a couple of times it never really won. After doing the morning rounds I cleaned out the hatchlings, they are already getting big enough and string enough to kick their chick crumb all over the place! 

Nothing out of the ordinary happened during the day, I did some picking, runner beans and a few cooking apples, though I quickly decided it wasn’t the cleverest idea after a night of persistent rainfall, ended up with a wet arm lol. 

Although we have hatched some bantams we also picked some up from a friend tonight, these are still teenagers so no layers as yet but in a few weeks I’m sure we will have bantam eggs for sale again πŸ˜€

Tuesday: The new bantams settled in over night then I let them out this morning, they are going to be trouble, well at least one of them is, she has already worked out how to get up and over the six foot fence, up onto the hut then onto the top of the fence then wayhay freedom, twice she has been out despite us moving the huts away from the edge after the first escape 😜

Meanwhile elsewhere I have been busy picking beans and some more blackberries which we will have with apple tonight over ice cream and I spent a good while cutting back the two buddliea bushes in the front area. They have grown a lot since last year and I couldn’t see through them down the driveway anymore, now it’s nice and open and I have a good view of who is coming and going. I also prepped some swede for open freezing, although open freezing takes a lot longer to prepare its better than a lump of frozen swede, I have been trying to do most of the veg this way so that I only get out what I need, less waste. 

Molly the yard cat has been eying up the bantam chicks in the back so we are having to keep the doors shut, the last thing I want is for them to be eaten by the cat! I will need to keep an eye on the bigger bantams to I think as they might be just the right size for her to pounce on whereas the chickens are a bit too big for her to bother with. I wish she would set her sights on more mice and rats rather than the birds, she has had a few robins since she has been here so feathers must be her thing rather than fur 😝

Wednesday: Still the same weather, mind I’m not complaining, it’s not raining, it’s not sunny, it’s not cold and it’s not windy, win, win I reckon. 

Did the morning routine and decided that we probably won’t be able to keep these bantams in so I left the gate open for them and they have stayed inside all day 😜 they can free range, they don’t cause damage to the garden like the chickens do it’s just a case of trying to keep them safe really. 

I did a bit of tidying in the big tunnel, the tomatoes that had self set in there have grown massively but with not very many tomatoes so I pulled them up and kept the green fruits either to see if they ripen or for green tomato chutney, my Dad likes them fried but I’ve never tried it myself. 

Went to the park with Sam, Mia, Shelley and Josh, John was driving past in his van and so he stopped to play at the park as well much to the delight of the grandchildren, Grampy is great on the monkey bars and slide πŸ˜€ while I played hide and seek round a huge tree trunk with Josh and roly poly down the hill with both of them, lovely interlude to the day. 

I’ve been looking at fermented vegetables and how to do them, it is commonly known how good they are for your gut and the keeping bacteria balanced, I tried the Kombucha that I looked after for Mum but I didn’t like it so I thought let’s try veg instead at least I can eat them with a salad. I like the idea of fermented cherry tomatoes and I have plenty of those πŸ˜€

Thursday: I kept thinking it was Thursday yesterday so I’m glad it’s here today 😜

The freeranging bantams roosted in the tree last night, unfortunately they had chosen very low hanging branches of the Walnut tree so we scooped them up and put the away safely, all except one that we couldn’t find, when I let the geese out this morning I found it had shacked up with them overnight so all is well. 

I had a fairly straightforward uninterrupted day ahead of me so I got started with some picking, it’s continuous at this time of year and today I picked courgettes, runner beans, dwarf beans, blackberries and the ying yang beans for drying. I am very pleased with those and they will look great stored in a jar ready to add to soups and stews. The chick peas on the other hand were not so successful, I think I left them too late to pick and most of the pods were empty, they had obviously gone on their own journey and either something has eaten them from the ground or I will have hundreds of self set plants next year! To be honest I won’t bother again but it’s nice to know they can be grown. The time seems to move very slowly this morning and by 10.30 I had done all that and done some clearing and weeded the big poly tunnel. For lunch today I decided to go and pick some sweet corn which I had with the home made butter, yum, this is a crop I don’t tend to sell as the girls love it and so do I πŸ˜€ I checked the growth of the celeriac, it’s looking like it should swell nicely by the time it needs picking which is late September/October, there is a lot of it lol. 

I was just wondering what I should do next when two things happened, first a delivery, of plastic lids for the killer jars and secondly it started raining so good timing to start off those fermented cherry tomatoes. I did a fair bit of reading up and you can buy fancy expensive jars plus glass discs to weigh the produce down but I went for plastic lids and a folded cabbage leaf to keep the tomatoes submerged. With the plastic lids they are screwed on lightly and then ‘burped’ each day to let out the gas, once the fermentation is complete screw the lid down tight and store in the fridge. Again with this type of thing you can use whatever you like in the way of spices, I used garlic, fresh oregano, all spice berries, ginger, whole peppercorns and some celery seed, they should be ready in around 4-6 days so we will see what happens and how they taste then. 

Moved Jack to his paddock in the afternoon and also put down some rat poison, we have one in the wall again, it’s been never ending since Felix died, need a decent mouser on the farm! 

Someone came to get muck in the afternoon and bought two pots of home made jam, one raspberry and one damson, what a treat as I haven’t made much of my own this year just blackcurrant. 

Forgot to make bread today so got some on the go after dinner, popped out to take Mum some veg while it was proving, came back and time to put the birds to bed, the bantams are up the tree again although higher up tonight so we left them up there! Oh yeah and one of the bantams laid an egg already πŸ˜€πŸ˜€πŸ˜€πŸ˜€

Friday: Lovely morning and after doing the animals I went to a walk up a nearby lane with Shelley and Josh picking blackberries along the way, Josh ate as many as we were picking lol, found a plum tree on the way back and filled a bag full of them they were sweet and ripe for picking. 

Later in the morning something buzzed overhead and sent the horses into a tizz, when I looked up I saw a drone flying in a back and forth motion over the top of us covering the whole yard. In the week I was told by a customer how undesirables have been using a drone in the nearby villages to case areas of interest to them so you can imagine I was pretty pissed off thinking that this was one of those episodes. First I went out and flicked my ‘v’ at it then I strode off down the road to see if it was any of the lads working nearby using it, I spoke to my neighbour who said she would ring the farmer whose land it was also also going over, I was quite prepared to shoot the f***ing thing down! Turns out it was the farmer who had got someone to use it to survey his fields, I did feel a bit of a tit then but actually it should not have been flying over ours without some kind of notification, the laws are a bit flimsy for drones at the minute but there are privacy laws covered by cctv laws, plus there is common curtesy! 

Saturday: It’s set to be warm and sunny today and to be honest I have spent a bit too much time in the sun lately and it’s beginning to take its toll on my health, proven today by the fact I have spent most of the day inside and don’t feel exhausted like I do when I have been working outside. 

Apart from quickly sorting out the ducks, horse and rabbits while John fed the rest of the crew, I have been inside, I spent the first half of the day cleaning and washing as it really needed doing and then the afternoon baking. I made 2 choc/courgette cakes always a winner and a plum bread to use up the plums I picked up the lane yesterday, then I needed to use the windfall apples so I have in the slow cooker, apple butter, (apples, cinnamon, nutmeg, sugar) there are a lot of tomatoes and so I have oven roasted some with basil, garlic, salt, pepper and olive oil, my taste and smell senses have gone into overdrive I can tell you. The apple butter definitely tastes and smells a bit like Christmas and the tomatoes etc are a wonderfully fragrant reminder that summer is still with us for now. 

Meanwhile John has been uber busy outside getting the huts and the back paddock ready for the hens in the front to move to, he will then clean out and creosote the front huts ready for the new hens to arrive. It can’t come quick enough as far as the egg customers are concerned they arrive in droves and we quickly sell out leaving disappointed folks at the gate 😩 Some customers have a bit of a cheek, a note was left asking me to save 3 dozen eggs for them to collect………wait for it………6.30 am Monday morning! Not on your life, to start with we have many customers who ask us to save eggs which we cannot do for everyone so we don’t do for anyone and 6.30am on a Bank Holiday Monday ffs 😝😝😝😜😜😜

Shelley Martin and Josh came over with a pudding Shelley had made from the blackberries we picked on Friday, she was very pleased with herself and so she should be it was a delicious blackberry and apple upside down cake mmmmm. 

Sunday: Well nobody can say the weather was rotten this bank holiday weekend can they? Another scorcher of a day and apart from some feeding and picking early on I stayed firmly indoors, hope everyone enjoyed the rays 🌞🌞🌞 I did the remaining bit of end of year paperwork and some file sorting on the laptop and then sorted out the stationary drawers and found an envelope with 135 euros in it, made some bread, then in the afternoon Sam, Luke and Mia called in to visit and then Charlie and Macca came a bit later with ice lollies πŸ˜€πŸ˜€πŸ˜€

John spent another day out in the heat, turning the muck heap, burning weeds and blighted tomato plants and putting up the electric fencing for the hens at the back. Tonight we will be gathering up 80+ hens and moving them from the front to the back but we will wait until it’s nearly dark and much cooler 😝

93 chickens moved by 9pm, loaded in 12’s into 2 crates at a time backwards and forwards from front to back and back to front, mind you I got the easy bit pushing the empty crates back lol. Then when we finished it was strip off, clothes in the washing machine and into the shower, for John at least cos he was the one in the hut and he was itching with red mite, think about how the poor hens feel I told him, one good thing about the colder months approaching there will be less of them. The now empty hut will be thouroughly creosoted and treated which will keep them at bay for a while at least. 

Have a great week whatever you are doing πŸ˜€

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.