Caught red handed, nicking my nuts!!

Well the squirrel made an appearance this week and I caught him nicking my nuts! I had assumed he was no longer around and left them under the Ash tree to lose their skins naturally, I went out to the greenhouse and caught him sneaking up the tree with a Walnut in his mouth. He sat stock still, hoping I couldn’t see him, I told him no matter how still he sat I could see him plain as day and that would be his last one 🙂

I have finally sorted out the lambs, I now have the replacement tags and a date for them to go, I have made the decision to keep the two small ones back until the new year, they don’t have enough weight on them yet and I don’t have room in the freezer so they get a short reprieve 🙂

The unseasonably warm weather is still causing a problem with the tortoises, they are still eating but as soon as the weather breaks it will be cold enough for them to want to hibernate and they can’t do that with food inside as it will rot during hibernation, as yet I am undecided on how to tackle the problem, answers on a postcard please :p

The veg patch has all but come to an end, next years catalogues are arriving in the post and it will soon be time to decide what  grew well and what new things to try. We will have to build a permanent runner bean frame as this is the third year in a row that the wind has blown them over, they get very heavy with all the foliage and beans and the wooden poles can’t hold them up so it will be a metal structure that hopefully will do the job. There is a lot of clearing up to do in the vegetable garden, they need to be cleared of old foliage and any weeds, then certain beds will be manured ready for whatever crop they are having next year. The crop rotation plan has already been finalised, it is important to rotate so that pests and disease do not build up, and although the runner beans fix nitrogen into the ground and so are an important part of rotation for other crops, they can have a permanent bed without too many problems. The only things left in the ground now are Parnips and Sweet Potato, the latter is a new crop for me this year and until November when they are dug I have no idea how they are doing or even if there is anything there at all, it will be a pleasant surprise if there is 🙂

I made a mental note this week that it is time to think about making the Christmas cake and pudding!! It always seems so early but the longer you leave them to mature (and add copious amounts of Brandy to) the better they taste. I usually start making batches of mince pies around this time too, I make them up and freeze them in the bun tin then put them into bags and, if as in our house you eat dozens of them, you can just get them out of the freezer and pop them in the oven when required. I went to a cooking demo not long ago and was shown a simple way to do mince pies, take a block of buttery flaky pastry, roll it out, spread mincemeat over the top, roll back up and cut into slices, cook and dust with icing sugar when cool. These are quick and easy, they also work with chocolate spread and you can keep the roll frozen untill you need it  or slice a few off at a time. This time of year is also a good time to start batch baking too, this morning I have been making fruit cakes, apple pies and victoria sponges to go into the freezer, ready for those cold days when you need a bit of comfort food when you come in from outside. We will have enough in the freezer to see us through the Winter, just in case we get snowed in for three months!! In fact I have had to order another freezer, as we are expecting our half of the cow any day, we now have 4 freezers of various sizes and the plan is to turn one off at a time as they get emptied, I don’t think I will need to go shopping for months, except for Chocolate of course 😛

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