The time of year for unwanted visitors of all kinds.

Did you take a look at the Moon midweek? It was very bright and lit the night sky beautifully, very useful if you want to keep working in the evening. The big farms around us have been working long days while the weather is dry, ploughing, muck spreading and flailing the hedges, getting everything ready for the next crop whatever that might be. Sadly in the countryside the Moon is also used by the more unsavoury to case farms and equipment, it means they can get a good look around without a torch and so go unnoticed, this time of year is prime time for theft from gardens and farmyards. For the first time I can remember our guard dog did not rush out of his kennel for his breakfast this morning, this is something to make a mental note of because it is unlike him in every way, he did eventually eat it when I called him and he may have just had a busy night, but it is important to be vigilant in the next few days in case he has been given something to make him quieter.

After a conversation about pickled eggs, I decided to have a go, I have never done them before and as we had a batch of Quail eggs I thought it would be a good idea to use them up. The pickling brine was easy to make and we just have to wait a few weeks to see how they taste, I am not a lover of pickled eggs but for some reason the blokes seem to like them with a pint! I have also made a few jars of Blackberry jam, I spent an hour picking them from the bushes on the lane and it has set well, the berries this year are not soft and mushy like they are most years and so jam making with them is ideal. I could have frozen them but if I make jars of jam they can be used for cakes etc and if needs be I can always add a few spoonfuls to an apple pie and it will do just as well. I have picked few Elderberries, but put them straight into the freezer so that I can use them when I have more time, I want to make Pontac sauce which can be used in stews and gravy, it will give them a rich flavour and we get the benefit of all that Vit C. I also spent a day picking and freezing carrots, sweet corn, broccoli, swede, beans, and tomatoes, both red and green ones, we now have the freezer full and ready to keep us fed. The need to pick things when you see them became apparent yesterday when, having promised some Victoria plums to my sister, the tree was laden on Friday, we approached the tree to find that they had all gone! The birds must have stripped the tree bare on the Saturday, the only ones left were the shrivelled up mouldy ones, note to self, don’t wait too long next year.

The pigs have finally been moved to outside this weekend, they have an area underneath the tall pine trees and they were so excited when they got there, they ran up and down pushing their snouts into the dirt pile, rolling in it, charging around a bit more, it was funny to watch them but also great to see them in a more natural environment than the stable. Hopefully we have secured it enough for them to remain there but they are very strong and will only get stronger, only time will tell if they are able to dig their way out or not. Any bruised windfalls are being used to supplement their feed as well as a few root veg that have not reached a good size and any runner beans that have gone unnoticed and got a bit too big, they are eating well, that will be good for the end result!

The egg numbers have suddenly gone up this week at long last, to start with the eggs remained in the shed as the customers had stopped coming because of the lack of them, or so I thought, but over the weekend we have sold nearly twelve dozen and are thankful that people have returned. The electric fence around the paddock had been a bit neglected over the last few weeks and so the hens had discovered a few gaps, a few, obviously more intelligent ones had decided to sneak out each day and this means I have to go looking for likely places that they would lay, I found two batches, one in the long grass and one around the back of the nut bushes, we test them in water to see if they are fresh or if they have been there a while, an egg will float if it has gone off because the air sac inside increases in volume, we tend to use any found eggs ourselves just in case one slips through the net and we break them individually first to make sure they are alright.

The horses were a little frisky yesterday, charging around the paddocks, that is unusual and something to take note of, it could be anything that sets them off but the answer came later in the day when our eldest went out to refresh the water and poo pick, Hornets! There were about four of them flying around and annoying the horses, who were running around trying to avoid them, luckily in my experience the Hornet season is short and they should soon move on.

It is a very busy time of year for getting in all that produce that has been growing away all Summer, this week it was the turn of the potatoes to be dug up, they are then laid in the poly tunnel to dry off and the skins to harden a little, any with holes will be used up quickly but the rest will be stored in paper sacks to use throughout the Winter. This year we have done so much better than last, the dry weather has made it ideal for potatoes and I have harvested some very large ones that will be used for baked lunch on a cold day, our main crop are King Edwards and they are by far the best all round potato I have ever grown. The tasks ahead for the week coming are apple picking and more hedgerow picking including rose hips for syrup to keep the colds and flu away. For the apples this year I have bought a garden tower so that we can reach the top fruit without having to climb the tree, not a good idea when you are well past your youth, the adventure side of you is willing but the muscles and bones no so πŸ™‚
The nuts are beginning to fall but they will have to wait for collection until the fruit has been done, they will be fine on the floor for a while, until the squirrel realises they are ready of course and then it will be a race between us to see who can gather fastest, remember the plums, I had better not let that happen to the nuts.

The weather has been kind to us over the last few weeks and looks like it will continue at least one more week, I can’t believe how warm it has been, it is perfect for me, warm but not too Sunny, it means I can get on outside without too many problems. I think Sunday morning was the best by far this week, I went out to do the feed round, it was warm and quiet with a waft of a bonfire in the air, a perfect Autumn morning.

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