Caravans, Christmas and Caterpillars.

The year is disappearing fast, I can’t quite believe its October tomorrow! The festive season will be upon us before we know it, first of all though I have a holiday in the Med to look forward too so I am not wishing the time away too fast.

I started off the week harvesting apples from the trees, Mum came over and we assembled the tower and got busy, we have a pile of both cooking apples and eating apples in the back building, and that was only half of the trees, luckily the eaters store well and I need to find some boxes to put them in. The cookers won’t store quite so well so some will need to be processed for the freezer, any damaged will feed the pigs and chickens but there are still plenty left if anyone wants some. I also have a good few green tomatoes if anyone makes chutney, free for collection, they are out the front so just help yourself. My Dad likes fried green tomatoes, I have never tried that personally but if that’s your fav then you know where to come. I then spent a morning collecting hazelnuts, normally I can fill a whole true with what is there but this year the harvest is small as are the nuts, two theories come to mind, one, that they have not produced because we cut them back when we put up the poly tunnel in Spring and the second, which is the one I am going with, is that we will not be having a long Winter and so the squirrels will not need to store very much, I am banking on that one 🙂 I had a go at making a nut butter with the hazels, but I didn’t get it quite right, it tastes nice enough but it is a bit on the grainy side, more oil next time I think. The piccalilli, and pontack sauce are both now made and in the store cupboard for tasting in a few weeks time, the rumtopf has blackberries, plums and black currants in with a good amount of sugar a few spices and covered in brandy, that one I will particularly look forward to tasting after a couple of months. I found a great little recipe for making a soup mix that you use instead of a stock cube, 1kg of veg, any kind, even your peelings would work, a handful of herbs, and 250g of salt, grind it all up in a processor, bottle and store, how easy is that and much tastier than those little cubes, just add two teaspoons to your soup or stew.

We have an amazing little mini beast at work this week, a dung beetle, well actually there are thousands of them, they are busy in the fields on the muck and of course then transferred when the muck is cleared and added to the pile, they are breaking down the pile at an amazing rate you can actually see the pile moving as they go about their work shredding it and saving us a bit of time in the process. Talking of mini beasts, when I shook the nuts trees to get the nuts a caterpillar fell onto the floor, it was the most vivid green with a pointed pink tail, I then spent about twenty minutes googling it to find out what it was, it turned out to be a Pale Tussock Moth, which I had never heard of.
A rabbit was the next encounter I had, it is unusual to approach a rabbit and it just sits there, it has mixy was my first thought but normally you can tell by the eyes and they were clear, my next thought was that it had been eating the apples under the tree which are decomposing, as it staggered off up the path I thought it may be drunk. I found it later on that day, dead and so mixy is the most likely cause, shame as I would have loved the thought of a group of adolescent bunnies binge eating on my apples and staggering home to the burrow a bit worse for wear the next morning.
Rats are a bit of an issue again, although I don’t think they ever really go away, the cats have caught two baby rats two days in a row, the evidence of them is there to see as they have burrowed under the chicken huts, I move the huts and the next day, new burrows. Between the cats and the poison we should be able to keep them under control, the cats by the way don’t ever eat the rats, they just kill them and leave them for dead so no worries about poisoning the cats.

I may have mentioned we were looking for a vintage caravan as a project that was not farm related, well we found one during the week not too far away and now we have Luna a 1970’s four berth caravan. This is something that I will be doing with my Sister and will keep you updated with photos as we go along.

I discovered that our Oak tree is over 50 years old while listening to Radio 2, apparently they do not produce acorns until they reach that age and ours has been giving us acorns for a few years now so we have a rough idea of its age.
I love to pick food from the hedgerows, free produce like blackberries, nuts, elderberries, rosehips etc are a bonus crop and packed with goodness, the one thing I have not found yet though are sweet chestnuts, so I decided to buy my own tree instead. In 10 years time it will be around 50ft tall and hopefully producing lots of lovely chestnuts for Christmas. We have decided to plant it in the small paddock at the back in memory of Max our mongrel who died earlier in the year, the paddock will be known as Max’s paddock from now on. Hubby has been busy on another project for a few weeks which is why he has not had a mention, yesterday however, he got the tractor out to move the muck heaps, strike while the iron is hot, I thought, and get him to dig the hole with the back actor. He is not used to using this part and so after nearly taking out the side of the covered area before even moving it we went up to dig the hole, I have never laughed so much, it would have been easier to do it with a shovel I think! He can’t quite get his head around how the controls work, I think it may be because he is left handed, we then had a go at levelling some ground near to a ditch, it’s more of a mess than when we started and he abandoned that in favour of a pick axe, but we had a good laugh trying to do it and that’s a good thing.

Photos of the caterpillar, Luna and the chestnut tree, look carefully and you will see the mess behind the tree that Hubby made with the tractor!

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