Soup, ducks and a big hole! 

Monday, felt great, well rested from not doing much at the weekend, decided to get a move on and start clearing the garden and tidy up, it was going well, I took up and old raised bed and moved all the earth to a new bed, dismantled the rotten sides and levelled out the ground, then went onto cutting the bottom stalks of the runner beans, I leave the roots in the ground because they have nodules of nitrogen on them which are released back into the soil as they die, then onto the fruit cage to get some clearing done and tighten up the wires where they had become loose over the summer with the foliage growing through. Most of the morning was a very fine rain but it didn’t get me too wet, and just as I was thinking, I will get a good amount done today, the rain became a bit heavy and definitely started to get me wet, considering there was no rain forecast I was a bit miffed! I came in for some lunch and waited for it to clear up which it did and set off back outside to carry on, I didn’t have to think about getting dinner today as we bought a lovely chicken, ham and leek pie at the country festival and that was on the menu along with the last picking of runner beans. Then some strawberries from the freezer heated up with some sugar and a dollop of ice cream. Went out picked 3 butternut squash, rain started again so I abandoned outside came in to hoover instead. Made Mary Berrys roasted butternut squash soup, delicious, recipe:

SERVES 6

INGREDIENTS

3 small butternut squash, about 1.6kg (3 ½ lb) total weight

about 2 tablespoons olive oil

salt and freshly ground black pepper

freshly grated nutmeg

25g (1oz) butter

1 large onion, roughly chopped

2 large carrots, roughly chopped

2 large sticks celery, sliced

2.5cm (1 inch) root ginger, grated

1.1-1.3 litres (2-2 ¼ pints) vegetable or chicken stock

sprig of fresh rosemary or 1 teaspoon dried rosemary

Preheat the oven to 200°C / 400°F /Gas 6.

Cut the butternut squash in half lengthways, scoop out the seeds with a metal spoon and discard. Arrange the squash halves cut side up in a roasting tin just big enough to hold the squash in a single layer and drizzle over the olive oil. Season each squash half with salt, pepper and freshly grated nutmeg. Pour 150ml (1/4 pint) water around the squash. Cook in the preheated oven for about 1 ¼ hours, basting occasionally, until the squash are very tender. Allow to cool.

Melt the butter in a large pan and add the onion, carrot, celery and grated ginger. Cook for 5-10 minutes until beginning to soften. Add the stock, rosemary and seasoning, bring to the boil then partially cover and simmer for about 20 minutes until the vegetables are tender.

When cool enough to handle scoop the flesh from the squash and add to the pan. Blend the vegetables in a liquidiser or food processor until smooth. (If you use a food processor, it is easier to process the vegetables with a little of the liquid, adding the remaining liquid to the processed vegetables to make the soup).

Taste for seasoning and serve hot with crusty bread.

I didn’t have any carrots so just left them out also used powdered nutmeg instead of fresh

Tuesday, baked more bread, also tried baking a gluten free loaf from flour I had not used before result: Brick! Did a good couple of hours hoeing and cut the grass. Looking forward to my massage tonight, a treat to myself to relieve the aches and pains of work life. Lamb chops with mash and peas for tea. Had butternut soup for lunch with homemade bread. 

Wednesday, spent most of the morning setting up the duck area in the front paddock to move certain ducks for breeding, the new electric fence arrived yesterday so set that up, probably won’t electrify it to start with unless we get problems, it’s more to keep the ducks in than anything else, painted the house with wood preserver and made a pallet into a solid base for the water to go on, then they hopefully won’t muddy the grass too much and I can move it around. Going to put the Khaki Cambell females that are getting on for 5 years old with the Welsh Harlequin males who are only 1 the result should be some decent looking layers! Salmon for tea, Got to get the healthy bits in. 

Duck eggs are in short supply at the moment and customers keep asking me to save them, this is an impossible task so I refuse to do it, if I had duck eggs for everyone that wanted them I wouldn’t need to save them! Now I have a polite but firm notice telling them first come first served and do not ask me to reserve them 😝 very sorry but it’s not Morrisons as we keep saying! People are too used to expecting the shelves to have what they want. 

Thursday: after the usual feeding, watering and letting out routine, I spent a couple of hours cleaning out the birds in the orchard pen. The quail have been looking a bit ropey and ruffled, I thought I would find red mite in the hutch but no sign 😀 cleaned out their sleeping/laying quarters put in a dust bath for them then clean the outside area and put left over poly tunnel plastic around the open mesh sides to hopefully stop the rain driving in during winter and soaking the ground. Will also act as a windbreak although the light will still get through. We have a newcomer in the form of a Pekin Bantam, his name is Aaron, we have taken him in due to his previous nieghbours complaining about his crowing pffffft it’s more of a squeak tbh and a small yappy dog would be more annoying, he spent a day or two in a cage on his own but I have now moved him into the rabbit run. A larger area that has a roof so does not get muddy, this will be a blessing though he does not realise it yet, as he has feathered feet and could end up in an awful mess over winter. I thought he would have a go at the rabbits but turns out he is a bit afraid of them and runs away when they come over to sniff him out. I will probably put a little bantam hen in with him but am waiting for louse powder to come before I do, they all need a dusting before winter. I will also be worming the birds over a seven day period and giving them a home mixture of poultry spice which is turmeric, garlic, and a few other things, when the temperature drops.

I am keeping a close eye on the walnuts, as soon as they look as though they are beginning to split i will do my best to beat the squirrel to it, although I saw him only yesterday afternoon so am guessing the time is nearly here, don’t worry I will leave him a stash

Checked my home made rat trap this morning, nothing yet! Make more bread. A couple of hours end of month paperwork then a delivery arrived 60 cabbage and leek plants, off outside to plant them. Picked some butternut squash they seem to have small splits in them at the top, lack of water in the beginning I’m guessing. 

Friday, cleaning, shopping day, egg delivery in the evening, fried chicken night

Sat spent the day cutting back the hazel trees around the drive, high vehicles finding it harder and harder to get past! Shredded all the off cuts for the veg garden paths, cut the front drive grass, made bread, roast pork, hubby got the feed and dug a hole! Moved the ducks, drakes to the stable, breeding group to the front leaving the ladies, one drake and my old man in their original pen. Old boy is very geriatric now probably 7 or 8 years old, lost condition and limps but still eats, sleeps, drinks and poos so is a happy chap

Sunday, spent the day helping hubby, he has dug a large hole to be a soak away near the water butts, we get a lot of run off from the hard standing and the dogs running through the mud make it quite a mess in Winter. It is now edged with some kerb stones that we were given a few years ago and the earth mound levelled off. Unbelievably when he started digging he soon hit clay and a very deep seam of it at that, if you have ever done building work round here you will know that very near the surface is usually brash, no matter where we have dug in the past it’s hard going as demonstrated by the electric board last week, just where we could have done with it, clay turns up instead! We spent the best part of the day doing it, and also decided that the humongous crab apple tree that bombs apples at you and makes a racket dropping them on the tin roof, can be trimmed back quite dramatically once it has shed its leaves this year. It must be at least 40 years old if not older and each day I pick up a bucketful for the geese but there are thousands of them. Baked another loaf of bread and discovered that the strong white flour from Aldi makes a better loaf than other leading brands 😀

The egg sales have been full on this week and hopefully now I have separated the ducks I will get more duck eggs to sell as well. 

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