Spring shoots, moody skies and River Cottage 😀

Monday: Well the cold temperatures didn’t arrive at the weekend either, beginning to think the powers that be have no idea what they are talking about, they can’t predict elections and they can’t predict the weather accurately either 😝
Today is Blue Monday, the most depressing day of the year apparently, one thing they get right. I certainly know that these next couple of weeks will be the hardest to get through, it’s grey and wet and you can’t get much done constructively without getting covered in mud. However, I just keep telling myself that Spring is on its way, the lilac buds are just beginning to form and there are signs of green shoots around the place so we are heading in the right direction. 

Did the feeding for the first time in three days and all looks fairly well, everything is still alive at any rate so that’s a bonus 😀 I also fed the not so welcome livestock, I noticed a couple of new rat holes so filled them with poison and covered them up, they are a continuous pain in the whatsit. I think the one in the house wall has met his maker, there is a slight odour of unpleasantness and we haven’t heard him for a while. 

I went out into the greenhouse and did a bit of tidying up, sweeping out trays etc and decided to take the plant markers in to give them a clean up and remove any writing, while waiting for the bread to prove and bake. As I was cleaning them I began to wonder why there is a hole in the bottom end, couldn’t find the answer on google so asked on a gardening forum, will wait and see what answers I get. I’m guessing it’s so that water doesn’t puddle around the end of it but not sure to be honest. 

We have Ostrich steaks for tea, they were on offer and so I thought why not give them a try. 

Well the holes turn out to be for putting string/wire through so you can tie them to a plant, and the Ostrich steaks were ok, not what I expected they are like beef steak rather than bird meat, taste was indifferent and there was no fat whatsoever on them. 

Tuesday: Beautiful Pink sky this morning, should have got a photo really but they never to it justice. Also had a huge buzzard on the ground in the paddock, it took off shortly after, magnificent sight. 

Did the morning rounds and it’s much the same 😜 although I’m a bit worried about the geese now, they are staring to lose condition due to lack of exercise, I can’t do much about that but I will probably have to order goose breeder pellets to keep them as well as possible. In the big stable block when I was filling up water buckets I noticed something moving in the banks of one of the stables 😝 I don’t know what is living in there but definitely something. Trying not to be too depressed but looking around everything is quite frankly a freaking mess, mud, mud, mud, yuk roll on dry days when we can start clearing up. Meanwhile keep on trudging through it and trying not to notice is the plan. Cleaned out the quail, they are easy to do now I have the cage back that I put them into, they are happy to be fully cleaned, and have started laying a couple of eggs every few days again now as well. 

I have a funeral to go to this afternoon, Uncle Horace, I hope it stays dry, it is being held at one of my childhood home villages, Swinbrook, Uncle Horace, Aunty Doll and Jayne lived next door, such a lovely village and one that I have very fond memories of. I should write them down really or they will be lost forever and it was a time when villages were full of local people who all knew each other’s families, the people in ‘the big house’ were landed gentry, Lords and Ladies, but they knew everyone as well. We lived in the Post Office (yep even villages had post offices) with what seemed like a very, very old Aunt, very Victorian in her manner and looks, she had a wooden leg if I remember rightly which is why we lived with her, my Mum looked after her for a while. When I was 5 I got on the school bus which stopped outside of our house, on my own, can you imagine, and went to Burford Primary School. I could go on for ages but I think I will definitely have to do a whole piece on that subject alone. Anyway, I’m looking forward to seeing the village even though the occasion will be a sad one. 

I did extra feeding this morning and collected the eggs so that I didn’t have to do it in the afternoon as I was having Mia from 4pm, after she had gone home, I did the horse and fed the dogs, I decided to worm and flea them all as the stuff had all arrived. All went well except the wormer for Patch, despite the fact that I had put tinned meat in with his biscuits and a broken egg he still managed to lick off everything and leave the wormer tablets (even though they are yummy bone flavour). Next step try and do the flick it down the throat manoeuvre, nope, not happening, so I get a lump of cheese from the fridge and press the tablet into the cheese, eats cheese off and spits tablet on the floor, hmmm out of ideas but then he proceeds to play with it tossing it around and bit by bit he absorbed it, I did have to stand there for seemed like ages to make sure it was gone mind you.

Wednesday: Up early and had the dogs, quail, chickens, ducks, geese out in the stable and back pens and the horse all done by 7.30! It was quite nice wandering around in the dark and early morning light I must do it more often. In for coffee break before doing the front lot when it will be light enough to see what I’m doing. Doing the back lot in the POL pen was good though as it was still dark they stand still so I could get in easily without tripping all over them. 

Another Pink sky this morning.

Thursday: The sky was foggy and menacing this morning, I thought, lets see what this brings, then the Sun burst through and it’s a lovely day so far 😀 I have noticed more and more green shoots peeping through the soil, that makes me very happy 🌱

Had a bit to catch up on as I went out to get some country new boots yesterday ready for our trip to Scotland, then had Mia in the afternoon. I cleaned out the hens in the stable and put fresh bedding in and also put fresh bedding in with the ducks, will have to do a major clean out for them at the weekend I think, still not heard from the chap who is going to dispatch them will send him a text later to remind him. I feel the need to start a list of jobs as there are too many to keep in my head.

I thought I ought to do paperwork today but looking at the dates I can get away with leaving it until next week and as it’s sunny I will get on outside, but first the list.

Mucked out Jacks stable now stink of horse wee, hands are hurting this morning though, I feel quite tired but determined to press on. 

I went out to check the egg money and I knew exactly what was in there as I had not long put them out, someone is not paying the correct money for their eggs, they took 2 lg at 1.50 a box and left £2.52 ?????? 

Moved a pile of old straw from outside the goose hut from when we clean them out, it shouldn’t have been left there but you know how it is sometimes, then cut down a couple of willow whips to put in gaps in the hedgerow, some of the hawthorn is beginning to rot away and there are holes, the willow will hopefully take root and fill the gaps. 

Picked my job and spent a very pleasant couple of hours in the garden cutting down the two rows of Autumn Raspberry canes and tidying up, even took my coat off. I noticed a lovely patch of chickweed growing so I pulled it all up and took it to the chickens inside the stable block, greens 😀 they were very happy. Came in for something to eat and at this point I should have stayed in and made bread, wash up etc but it was soooooo nice that I went back out for another hour 😀 These are the days I’m glad I have some portions of stew ready in the freezer 😀 I don’t have to spend time making the dinner and can get outside. Came back in, lit the Rayburn, made bread and then sat down for a well earned cuppa till I have to go back out and do the afternoon feeding. Oh yes I caught the cat napping in the sun on top of the straw bale, no wonder we can’t get rid of the rats! The dead one in the wall proper stinks now when you walk past 😝 

Friday: Lovely crisp, frosty morning, cold but hopefully the sun will shine again today. 
Got routine blood tests this morning but first the morning rounds, after doing that and a quick coffee (decaf these days 😝) I went back to clean out the chickens in the rabbit pen and the chickens in the front pen, (they get their floor cleaned every day).

I used my new secret weapon after cleaning them, Neem Oil, it’s supposed to render red mite sterile and so I thought might as well give it a go, it’s much cheaper than the preparations you buy off the shelf and I’m not sure they work very well at all. I mixed up a 1:50 solution and sprayed everything with it, I had a fine mist sprayer and even the chickens didn’t mind being sprayed, mind you they are captive so can’t get far lol. I expected it to have a strong smell but it didn’t seem to, mildly garlicky I would say, in comparison the thyme oil, which I will also still use on alternative cleans, has a strong smell which I find pleasant. We will see over the warmer months if it really works or not, nothing ventured, nothing gained. Put a pile of fresh hay and some carrots in for the rabbits and back indoors to wash up and clean out and set the fire for lighting later.

Saturday: Another frozen morning, John cleaned out the geese in the back paddock and I got started with the feeding, the aim this morning is to clean out both sets of geese and the duck stable which we did. Then onto cleaning the flue and the Rayburn before it gets too sooty, having had two chimney fires before, one that we were seconds away from calling the fire brigade, we are much more careful and systematic about cleaning the flues now even in mid winter. Then I finished off cleaning the seed markers and John went off to fetch a new light fitting for the back toilet, before that he mended the back door which moves so much (wooden building) it has to be altered every couple of weeks, bought in some kindling, and burnt the cardboard/paper rubbish. 

Spent the afternoon getting everything ready for my big day at HQ 😀 the girls will be doing shifts on the farm as we leave about 6am for a 3 hr drive, I sure hope the cheese is worth it. 

Sunday: River Cottage day 😀 well what can I say, the day was fabulous, it totally lived up to my expectations, it was great to see the place for real and the cheese making course was superbly run, the food was excellent and plenty of it, I had a great time. Thank you to the girls for looking after the farm for the day and leaving dinner in the oven for when we got home, it was a long day, we left at 6am and got home at 9pm, knackered but happy. We made 3 cheeses, a Camembert, a Caerphilly and Ricotta from the whey, we also had Camembert left over which didn’t fit in the mould so we have that as well which can be eaten straight away like the ricotta, the other two have to be nurtured and ripened over two weeks before we can taste them, I hope I get it right. If you have ever thought about doing it then I recommend it highly. 

I had a little taste of the Camembert this morning before it goes into its two week process, it’s delicious, very fresh and pure tasting, can’t wait for them to ripen now. 


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