Hello, I hope you enjoyed Shelley’s blog last week and her experience of looking after the farm while we were away.We got straight back into work Saturday morning, although we had to have a nap in the afternoon! Everything has romped away and I can’t believe how much growth the veg have put on, there are the beginnings of cucumbers, squash and I picked a handful of French beans. The raspberries are coming thick and fast as are the strawberries, I spent the morning picking some of these along with mangetout, a few weeds for the rabbits to munch on, a couple of loads of washing got done and we moved the geese from the front to the back paddock, we chopped down a few docks and thistles, put fresh hay in their hut and filled up the water, then proceeded to herd them round. It went well for the first 2 minutes then the baby decided it didn’t want to leave the only place it had known and tried to get back, I had to pick it up and carry it, this made it easier in fact as the older geese just followed the squawking, although its sharp claws took a chunk out of my hand.
After nap time 😝 John went into the large side paddock and chopped down docks, the horses have grazed it all off and moved now so it’s a good time to tidy it up, we will put some seaweed fertiliser on when there is some rain forecast. I clipped the rest of the nut trees that shelley started, there is a row of around 12 of them so it’s a big job and I have the blister to prove it. Then tea time, broad beans are the veg today along with a chop and some potatoes for John and salmon and a mixed salad for me, then raspberry, strawberry, blueberry mix for pudding.
The pirate ship Martin has been building is fab and I have been looking for accessories for it such as a ships wheel and some rope netting, I have an old Bosuns whistle they can use when they get older and I think a spyglass would be a good addition, what lucky children they are, pirate costumes needed as well I think 😀
Sunday: Today is our 34th wedding anniversary, blimey where did those years go! No rest for the wicked though and we started working straight after breakfast, John did the animals while I got stuck into the garden, I discovered the purple dwarf beans had been busy producing while we were away so picked a good lot of those, some rhubarb, artichokes, broccoli, raspberries and strawberries. I had a large tub of raspberries and had nearly finished when my bracelet caught on a branch and the whole lot went tumbling to the ground, expletives could be heard if you were nearby 😜 John reported that we had a dead quail and a duck who had got stuck in the water yesterday was not looking too good this morning, he gave her some water and I told him to put her in the new shed to rest, she may have had too much amorous attention from a drake, it often happens at this time of year. Visits from all the girls, grandchildren and also Macca this morning, not one of them remembered our Anniversary lol, not to worry we don’t exactly celebrate it either except to wish each other ‘Happy Anniversary’ which is more than enough 😀
Monday: Got a nice early start and the morning was pleasant, I started differently this morning with watering the veg that gets the sun first, it is still cool enough for them to absorb a fair bit of moisture and hopefully they will be happy with that. Then onto the animals, the duck that was poorly has been taken inside to see if rest, feed and water can help if not it will be a dispatch job. I let the horse out onto the strip to eat the grass that has grown on there, we will see if he stays where he is supposed to 😜 if not he will be back behind the electric fencing with hay. I blanched a bit of veg whilst on a coffee break then out to pull the overwintered onions, apparently they don’t store well and can be pulled before the tops turn brown, I will have probably dehydrate a few of them for winter use. I had a look at the garlic that has formed some good bulbs and won’t be long before they are pulled and dried, I still have some left from last year they have stored very well and I would say we are definitely self sufficient in garlic now 😀
Samantha and Mia came over to help, they cleaned out the guinea pigs and rabbits then Sam cut one of the black currant bushes and we sat and harvested the juicy plump currants, the others that had not ripened went to the chickens and the branches that were now stripped went to the rabbits to chew on, all while listening to Sam telling Mia a made up story about a little girl called Mia and her dog Alfie, perfect. After lunch I sorted out some plants for sale and put them out with the prices on, three I put out yesterday disappeared just like that so I had better keep on top of things.
I felt I had paced myself well today and in the afternoon I decided to make some black currant jam, cordial and some bread, all going well then the front bell rings 😜 how come it’s always when I have jam on the go? The egg shed was empty, how I don’t know, customers are like silent ghosts I never see them come and go and had only checked the shed a couple of hours before, luckily John arrived home at the exact minute so jam saved, I dived back indoors while he collected eggs up, crisis averted.
Spent the evening picking ready for sale tomorrow, could do with a splash of rain I have to say. Well not too much of the evening as I was getting bit to buggery! Rain is forecast and hopefully it will get rid of the midges.
I have just seen the forecast for the next few days, looks like downpours why cant it be something inbetween, this means by the end of the next four days I will have a flipping lot of work to do, picking, weeding and the raspberries will be wet and useless if the forecast is true, oh my days 😤
Tuesday: Picked more blackcurrants today after the morning rounds, also raspberries and broccoli, I am mindful of this rain we are supposed to be getting and don’t want to end up with soggy berries or bolted brassicas, everything else could really do with a good dousing so now I’m ready, bring it on 😜 I ordered a new jam saucepan as the one I used yesterday ended up ‘catching’ which is not good, I also ordered a new digital thermometer, I have the old type but the writing has almost disappeared on it so I can’t tell what the temp is anyway, except 200 for chips lol. I have Mia today and Shelley and Josh came over to help with the currants this morning, a nice treat of fresh raspberries for their snack Josh also tried a bit of raw broccoli, the jury is out on that one, bite a bit, spit it out, bite a bit more, eat it with a strange look 👀 I love being able to give them fresh veg and fruit to try, they won’t like all of it but at least they will know how their food is produced. We heard a chicken making the ‘I have laid an egg’ squawk so Josh and I went off to find it in the stable, I don’t think he can quite make the connection yet but he will in time.
It’s evening and I am sitting wondering if I should go and water the veg or not, dilemma, we were forecast rain around 4pm but as yet nothing, the veg really need it but will I spend my evening watering then overnight a deluge? We were going to fertilise the big paddock but again if we do and the rain is heavy it will just wash it down to one area, the decision is to wait until later in the year when the paddock has put on some regrowth at least the grass will hold the pellets in place while they dissolve and we will probably seed a week or so later. My jam pan has arrived so I could make jam instead………
Wednesday: Hallelujah it rained, not sure how much but it will freshen the veg and the paddocks, in the end last night I watched Dr Who and Broken instead of making jam 😝 I won’t be doing anything in the garden this morning, I will leave it to enjoy its refreshing shower and just get on with the animals instead. I can see that the rain wasn’t enough to soak right in but it has made everything that was brown and dusty look more perky and it’s very pleasant out there 😀 Yesterday a customer bought me his last remaining quail that he had bought from us last year, sadly the rats have got at the rest, it’s female and laying so that’s a bonus, the poorly duck is still alive, she is very vocal and eating and drinking but she can’t stand up so I will continue feeding her for a few days yet to see what happens, I cant see any sign of injury and she does not have respiratory problems, she is pooing ok and no signs that are obvious of tumour so I’m stumped but will keep looking after her.
Mum, as you know is away on the canal, she often writes poems to express the days adventures. I have asked permission to use her latest on here as it sums up perfectly going from the dry spell to rain in a way I can’t 😀
It’s a grey and dismal morning
My shoes are soaking wet
The dogs have had their morning run
I haven’t had my PG yet
The green fields and the hedgerows
Are drinking in with thirst
A heaven-sent drink of nectar
Sweetened with each raincloud burst
The sky darkened, with foreboding
Filled with heavens spoils
Gathered through the days of
Naked , blinding Sun
Drawing all earth’s moisture from fields and well trod soils
It’s been a while now
Since it’s needy thirst was quenched
But now Halliluyha !!
We’re absolutely drenched !!!
Enjoy the rain get out the wellies and raincoats and splash those puddles
I blanched and open froze the broccoli, you can use what you need that way, better than having a lump of green stuff in the freezer, I also blanched some dwarf beans to freeze then got on with making the black currant jam 😀 I don’t bother topping and tailing as this will be strained to produce a smooth jam, the rest won’t be wasted though as it will go into the Rumtopf pot and have alcohol added, waste not and all that. Black currants are high in pectin so no need to jam sugar, ordinary sugar will do the job easily.
I found this piece of writing to explain the benefits of purple fruit and veg, it’s not just a fad there are real benefits to be had from eating these, if you wonder why bother when, on cooking, the veg go green then don’t waste the water you cook them in as it will have all those benefits contained, use it to make gravy or stock.
‘Prunes, purple cabbage, eggplant, blackberries, black currants, purple onions, concord grapes: all of these have a natural purple pigment that contains flavonoids, including reservatrol, which keeps blood pressure in control and boosts immunity from certain cancers. The skin of a black grape, for example, has this pigment, called anthocyanin. In cranberries, the purple pigment is seen to benefit those suffering from infections of the urinary tract.’ Care2.com
Had Mia today and we went to soft play with Josh and Shelley, after Mia was picked up I made some more jam, that’s 9 jars so far probably enough for the time being but there are plenty of black currants left to pick 😜 I will have to look up some recipes and see what comes up.
Thursday: Still no sign of the downpours they predicted 🙄 they will probably arrive at the weekend when everyone is off work 😜 Meanwhile life carries on as normal, feed and water routine done I went on to clean out Kai and then pick raspberries, they are beginning to ripen thick and fast now, raspberry jam will soon be the order of the day. The chickens keep scratching the earth away round the base of the fruit trees we planted a few years ago exposing the roots, I had a brainwave and one now has a buster collar around the bottom to try and stop it happening continually and killing the tree. I need a couple more if anyone has some knocking around 😀 We moved the ducks last night into the new hut, I was hoping this morning that the egg numbers would be higher as I think the rats are pinching them again but there were still only half the number they were producing a few weeks ago. It happens the same time every year, all the egg numbers drop, good job we have the veg and fruit sales to bolster the sales. On Saturday John picked up 25 pullets, 8 have sold already and they are not even laying yet though not far off, hopefully they will add to the egg numbers soon enough.
Picked the first few courgettes, some broad beans, mangetout and asparagus peas, then had a coffee break and did a bit of research on the asparagus pea as they seem to grow well and keep producing.
This was a good all round article and after reading it I am looking forward to trying them, maybe a mixed veg sauté for lunch? I remembered John was going to the dentist later to have a crown fitted so I decided to make some soup with the bits in the fridge that needed using up, couple of spring onions, celery, tomatoes, I added a courgette some broad beans and mange-tout plus a couple of small potatoes and a couple of runner beans that were the first I have picked, a sprinkle of turmeric, mushroom power, garlic and some chicken stock, smells great and a fresh loaf to go with it, the boy is spoilt lol I blanched the rest of the broad beans and some mange-tout for the freezer, great for soups, stews and casseroles in the winter time. Made a black currant drizzle cake, well it would be rude not to with all these berries 😀 besides it’s one of the recipes that came up in my search and as I have only ever made lemon drizzle I thought it was worth a try. Had a black currant, banana and honey milkshake for lunch and made a double batch of spaghetti Bol, some for dinner later for me and some to freeze, all of the above was conducted whilst still in my wellies I might add as I never intended to spend my time in the kitchen it just happened! While drinking my afternoon coffee and looking for interesting things to do with the blackcurrants I came across an advert for black currant powder, wow, why haven’t I thought of that before, dehydrated, ground into powder they will be an awesome addition to my store cupboard 😀 and of course the possibilities with fruit powders are endless, can’t wait to get started now.
I went to check on the poorly duck and realised how stupid I had been, she now had fly strike, I dispatched her immediately to stop her suffering.
Friday: Still no downpour so I will definitely be watering this morning. After feeding I went straight into the garden to get started, picking first before I water, picked raspberries, strawberries and blackcurrants to go into the dehydrator, dwarf beans and a couple of early runners and some pentland javelin new potatoes I think we will have them with a steak and the beans for dinner tonight 😀
While I was quietly picking currants off the cuttings a wild rabbit hopped into the garden, oi get out I said and off it went, we have a large rabbit population this year probably due to the mild dry winter, I really need to get someone in to reduce the numbers.
Did a bit of tidying in the garden, the artichoke plants are huge and heavy I’m sure you could build a house with those stems! I have identified a fair bit to do at the end of the season, dig up most of the strawberry plants as they are just a tangled mess now, cutback the artichoke instead of leaving them to grow again, I have perennials in some boxes that need digging out, dividing and replanting, the raspberries need an overhaul, I have far too many rows the list is endless lol.
Sat and watched some angry wasps when I put nest killer in the plastic compost bin where they have taken up residence, then for some unknown reason I decided to pickle eggs! We have a back log of quail eggs and so I boiled up 3 dozen and pickled them in a concoction of cider vinegar, curry powder, turmeric, sugar and some cardamon pods, hopefully they will taste great 😀
John came home and went to feed the birds, the wires were off both crocodile clips on the battery to the hens and there were feathers inside the pen 😞 we have a daytime marauder because it was fine this morning. And just looking out the door I see a baby rabbit in my veg garden, I thought I saw something this morning but wasn’t sure, we are plagued with bandits 😝
Saturday: John did the outside stuff while on got on and did some cleaning and washing 😝 then he did the feed run and ordered 25 more pol chickens for next week, we have sold a few but we thought we should get some more so that the egg numbers stay up as the egg customers came thick and fast this morning with an actual traffic queue in the driveway! Family BBQ in the afternoon and it was nice to relax and enjoy ourselves. When we came home in the evening John decided to get the air gun out and see if he could take out a rabbit or two, he is not the worlds best shot and the answer is no he couldn’t lol.
Sunday: Spent the morning in the garden, picking, watering, weeding while John did the animals and then dug up some more dock plants. I cut some broccoli and cauliflower then had to process it for the freezer. Meanwhile the currants and fruit I put in the dehydrator were coming to a finish so I set about grinding them to powder. I probably wouldn’t do it in the machine again as it took a very long time and it would be better to use the warming drawer on the Rayburn, it also was quite a process getting the stuck berries off the grilles 😜 however the smell of the currants was amazing and I now have black currant powder and raspberry powder, the strawberries were not so good and the bananas are probably best not ground as they are not brittle enough.