Greengage, Victoria’s, its a plum week 😜

Monday morning: I have done the feed rounds this morning and got a soaking while I was at it, that fine drizzle is a pain you go out thinking it’s not that bad but somehow it manages to seep in and drench you. To be honest I am knackered this morning, still tired from 9 hours of walking round Countryfile Live, I have aches that really should have gone away by now and to make matters worse I jarred my lower back this morning putting on my knickers of all things 😜 There were no acrobatics involved just caught my toe on the elastic and ping a muscle protested and won’t calm down about it. 

I candled a selection of eggs in the incubator and they all seem to be fertile and growing nicely, I have a small problem coming up the day after hatching day as we have had notification that the electric will be off for the day. Come on, every time I have the incubator on? Is someone listening in or something? Not quite sure what I am going to do just yet, I have another 8 or so days to figure it out, luckily it’s not winter and I may be able to keep them warm just by bringing them indoors as long as they are dried off. 

The weather forecast for this week is still changeable and I have resigned myself to the fact that Winter is coming 😝 and I just have to make to most of what we are given in the meantime. There seems an awful lot to do at the moment as the late summer produce will soon need picking and processing, apples, pears (not that there are many left but I do have one tree in the orchard the birds haven’t attacked yet) plums, nuts, my squirrel instincts are getting stronger lol. Shelley processed some windfalls for me while we were out on Saturday and made a crumble for us which was delicious, I always look forward to getting the apples in the freezer which reminds me that the freezers still need sorting maybe a job for today as it’s wet out. 

Freezers ✅ at least I have a rough idea of what and how much is in there now, prepped a few more beans for open freezing, did a bit of cleaning. Looked up some recipes for the banana squash, Shelley is making curry with it tonight and has invited me over for a taste, I think it will lend nicely to curry also an alternative to Bombay potatoes, and the recipe using sugar and baking it in the oven, serve with ice cream sounds delicious. I will let you know when I have sampled it 😀 

I picked the ripe blackberries from the thornless bush I have, these are not as tasty as wild berries I find but just as good for putting in pies to get the vit c, I also picked more greengage, told you I hit the jackpot, the ones that were not much good I threw to the geese much to their delight. I shook the tree to bring them down, word of advice here, wear a hat, hard preferably, not only do they bop you but the creepy crawlers end up in your hair otherwise. I could have made jam or froze them whole for pies etc but I decided on a compote, great for adding to ice cream, yoghurt or just with a dollop of clotted cream 😀 I made mine with honey as the amount of sugar going into recipes like that is eye watering. Some I will freeze some will be in a jar in the fridge for using daily if I desire and some I will give away to my nearest and dearest. 

Greengage Compote – easy peasy 😀

400 g greengage halved and stoned

Honey 1tbs is recommended but it’s your compote if you want it sweeter add more, I keep squirting it in until I stop grimacing on tasting 😝

Juice of a lemon

Warm honey in a heavy based pan, add greengage and lemon, increase heat and simmer for about 5 mins or until you get the consistency you like. That’s it! 

Clean sterile jars if you want to keep it for a while or a clingfilmed dish will do

Keep in the fridge. Use at will 😀

This won’t keep like jam as the cooking temperature is low but it is easy and versatile. 

Because it’s so quick and easy you can have a little play around with other flavours if you like, add some crushed ginger, cook a star anise in with it, vanilla, cinnamon the choice is endless and all depends on what you prefer. 

As an added tidbit of information the greengage is the only plum tree that will grow true from seed, so I shall be saving some of the stones to dry out and plant, hopefully next year I will have some saplings to plant in the hedges 😀

A couple of things I forgot to mention in last weeks musings, I pulled up a good basketful of potatoes, we have used the last lot and I refuse to buy any, they have flowered and gone over so I figure they are ready. I left the little tiny ones in the soil, they will grow again, hopefully in time for Christmas potatoes. The other thing was that while John was moving the log pile to block up the gap he found a toad! A frog I would have thought ok it’s a bit far from any water but a toad is even rarer to find here, nice though 😀 except he now has to find a new home lol. Also Martin has now put the mast up on the pirate ship, it makes me smile in the mornings. 

The banana squash curry was lovely the squash has a pleasant flavour and does very well in a recipe like this. 

Tuesday: Forecast is wet for today but it’s dry this morning while doing to the rounds so that’s fine by me, picked some courgettes and cucumbers before going in and making bread and getting the dinner ready for this evening. While we were stood drinking our tea this morning John spotted Cyril the Squirrel running along the top of the fence towards the nuts trees, that’s it, the race is on to see who can gather the nuts fastest 😜

I made bread and got the dinner prepped for later then Mia arrived full of beans today, I made make shift cot out of wine carrier and hot water bottle cover for a blanket for the baby doll I got from the charity shop last week. As a rule I wouldn’t stereotype children but she is a real girly girl, putting things on her wrists like bracelets etc, it’s what she is drawn to. 

A strange thing happened that proves things are not always what they seem. A car pulled up and parked and a mid teen got out and went to the egg shed, the lady in the car was talking to him (the dogs barked so I looked out the window) he walked back to the car with what looked like a rat, held up by the tail at arms length, he got in the front passenger seat and was still holding it like this as they drove away. What the hell? Was my first thought, I checked the cctv to see if he had it with him when he arrived 😂 I couldn’t see much on there so I went out to the egg shed to have a look, my curiosity was well and truly roused. Casting my eyes over the contents of the shed I could see that two items had been bought, one punnet of greengage and a small beetroot, I laughed this was obviously what he was holding, clearly he either does not like beetroot or the fact that it had a little mud on it or both 😜 Never take what you think you saw at face value, always investigate a little further, rat or beetroot? 😂😂😂 

Wednesday: Yet another wet day in store, and a little chilly too as the breeze is from the North, I decided to put the horse in the stable to give him a break from the wet and cold and did the rest of the feed round. Back indoors I had two options, sit down and do nothing or cook, I decided to cook. I had been uber organised on Monday and got out various meats from the freezer to have for dinner each day, however, my plans did not go accordingly, first Shelley invited me to dinner to taste the banana squash curry so the salmon stayed in the fridge. The next night although I cooked John a chicken casserole my piece of chicken stayed in the fridge and we went over to visit my brother for his birthday where there was a selection of food on offer, and for tonight I have a shoulder of lamb in the slow cooker for John and I am off out with friends for supper. Rather than waste the salmon and chicken I decided to make fish cakes and chicken pies for the freezer, I also made the chocolate/courgette cake and baked a piece of banana squash in the oven with dark brown sugar and butter, mmm tastes a bit like treacle toffee. 

The rain carried on into the late afternoon and that’s another day done.

Thursday: The Sun is shinning this morning and there is a promise of a decent day, where do I start there is so much to do! Picking first, the runner beans, dwarf beans, courgettes, found a marrow 😜 tomatoes, cucumbers, then onto cutting off some of the tomato foliage that will not produce fruit, weeding the big poly tunnel then watering it, then onto picking some of the Victoria plums. The tree is laden with them this year although they are smaller than usual, I will have to give a lot away as I will never use that many! This is the time of the year when I feel that I am spread too thinly, the weeds mostly have to wait as the picking and processing takes priority and all the plants are putting on straggly growth that makes is difficult to keep things looking tidy, I definitely am going to have to scale it down next year, we are not getting enough dry days to do everything and I need a massive rethink on a fair few of the beds. The raspberries have gone over early due to that hot dry spell and there are no signs of the autumn berries 😏 to be honest the two rows last year didn’t produce much either so they really need to come out. The brassica cage is like a jungle that all needs pulling up as I have harvested most of what I need from them, there is still a fair bit to come, swede, parsnip, celeriac, the beetroot, more banana squash, sweet corn and butternut squash, I need to transform into an octopus 🐙. On top of the work load I don’t feel on top form, I am a bit under the weather which has a knock on effect to my muscles and joints, got a few aches and pains and I’m losing more hair than I would like, hopefully it’s just a blip in my immune system, I’m also sleeping like a log, that’s not a good thing as I find it very difficult to wake up lol even after a short nap trying to rouse myself is getting harder, autoimmune disorders suck. 

After a quick smoothie for lunch I went out and pulled a few weeds and picked some peas, sat and podded them in the shade, delightful past time, and then harvested some herbs for drying. The herbs smell divine today, basil, sage, oregano, thyme, parsley and chives all picked and drying in the drier ready for storage for Winter use. I find drying them easier for my use but you can make herb salts, oils, vinegars or even frozen cubes of olive oil and herbs. Bay and Rosemary are evergreen and so available all year round however they are at their strongest during the growing season and for that reason can be dried or used in the same way. 

We made the decision to up the number of chickens, I did the figure crunching and it’s as cost effective, if not more so taking into consideration fence repairs, as having three horses, one of the liveries is relocating and one of the other horses on loan is being re homed so we will be getting 100 more hens to keep up with the demand for eggs which has increased considerably since the chap up the road has packed up. John is busy tonight getting the back paddock ready for the older ladies to retire to and the new ones will go in the front paddock, we have invested in some more poultry netting and this will be on the mains so Mr Foxy hopefully won’t be able to pick them off one by one. I’ve been looking up the current regulations and we are well within the boundaries, phew, and we are already registered with the APHA so don’t need to do anything except get the hens and make them comfy 😀 

Friday: Up and at the housework first as it really needed doing then out to do the feed rounds, put some bread on, Mum came up to do some hoeing, I cleaned out the ducks and did many other little jobs inbetween everything else. There always seems to be stuff to do even when you think you have finished you walk into a room and yep there is something else to be put away or sorted! I had half made the decision to scale back the veg garden next year and talking to Mum finalised my thoughts, it’s far too much for one person and the veg haven’t sold as quickly this year as previous years so I will go back to just growing what we like and putting any extra out for sale rather than growing it to sell. The raspberry bed that is not under netting will come out as that doesn’t do well, I think the birds must get to the berries before I even see them, half of one of the veg beds will go and be replaced with flowers, I miss having flowers so it’s an ideal opportunity, the bed under the nut trees will go as things struggle for light under there and the strawberry bed will be dug up like it was supposed to be in the first place but I couldn’t bear to do it. I am not going to grow brassicas next year unless it is very early or very late as no matter how hard I try the butterflies still eventually find their way in and the caterpillars decimate them. I am going to grow what we eat and only a one or two plants of other things such as courgettes etc, I figured a smaller amount of well tended veg is better than the masses I have out there this year. Potatoes will be grown in containers as that is much easier than digging, less bean plants, more rows of carrots and peas and just a couple of rows of winter veg like swede, parsnip, beetroot etc. I feel a weight lifted from my shoulders already 😀

Saturday: Up early for another day out 😜 this time it was Retro Festival, what an absolute treat that was, a mix of retro and vintage from the 30’s through to the 80’s so many things I had forgotten about and so much to see. Everyone was happy I guess that’s what nostalgia does to you. Shelley looked after the farm for the day again bless her, she made the greengage and vanilla tart for me while we were away, it is delicious, she also picked a basketful of Victoria plums which I will need to do something with very soon.

Sunday: A lovely sunny morning and after feeding I spent some fabulous hours pottering in the garden, a bit of picking, a bit of potting up divided plants ready for my flower bed next year 😀I had to pull up all the outdoor tomatoes as they have blight, that foliage will need to be burnt, to be fair they were just extra plants that I didn’t have room for under cover and so although there are loads of green tomatoes on them I’m not too disappointed.  John finished off the bit of fencing by the decking area and then went on to cut up and tidy the wood area. My sister came over and picked a basket full of plums to make jam with, and some apples (she later returned with a pie 😀😀) it was an idyllic kind of a morning to be honest. 

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