30 seconds of bliss, forking heck 😜 & focaccia.

Monday 14th May 2018: Ahh where is the year disappearing too, how come Winter seems sooo long and the rest soooo short? Did the morning rounds, I let the few hens, that were in the stable for a couple of days, out and almost immediately they knocked over a quarter bucketful of corn that John had left lying around 😜 Did a little bit in the garden, planted the mini pop corn out under cloches, put some more tomato plants out for sale, not much to do at the moment really although I think I will need to water tonight it seems very dry already. Sat down for a coffee and recorded this 30 seconds of bliss, there were more seconds that that but I managed to capture the moment I think, not a dog barking, duck quacking, car passing, hen clucking, just the wild birdsong 😀 and me with my coffee, heaven.

I decided that the duck pen could do with some bushes of some sort for shade and hiding under, there is a row of conifers but they are to the North of the pen, so I set about digging up and elderflower, perfect as the ducks won’t eat it and it will get big pretty quickly once it takes root, plus it’s extra berries 😀 I was digging away forking the ground around it, put the fork under and went to lift, heard a breaking sound, checked my fork handle over, nope that hasn’t broken so I assumed it was a root, lifted my fork out and a prong has snapped off 😪 pants. Pretty sure this fork had a lifetime guarantee however I can’t remember where I bought it and the name has long since rubbed off!

I had some toast this morning, nothing unusual in that except that I put my hand to the back of the fridge to find something I had hidden 😝 French butter ❤️ My Dad and Sue had given me some when they came to stay last time, Sue had been given some by her brother in law, the genuine article and let me tell you if you have never had French butter then go and buy some, try and find an artisan one that would be the best, but the President one will be a good one to start with. I’ve read a few articles about how they make it and can’t quite decide why it tastes better it just does 😀 It’s hidden from John as he eats slabs of butter and has no appreciation of the taste so it’s for my consumption only 🤪

Today’s ‘oh I think I’ll have a go at that moment’ was to dig out and ancient scythe and have a go with it, specifically cutting down nettles which will then be left to dry and used for rabbit feed in the winter months when there is not a lot of fresh stuff growing. The blade looked decidedly blunt and the handles had wood worm at some point but I had a go, it just flattened the stingers, Samantha had a go, turns out I was holding wrong, and whoosh down came the nettles in one fell swoop, hooray even though it needs sharpening it still does an ok ish job so I cut down the nettles in the orchard where they are drying nicely on the ground. So much more pleasant than a petrol strimmer, lighter to hold as well, I just need to get the blade sharpened and ‘penned’ which apparently is hammering the edge of the blade and it’s good to go 😀

Never a dull moment I ordered some curing salt and I’m hoping to cure some of the breast of lamb that I have in the freezer, not your usual cured meat but we have a few of them and they don’t really yield much of a dinner unless stuffed. I looked it up and yep obviously it’s perfectly possible to make lamb bacon so that’s what I will have a go at.

Bit tired from all the Sun today but not complaining 😝

Had a lucky find today, someone was giving away some bird feeders with the caging round which will replace my feeder that I have cobbled mesh round to stop the crows, she wanted some brassica plants so we did swapsies 😀

Salt cure, pink salt (Prague powder, salt, brown sugar, pepper and crushed rosemary)

Tuesday: Another beautiful day 😀 Did the morning rounds making sure everyone has all the food and water they need until later, then a bit of foraging for the rabbits, comfrey, lovage, grass, cleavers and a couple of other bits, watered the mini corn, leeks and carrot seedlings then had a quick shower before making bread. While I was at it I have always fancied having a go at focaccia so I made some, this time of year I love all the Italian food influences mostly due to the wonderful aromas of the herbs as they are so strong at the moment.

Mia arrived and I made some mushroom and asparagus pasta for lunch, I am picking 3 bundles of asparagus a day and most of it is sold but I do keep a bit back for us to use now and again. Simple lunch, cook pasta, add asparagus just before the pasta finishes cooking, sauté some mushrooms and garlic, when they are done make a small quantity of veg stock, pour in and I added cream cheese but cream is fine, drain pasta, toss into mushroom mix, dish up and shave on some Parmesan 😀 tasty 😋

Had two funny moments with Mia today lol kids, First while Sam was still here and they went out to sort Jack out and I stayed in finishing the bread and making pasta, Mia comes to the back door and I expected Sam to be with her, Mia says Mummy’s stuck so I quickly take the pasta of the stove and the bread out of the oven. Show me where she is I said and off Mia runs in the direction of the paddock, we get round the corner and clearly Sam is NOT stuck just filling the water buckets 😂 turns out Mia didn’t want to stay so Sam said go back to the house and find Nana 😜 Second time was when Mia found a lily beetle crawling through a plant, I need my glasses she said 🤣🤣🤣 I’m guessing it’s because that’s what I always say when looking at something only difference, hers are sunglasses 😎

Off round to Mums for Ken’s birthday and some scoffs tonight, I know what your thinking 🤔 there is always a birthday, yep, that’s what happens with a big family that mostly all still live in the same area 😀 there is always cake 🎂

Came home and started looking at flower arranging lol, I have some of the most beautiful lilacs in and around the place and thought they would look nice indoors but I’m rubbish at arranging so I just ordered a book for 1p on Amazon plus £2.30 postage to reach myself how to do it right 😀

Wednesday: Did the morning rounds then Shelley came over with some strawberry plants for me, her strawberry box is overflowing with plants and I had seriously thinned mine out last Autumn, Josh and Mia helped to plant them up, hopefully they will recover quickly as they have lots of flowers on them so lots of potential strawberries, I put a good bit of manure in the compost to give them a boost.

I found some pork mince in the freezer, it was probably for stuffing or sausage rolls originally but I hadn’t used it so I typed in ‘what can I make with minced pork’ what I should have put is ‘what can I make with minced pork that John will eat’ 🤣 as most of the recipes are oriental or Mexican and he won’t eat either! In the end I did oriental pork for me which I will have with rice and a piggy pie for John which is basically shepherds pie but with pork lol.

I have not seen Diesel the cat for a couple of days, he has not been for his feed in the mornings, I have noticed he has been hunting a lot more lately so maybe he is not hungry but he can usually be found lying around somewhere, hopefully he will appear soon.

Thursday: Did the morning rounds, thought I had lost the new white ducks but found John must have shut them in the stable instead of the duck pen, phew. Everything else was in order so went on to do some watering and a bit of gardening, planted up the rest of the strawberry plants and dug a hole in the middle of each bean wigwam to put some manure in so that when I water the manure will feed the plants. I should have mucked up the beds last autumn but I didn’t and now this seems like the quickest and easiest way to get nutrients to the roots, really must try harder at the end of this year to manure all the beds.

Mixed up a salt cure for the breast of lamb, rubbed it all in and now it will sit in the fridge for 5 days, it will be interesting to see how it turns out.

In the afternoon we went to Witney, I had to get a few things and we visited Johns Mum in hospital, we had lunch at Cafe Rouge which was rather nice, must be what it’s like to be retired I guess 😜

Still no sign of Diesel today 😏

We have some of the young hens keep coming back to the stable at night so that’s where we shut them in, only trouble is we can’t find where they lay their eggs, John knocked up a quick nesting box to put on the wall in the stable to try and encourage them to lay there, one did but the other 14 have laid goodness knows where. Tomorrow I will leave them shut in until lunchtime I think so that we at least get some eggs.

John went off with the metal detector to try and help the Doctor find his wedding ring, he tested it over a 50p before he went because though I bought it for him a few years ago he has never used it! They didn’t find it but apparently had quite a laugh trying then had tea and cake lol

John had to go out around 9.30 and Diesel was in the front driveway so that’s good news, if it is our cat that is, John has history of bringing home the wrong missing cat, a story for another time I think lol

Friday: Did the morning stuff then spent the day with the Grandchildren and their respective mothers, we had a picnic in the back paddock and had the best time playing and eating.

Saturday: On today’s agenda was cutting the grass in the front paddock, it is getting a bit long because the geese are sitting and so that means they are not grazing very far from their hut. We don’t want the grass to get too long for them to eat when the babies finally hatch out and adult geese can’t have the grass too long either. The ride on mower has been sat in the stable block all winter, it was covered in dust (must cover it next year) and obviously hasn’t been started for months. We pushed it out, cleaned it off, topped up with oil and petrol, put wd40 on every part we could see and then had a go at starting it………ta dah, it actually went lol so off I went and cut the paddock. Then we got an area ready for the eight pekin ducks, we decided to move them to be on their own as they are not very competitive for food and get seen off by the other ducks and the hens, consequently they don’t lay many eggs so hopefully this will improve their ability to lay. They seem happy as Larry, whoever he is?

Putting the geese to bed tonight I found five eggs turfed out of the nest and shed, I’m hoping they know what they are doing and that these eggs are duff, however they may just be clumsy geese 😝 For some reason one of the nests has got closer and closer to the door way, this happens every year and eggs end up outside, I will have to think of a way to stop it happening and quickly or we could lose all the eggs in the same way. I found a piece of wood to wedge in to hopefully stop any eggs rolling out.

Sunday: Got up got the jobs done then I promised John breakfast at the garden centre as I needed to get a few veg plants. Some of my squash seeds never grew, butternut and courgettes, I had a list of things I wanted to get they included, horseradish and squashes, but I also picked up a few other bits, cape gooseberry as I lost mine this year, Jerusalem artichokes, a honey squash which I have not seen before, a spaghetti squash and something entirely new to me, tiger nuts which is a grass that produces nodes under ground, we will see how they turn out. I also wanted a grape but the cheapest they had was £50 I’m not paying that lol, in fact I couldn’t believe the prices of plants these days. When I was at college many years ago our tutor who was from Yorkshire said that once you had grown stuff from seeds and cuttings you will never pay the garden centre prices again, he was not wrong and made me think I really ought to divide more plants and save more seed to sell next spring. When they are asking £4 for a tomato plants my 50p ones for sale are a total bargain 😀

We realised this morning that we had sustained quite a fox attack yesterday while we were out for the afternoon 😩 we lost at least 5 hens and a big Aylesbury duck. At one point I did think that we could live in harmony with the fox and we can as long as it doesn’t come during daylight hours but this is the second big attack we have suffered besides them being picked off one by one daily, so I’m afraid we need to do something about it and quickly.

5.40pm and I tried to do some watering but it’s still too hot out there and much as I would love to be out in it I can’t as it would make me ill, I will probably do a bit of research on shade gardening and start planning that lol.

Lily beetle, luckily I have no Lilly’s 😀 not sure what else they eat but they used to be notifiable, now they are so widespread it makes no difference!

The long range weather forecast shows no sign of rain in the near future 😖 I have very nearly used the thousands of litres of rain water from the tanks on the ducks and the veg garden so it will be mains water until they fill again, surprising how quickly it gets used up.


Bird flu, gale force winds, snow, rain and a whole load of other stuff!

Monday: 15th Jan 2018 What a different Monday this week, last week it was dry and stayed dry all week which meant the ground got easier and easier to walk on, today a weather front has arrived like an unwelcome house guest and peed us all off, back to trudging, that’s the only word for it. Still, you gotta do what you gotta do and that the feeding and watering, at the moment I’m not letting the ducks out just in case we have a daytime fox, they are not nimble like the chickens and they wander quite far from any safety. The hens took one look outside, and if they could speak, no doubt heaved a collective sigh of ffs!

I wish I had my phone with me this morning, it’s never with me unless I leave the premises or take it out specifically to take photos but I need to rectify that as I missed a brilliant opportunity this morning to capture the buzzard sat in the front paddock. I’m not sure which of us was more surprised to see the other, but he continued to sit there for quite a few minutes while I spoke to him lol then decided I was too close for comfort and flew to the fence, sat there watching me for a bit before flying off. On a brighter note my new coat is indeed waterproof 😀 and I didn’t have to change layers when I got back indoors.

The subject I want to learn about today is tree tapping, I am going to have a go at this in the next few weeks so firstly I researched equipment both off the shelf and homemade, the off the shelf stuff is expensive for what really is simple equipment. Next make sure I identify correctly the trees I want to tap, birch is easy and I also have a sycamore that apparently tastes like butterscotch, but you can also do walnut so I may give that a go. The most important thing I needed to find out was what to do with the ‘wound’ after I had gathered any sap, it seems if you leave it the tree will heal itself eventually which is good news. Plugging the hole with objects appears to cause more damage and can even kill the tree in time.

Tuesday: I feel exhausted today after doing the morning rounds, I cleaned off the pol house floor, scrapping and lugging buckets of chicken poop is hard work, good job I have Mia today I can sit and play 😀 I feel like an irresponsible rabbit owner today as the rabbit that got out and we managed to recapture is nesting, that means babies again 😟 bad ownership, honestly they never got out for over a year then twice in the last few months, we still haven’t captured the other one yet so she will be raising a litter too probably, once is forgivable, twice downright stupidity.

I think, judging by the chicken feathers in the hay barn, we have had a daytime visit from the fox, the dogs were in yesterday during the heavy rainfall so the hens were vulnerable, I would keep them shut in but the area isn’t really big enough for all of them and they are used to coming out so when you open the gate to go in it’s like ‘schools out’ and they just spill out everywhere. They will probably be put back in the back paddock with mains electric on then we can clean and disinfect the pol run for the spring batch of youngsters due in Feb/March.

Got the dinner prepped for tonight, John is having shepherds pie and I am having bolognese with a sauce I made and froze from our tomatoes, garlic, onions and basil back in the summer, it’s delish and a good reminder to myself of the effort that I put in is worth it 😀 we are also having some of our plum harvest , Johns in a crumble but I have stewed mine with honey and ginger, they will be superb with some custard.

Wednesday: Today I have an appointment at the hospital so John did the morning feeding in order for me to get away early as the roadworks are holding the traffic up, what’s new. It was a slow process both on the road and in the hospital and eventually got back at 1.30. Fed the birds in the afternoon and had a quick look in on the rabbit hut and yep baby rabbits have arrived 😩 about 6 I would say, here we go again.

Thursday: Been awake since 4.30 finally decided to get up at 5.15 it is blowing an absolute hoolie out there and the roof sounds like it’s gonna come off any minute! Got up, turned the radio on, put the electric fire on and made a cuppa, at least with household noises masking the rattling it’s not so bad. To get up that early is not something I would do by choice lol but if I can’t sleep anyway there is no point laying there worrying.

The weather was totally wonderful after the winds died down, the sun came out, it wasn’t cold, it wasn’t raining just a lovely day. I decided after doing the feeding that I would get on in the garden, the 50m of windbreak arrived yesterday so what better day than today to do it. I had nearly finished and had a small section to do on the other side of the gate when I realised there was only one dog sat watching me, not again 😡 I then spent an hour looking and calling for her, a couple stopped and told me she was on the farm over the back from me, I went and retrieved her, the neighbouring farmer took my telephone number in case she does it again, the only consolation I could find was that I had my exercise for the week marching round looking for her. After I had secured them both in the boot room I got on and finished the job in hand, then went onto weeding the onions, covering the carrots with wire because the rabbit keeps eating them, in fact I spent a very pleasant couple of hours gardening including weeding the poly tunnel and transplanting self set beetroot. John came home at lunchtime, he had to cut up some more big branches that had come down in the wind last night and I needed to get on and light the fire, and prep dinner, so that was the end of my time outside. The muck I put in the tunnel at the end of last season seems to have done a good job on the soil, just needs a bit of breaking up and the cauliflowers I left in the ground have started to produce ‘mini’ heads 😀however the basil that was supposed to be for our climate has died off, never mind I will sow some more seed this year.

Decided, as I was inside, to strip the sofas and wash the covers, might as well hoover and polish and clean the bathroom while I’m at it 😜

Bio security measures are now in force across the whole of the country for bird flu, it is a legal requirement no matter how many chickens you have, they are not on lockdown but the area they are in has to be unattractive to wild birds 🙄 so no feed or water outside, minimum traffic in and out of the area, disinfectant foot baths, and keep the birds away from muddy areas ??? Now, I shall be following orders but some of these are futile, it’s mid winter, it’s muddy and what is the point of disinfecting my feet when I will be walking over muddy paddocks! Still the powers that be have spoken and so they who must be obeyed will be because I for one don’t want to be the chicken keeper that didn’t listen. To be honest they would be better off putting us on lockdown at least we know where we are with that measure.

Friday: Conflicting views online as to exactly what DEFRA want us to do, someone said they phoned them and they are expecting birds to be shut away but the statement they put out does not appear to say exactly that, typical gov dept! After discussing with John we have decided to house the ducks for a while, their run is pure mud and I can’t let them out now, the pol pen needs a clean so we will house those hens while we clean it and by then we should know for sure what is expected.

Meanwhile I started dismantling the fruit cage which as you can see from the video, if it loads ( it didn’t so will upload separately) is a mammoth task. The problem is because it has caved in it is at a difficult angle to get the wire off, everything is leaning on everything else causing obstruction and there is tension on all the wire. I finally started to get somewhere then realised I needed to get inside to cut the final bit of wire, the roof netting is still on even though it has collapsed so I had to walk across that then rip a hole in it clamber in and over raspberry wires to reach the bit I needed to cut, the netting was getting caught up in my welly buckles and my hair lol it was bit like getting caught in a giant spiders web 🕷

I was expecting a delivery of multipurpose compost and as usual everything happened at once, I called the driver to tell him to reverse into the driveway as he would struggle if he tried to reverse out onto the lane, he was lost, not far away so I gave him directions from up the road and just as he arrived and began to unload Micheal arrived with four bales of hay on his trailer, then an egg customer, then Sam and now we had a traffic jam in the driveway 😝

Spent a mad couple of hours with Shelley, Josh, Sam and Mia, well mostly it was Josh and Mia that were manic, we just drank tea ☕️

Quick update on the eco egg: I noticed that garments were not quite as fresh as they were when I started with it, they were clean but dull so I checked the egg and thought it might need some more pellets in but it’s still full. I decided that now and again I would wash some of the more soiled garments in conventional washing liquid, it’s still saving me money as I don’t use many, I also miss the fragrance of fabric softener but I am still going to give that a miss 😀

Saturday: Raining ☔️ John did the morning feeding while I took ibrufen for my arms and hands which clearly did not like me using the lump hammer and the fencing thingy to get the staples out. Such a pain paying for doing a bit of hard work, I used to be easily able to manage these jobs a few years back now I’m hindered constantly. We rounded up the ducks and got them into a stable, I sorted out a foot bath and we have to secure the stable from the fox, that will have to wait as John has to go round and see his mother. The battery on the car is flat, we got in it to go shopping last night and had to go in the van instead so that needs charging, we are going out for a family meal later but luckily Shelley has offered to pick us up for that.

I feel stressed as there are important jobs that either John needs to help with or do and we are not getting enough time to do them 🙄

A family medical emergency meant that I ended up eating salad rather than the roast I was looking forward to and as I type John is still at the hospital with his Mum. I have had to barricade the ducks into the stable, I thought about moving them back to their hut where they would be secure but I don’t want to keep messing them about so fingers crossed I have done enough to stop foxy getting in!

Sunday: Woke up to snow, it’s been a filthy day weather wise, snow, continuous rain, fog and all in freezing temperatures. Still jobs need to be done so we finally got the stable that the ducks are in fox proofed, and got the other stable (which is already proofed) ready to put the chickens from the pol pen in, then the pen will be ready for John to power wash when he has time. They are the only two lots of birds that I can’t feed inside which means the wild birds are having contact with feed and water which is what we need to prohibit.

As for the rest of the day, we still can’t get the car started so having to get someone to look at that, spent a pleasant couple of hours at Charlie and Maccas eating soup and cake and celebrating his birthday and then back home to feed the chickens and collect the eggs, stoke the fire before heading off up to the hospital to see Johns Mum, oh yes there is a blockage in the run off drain out the back that John is at this minute trying to clear before the back floods and we have water running down the inside wall of the kitchen due to the snow that was sat on the roof presumably, just another regular, manic, busy day at the farm 😜