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.