Monday 15 December 2008

Being Wiped out bugs

Yesterday I was totally knocked off my feet with this flu/cold bug that's going round, I was feeling so rough, but kept dosing myself up with tablets, Vit C and lots of hot ginger drinks, today I am feeling a lot better I have the sniffles and little sore throat but apart from that compared to yesterday I feel great.
Got loads done this morning, washing, ironing, cleaned the oven, stripped down the hob and extractor all the bits are in the dishwasher, of course because I use the hob to boil my kettle after running Grand son to school I found I couldn't make a cuppa because all the bits are in the dishwasher, then I remembered the good old microwave, it took a couple of mins to boil the water, but it did the job.
Going to get dinner on now, we seemed to have accumulated a lot of venison in the freezer, so I am sticking a joint in the slow cooker with a load of veg that need using up from the fridge, I am going to try and use the slow cooker a lot more that I do, I came across a great blog full of slow cooker recipes
so I think I am going to become a regular visitor.
Well its Christmas next week and I still have a few pressie to finish off so I better get a move on .

Sunday 14 December 2008

Christmas is a coming fast

Yes its just round the corner now and I am up to my eyes in finishing off pressies, who's idea was it to make everyones pressies this year !!!!!

This week has seen the kitchen turn in to a choclate shop, as the handmade chocolates got into full swing, these are to add to the hampers that the adults are getting for christmas, it was great fun making them, there are still a few more to do, so far I have done, Cherry brandy kisses, Mint Crunch, Nut Cluster, Chilli chocolate, Truffles, and Hazlenut truffle.
They all taste rather yummy and the kitchen has chocolate everywhere, just lots of boxes of the stuff covering every surface.
Also got the freezers deforsted this week and sorted out in preperation for our half a veal calf, we are looking forward to that arriving.
We are in full throws of moving young chicks into there adult accomidation and its starting to look like chicken city down the garden, were ever you look there is another chicken house.
I have sent off a few requests to rent some land this week, and if we manage to get some locally then Chicken City will be moving there, along with a couple of beehives then we can expand into other poultry and keep some for meat eating.
I think I am starting to come down with this Cold/flu thingy that is going round, got up this morning feeling really rough, taken a couple of pills, had a hot shower and feeling a bit better but there is definatly something lingering in the background.
Right off to pop some more pills, and if need be crawl back into bed .

Saturday 15 November 2008


They claim in the bible that Jesus turned wine into water, well we must be blessed as we have turned wood into meat.
With the help of some good old fashion bartering, we have barted the odd thing before with friends, but this is a real biggie, we have access to an unlimited supply of wood suitable for kindling, so we got some of those big netted onion bags, (thank heavens for e-bay) bagged up kindling and took it along to our local farm shop Fowleys and Wally he has offered to sell it in his shop and instead of us having cash we are having meat, all very simple.

Since hubby went away I set myself a task well more of a challenge not to draw or spend any money from the bank, so that the money in the bank just pays household running expenses, but anything else must be generated at home cash and that is what we have to live on for food, petrol chicken feed, entertainment clothes etc
Not an easy task but is is surprising how you do it, that s how the bartering came into being with the butcher, veggies we grow and I have just had the arrival of a new batch of veggie seeds for next year from Victoriana Nursery Gardens they have some great varieties and some real good old fashioned varieties, this year I grew there climbing peas and we had a great crop, I grew them over some arches in the garden, the climbed to about 7ft and the peas were gorgeous, I did intend to get a second crop in but the weather has been disastrous this year, but there was plenty to freeze so we are still using them.
so back to my plan, so far so good it all seems to be working well and I haven't touched any money in the bank, it has meant I have to be really carefully with using the car and think twice about it, if I can I walk or cycle, but we still need cash so I have been doing lots of little things to generate cash coming in, selling all the junk I have accumulated over the years on e-bay, its great to have a good clear out, I have also been selling some cards and hand made soaps its all bringing in little bits but the plan is working. It is surprising how little cash you can manage on and it makes you think twice before buying. The aim of course is to save and save so we can carry out our dream and buy a small holding, I did some calculations and I think I can save about £10,000 a year doing this, we will just have to see what happens.

Today we are building a new chicken house, now hubby has returned from his jaunt to Nepal we need to get new accommodation built for our growing family of feathered friends, The Hamburghs have now started laying really cute white bantam eggs, and my teenage chooks who are now 17 weeks have been moved down the garden next to the adults, the Silkies are growing fast and it looks like they both might be cockerels which is a real shame after all the problems I had with them.

Sunday 26 October 2008

Encounter with a Hamburg

This handsome trio are Speckled Hamburgs, I went along to the East of England Autumn show, and fell in love with these lovely bantams, so bought them, I have never planned to have a cockerel, but he is a bantam cockerel so smaller than the average. They have been called Spit Spat and Spot.
Having got them home and not having a house and run for them they were temporally housed in a big rabbit cage I knocked up a house for them that evening and put them to bed, next morning they had to back in the rabbit cage until I got there run built. Now hubby is away climbing mountains in Nepal so I am having to manage everything on my own including run building.
I thought I did very well I even had a gate with hinges on the run, I installed them and they set about settling down.
Come bedtime (chicken bedtime) I start on my rounds shutting up various chickens, when I come to the Hamburgs no sign of them, the run and house were empty !!!
Upon hearing a rustling above me I investigated they had all decided to roost in the tree !!!!
So I was there in the dark with a ladder and torch retrieving chickens from the tree, next day I netted over the top of there run and around the tree, that night they were in the tree again they had found a gap !!!! now I am not being unreasonable here but I do not want to be going through the same performance every night when there is a perfectly good chicken house for them to go in.
Day three I decided wings had to be clipped not an easy task by yourself as you have to hold a feisty chicken that is not used to being handled spread the wing and then clip off the ends of the last five feathers, I caught the ends and got then done But Spit the cockerel had different ideas and didn't fancy the idea of a free haircut, he put up a fight, got hiss talons caught under my ring and dislocated my little finger, PAIN!!!! like I have never know before, I had tears. I caught him again clipped his wing and went off to console myself, I strapped my finger to the others thinking at the time it was broken. it was swelling rapidly but I didn't want my mum's wedding ring cut off so I stuck with it. That night one of the hens got really tangled up in the netting and I had to cut her out with scissors. this wasn't going to work.
The next few nights as soon as I saw them trying to roost I put them in the hen house hoping they would get the message, but no they were not having it. still being in pain with my fingers I just couldn't carry on every evening like this.
I sought medical advice found out the finger was dislocated so had it put back in, then set about building them a new run away from trees, moved there house and them into it and that first evening they went to bed no problem.
Our one cockerel looks like its turning into three, my 4 young bantams that I hatched August are growing up really fast, we ended up with 2 Plymouth rocks and 2 Sumatra's well we defiantly have a Plymouth rock cockerel, he has been trying to crow, bless him but he sounds like a chain saw trying to start up. and one of the Sumatra's is developing a rather long tail so it looks like we might have a cockerel there as well. if they turn into couples we may well keep them in there pairs we will have to see.
Clocks went back last night so it was an early start today, but it will also be an early finish, now winter is just round the corner I have been preparing for it, will catch up again tomorrow.

Friday 24 October 2008

Where do I start

Sorry seems to a good place to apologise for taking so long getting round to posting again, it really has been a very busy

time since I last posted and it may take several postings to bring up to date what has gone on.

Firstly hubby has gone off to Nepal, he is climbing Mount Pumori so I left to hold things together by myself for 6 weeks, the longest time we have been apart, so now I have to get out of bed in the morning at some ungodly hour and let all the chooks out, a job he did as he was always up early to go to work, a few days after he left our Silkie eggs in the incubator were due to hatch, the first egg started pipping and 24 hrs later there wasn't much progress at all, so following Katie Thears advice I peel back some of the shell from the top end, several hours later still no more progress and it was noticeable that the chick was get weaker, so I took the plunge and helped it out of its shell, it was very weak and a lot of the membranes had dried on to it, what a sorry state to be in, I left it in the incubator over night expecting to find it dead in the morning as it was very weak barley moving, next morning it was still alive to my surprise !! it was a bit fluffed up but not making any attempt to stand, when I picked it up its little legs just dangled there! oh dear knowing it wouldn't be fair to keep a weak chick if useless legs, the kindest thing of course is to dispatch them, but I popped it in to the brooder to decide its fate, and also coming to terms myself at what I was going to have to do, the reality of keeping your own livestock is making life and death descions and having to carry out unpleasant tasks. As much as it pains you to do so,.

I noticed another egg had started to pip, so I consoled myself with the fact this next one might be ok, I went through to the brooder to check on little Gizmo, so called because he looks like one of the gremlins, and there he was trying to stand up, I am so glad I didn't make any rash descions earlier, he seemed to be getting stronger cheeping away and trying to stand and walk, by the end of the day he had almost mastered his skills although very shaky and weak but he was getting stronger, unfortunately the 2nd egg stopped making progress and the next day very much the same so once again I helped but this little chick didn't survive, the other eggs were left until the end of the week, three were only part formed and the fourth the chick was dead, it was big I don't think it could turn itself into the hatching position, that egg was chock a block with chick.

so now I had a predicament one little black silkie chick who was now capable of running around, that was feeding fine but on its lonesome, not a good position to be in, so I popped up to Thrift farm its council owned and run for people with learning disability's to see if they had any young chicks that could keep Gizmo company, Bingo they had a white silkie a week older than Gizmo runt of the flock so it seemed as it was the smallest, so after parting with £2.50 I took Bingo home in a tiny box to be a new friend for Gizmo, popped them in together and Gizmo objected so loud you would think some-one was trying to murder him, of course he had never seen another chick, Bingo just sat quietly in the corner, so I left them too it, a few hours later they were the best of friends and are now inseparable, the pic shows Bingo Gizmo the day after they were introduced, that was three weeks ago, they are growing up so fast and getting there adult feathers, I am just hoping they don't both turn out to be cockerels.

On the subject of cockerels I will update you tomorrow on the Cockerel incident.

Thursday 25 September 2008

The Joy of Scoops

Well who would have thought something as simple as an empty milk bottle could bring so much joy.

Every time I went down to feed the chucks I thought to myself I must buy some scoops for there feed, so when I was going to re-stock up on feed I reminded myself to look at the scoops, well look is all I did, at nearly £5 a scoop and I was looking at getting 4, no way could I justify spend that sort of money on plastic scoops.

Then the idea came while making a cup of tea, why not make my own from plastic milk bottles, they already have a handle made it is only a case of cutting the end off at an angle leave the top screwed on voila a scoop, so now I have scoops for everything in a couple of different sizes too.

Each of the feed bags has a its own scoop, I a couple of different sized ones for compost, one in the grit bag, and if one breaks I can replace it free of charge.

Down the garden at the moment I am busy clearing and prepping for winter, brassicas are all planted and the garlic arrived the other day so that's a little job for this week-end, then it will be time to get the greenhouse insulated. I like sitting in the greenhouse when it has its winter coat on, everything is muffled and cosy.
I have been working for a few days this week covering as courier my regular fella is off sick so I am doing his round for three days, its enjoyable but doesn't leave me a lot of time for other things, just as well its only for three days, but the pennies will come in handy for some more fruit trees that I want to plant in the front garden, the front garden is such a waste as its only used for prettiness, so I want to incorporate some fruit trees then under plant with pretty things, it is a large area out there mainly hard standing for parking, I have a fig tree that I am training up the front, but I think next year I might do some strawberry baskets in amongst the flower ones as well.
All thoughts and plans a sure sign that winter is on its way and its time to start mulling over the seed catalogues in front of the fire.

Friday 19 September 2008


This is the second half of the first Melon of the season, I ate the first half and it was fantastic, we have two more melons in the greenhouse not ready to eat yet, this was the smallest one.
Its not been a brilliant year for the Melons I usually manage to get a good dozen or so.
Its been a busy week so far, the weather has been fairly good, nice and dry so I have been outside clearing and weeding, another week I think then I will start insulating the greenhouses, a sure sign that Autumn has arrived. then it will be big haul of starting to move things under cover that need protection for winter. In preparation I am giving everything a good feed this week end and start tidying them up.
I have been making sausages this week and more planned for later on today, I want to get a least 50-60 packs done and in the freezer, we do like sausages and you can put anything in them and they are so easy to do.
Our lovely butcher gave us a load of Hogs Casings for free, our sausages are more of a chipolata size, rather than the big fat ones. So far I have done, Pork apple and Mango, and Spicy Beef, the cost is very favorable compared to shop prices. The pork ones were £2 for 16 sausages, yes I know you can get those cheap cheap ones but have you actually tasted them and worse still have you read the list of ingredients. FRIGHTENING.
Our new batch of hatching eggs arrived the other day so they are in the incubator doing what fertile eggs do I hope. We have six eggs in total this time, 4 black silkies 1 lemon cuckoo and 1 Peking partridge so it will be interesting to see what hatches out.
I was a bit shocked at my shopping bill this week, I checked and re-checked the receipt but it was correct, it came to £29, I bought two big bags of bread flour, bag of sugar, some meat for the sausages, some kit kats they were on special offer and hubby likes a kit kat, I did buy a big tin of chocolates as I have some friends coming to stop for the week end in a few weeks so I thought it would be nice to have a sweetie, mushrooms, milk, orange juice and I really cant think what else I might have bought oh some beansprouts as we were having stir fry that evening for dinner. but it is still a lot of money for only 1 and a 1/2 carrier bags. £10 was on meat and the chocolates were £5 that still leaves £14 on basics and very basics at that.
There is a new magazine out called Hand Crafted I have added a link to this page, it looks brilliant, and you get the things with each issue to make something, it also covers making gift/items from things around the home. With issue 1 you get the stuff to make a soap, and issue 1 cost 99p it is a part work and each issue is £2.99 but so far it looks worth it.

Wednesday 10 September 2008

They grow up so fast

The young bantams we hatched out are growing up so fast, they are now 7 weeks old, they moved outside a few weeks ago and a few weeks ago they came totally off heat, yesterday they moved onto growers food. I took this picture while I was cleaning them out this afternoon, they have done really well, considering it was our first go at hatching, we started we 6 Bantem eggs, 3 Plymouth Rocks and 3 Samutra's all we had was a little incubator that came with minuscule instructions.
Everything we read on incubation seemed to contradict what the other said so we really didn't
know what we were doing, we tried to candle them but didn't know what we were looking for, 4 looked different to the other 2 but were they a good 4 or bad 4 we kept them all just in case.
we were turning them twice a day then we were told we should be turning them 4-6 times a day then were read they should be turned every hour, we went back to turning twice a day and stopped at day 17 then on day 19 one of them started pipping I was so excited, over the next couple of days 4 hatched out we moved them into an indoor brooder that hubby made, the other two eggs just sat there and didn't do anything, eventually we threw them away.
Our babies have continued to thrive they started eating and drinking no problem then on day three I noticed a problem with one of the Samutras his eyes were not open and he kept bumping into things, we bathed his eyes he kicked up such a racket but his eyes opened and soon he was running around with the others, then the same chick a week later developed a very messy bottom that was starting to dry up and compact, so once again with cotton buds he was succumbed to a clean up operation.
They have remained relatively trouble free, again moving them outside there was lots of conflict advice, Hubby built them an outside brooder, and out they went we have done it by instinct it has been a very wet wet wet summer so we have left them with there light at night until a few days ago when it went off and stayed off but they have been fine and we have had a few dry days this week as well.
So now they are on the way to growing up fast i have taken the plunge and ordered some more eggs due to arrive next Tuesday.
This time I have gone for White Silkies and fingers crossed I will be a bit more clued up as to what I am doing this time round.
We wont do anymore then until the spring then we are looking at some Sasso birds for the table I also fancy some Quail but we will have to see, a lot could happen between now and next spring.

Sunday 31 August 2008

End of the Month already

Well it looks like August is going out the same way it arrived, wet and grey, I can only remember a couple of days of sunshine this summer, in fact I am so cheesed off with the weather i have had a massive de-clutter of the wardrobe and out went all the summer dresses to the charity shop, thats two years running the weather has been awful during summer.

On a better note we have continued to harvest and many things are coming to the end now, I took out the peas last night as they have finished and the sweetcorn needs harvesting as well I had hoped to do that today but rain started again, I will have to get out there later and harvest it though otherwise they will be past there best and only fit for the chickens.

Toms have done well this year in the greenhouse, we have now got to the stage were we are pulverising them freezing in containers in portion size ready to add to casseroles etc, courgettes that we are usually unindated with have been in managable numbers soups fritters and stir frys baked grilled and the occasional courgette cake has ment we have worked our way through them, we have given away a few although not as many as we usualy have. Mini cucumbers have been great after the initial flush when I was picking tons of them they slowed down to a nice steady pace, and between the tortoise the in-laws and ourselfs we have kept on top of them again.

A big dissapointment this year was the yard long beans, they are only just starting to put on loads of growth so I dont think we are getting anything from them unless we have an indian summer, I will try them again next year.

Squashes have been very slow at getting going this year so once again I think it is a loss on the squash front, cranberries have done altright though and we have three lovely melons coming on great in the greenhouse .

after such a wet start to the day I have consoled myself with a baking session indoors, a couple of loafs of bread to see us through the week, some choclate chip cookies and I have done a Simmer Fruit Cake, from the home farming mag, so I will try that later with a cuppa.

Monday 18 August 2008

Taking the plunge

Yes taking the plunge in more ways than one, I have decided to set this blog up to record our adventure at the bottom of the garden.
For years and years long before I met my husband in fact I have memories from school days of wanting to live in the country grow fruit and vegetables and keep farm animals, but here was more to it than that, it wasn't just the food side it was all the other things that go along with day to living, I want to make our clothes and knit big woolly jumpers, stitch patch work quilts, bake bread make jams and preserves, I wanted us to do as much as we could for ourselves but still have a good comfortable life style.
I don't want to go back to living in a cave and having to make to and mend all the time, if we want to go out for a meal then still do so, I don't want to go back to horse and carts, I like my car, I still want us to have a television and a computer still want to have a phone and be in touch with the world, I want the best of both worlds I suppose.

We are getting there slowly although its not a race we are on a steep learning curve but the dream is becoming more of a reality every day.
To bring you up to speed, half of the garden has been turned over to fruit and vegetables a couple of greenhouse and a chicken run housing so far three chickens.
This time of year we are totally self sufficient in vegetables, which is great a lot of the time we have more than we can deal with and end up giving them away, although this year we have stopped the giving away process and now try to barter our surplus.
We also have four baby chicks three weeks old that we hatched out in an incubator, since day one we have said any males are for the table and the females we keep for eggs, we hope after these have moved outside to get some more eggs this time for table birds all of them.
We don't have issues with collecting road kill, Deer (venison) we have a lot of this in the freezer at the moment, we have the odd pigeon and squirrel in there that we have killed our self's and a big stock of crayfish, hubby has been getting from the local river, they are the American Signal Crayfish, for the past few weeks we have pulled the trap in as we were becoming a bit over run with them.
When we do go and buy meat we go to a local butchers who stocks locally produced free range meat, if we are going to eat it we want it to have lived a good life first.
so that covers the basics of meat and veg, bread I have been making for some time and I have always had a bread machine although I am now on my third model I have changed the way I use it, I was never altogether happy with the bread that the machine produced so just lately I have been using it to make the dough then I cook it the traditional way in the oven and now I am happy with my bread.
I make jam, chutneys and pickles, bake cakes and biscuits and I have just started doing fudge.
Hubby makes wine and beers and a few liqueurs and he made his first batch of champagne this year and its fab.
I do also knit and sew make jewelery and soft toys this year as a step closer to our dream we have decided that all Christmas presents and birthday presents we give are to be made hand made so I have just made a start, at the week end I made my youngest grandchild a patchwork cot quilt for Christmas, and I made another granddaughter a Mrs Golly doll for her birthday, I am part way through knitting my daughter a cardigan for Christmas and I have knitted a good supply of socks, there is a long way to go as we have four grown up children and eleven grandchildren so I better get my skates on.
so this brings you more or less up to date on were we are in our dream, over the week end we had a major de-clutter in the garden sheds the one nearest the house is going to be demolished next week end, we have a hot tub we want to site there. also hubby has to build a cover over the wood store so he is going to use the shed roof, we have been stocking up on logs ready for winter, we plan to use the wood burner as much as possible so we can cut back on using the heating.

I hope to be able to update this blog on a regular basis so you can follow our adventures at the bottom of the garden, right now I am eyeing up a pigeon that strolling around the veg patch like it owns it. The phot I have put up today shows the productive end of the garden and the field at the back that we would like to rent if only we could get the owner to agree.