Sunday 23 October 2011

Meet Bent Nose

A few ago we came across young hedgehog in the garden that we have named Bent Nose, because he has a very distinctive bent nose, he has become a firm friend of hubby, who dutiful feeds him every evening with dog meat, cat biscuits and mash poatoe, we are trying to get him up to 500grms in weight, which according to the reasearch we have done is what he has to be to hibernate succesfully, when we found him he was a meger 125grms, next weigh in he was up to 300grms, then crept up to 400grms last night he weighed in at 480grms so is almost there, it seems that Bent Nose has now been joined by a friend for dinner, his friend is bigger so we assume is a good weight to hibernate, so far the weather has been holding and so he wont be scurring off to hibernate just yet, and there is a good chance he will make the target in time.

Talking of the weather we are picking our second crop of strawberries and have had a good dozen or so each day, a nice welcome if not unexpected bonus this time of year, we still have peppers chillis and a few tomatoes to pick, there are loads of figs on the trees but I dont think they will ripen in time, we have had some during the summer but it would be nice to get a second crop, never mind cant have everything, got one of the greenhouses cleaned out and insulated ready for winter, just got the other one to do when we pick the last crops from it, and I have started moving in tender plants, we had a mild frost the other day, but I am not going to risk losing plants this year I lost so many last year with the harsh winter. Time to sign off will be back soon with news from the kitchen.

Tuesday 4 October 2011

Bees Have Done It

The bees are earning there keep and what a great job they are doing as well, our first crop of honey is on sale in my shop and is selling fast, we only have a few jars left, I decided to packed the honey in 250g pet jars, rather than 1lb jars, as a lot of my customers are elderly and on there own they dont like big jars and to make it easier and less chance of damage I went for the pet jars rather than glass, made up some blocks of beeswax as I have had a few people asking after that as well, bought a mould from Thorne when I put my order in for jars, the mould makes love ingot blocks with the word Beeswax embossed on it, so well done bees keep up the good work, the money from the sale of the honey and beeswax, will help subsides the costs of the varroa treatment and winter feeding the new swarm that dose not have enough food.

Next year all being well we will have lots more to sell.

its time for me to start preparing for Christmas, so I am making a start today on those pressie that I am making for the grandchildren, and to make a start on my christmas pud, we are spending christmas at home this year, hubby has been filling the wood store, so we will be toasty warm, the stor cupboards and freezer are full to busting so we will be all ready to huncker down for the holiday together.

I have finished knitting my jumper and plan to start on some socks tonight, I love hand knitted socks they are so comfy and warm and very hard wearing, also need to get the aprons embroidered for the shop, we have decided we need some sort of uniform that the customers can identify us with, so black aprons with our names on them and the shop name Homespun Crafts, has been decided upon, will also save me getting glue and paint all over my clothes which tends to happen in workshops.

Housework is done have hoovered through, cleared up the kitchen, washing on the line, chooks are fed so I am spending the rest of my day off playing with my sewing machine, so off to enjoy myself.

Thursday 29 September 2011

Welcome Sunshine

Its my day off and the sun is shining, brilliant not something that happens very often on my day off, so its out in the garden working away getting all hot and bothered, so i have come in for a bit of a cool down, first thing this morning I got started with some crab apple and chilli jam, hubby cooked the apples on Sundayand left them to drain through the jelly bag, suppose to be for 24hrs, then he was struck down with the dreaded MAN FLU, I spent last week battling a cold that knocked me for six, but battled on going to work, cooking cleaning all the usual, he starts with it and cant even finish his crab apple jelly, so this morning I got it done out of the way, it looks a lovely colour, added some of the chillis we have been growing, it has set great and is now ready to be consumed. As we have had a glut of tomatoes and not wanting them to go to waste, I also set about making some Tomato Ketchup, a fairly simple recipe

2lb tomatoes 8oz shallots 3/4in root ginger

1/4 pint cider vinegar 11/4 oz sugar 1tsp paprika

1tsp salt 2 garlic cloves

roughly chop up the tomatoes, shallots ginger and garlic, throw into a large saucepan and slowely bring to the boil, reduce heat cover and simmer for about 20mins, until the shallots are tender, blitz the mixture with a blender or food processer, push the mixture through a sive into a clean saucepan, bring the puree to the boil then simmer until the mixture is reduced by half, add the vinigar sugar, paprika salt to the pan stir and simmer until well reduced and thickened, it will thicken more as it cools. pour into bottles or jars, store in the fridge when cool makes about a pint.
mine was made with a mixture of red and yellow tomatoes, tastes very yummy and has a kick to it. While pottering about the garden and house I am waiting for a very important delivery, Ambrosia Fondant for the bees, even though they seem to have plenty of food to see them through the winter, I am not taking any chances this year, as we have lost bees through the last two winters, I am going to feed them up and make sure they have more than enough stores.

Now as you can see from the photo there is a well established colony of bees, let me tell you about them, last Tuesday I get a phonecall from my son in law who works for pest control, about a swarm of bees, SWARM IN SEPTEMBER, I dont think so, he said its just a small one about 50 bees, (me thinks he cant count) so UI went and had a look, the photo shows what I found, so we suited up, cut the wax comb dropped it in abox and I took it home, we are trying to keep them settled in the nuculus box and hope soon to move them into the spare hive, but they have very little winter stores so they will need feeding, another reason for getting the feed, so please hurry mr delivery man, as I need to go out.

Sunday 4 September 2011

Goosey Goosey Gander

Whats for dinner tonight? How about Goose, Martin came across dinner on his way to work at the side of the road, not unusual in this household to have road kill, but this time we struck lucky, it wasnt road kill, it had been shot and come down in the road, Our freezer is usually stocked with the usual road kill, venison, rabbit, pheasant even the odd hare, the occasional squirrel pidgeon and duck but we have not had a goose off the road before, so we are looking forward to this one.

Things have been really busy here again harvesting fruit and veg, the chickens have gone into overdrive pushing out eggs like there is no tomorrow, and we have had a real glut of tomatoes that Martin has been making into Salsa and taking it with him on drill night to share with the boys, he has at last managed to get some pizza trays that will fit into the brick oven so he is going to hold that pizza party he has been promising for the lads very soon, but at the moment we have a very full calender.

Honey and bees are very much on the agenda at the moment, our first swarm we got has been doing fantastic and we have managed to take some honey off, unfortunatly, the second swarm that was only small have flown the hive, you cant keep bees locked in so you cannot stop them from leaving if they decide to go they go. We are having a visit from the bee inspector later on today, so we are hoping she will give our bees a clean bill of health, we are very much novice beekeepers, just bumbling along on our own, so it will be nice to know if we are doing it right or are we making a complete hash of it all, will let you know.

The sun is trying to break through a murky sky as I write so I am going to take advantage of a day off and decent weather and get some work done in the garden, also must get some baking done, and there is veg waiting to go into the freezer and honey waiting to be put into jars, so there is another full day ahead so I better get started on it.

Tuesday 26 July 2011

Getting it for Free

Just lately there has been a lot of adverts around from companys offering free electricity, who dosent want free electric, Martin has been in touch with one of these and has been looking into it, it seems they instal the solar panels on your roof at no cost to you, in return you get any electric produced that you use free of charge, any surples is put back into the national grid and the solar panel company get paid for the surples electric, so it cost us nothing to have the panels installed we benifit from free electricity and the maintanance of the panels is soley down to the supplling company,whats the catch there has to be one, the only issue is they rent the airspace above your house for a term of 25 years, if you dont own your property outright and have a mortgage like us then the company has to get permission from your mortgage lender, which it seems is not a problem, we have had the paperwork through and hopefully in a few weeks I can let you know if we have qualified and are getting free electricity, saving us approx £1,000 a year. Now what can I spend that on, it would go very nicely towards an Alpaca, I think that is a fair exchange.

Sunday 24 July 2011

Its Been a while

Its been a while since I have visited my blog and such a lot has happened, brick oven is now all completed and and it has been a bit of a learning curve using it but we got there in the end, unfortunatly we lost all our bees over winter, very sad and frustrating but on the flip side we managed to get a swarm back in May got them established in hive number one and they have been going like the clappers, we had to add an extra super, (thats the bit were they make honey) so the hive is now running with two supers, yesterday we had a shuffle round with filled frames put in a crown clearing board and we hope this evening if the weather is decent to take off our first frames of honey, I bought an extractor so we are ready to go.
at the start of June we got a second swarm a lot smaller I think it was a cluster swarm and popped them into hive number two, they are into reproduction but being a lot smaller we wont be getting honey from them this year, next year tho fingers crossed they will be established enough and both hives will be in production.
Veggies and fruit and have been doing great this year, tomatoes, cucumbers and courgettes so far have been over producing and there has been lots of give aways, beans have had a slow start but are now romping away, garlic and onions are fine, turnips and swiss chard have been good and the first sowing of peas were fab and most are now in the freezer, I sarted off some more peas in modules and yesterday we gotr those planted out so providing the pidgeons stay off them we will fingers crossed get a good second crop.
I am going to sign of now and should be back tomorrow with a further update and some photos, day off work tomorrow.