Monday 29 June 2015

New Book And The Parcel

My new book arrived on time today thank you Mr Amazon

The Ultimate Dehydrator Cookbook, I have been watching Tammy Gangloff on you tube the stuff she does with her dehydrator is amazing I then found out she had released a book last September don't know how I missed that.
Its a fab book and would recommend it to anyone with a dehydrator, I have many books on the subject but this one beats them all hands down, as well as lots of info of how to dehydrate there are some brilliant ideas on how to use what you have dehydrated.

Now for the parcel that has sat here unopened for 4 days 
 A selection of eight different smoking woods to go with 
A my new cold smoke generator 
When I was at the Game Fair the other week I got a book
I have a hot smoking cabinet and was looking for a decent English book on smoking food, this book was written by two women from Buckinghamshire who went to live in the Lake District to run a business smoking food, I was reading in the book about cold smoking and they recommended the 
Pro Q cold smoke generator for cold smoking at home, after a quick search I found it on Amazon again. Cold smoking intensives the smoke flavour in the food, which you can then cook, were the hot cabinet cooks the food while smoking because of the high temperatures reached.

I did get some sewing done today details on my craft blog,
I must do a garden update tomorrow there is so much coming on and being harvested.

Sunday 28 June 2015

A Weekend Of Gifts

I had lots of lovely gifts off Martin this week-end, not the sort of gifts that others would expect but these little things make my life easier and they are very much appreciated, they are gifts I have waited almost a year for.
 First up an outside tap, joy of joys I no longer have to drag the hosepipe through to the kitchen tap to water the poly tunnel, I shall the water timer up on it and the hosepipe can be connected on a permanent basis, I will get it all set up and re-routed this week, this is going to make things a lot easier for me.
Martin also made me some stands for the water barrels behind the greenhouse, the double stand takes an overflow barrel as well, I use these barrels for watering in the greenhouse, the stands were made from left over wood we had from other projects, so no more struggling to fill the watering cans.
As we were dealing with beehives over the week end Martin also made stands for the spare national hives and the ones in use so no ore bricks or blocks they have proper stands again made from left over wood.

We had a very normal week end no pressures to get anything done, we even managed a BBQ last night, we had the first of the courgettes from the garden with new potatoes and some of our pork chops with home made coleslaw. this evening we had duck risotto
using up the last of the duck from last week, and I made a stock from the carcass to cook the risotto in, has Swiss chard from the garden mixed through it. Our duck has provided 6 meals in total.

Today I made up a batch of Lemonade from some of the dehydrated Lemons in the store cupboard
15 slices of lemon 1 cup of sugar and 5lt of cold water 
mix together until the sugar has dissolved
Then leave to stand for 3-4 hours as the lemons re-hydrate they release there flavour
serve cold ideal for the heatwave that's coming.
Made the usual bread as well
this is a mixed seed loaf, it will last me all week.
On Friday I had a parcel arrive
I still haven't go round to opening it, I know what it is so will unwrap it tomorrow and share with you whats inside. I should have a new book arriving tomorrow as well.
Not the most exciting week-end but one of delight for me.

Friday 26 June 2015

Fun And Games With The Bees

While waiting for Martin to get home I was expecting him at about 5pm the bees that had taken up residence in the barn decided to re-swarm I was sitting down with a cuppa when I could hear the noise and Sol started whining I went outside to investigate and yep walked straight into the swarm.

I managed to get some better photos for you to see this time, it was exhilarating standing in the middle of a swarm, when the bees swarm they are not aggressive all they are interested in is the queen, I phoned Martin to see how far away he was and warn him as he would have walked straight into them and probably panic, when he got here he went straight away to put his bee suit on while I was still standing there in a vest top surrounded by bees, I do find it really interesting watching  them, the bees don't scare me and the worst thing you can do is panic.
I did do a better video so you could here the noise of the swarm.
They did settle back into the empty hive and tonight we moved hive and bees down to the apiary with the other hives fingers crossed they are happy to stay there.

I promised you an update on the Chickpeas and Lentils
 Chickpeas above
Lentils above
Both seem to be coming on great, they have grown taller since I took these photos a few days ago.

That's it for today :-)

Thursday 25 June 2015

It All Started At 4pm

I was having such a lovely day it was going along swimmingly then at 
4 o'clock it turned into chaos
I went into the barn to get the animal feeds it was time for the feeding rounds, there was a loud buzzing noise that should not have been there,
the bees had swarmed and were settling themselves in the barn, there was bees everywhere, Sol didn't venture in he lay outside and watched, I had only been in the barn about an hour before hand.

I got together every ones feed and did the rounds, the bees looked like they were setting up home in one of the empty hives so they could wait until Martin is back tomorrow evening as the hive is up on a platform and I cant get it down full of bees by myself.
Animals all fed I had a look down at the hives and there was another swarm but they were moving into an empty hive down there so that is OK.
Next on my list was to get the young ducks moved into larger quarters, I started sorting it all out then there was a commotion with the Alpacas, I could see Odd Job trying to get over the fence into the girls paddock, I ran down there chased him off the fence, he then went back again of course the girls all lined up along the joining fence tormenting him, I had to separate them but how.
I decided to improvise and put together another fence creating a 10ft divide between the girls and Odd Job fields, I gathered together hurdles but still had a gap I new were so long lengths of timber were but they were screwed to the pillars in the other barn went to get the drill fro the first barn battled through the bees that were settling on the tools got the drill took down the wood filled the gap alpacas now all quiet and settled.

walking back up the field to carry on with the ducks Lambert was creating a racket went to see what he was doing, he had smashed his water bucket up and his head was jammed in his bucket, he got himself free
I went to get him another water container when I got back I noticed he had cut his head and was covered in flies, off to get the purple spray that was were yep you guessed it in the barn with bee swarm, retrieved spray and sprayed Lambert's head
The lid wasn't on the spray properly and I got covered in it,
 It soaked through my t-shirt and I now have a purple boob as well as purple hands
I really needed to finish sorting out the ducks finally got it done, moved them in
cleaned out there old house while I was at it and cleaned out the adult ducks as well, saved me a job for tomorrow.
Got back indoors at 8pm after 4 hours of chaos all I want is a cup of tea and a shower.
And I was going to show you how well the chickpeas and lentils are doing that will be tomorrow :-)

Wednesday 24 June 2015

All About Strawberries

Today I was setting some of the strawberry runners
 the young plantlets were starting to put down roots so it was time to get them set in pots in about a month I will cut them free of the adult plants.
 The adult plants have been growing in containers and are runners from our original strawberry bed that I took before we moved, there is a mix of red pink and white strawberries, in total I have set 18 today, there are still more to come and the plants are still producing fruit, end of summer will see all the strawberry plants planted out in a new bed.
 I used the worm compost mixed with some topsoil to pot the young plants into
 while out on an evening walk with Sol I picked a handful of wild strawberries, a lot smaller and not as sweet as the cultivated ones but still a lovely treat to enjoy while out walking.
 I used some of the potting mix to pot up the piquant peppers that came from Dani at Eco Footprint I have only grown on 4 of the plants as it was late in the season here to get them started, I shall attempt to over winter them and set the rest of the seeds early next year.

When I got back from walking Sol this evening I took a few photos  of the plot from the view off the drive it was 9pm so not brilliant lighting
 The veg garden and alpaca quarters in the distance.
 looking down over the end of the veg plot with poultry accommodation just beyond
Lambert's new home and at the very top is Kara's field which is also were the woodland is I am planting.

Tuesday 23 June 2015

Playtime For Lambert

Lambert has found a new toy in his new paddock to play with

As you can see he still like to head butt

Monday 22 June 2015

Ducks (squemish warning)

Our three ducks we hatched from our own duck eggs were at the ideal age for the table,

 they were now 10 weeks and to continue to feed them would only increase fat not meat, so today it was time to cull them.
We have a poultry dispatcher we use on these occasions

working together, Martin held the duck in place and I pulled the handle down, it breaks the neck and job is done.
 Once all three were culled we scalded each one and we plucked them together sitting in the straw in the open barn.
 scalding them in boiling water makes them easier to pluck
Once plucked they were gutted and prepared for the oven
 they weighed in at 3.5lb 4lb and 4.5lb
Martin had the livers flashed fried with garlic and mushrooms for lunch
 we had the smallest of the trio for dinner tonight roasted with new potatoes from the tunnel with some Swiss chard and purple sprouting broccoli from the garden
The other two are packaged and in the freezer for a later date.
the next four ducks will be ready in about 5 weeks.
I am pleased with weights of this trio and the taste was delicious.
I had no qualms about culling these as from the day the eggs went into the incubator they were labelled as for the table,  they have had a good life, food water kept safe from predators and protection from the weather and have freedom to run on grass felt the sun on the backs and had a pool to bathe in.

Sunday 21 June 2015

Lambert Moves House And Sol Past His Test

Today Lambert was moving house to give his paddock a rest
The paddock we wanted to move him wasn't connected to his paddock, he had to moved through Nick Nacks paddock then a spare paddock on rest to get to his new home, Martin waited until he went into his shelter then fastened his door closed
He was then hitched on to the back of the quad and Lambert and shelter were towed through to the new paddock
He seemed to enjoy the ride 
and is now happily investigating his new paddock

Today we went to the Welsh Game Fair and took Sol with us, when we got Sol we were told he has got a bad habit of lunging at other dogs wanting to play when out on his lead, this is something he got into at his last home as he wouldn't have be partnered to an Autistic child with this problem, I have been working with him trying to correct this behaviour and today was the test day, when we first arrived he was very excitable at the start with lots of dogs of people after a few corrections he slipped into work mode and behaved like and angel, he was a real pleasure to walk around. 
He even allowed a stall holder to demonstrate a dog grooming brush on him  several times for people to watch he was so well behaved and it was nice to get comments on how well behaved he was, even in the tents that were packed with people he didn't falter once.
Once we left we slipped his halter off and he went back to being in Sol mode. When we got him he had lost a lot of his initial training now he has recovered those skills, he will sit and wait until you call him, shake hands, bark on command, high five, paws up for a hug and leave if he is showing interest in something he shouldn't be such as food on the floor, its now 7 weeks he has been with us and is a different dog completely, we have just had his adoption paper work through this week as well.

Saturday 20 June 2015

Jam Time And Worm Time

In my opinion nothing beats home made jam, Yesterday morning I made up a batch of Strawberry batch, unfortunately it wasn't with our Strawberries we didn't have enough this year as my plants are only young plant from runners that I brought with us on moving and there isn't enough of them.
The strawberries were only £1 for 400g and British 
Making jam is so easy, 1200grms of fruit to the same weight of sugar, 
keep stirring until all the sugar has dissolved 
bring to a rolling boil and continue boiling until setting temperature has been reach 
pour into sterilised jars leave to cool and enjoy on fresh bread with butter.
Now the sugar I used was a Jam Sugar with added pectin, strawberries have low pectin and need that extra to get a set, while I was stirring the jam I was reading the back of the packet like you do there instructions for strawberry jam were slightly different and I must say if you were a complete novice you would probably fail to get a set and be disappointed and probably be put off jam making, they said more or less the same but when you get to a rolling boil just boil for 4 minuets then pour into jars, I have never had a set reach in 4 minuets so I tried it I took a spoonful out after the allotted time put it on a saucer, I knew it wasn't going to set, it didn't, I use a thermometer and the set temperature hadn't been reached in 4 minuets, it didn't set I continued until the set temperture had been reached and got a perfect set, if you are new to jam making invest a couple of pounds in a thermometer and your jam will be a success.

Now the worms, I invested in a wormery before we moved, and it was transported active with the worms doing there thing when we moved here, put in the corner of the garden and was duly forgotten about as there was other things to get on, sometimes I would spot and think I must do something with it and get it going again, the seasons came and went yesterday was the day I finally got round to doing something with it, my plan was clean it out re-site and order some new worms  and get it all up and running. Upon opening it up
I found a lovely worm compost and best of all it still had worms
the bottom basket
although being very wet was also compost and had worms, it was very wet because the tap underneath was turned off and the reservoir was full to the brim, so that was down to my neglect.
I re sited the stand and place the top basket on the bottom, tipped the bottom one out into a container and took out as many worms as I could find in it to give the wormery a fighting chance
I took out 3 large handfuls of worms added them to the empty basket that is now on top along with some cabbage leaves and few other bits.
It has now been sited behind the shed and is once again up and going, there are two more baskets yet to be added as and when they are needed, the compost I have taken I am going to mix with sandy top soil I have left and use it for potting on some plants.
The idea behind getting the wormery was to reduce the amount of compost I buy in and the liquid taken off from the bottom was to be used as plant feed. I hope now to keep it running properly.

I mentioned cabbage there 

here is Sol guarding our first harvested cabbage.