Monday 30 May 2016

Back Home Again

 The little fella all dressed up ready to go
 Little lady all dressed up ready to go
 Mum Dad and there little people
 A family affair
 The cakes my daughter made

Back home and the doves are settling in 
The frame and netting will stay in place for three weeks, it can then be removed and the doves will be homed, they make lovely cooing noises, I am looking forward to seeing them fly.

I have a long list of jobs now awaiting me so I must get a move on.

Saturday 28 May 2016

Posh Frock Time

 Yes there occasions that call for posh frock, this week end I am off up to Leicester for the christening of my two youngest grandchildren, I am travelling today stopping overnight and will be home again tomorrow evening, Martin cant come as animals have to be milked, fed, watered and we are not putting Sol into kennels it wouldn't be fair on the old fella.
I am so glad I haven't got rid of my collection of all occasion clothes, you never know when you might need them.
Before I head out on the road we have a job to do, 
New additions
Martin brought home 7 white fantail doves last night my 25th wedding anniversary present, to go in our dovecot. What an old romantic.
 We have to net the dovecot and keep them confined to the area for 3 weeks so they wont fly away,
They are young doves only just left the nest so there shouldn't be a problem settling them in. 
I will take some pics when I get back, its not our anniversary until Tuesday but he couldn't keep them hidden away until then.
Martin is home until the 8th of June, its going to be a busy week,
We have his parents arriving on Tuesday as well for a few weeks, it will be there first visit here they live in France.
Lots going on will catch up again when I get back hope you all have a lovely bank holiday week-end :-)

Thursday 26 May 2016

A Sandwich

Lunchtime here at this time of year is a quick sandwich, 
Soup is OK for winter, but I don't really want something hot when the weather is hot.
I am not buying in cold meats for sandwiches
The other evening I was having bacon and eggs there was a few slices of bacon left so popped them in the oven and had them in a wrap the next day for lunch with salad leaves
 I found a packet of wraps in the freezer and thought I would get them used up out of the way, it has saved me making bread this week.
 Last night I boiled up some eggs chopped some chives mixed in some mayo and will have it today with salad leaves in a wrap.
I did start some cress seeds the other day
 cress is easy to grow and it doesn't take long 4-5 days its ready to use.
 Looking through the cupboards there is salmon and tuna fish, these will get used up in sandwiches
as will the mackerel, I wont be replacing the tins when they are gone, I have salmon in the freezer I plan to smoke some of it and perhaps try canning some of it for future lunches.
Cold meat will be whatever joints I cook some will be sliced up for lunches.
Salad leaves we have plenty of growing, and now the first tomato trusses are setting it wont be to long before we can add those.
What are your favourite sandwich fillings ?

Wednesday 25 May 2016

Feeding For Free

If you don't feed your plants and soil they wont feed you,
I have no intention of buying expensive plant feeds and wasting money on fertiliser when it can all be done for free.
 The other day we pop to the beach, while there Martin collected some seaweed for me, for a seaweed feed they say collect from the water line, not from the high tide line as there could be little creatures living in there waiting for the sea to come in,
 The seaweed goes into a sack and in a bin filled with rain water, lid on, stirred every few days after 3 weeks it will be a bit smelly and brown in colour, it will be ready to use, pop some into a watering can add some water, you want it like a weak black tea, your plants will love you for it, the seaweed can be thrown onto the compost heap or put around plants.
 The next feed I am using is the liquid sunit from doing the sheep fleeces last year, I have topped the bin up with rain water and its now ready to use, you can make some up just collect some sheep poo, put it in a sack and leave for about 3-4 weeks in a bin of rain water keep covered, again water it down before applying to plants.
You can do the same with Comfrey and Nettles, my comfrey plants are too young to be taking there leaves.

The compost heap is another free feed for the soil, mine gets added to in layers, animal bedding, grass cuttings, animal poo, plant vegetable matter that cant be given to livestock, kitchen waste, wood ash, shredded paper, I never never add perennial weeds to the compost heap, that is just asking for trouble, the heap gets turned regularly and is used in the autumn to top dress the raised beds.

I do also dry out egg shells in the bottom oven of the Rayburn when they are dry they are so dry they crumble in your hands, I crush them up and scatter them in and around the growing areas, it adds much needed calcium, my all time favourite is of course Alpaca poo, just spread around the soil it adds lots of goodness and the worms flock in.

If the plants and soil are well fed they will feed you well in return, I am not trying to grow the biggest or best just good healthy productive plants.

Tuesday 24 May 2016

Poly Tunnel 2 Happy Dance

Yes it is all up and running, the second poly tunnel or otherwise know as Citrus Grove.
 Saturday we spent the day turning the inside of the poly tunnel from a building site to a growing area,
Membrane had to be laid
 Sand brought in and levelled
 Then the slabs could start going down
 This end of the poly tunnel has been laid 3 deep in slabs and is to replace my greenhouse,
 Paths had the same treatment I could then get the edging done, I managed to get one border dug over ready for planting on Saturday evening, there were some strawberry plants left over from the fruit cage so these got popped into a bed of there own in here, they will be a welcome early fruit for us next year.
 The remaining  two borders were left until Monday as we were out on Sunday

 Now all dug over edging in, gravel around the outside edges of the slabs to fill any gaps, all the citrus trees are planted into the middle area, come winter I will be able to fleece the middle area and give them some extra protection.

The far left border has been planted up with tomato plants, after I took this photo and along the back of the tomatoes I popped in the red onions I go from the show for free,
The other border will be planted up with the potatoes and cucumbers, along the front of both borders I will stick in some extra salad veg.
 The front area still needs clearing, on my list for this week

 My growing area is a delight a clean tidy space, that can be used to overwinter plants, there is another water barrel to be brought in here yet,
 My lemon pips that I germinated are now producing leaves
 4 of the 5 are now growing on well, the fifth one was a late starter
 I planted out some Basil and Coriander in the space at the front of the strawberries
It has really shaped up this year,  2 poly tunnels, fruit cage and we have the raised beds in this area.
Its great to have it all finished, it was hard graft but its done and its another of those jobs we wont have to repeat. 

Monday 23 May 2016

Didn't We .......

Didn't we have a lovely time the day we to Builth Wells,
We did have a lovely day off,
Before I show and tell many thanks for all he comments regarding Sol and his neck, at the moment he is fine again, 2 days on the pills and yesterday he was all fixed again and fit enough to come with us.
I will be looking into some of the suggestions so again thank you.

It may have been a damp start to day but that wasn't going to stop us, we planned to be out all day, once everyone was fed watered hay and in the proper grazing place it was bank up the Rayburn, change of clothes pack a day bag for Sol and off we went.
I didn't take photos of the event itself if you look back through my blog on days out there are photos from last year.
The Community food group were giving away onion sets and potatoes for people to grow
 You could just help yourself and fill as many bags as you wanted, I picked a small handful of red onions
 and picked up another 10 potatoes, these will be popped into the new poly tunnel as I have a bit of space, more on the poly tunnel in my next post. People were very reserved and polite with the freebies, no mass onslaught pushing and shoving, there was a selection of 10 different potatoes, I cannot for the life of me remember what the ones I picked were called I know I hadn't come across them before and sure they had Ulster in the name , there was a good choice of onions I went for red ones as I didn't have any growing this year. They had other veg and herbs there too, I think it was all surplus from growers.
 I popped along to see Ruth and Paul at the Home Farmer magazine stand, I have supported Home Farmer since issue 1, I have got to know Ruth and Paul fairly well and they always ask for updates on the small holding and what we re doing now, after chatting for about 20 mins Paul gave me a goody bag of magazines, I hadn't re-newed my subscription this year as I still had a lot of last years magazines to read so decided to take a year off, Ruth also asked if I would like to do some articles for the magazine, I will give it some thought and it wouldn't be until winter as there would be more time available, we shall see.
 I bought some Light Sussex eggs for hatching after last years ones turned out not to be light sussex well only one was and that was a cockerel so we ate him.
These are now set in the incubator with 4 of our eggs, no broodies this time, I will hatch out and rear with the aid of a hen.
One of the reasons for our trip to the show this year was to buy some new garden furniture, we looked last year and picked out some we liked, the supplier was there and we placed an order, The furniture is all wood and made in Wales, its made to order and will be with us in about 4 weeks.

Before leaving I popped back to the Home Farmer stand to purchase this book they were launching.
 Its written by a couple who have a small holding in Wales, they have been living the lifestyle since there university days, its now about them and there life its more of reference book,
It is a big book packed with lots of information, something that caught my eye when flicking through it was the meaning of viable self sufficiency 
If you buy a chicken house for £400 and then spend £200 of chickens, feeders accessories bedding food etc the set up has cost you £600, your chickens lay 6 eggs are you self sufficient in eggs, no those eggs have cost you £100 each you don't become self sufficient in eggs until you have re-couped the costs and the chickens are paying there way, that is a lot of eggs and it will take some time to re-coup the costs.
The book is about viable self sufficiency not how to grow what to grow but how it make it all viable.

On that note I am off to plant some onions catch you all later.

Saturday 21 May 2016

Dog Day

In between normal chores yesterday I had things to sort out for Sol
First up was his bed, I took the cover off to wash the other day to discover the inner pad had yet again been torn open and the contents were spilling everywhere,
This happens because he likes to scratch his bed up into a heap 
I made another pad this time out of one of his many fleece blankets, 
 Machined down the sides then had to get it under the machine to close the end seam
 I cleared plenty of space on my work table, the last thing I wanted to do was spill those polystyrene beads all over the place.
 once put back together he had a quick try out before we took it back to the house
 Comfy bed again, all repaired as you can see Sol doesn't look too happy in the photos, he has an ongoing problem with his neck, Vet says its arthritis, when his neck troubles him he cant turn his head to the left, we have anti inflammatory and pain relief to give him, usually after a couple of days pill popping he is fine, 
yesterday I gave him the last pill in the packet and phoned to vet to pick up some more, an argument then ensued, our vet is on holiday until the end of the month and the locum was not prepared to prescribed more without a consultation, that would have added another £37 to bill, there wouldn't have been anything visible so x-rays would be needed hundreds of pounds later I would have been given the pills I initial went for, 
The info was already on his notes, there was no way I was paying out all that and told them I would go to another vet and would be calling in for his medical notes. A while later they phoned back and said the pills were ready for me to pick up.
I did a bit of research on the internet and found I could get the pills they are a doggie version of Ibuprofen online for half the price and needed to send in a written prescription, when I picked up the pills I told them I will be seeing Simon on his return and will be needing a repeat written prescription. 
This neck problem started the day after we got Sol
 Martin has built him a little table so his bowls are up off the floor and easier for him to access.
I picked this card up yesterday pinned to the board were I walk him, I have been told good things about this, I am giving them a call and see if they can help Sol with his neck.

We are going to the Bulith Wells show tomorrow as that is the better day weather wise, today will be spent laying slabs in the poly tunnel, we had a big delivery of slabs, sands, ballast and cement arrive the other day, the ballast and cement is for Martin to make a start on his work shop area, must get a move on lots to day and no doubt sore muscles at the end of the day.

Friday 20 May 2016

Who Is The Boss

Its the time of year when all the young animals decide they are top of the tree
Kara is going through that stage at the moment, the other evening she tried to take on Daisy the head of the herd, and was very quickly put in her place on the ground
 Kara has now decided that as she is at the bottom of the ladder to take on the next one up Imogen
 The idea is to put the other ones head to ground by pushing on the neck
 She tried
 And tried
 And tried
 Watched by Daisy
Then the others came to watch
Today was not Kara's day she gave up and resigned she is bottom of the herd, she is almost a year old and Imogen is almost two.
No doubt she will try again another day.
Daisy and Nick Nack are the herd leaders and were both very interested in Kara trying it on, I am sure one day Kara will take over the herd she sees to have the same attitude as her mum, who was the boss of everyone.

Wednesday 18 May 2016

Cheese And Yacon

Martin came across a recipe for Wild Garlic Goats Cheese,
As having  a go at making cheese with the goats milk is on the agenda, I have given it a go.
 It seemed fairly straight forward, all I had to do was pick some wild garlic.
1pint of raw goats milk, juice of half a lemon, 1oz of wild garlic and sea salt, I was pleased to see there was no rennet needed I have a bad reaction to rennet and avoid all cheese, I might get to try some of this one.
 Bring the milk up just to the boil and remove from heat
 Add the lemon juice a bit at a time to the milk and it starts to form curds,
 Strain the curds through a cloth
 Leave to drain for a few hours
 Tip into a bowl and add the chopped wild garlic, add a pinch of sea salt and taste, this is were I had a problem, not being a cheese eater how is it suppose to taste, I winged it and added another pinch.
Make it into a ball and wrap tightly into a ball, put it on a slanted board and put a weight on top, leave overnight.
This is it this morning, 
A cheese a small one but still a cheese, it seems very firm and smells lovely and garlicky, they say you can eat it straight away, I shall keep it until Martin comes home and he can do a taste verdict, if its OK then I can do some more perhaps with some different flavors.

Now the Yacon,
I am a bad gardener I planted the Yacon last year and forgot about it, so it was not a great harvest, but enough to do an experiment with.
 Scrubbed the Yacon tubers and chopped the up, into the food processor
 Blitzed to a pulp
 Into a saucepan and stewed down to release the juice
 strain it over night, it was still fairly wet this morning, so I popped it into some muslin and squeezed it as dry as possible.
 The juice looks just like muddy water
On to the stove and reduced down to a syrup.
Yacon syrup, very sweet and calorie free, 
It can be used to sweeten drinks, added to baking  or just as a syrup on pancakes.
Pancakes might be on the menu this week end.
Yacon produces two types of tuber 
 The big edible tubers they have the texture of water chestnut, can be cooked, eaten raw or use to make syrup.
And knobbly growing tubers you divide and grow on the following year.
I have replanted the growing tubers and this time I wont forget about them.
That it for today need to get outside and get some jobs done, also need to find some recipes for crackers to go with the cheese.