Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Chickens, Eggs .... and my most unusual Giveaway Ever

The birds are building up to being in full lay now, I actually have a couple of dozen eggs in the fridge, the first time this year.  (Yes, Mum I'll bring you some tomorrow.)  For once supply is keeping up with demand and it feels good.

The lighter and longer days suit chickens and help their little bodies to get back into a natural laying rhythm, not for me the commercial egg producers trick of keeping a light on in the hen-house and making the poor little birds lay day in day out throughout the Winter.  Going with nature rather than fighting against it or pushing it to it's boundaries, is what keeps hens happy, healthy and alive for much longer.

The blue eggs are laid by this lovely trio,  Ethel, Dolly and Enid who's names were picked by Blog readers in what must have been my most unusual Giveaway ever.  

See HERE for what it was  :-)

The third blue egg is almost green in colour as you can see from this photo, but I didn't find one when I collected the ones in the top picture yesterday.

And something rather special is going on at the moment, and yes it is always special to me no matter how many times it is re-enacted.  

Poppy and Caldwell II seen together in this photo are parents-to-be.  Little Poppy laid a clutch of twelve eggs over the course of the last few weeks and started sitting on them a few days ago.  Well she laid fourteen actually but I took two of them away as she is only small and for her to try and keep any more than a dozen eggs warm would have been too much of a struggle.

So in a couple of weeks we should have some new little chicks, the first to be born in Wales.  Welsh Lavender Pekin Bantam cross Mille Fleurs, and rather magnificently they are due on my birthday which is when I got my first ever Lavender Pekin bantams in 2010 and Poppy along with her sister Daisy are the last two descendants of the original family.

How wonderful is that :-)

Sue xx

Monday, 30 March 2015

Successes and Failures

My new favourite gorgeously tasting snack of choice at the moment is one of Deliciously Ella's Raw Brownies.  I admit to being sceptical the first time I made these but my worries were obliterated the first time I bit into one.

The recipe is on her blog HERE and of course is also in the book.
You can also watching Ella making them HERE.

I tried adding some different dates to the Medjool dates, just as a trial to see if you really do need to splash out on the Medjool variety which are usually the most expensive.  This pack of chopped dates made into block form works out as the cheapest way to buy dates and I got this one from T*sco.  

 In my honest opinion if you don't mind adding more of your liquid sweetening agent these work almost as well, but for richness of flavour I think I will move back to all Medjool dates in future.  As I only eat one of these brownies at a time .... and if I can hide them a bit from Lovely Hubby who thinks nothing of polishing off three at once .... one batch of the brownies actually last me well over a week, so the additional cost is really neither here or there.

The brownies are just the job when the urge for a chocolatey rich treat is too much to resist, and are a good filler with a cup of coffee if you get a rumbly tum between meals.

Another success, tried for the first time this week, was a salmon fillet, topped with Garlic and Herb Philadelphia ...

... flipped over wrapped in puff pastry (so the seam is underneath as it cooks), brushed with beaten egg and cooked for thirty minutes.

This is what comes of using up things found at the bottom of the freezer.  I found a large tub full of salmon fillets the other day, obviously bought when they were on offer and individually wrapped and boxed as is my way.  The frozen puff pastry was lurking under the bags of veg in the chest freezer (as were three more packs of shortcrust pastry ... all ready rolled too ... obviously another of my bargain buys).

The only thing is ... I forgot to take a photo of the finished dish ... we ate the flaky pillows of deliciousness with a leafy green salad.  Something I'll definitely be making again.

I did however take a photo of this weeks 'failure'.

There should be nothing wrong with it, these were also found in the freezer ... a bargain pack of raviolis stuffed with cheese and herbs and served with a jar of homemade sauce, topped with Parmesan style grated cheese. It just tasted wrong ... so shortly after this photo was taken the whole lot was tipped in the bin.  Now normally the chickens would have had these as tasty snack but as they had long since been tucked up in their henhouse for the night and I didn't fancy this failure hanging around the kitchen or the fridge until the following morning .... into the bin they went.

To end on a success and to keep up with my accountability on Weight-loss Monday, here is a photo of the scales this morning.

Yay ....  I'm in the twelves at last.

Sue xx

Saturday, 28 March 2015

It Just Says It All .....

My favourite magazine 'The Simple Things' dropped through the letter box last week, the back cover just says it all doesn't it  :-)

There's something else I need though and I haven't got at the moment ..... my poor little car.  It developed an oil leak last week and it took 6 litres of oil to get me back from Berkshire last weekend.  It is currently in the garage being made better by a man who can.

As you can see in the picture, Lovely Hubby tried .... but couldn't   :-(

Sue xx

Friday, 27 March 2015

Taller Daffs, Mr Mole and Noisy Traffic

Just to prove that some of the daffodils I planted are taller than five inches :-)

Mr Mole has been back in action, this time coming up directly under the chicken feed hopper.  I wonder if he had a bit of a snack when he popped his head out of that particular hole!!

Meanwhile over in the polytunnel ..... some poor neglected plants have been re-potted, it was lovely to work inside while outside the rain fell and the wind blew.  

Although this polytunnel is nowhere near as peaceful to work in as my last one was.  We used to live in the middle of a huge 600 acre farm on our own little rented 10 acres.  The nearest road was almost two miles away so noise and disturbance was a rare thing.   Here at the bottom of our hillside I am literally a few yards away from the main road with all it's traffic noise, emergency vehicles whizzing by on a regular basis and the roar of trucks and motorbikes.  Peaceful planting it most definitely is not.

But at least I'm planting again and that is the main thing.

Sue xx

Thursday, 26 March 2015

Hills, Holes and Buried Daffs

We have mole hills appearing here, there and everywhere at the moment, not many but just enough to surprise us.  And he likes to get about this little chap, these two appeared the other night in the soil pile, he must have felt as though he was 'reverse mountaineering' if he came from below ground level, this particular soil pile is about four feet tall ;-)

Further along on the doggie walk I thought I would take a photo of our dwarf Daffodils and Tulips.  They are not meant to be dwarf at all .... we just planted them WAY too deep!!

To give you an indication of size, here is my foot, next to an emerging bulb.  The ones with flowers on have reached the dizzy height of about four inches :-)

Here is a Tulip, coming through and already starting to flower ....

... and to give you an indication of size here's my foot again.  

I may be good with veggies but I seem to have a blank-spot when it comes to flowers ;-)

We also have lots, and I really do mean lots of these little holes around the place.  At first I wondered what was causing them .....

... then I saw a cheeky little fellow leave his nut shells behind.

Yes, they are where squirrels have buried their stashes of nuts all over the place.  How they manage to find these little pockets of stored food I have no idea, I ended up opening all the cupboard doors in my kitchen to find a tin of chickpeas the other day and I only put them away a week or so ago.

Clever little squirrels.

Sue xx