Thursday 30 June 2011

And a piggy came knocking.......

Last night we had both had our baths are were just getting into bed when Rosy , the Jack Russell started barking, seriously barking, the reason.......there was a pig at the door!!

We don't know what had been going on in Kune Kune world, but Gypsey was outside the house letting us know in no uncertain terms that she wanted to go home.

We grabbed a bucket of pig nuts and led her up the track around the paddock to the gate at the far end and she trotted happily over to Tinka who was also on the wrong side of the electric fence, the only one in the right place was Tayla, patiently waiting for her sisters to join her and retire to bed.

After a bit of persuading (pigs don't like to cross even a lying down electric fence) we managed to get them all in the right place and switch the fence back on.  What had happened to make two of them get to the wrong side of a live electric fence, and Gypsey to be able to get out of a fenced and gated field we'll never know.

But we do know we have a very clever little piggy who came to tell Mummy and Daddy when she wanted to go home.

Sue xx

Wednesday 29 June 2011

Homemade Mayonnaise

If only I'd discovered just how easy this is to make and just how gorgeously tasty it is, I'd have been doing it years ago.  The fresh taste is unbelievable and you can play around a bit and make it taste a little bit different each time.

The easiest way is with a mixer or food processor, but it can be done by hand if you've got good arm muscles and like a bit of mindless beating (with a good tune on the radio it's a breeze)!

200mls mild Olive oil
100mls Sunflower oil
2 very fresh egg yolks
1tsp English mustard powder
pinch of salt
1tbs white wine vinegar
a squeeze of lemon juice

Makes approx 300ml, so a large jar full.

Pour the oils into a jug, put the egg yolks, mustard powder, salt and vinegar in your mixer or a large bowl and start to beat them all together.  Slowly trickle in the oil over the mix as you continue to whisk, when it amalgamates and begins to thicken you can speed up the trickle of oil, keep whisking until it gets nice and thick and paler in colour.  When all the oil is used up add the lemon juice.  Taste, and adjust the seasoning to your liking. 

Put in a clean jar and store in the fridge.  It keeps for about 2 weeks, but mine never lasts that long it is always used up very quickly!!

We use instead of butter or marg on sandwiches and a nice dollop mixed with our own hard boiled eggs makes divine Egg Mayo sandwiches.  It's gorgeous with just picked, lightly boiled baby new potatoes, just a sprinkle of herbs and a dollop of mayo and you have a meal fit for a king.

This recipe is adapted from my favourite book of the moment 'The Home Cookbook' by Monty and Sarah Don.  Which is currently on special offer at Amazon for an amazing £9.79!!  I paid £25 for mine....sob, sob....!

Lots of yummy food for vegetarians and meat lovers alike, no wonder me and Lovely Hubby both like these recipes.

Now I'm off to wash lots of Rhubarb that I picked this morning, I feel a crumble coming on......

Sue xx

Tuesday 28 June 2011

The two sides to pig keeping......

Happy piggies basking in the early evening sunshine with Mum.  Martha is usually a lovely shade of white with pink skin but after the temperatures we had here yesterday you can't blame her for sitting in her muddy wallow for most of the day.  If she didn't she would get serious sunburn, all white pigs are more prone to it as they have quite delicate skin behind their ears.  So by evening she is usually a lovely shade of grey with bits of dried mud hanging off everywhere.

Drinking milk from muddy teats...yuk!!

When Martha rolls over the piglets all rush into place and find their teat, they all keep to the same one from birth, and suckle, she only allows them three minutes so they have to be ready!!

And the other side of pig keeping - a fridge filling up with sausages.   This is the first 51 packs just picked up from the butcher and already spoken for, another batch and all the 'other bits' will be delivered later this morning.  They look quite tasty I suppose, but I will never know!!

It's a bit cooler here today so hopefully I'll be able to get a bit of weeding done, before both the veggies and me vanish in a forest of weeds.

Sue xx

Monday 27 June 2011

At the start of the day.....

At the start of the day here in sunny Oxfordshire, the chickens are out pecking away at the grass, looking for bugs and creepy crawlies to supplement their pellets and corn.  Caldwell the bantam cockerel is shouting to the world and drowning out his new pretender to the throne, William, who is learning to crow.

The dogs have raced around while I took food and water to pigs and are now flat out in the shade tongues lolling, and looking pleased with themselves after a job well done.  The sun is high over the house, and while I take a few minutes to do this post and eat my breakfast (the second one of the day) the sounds of the farm drift in the window.  Birdsong from around the pond, the distant chugging of a tractor pulling its heavy trailer in the field beyond us.  There is a buzzing in the air and the smell of pollen hangs everywhere already.

The start of a new day, indeed a new week, fills us with promise, the sun makes us relax and slow the pace, it also makes us sweaty and red-faced, but we won't go into that!!

Now I have to go to the garage to get my tyre fixed, I doubt I could wax lyrical about that even if I tried!!

Have a good day, enjoy the sun (I hope you have it too).

Sue xx

Sunday 26 June 2011


The littlest Lavender Pekins don't like it when I close the door of the Eglu for the weekly 'big clean' of their little home.

They line up outside tapping on the door and the wall, chirping away, trying desperately to peek in the gap to see what's going on in their bedroom.

The minute I open the door they all charge in and inspect their new clean sleeping area and then come out chunnering away to themselves.  I think I do it to their satisfaction, but judging from the looks on their little faces I think they would rather I just left it alone.

Sue xx

Saturday 25 June 2011

The Daily Harvest

Every day now there is lots to be picked.  I have switched to a morning harvest time, this way I can figure out what we are having for tea, and if there are any unusual combinations or foods that are quite new to me, I can have a flick through my recipe books for inspiration.

This picture was Wednesdays 8am harvest -

Potatoes that were left in the beds by accident last year so the plants were way ahead of all the others, they were showing a touch of blight (as well as blocking the light from my lovely little Cauliflowers) so I thought I would get them in now.

Strawberries - we're getting this amount every day at the moment, I know it won't last so whatever we don't eat that day gets popped in the freezer ready for a jam making session at the end of the season.

Five eggs - not bad for 8am, we usually have about two and a half dozen dozen by noon.

One of our lovely cabbages - the outer leaves already fed to the chickens.

A couple of radishes and spring onions to add to my lunch.

And lastly some carrots, picked to go with our tea.

A quarter of the cabbage, most of the carrots and a homegrown onion were turned into Coleslaw with a dollop of homemade mayonaise and some freshly ground black pepper.  We had this to accompany a cheese and onion quiche made with a couple of the eggs.

And for breakfast after doing this yummy harvest, it was homemade yogurt with a spoonful of homemade Bramble Jam, a 'fruit corner' without the corner!!

Growing our own and eating well - you really can't beat this feeling.

Soon we will have to get into 'Preserving Mode' and start processing some of the foods to pop in the freezer to last us over the Winter, everything is very fruitful and coming on at once and we must make the most of it all.  Next week I should start getting my first courgettes....yummy!! Yesterday I tidied the polytunnel ready for another batch of planting, it's looking very lush in there, I must take a photo while it is so tidy!!

Have a wonderful weekend and let's hope the sun shines on us all (and the veggies).

Oh and by the way, I have one very happy little dog here who is thrilled with all the doggy love shown yesterday.  She sends wags and kisses to you all.  (Hopefully the commenting problem is now over!)

Sue xx

Friday 24 June 2011


Mum, has found out that lots of you have been having trouble commenting so she has been playing with the 'Settings', you should now be able to comment more easily.

Just try it,......... simply say how very pretty you think I am to try out the new easier commenting ability.

I know....I am pretty aren't I !!  I'm off now to  chase a chicken...or maybe a cat, I don't mind!

Rosy xx

Thursday 23 June 2011

Little White Mice

Which sort of mice are the yummiest.....little white mice of course!!

But we are being very good, after being tempted by a 'giant' bargain jar of mice we are saying 'no more'.

After having a choice yesterday of white mice or cucumber....I chose the cucumber.  THUD!!  that's the sound of my Mum falling of her computer chair as she reads this!!

Yes, our healthy eating campaign is serious and for once we are being good.

And the rest of the little white mice......well I've decided to count them into little bags of twenty and sell them at the next car boot sale we do, hopefully on Sunday if the weather allows.  This will get me back the cost of the jar (we have already eaten some of them), so I will be a happy little bunny, and I have a lovly nice big storage jar for pasta, so it's a win-win situation.

Sue xx

Wednesday 22 June 2011

I may be small.......

I may be small.....but I'm perfectly formed.

This year for the first time ever I seem to have cracked it with the Cauliflowers!  Every other year I have planted around twenty and we've ended up eating one or two if we're lucky.  But this year I have a row of perfectly formed little specimens, this one is the tiniest, so cute.  I think a miniature Cauliflower Cheese is on the menu for tonight, I think I may have to pick two, I don't think this will feed both of us!!

And yet again I have giant Cabbages (see the picture on the sidebar of me hiding behind one of last years lovely examples).  I seem to be good at growing these, it's a good job I'm also learning to like eating them.

At the moment we are following the Gillian McKeith mantra that you can learn to love anything if you try it enough and unbelievably it's working, there are now lots of veggies that I'm eating on a regular basis, a good job really, you would have a bad diet if your were a vegetarian that didn't like veggies!!

Sue xx

Tuesday 21 June 2011

It's a hard life.......

It's a hard life being a piggy on this farm.....

...You have to find your own hollow, grab a friend to cuddle up with and have a nap in the sunshine.

Pesky folk with cameras come and catch you unawares....... you get up and have a good scratch.

And then, to top it all, dinner is delivered and you just have to get stuck in.....

...fight off a bit of competition for the best bits...

...and only then do you get chance to settle down ready for another little snooze before bedtime.  It really is all go!!
Introducing our four little three month old Middle Whites, busy little girls.

Sue xx

Monday 20 June 2011

What a difference a day makes.........

" What a difference a day makes.....24 little hours!! "

Last night after a healthy tea of homegrown potatoes and cabbage.....yummy, yummy, we had a last little sugary feast......a jug of Pimms between us and a gorgeous little cupcake each, bartered at the Farmers Market for a dozen eggs, (...we do a lot of 'swapping us stall-holders).  We also had rather a lot of 'white mice', I bought a HUGE jar of them when they were on offer while ago reduced from £39.99 to £14.99......well you couldn't not buy them at that price could you.......or could you!! ( I have plans for the rest of them..... I'll show you later this week.)

Today - well we are waiting for the results of Lovely Hubby's blood tests at the doctors and it's not looking good, he's been asked to go back for a re-test as his results were so high.  We're not hanging about, where the health of my man (and me) are concerned we take action immediately, we are sticking to our healthy eating diets, but upping the ante even more.  Gone will be the sugary every day treaty things, sugary, fatty things will be a once in a while special treat, in with a vengeance come the home grown veggies, fruits and homemade things so I can see exactly what is in each and everything we eat.

Homemade yogurt already on the go.

The £100 Challenge
As for the £100 Challenge, we're still coping well, it might end sooner than expected if there are special ingredients I need to buy but while I have my little purse and it's contents, it stands at £79.36 at the moment, we will continue

This week I bought -
Milk x 8 (2 still in the freezer and 2 left in the fridge) 8.00
Sparkling water x 10                 1.60
Lemonade x 2                              36
Cucumbers x 2                          1.00
Sliced Ham                                2.00
Sliced Seeded Loaf                   1.40

Total                                      £14.36

Not bad at all for a weeks shopping.  We are eating well from the Kitchen Garden and the polytunnel, lots of strawberries each day and last night we had  the first of our own New Potatoes, yummy with just a touch of butter and a sprinkling of herbs,served with lightly steamed, just picked Cabbage, a gorgeous and simple meal.

Here on the farm today it is a gloriously sunny day, LH is out walking the dogs while I catch up on my Blog and then I will clean out the henhouses and water the polytunnel while he comandeers the computer, then we are off out for a treat, lunch together at one of our favourite places, Aston Pottery.
Hope you have a lovely day too.
Sue xx

Sunday 19 June 2011

So Proud of My Dad........

I'm SO proud of my dad, I had a wonderful childhood.   Family holidays recorded in photos, pushing hired pushchairs across the sands, not wanting to sit in it because it wasn't 'mine'.

Here I'm 13, posing with my Dad, after my lovely Nana had just given me a set of pearls, she said I was all grown up, a 'young lady', my Dad agreed and wanted a picture. He was proud of me then, he still is, our feelings are reciprocal.

Meeting his second Grandson for the first time, cradling the next generation in his careful hands.  Bringing back memories for both of us.  Now his Grandsons tower above him, but to them he will always be the bigger man.  The one who helped shape their childhood, the one they respect, admire and love.

My Dad....I am so very, very proud of the man you were, the man you are and the man you will yet be.

Happy Fathers Day

Your daughter
Sue xx

Saturday 18 June 2011

Strawberry follow-on....

After yesterdays post I had a couple of emails asking about how and where I grow my strawberries.   At last I think I'm doing something right because the past two years have been my best ever strawberry years, so I'll be brave and tell you.

Last year I transplanted some 1 year old plants and some 2 year old plants, some in the strawberry tub and some on the ground, they are all in the raised bed where I grow my Rhubarb and Berries (Blue and Goji), there is a chicken wire fence around this.   In the first year it was to keep the chickens out when they free ranged all over the farm, now they have their own fox proof area I was tempted to take down the fence, but Lovely Hubby had worked so hard to get the posts in I though I would leave it.  It does mean that now the berries are ripening the wild birds leave them alone as the fence, although low, seems to act as a deterrent.

Last year I harvested the fruit from the 2 year old plants but left the fruits on the younger plants (excruciatingly hard to ignore the sweet little strawberries but now, as I reaping the rewards this year, I'm so glad I did).  The plants are all strong and throwing off a bowl full of berries every single day.

  There are about 16 plants in all and now they are 2 and 3 years old.  The older plants last year threw off lots of 'runners', their own baby plants that find a patch of soil and set their own roots.  I don't do much to these, just slightly change their course of direction if it is going to be on a path and find little 'v' shaped twigs to lightly peg them down so they get a good chance of getting their roots down quickly.  At the end of the season you can snip through the long 'runner stem' and leave the plant to develop all by itself.

Interestingly I have found that the plants on the ground that are all higgeldy piggeldy thrive whereas the ones in the tub are much weaker and produce about a third as much fruit.  You would expect that ground plants, some of which end up in the shade, who have to compete for light and who occasionally get stepped on (oops), and some of whom have merely rooted in the bark chippings that I put down as a mulch...would do worse but no, I think because I have created a natural environment for them they are thriving.  It is almost as though they are growing on a forest floor.

In the polytunnel I have a smaller strawberry tub that I planted the strawberry plants that I grew from seed early last Spring.  By Autumn they had lovely little fruits on, which again I ignored, and this year although not fruiting as prolifically as the outdoor ones they do provide me with at least 2 little strawberries to nibble on each day while I'm pottering about in the polytunnel.

I hope this helps some of you, if you have any more questions about my methods, please feel free to ask.

And finally - at last I got a picture of one of Martha's babies, but as you can see it was running for the safety of the ark.  It had nipped over to try and pinch some of Mum's spinach leaves, but NOBODY pinches Martha's spinach and it  got a good telling off !!

She is being a very good Mum now, very protective, but yesterday she lost ALL her babies!!  They discovered if they lay down flat they could wriggle under the fence and get into Daddy's enclosure, luckily for them Daddy was out and about with his current wife, so they all curled up and fell asleep in Daddy's bed (Goldilocks has nothing on this lot!!). 

Lovely Hubby found them when he was doing the feed rounds yesterday afternoon, after a heart stopping moment when he thought they had all vanished into thin air, he checked all the other houses and there they were.  After a minor scuffle we managed to catch them all and pass them back over the fence to Mum, who told them off in no uncertain terms.  I don't know what she said but they stood in a little shivering group while she went back to her tea.  After five minutes they trouped back into the ark (except the one I photographed) and waited for Mum to arrive with the 'Milk Bar'.

Today they are doing as they are told and peace reigns in the Orchard.

Sue xx

Friday 17 June 2011

Different varieties.....

Because this year we have many different varieties of Strawberry growing, we never know what we are going to find when we go out to pick each evening.  Each expedition to the strawberry bed is a journey into the unknown.

The one on the right is a 'normal' sized strawberry like the larger ones you find in the supermarket packs, then one on the left is the size of a small apple.  They both taste equally yummy!!

I would have had a small Alpine strawberry for the size comparison photo......if I hadn't been overcome by temptation and popped it straight into my mouth!!

Sue xx

Thursday 16 June 2011

Rosy and Archie

Sneaking up behind them.....

...all cuddled in and oblivious to the world....

..but not for long....I've been spotted!

"Don't look now's Mum with that camera thing........ again!"
While the grey clouds hover over the farm and every now and then decide to drop their heavy load of rain on us, some of the farm folk have exactly the right idea!!

I'm off to the polytunnel, at least it's dry in there.

Sue xx

Wednesday 15 June 2011

....and here's your starter for ten...well eight!!

On Sunday I made a HUGE bowl ful of mixed Mediteranean Veggies
2 yellow peppers
2 orange peppers
1 sweet red pointed pepper
5 red onions
4 white onions
3 courgettes

couple of tablespoons olive oil
tablespoon chilli oil
sea salt and black pepper
sprinkle of chilli flakes
squeeze of tomato puree
squeeze of garlic puree
a handul of assorted herbs
2 sprigs of rosemary

Chop veggies into similar sized pieces, coat them with the mixed up dressing ( I do this in my biggest mixing bowl) and then tip into a roasting tin.  Pop it in the oven for about 30 - 45 mins, stirring up occasionally so everything cooks evenly.
And there you have it the basis for four meals for two people.

Sunday night we had the veggies on a bed of spiced cous cous, Lovely Hubby had a peppered steak with his and I had a Quorn fillet, chopped up and mixed into mine.

Monday LH took a smaller portion to work to reheat in the microwave there.
Monday night we had a good dollop of the veggies on a couple of homemade scone based pizzas.
Tuesday I had some with brown rice for my lunch.
Tuesday night I cooked a couple of handfuls of brown pasta, added a couple of spoonfuls of homemade 'tinned tomatoes' to the veggies and mixed it all together topped with a sprinkling of veggie 'parmesan'......yummy!!
And now it's all gone......I wonder what we can have tonight?
I have an any of you know of a GOOD flapjack recipe, you know the sort you buy from a shop or a good Farmers Market stall, about an inch thick, soft and chewy, deliciously moreish.  I have worked my way through many of my recipe books and everytime the flapjacks end up thin, quite hard and well....just not right.  I have used the size of tin they state, I have tried altering timings and tried different positions in the oven but still to no avail......HELP.

Sue xx