Saturday 30 July 2016

The Garlic Harvest Is In ... and Strung

Last weekend I pulled up all the garlic that I have grown this year in the net tunnel, I left it overnight with some of the soil still attached to dry slightly, then the next day I cleaned it up properly and left it nicely spread out on the workbench to dry in the warmth of the polytunnel.

A couple of days later and it is now lovely and dry, so I've just trimmed it ready for stringing .... now I just have to get on with the stringing.

Edited to add  ....

It's a bit messy while you're doing it ....

... but a lot of stringing and a few snips and it looks quite good, even if I do say so myself.

And it's now hanging on the back of the kitchen door with the tail end of last years crop.  
This seems to be a good place for it looking at last years which is still perfectly fine.

Vampires be warned .... we are now fully stocked with garlic ;-)

Sue xx

Thursday 28 July 2016

Ladies Who Lunch - Round Two

It just had to be done, the 'ladies who lunch' struck again :-)

Once again at the Wyevale near Mum's the offers were waiting for us.  Everything was down by 70% and the 'Maypole plant supports' that I had been keeping my eye on since they were first put out at half their usual £18.99 price tag were reduced to clear at £5 each ... so I got two.

They will be brilliant on the Veggie Patch next year for the broad and runner beans.  I also managed to find another tomato hanging basket at just a pound, it was lurking on a shelf all on it's own ... so I rescued it!!

There was only one thing that fell into the trolley that wasn't strictly useful, and that was this glass sign ... I just had to have it ... and at just £2 it would have been rude not to.  Between us we got £71.93 worth of goods for just £11.76.

Mum was very restrained this week and she just treated herself to a little solar powered owl light, to light up her tiny garden at night, the neighbours watch in amazement as she squeezes so many lovely little plants and accessories into her tiny patch, it looks wonderful.  I'll get a couple of photos next week if I remember to take my camera.

That should be it for sale goods at the garden centre now .... I think they are making room for all the Christmas decorations that are no doubt waiting in the wings ... there I said it ... the dreaded C word.  I'll go and stand in the corner and repent  ;-)

Sue xx

Wednesday 27 July 2016

Chickens and Sheep

" Look I think Mum's got some food."

"Oooh is the grass nice ....

... I think I'll try some."

" Come over here everyone .... this is lovely."

This post is brought to you by sheep and chickens ..... and ooops did you notice in the first photo that I've left my bucket on the far gate post ... I'll just go and retrieve it, have a nice day  :-)

Sue xx

Tuesday 26 July 2016

Eggs .... and a Right Royal Hoo Ha

When we went away the other weekend the eggs that the chickens laid were obviously left in the egg boxes all day, meaning they were walked on by the hens over and over, moved around and generally kept at varying temperatures as we had three broodies at the time.  So we don't sell any of these eggs.  Usually when I am here I go over to the henhouse at least three times during each day, to collect eggs and check on the chickens.

When the eggs have been left for a day or more like this, we bring them into the house and we give them a wash to clean them up a bit  (something you shouldn't do unless absolutely necessary with eggs that you sell) this also enables us to have a good look at them all for cracks or chips.  Then I put them in a bowl for us to use over the next couple of weeks.  Well we've just used the last one, I thought it would be interesting to see how we used them so I kept a bit of paper and made perfunctory notes each time we took some out of the bowl.

It turned out over the last three weeks we have had:  2 hard boiled, 12 fried, 4 scrambled, 3 soft boiled and 3 were fed back to the chickens scrambled, as one of them had a slimy bit in it ... and this is the reason we wouldn't want to sell them.  Better for us to find that than someone who has paid for the eggs.

And what's the right royal hoo ha I hear you asking ... well yesterday someone from the Linda McCartney Facebook page put this picture on with the innocent words:

 ' Scrambled, poached or fried - we just can’t decide! What are you having for breakfast this#MeatFreeMonday#InspiredByLinda '

It caused a real storm with readers saying that if Linda had been alive she would be a vegan by now, how dare they support the egg industry and include eggs in their products etc etc.  Now this would have been no problem but as the day progressed things just got nastier and nastier.  I bet whoever it was in the Linda McCartney offices that put this up is keeping a very low profile today!!

And yes, I was there in the thread answering queries, putting some folk right on their ridiculous claims and generally trying to tell it like it is.  I don't eat eggs bought from shops anymore, and few bought in items that contain eggs (with of course the exception of my mayonnaise habit), but I would not dream of attacking anyone who does either verbally or in print.  I know that most vegans are very good, caring and compassionate people but the few who start spouting outright lies to get a point across get the rest a very bad name.

Sue xx

Monday 25 July 2016

The Sheep Along the Fence

I always know when it's going to be a cooler or wet day as the sheep stay in their favourite spot and overnight sleeping area at the top of the hill much, much later than usual.  If it starts to rain heavily they also make for this cover as the bare earth along the fence line shows.

They sit with one front leg tucked up and one splayed out,  mother and son ....

... mother and daughter ....

... and oops, it looks as though this mother and daughter are not on speaking terms today  ;-)

They've gotten very friendly just lately and let me rub them on the nose when they are in a sociable mood.  It's a shame that we've only just become friends because the little boy, who's really not so little anymore, will be going to market soon along with one of the girl lambs.  The other one is being kept as seemingly she is a very good potential breeder from a good mum.  The little ram lamb has faulty back legs and was lucky to survive birth, his twin did not.  He's also very unlucky as he pulled out one of his little baby horns the other day on the fence.

Lovely Hubby is pleased that they are still here as the lambs are keeping the brambles in check, poking their heads through the fence to get at the tasty new shoots .... hence the horn loss when he got his head stuck.

It's now 7pm and they have all gone to bed early and are in almost exactly the same places as on these photos taken this morning.

Sue xx

Sunday 24 July 2016

Sowing in the Rain

We have literally just come in after a morning of raking out stones, levelling the ground, then fertilising it and then sowing grass seed.  We really wanted to get it done this weekend as a week of rain is forecast and what better start to new grass than warmth and rain.

Unfortunately the rain arrived a little earlier than we expected, and we spent a good couple of hours getting very wet indeed,  so much so that while I was stood under the conservatory overhang opening the fourth box of grass seed I thought it was still raining on me, but no it was just me raining on me, my hair was that wet it was dripping down on the rest of me.  But the job is now done, and we are in showered and dry at last, this new levelled area matches up with the newly laid grass at the side of the house and will be that much easier to mow on a regular basis.

Now we just have to go out and try and find a reasonably priced petrol mower, as ours had a bit of a mishap yesterday when Lovely Hubby hit something very hard and a huge chunk of metal flew off it.  It will be repaired in the future when LH has his welding gear in the workshop but for now we need something a bit lighter weight that I can use more often and that will fill the gap until our old one is fixed. 

Sue xx

Friday 22 July 2016

I Miss the Food .....

I miss the food posts on this blog, they all seem to be over on the 'Year Without ...' blog at the moment, but I thought I would put up a photo of my just strung onions on here, as they are homegrown food and that's what our life is all about.  

I even clicked on the Approved Food link on the righthand sidebar to see what they were selling these days, it seems ages since I did a blog post about them, but then I've not ordered anything at all this year.  It was interesting to have a trawl around the website though ... and I was almost tempted to place an order.

Yes, the onion crop has been poor this year the ones you see strung here are pretty much all we have at the moment.  The overwintered leeks all went to seed before I could harvest them and before they had time to put on any real growth to make them worth harvesting (and yes I have saved some of the seeds for next year) and the best onions I have in the polytunnel at the moment are the Spring Onions.  They are doing well, this reminds me I need to get another batch of seeds in asap to replace the ones we are eating.  The tomatoes are turning slowly ... ever so slowly ... red and the cucumber plants have started giving us enough cucumbers to keep us going.  Shortly, hopefully, there will be some extra and I can gift a couple to my neighbour to say thank you for all the gooseberries and red and blackcurrants that she allowed me to pick a couple of weeks ago.

I don't know what has happened to my courgette plants, they seem to be on a go slow, at last there are a few flowers but no fruits to speak of at all, I'm sure I'm further behind than I was at this time last year.  It seems nothing has enjoyed the strange unpredictable and changeable weather we have had over the last two months, well except the bugs, slugs and weeds of course.

One really good thing is that the Blueberries are now ripening and this morning I picked this trayful, currently open freezing ready to be tipped into a box in the freezer for free flowing easy use.  I only stopped picking because the little tub I had taken over was full, so I will be back first thing in the morning to gather in all the rest that have turned that delicious shade of blue that means they are ready to eat.   I'll bring you some next week Mum when I come to visit ... we always share they were Mum's bushes before they were mine :-)

Today's main job has been pruning the tomato plants of the excess leaves and extra little side shoots that have sprung out seemingly everywhere, but it was so hot in the polytunnel this morning that I had to end that and leave some for later on when the temperature goes down to a more tolerable level.

It's that time of year when it almost feels like a full time job growing the food we eat ... but a good one at that!

Sue xx

Thursday 21 July 2016

Right Place, Right Time

I was in Manchester with Mum yesterday, one of our lovely 'ladies who lunch' days together.  We went to our most frequently frequented place her local Wyevale Garden Centre, well I mean what's not to love there, there are plants, vegetables, pretty things to look at, posh food to drool over and a restaurant with top quality well prepared food.

And the brilliant thing was as we walked in to head straight for our lunch and a cup of coffee, there was a table right by the door full of absolute 'reduced to clear' bargains.  At first we just quickly scanned the goods and I said  "if LH was here he would be buying the lot", and then we looked properly ... and I went and got us a trolley.

We both got these ... I got two .... well it would have been daft not to, reduced from £19.99 to £2.  It was a real no brainer.

I also bought two of these.  I got one last year in the same sale and the tomatoes in it are doing brilliantly in the polytunnel at the moment.  These will be saved for next year, as will all our purchases.

I also got a Sunflower in a ceramic pot, the pot alone would cost more than the £1 purchase price, as would the herb seeds in terracotta pots, which were just 50p each.

And a brilliant purchase, and something I've resisted buying up to now, I have managed with my oven gloves or tea towels to fish out the jars when I'm having a bottling session.  Now at last,  I have the right tool for the job, and it only cost me £2.09.

I worked it out on my calculator that I spent £10.59 ... but I got £81.91 worth of goodies.  Wow, I wouldn't have dreamt of paying that much for these items .... some folk must though!!  How nice that for once we were in the right place at the right time ... oh and we had a lovely lunch and a catch up of family news too, before going back to Mum's lovely little bungalow and doing a spot of gardening with Suky watching on and entertaining the neighbours. 

Lovely Hubby is on his way home from work tonight and we have lots to keep us busy over the weekend, but all these purchases will be safely stored until next year.   Although I am going to open everything and take the compost out, storing it from last year meant it dried out too much, and I guess it would have lost it's nutrients.  I did use it and added it to some fresh stuff, but it will be far better to use this new compost now and use fresh with the seeds from the packs next year.

Sue xx

Tuesday 19 July 2016

Tractors and Dogs

Awww ... have you ever seen such a scared and basically pi**ed off little doggie!!

Rosy hates tractors, she hates when they drive past our house ... which they do numerous times each day ... she hates them when they are parked up doing nothing. she hated our last one, and it was a LOT bigger than this little Series 2 version we have now it was a John Deere 3130 that Lovely Hubby renovated from a wreck to a thing of beauty.  It would have been much too big for the type and amount of land we have here so it was with much regret that it was sold to our former landlord where as far as we know it is still in use on his land. 

 Lovely Hubby has been trying to get Rosy more comfortable around this little one and keeps picking her up for a ride on it ... but each time it's still ears back, wide eyes and itching to be let off so she can bark at the nasty green thing that chugs around the place with Dad on it's back.

At totally the other end of the spectrum is Suky, she plonks herself down and totally ignores the green monstrosity coming towards her, completely confident that Dad would not dream of running her over.

She was far more annoyed at having to wear a bandana when she came out of the groomers.  It was the first time she has ever had a professional grooming session and seemingly she enjoyed every minute and was very well behaved.  She lost a total of 300g in fluff and fur after an extensive brushing session which will help for the weigh in at Tubby Club next week ... hopefully she feels a tad cooler too without all that excess Pug fluff,

Sue xx

Sunday 17 July 2016

Keeping Cool, and Cuddling Together ... on a Hot Day

'Hello', this ewe seems to be saying to me, 'have you got anything tasty to eat' ... they ask me this everytime I go over to the chickens, and yes they get the occasional cabbage leaf.

The others were being sensible and were in the shade at the top of the hill, soon the limited shade will be gone and the paddock will be in full sun, so it makes sense to keep cool while you can.  The one that looks a bit pink has just been treated after am attack of fly strike, I'm  glad Will caught it before it got too bad.

The chickens were hiding from the sun under their wet weather/sun shade, it's just a piece of wood leaning on and attached to the fence.  It's their favourite place to be whatever the weather, and seems to be their meeting and preening place after breakfast and then throughout the day.

I put the little plastic drinker in the other day as I was giving them some Apple Cider Vinegar and I can't put it into the galvanised drinkers as it reacts with the metal, so when I want to dose them with this all the plastic drinkers are called into action.  Chickens are funny creatures they love anything red, so this is currently the place to go for your drink, so I am spending a lot of time topping up this diddy little drinker while they ignore the big one right next to it..

Keeping cool in the henhouse, but still cuddling up together are new best mates Ebony, the Black Pekin bantam and Jill, the Lavender Pekin bantam.  

I put them in one nest box together the other week out of frustration, as all four nest boxes were full of broody birds, so putting the two littlest in together while frequently chucking out the large Black Marans was the only way to have any room for the layers to get on with laying their eggs in peace everyday.  They've really hit it off and when they do get up and go out to stretch their legs and have something to eat and drink they do it together, and then make their way back to a nesting box ... they don't mind which one as long as they can sit together, and inside the henhouse with both the front door and the window open it is lovely and cool all day.

Sue xx

Friday 15 July 2016

And as it is ...

Gosh it's been a busy day today, but I just had to jump on the computer and record for posterity and as promised, show you what the house looks like now that the painting is all finished and the scaffolding is down.  I even managed to stand in pretty much the same place as yesterday's photo  :-)

The first one is from the front  (sorry it's a smidge blurry) .....

... then this one is the side ....

... and then round at the back it looks like this.

This wide shot shows the conservatory side of the house.

Now it's the fun for me bit of adding back all the things that I like and softening the edges of this new grey look.  The first step after hosing down and sweeping all around the house yesterday was putting the plants back by the front door .... there, you can't beat a bit of green  :-)

Sue xx

Thursday 14 July 2016

As it was ... and farting Pugs!!

This is the last time you'll see the house as it was, now we have a whole different look, and most of the folk that we speak to are absolutely loving it.  If I remember I'll take my camera out with me when I walk the dogs after their tea tonight and  get a shot of how we look now that the scaffolding is down.

This is just one last look for posterity.

Image result for cartoon dog fart

I'll have to sign off now.  Ginger does not like Whiskas cat food and I got two free pouches through the post yesterday so I gave him one for his tea last night to see if he had changed his mind.  He refused to eat it, so I added it to the dogs bowls this morning, they wolfed it down along with a slightly smaller portion of their own food ... but now I'm suffering the consequences.  

Suky would win the farting championships of the world on a normal day and with the lovely rich Whiskas cat food in her system she's reached a whole new level of pongdom .... and now for the third time in the last half hour she's just filled the office with fumes that would make the new paint slide off the walls if I were to open the window.

Time to make a quick exit I think!!

Sue xx

Tuesday 12 July 2016

Living as it was .....

We're just back from a lovely weekend away.  A whistlestop tour of one of Lovely Hubby's old stomping grounds, Portsmouth and a day here at the Weald and Downland Open Air Museum.

I've been there once before when I went on holiday with Mum to Bognor Regis back in 2012, and we had a day out to the museum.  I knew as soon as I saw it then that Lovely Hubby would love it as much as me.  It is filled with cottages and houses all through the ages, that have been painstakingly taken down piece by piece and then fully rebuilt in situ at the museum to reflect their beginnings .  You really do need a full day to go round all the houses and appreciate their architecture and contents.

Once again my favourite cottage was one of Whittaker's Cottages (I posted about this one here).

I love everything from it's full and productive vegetable garden ...

... to it's clothes drying area and washhouse.

The larder seemed quite full until you realised this would have kept the family of of Mum and Dad and eight children fed along with the produce from the garden.

And imagine washing the pots after a meal for a family of that size in this little sink!!

And that would have been after you had heated the water that you had just carried in from the pump that you shared with your neighbour that was in front of the pair of cottages.

We spent the full day mooching about all the houses and exploring the water mill and charcoal makers camp in the woodlands.  Picking up ideas such as this type of fencing which we could incorporate very well into parts of our woodland.

Then it was time to come home and spend time in our house .....

... one that also has water that needs heating and carrying from one place to another.  

Yes, once again we are without hot water and for those of you who frequently ask if our Aga heats the water for our house ..... at the moment the answer is YES, but only if I fill all our kettles and big pans and leave them sat on the top of it all day, ready for washing pots etc when it is needed.

Oh well I said I wanted to live simply  :-/

Sue xx