Sunday, March 05, 2006

Such a sunny Sunday.

Eggs - Total to date: 273 - Day 120

KoKKo 91 (86grms) 29.11.2005 Personal best weight
Adelaide 91 (80grms) 26.02.2006 Personal best weight
Ginger 91 (78grms) 22.2.2006 Personal best weight

It is 2.30pm and we have just finished Sunday lunch, so I am going to have a rest this afternoon – if I can sit still for long enough.

Up early to glorious sunshine and hard thick frost again. The water in the bird bath was frozen solid, and so too some water that had accumulated in the wheel barrow under the pergola.

The chickens didn’t seem to mind and were their usual chirpy selves – although slower than usual to come out of their run.

After breakfast (a late one) I managed to persuade Pat to help me take some things up the allotment. The dismantled compost bin, the contents of which were emptied on the flower beds last weekend. I also had some composting things to go in my bean trenches, and wanted to dig up some parsnips and get some broccoli and have a look around of course.

Whilst Pat was reading his Sunday paper basking in the sunshine pouring through the windows of the conservatory, I was cleaning out the chickens. I took them some tomatoes to distract them whilst I got on with the job as I wanted to do a spring clean on it. Three eggs were waiting for me, bless them, and nice and warm too, so had only been laid minutes before.

We eventually got up the allotment at 11 am, and Mike my allotment neighbour was busying himself with some paving slabs making the base for his shed. It was nice to see someone for a change. His ‘posh’ compost bin, that I thought was made out of the headboard and bottom of an oak bed, as it looks so nice and had those lovely wooden ball finials on the corners – happens to have been a council flower container. One of those posh ones you find in town centres filled with colourful summer bedding. He told me that it had been damaged by vandals, so was able to salvage it. How can anyone vandalise a flower bed, is beyond me. Still with three sides it is just the job as a compost bin and looks very grand.

As was bitterly cold and windy – as usual – up there, being open to the fields the wind whips across.

I did my usual inspection tour, and got Pat to hold up the planks and netting so that I could get some broccoli leaves for the chickens – still no purple spears yet, they seem to be taking so long. But there was a lovely head of lime Romanesco broccoli which I picked for lunch.

The soil really was rock hard, and I had a real job of hacking into it to dig up the parsnips. They were really big, as big and bigger of you hands touching fingertips and thumbs to form a big O. I gave some to Mike as they like parsnips, and a carrier bag full to my neighbour, and we have some – and there are still plenty up there. I have left a pile for my friend who brings the horse manure. I don’t know if horses eat parsnip – I will find out soon when I phone him. I grew far too many. I bought three packets, because everywhere tells you that they are slow to grow, difficult to germinate etc. But all of mine flourished! This year I shall grow just one row – I hope I have the same success.

I pottered about doing some other jobs, and as Pat didn’t want lunch until 2pm I made the most of the sunshine and did some work in the back garden.

A couple of weeks ago, I made a start on removing the wood chip from the chicken pen. I carried 100 very large buckets full and spread them as a mulch on the gardens by the pergola, and it looked really lovely - like dark brown chocolate chips. And because I put garlic in their food, there is no smell at all. Understandably it was pretty hard work doing it that way and I ached for days, so we brought the wheel barrow back after that – but I have not had the opportunity to finish it off until this morning.

The woodchip was frozen solid and I had to hack into it and lift if off in slabs – like paving slabs. Underneath it was dark and wet and the chickens went mad and scratched about picking at the worms! I dumped the barrow loads on my woodland flower bed. About 10 barrow loads, and that too now looks really neat and tidy, I took a few photos to remind me what I liked – as is the summer the flower beds will be bursting with plants and colours and textures.

Pat was remarking that he doesn’t remember the garden or allotment looking so good this time of year and being so well organised! Nice that he noticed I thought. From my neighbour’s garden, came the sound of a lawn mower – yes he was mowing his back lawn. I am not sure that it does it any good in this weather. He brushed the frost off it first! Pat looked at me and rolled his eyes – and looked relieved when I said that ours did not need doing. (Nor did my neighbour’s, whose lawn was shorter than ours before he started!)

As usual, I worked myself to a standstill, before putting everything away and coming in to make lunch (after a quick shower or course, I don’t want you thinking that after all that I cook in the gardening clothes).

Today we had some of the organic lamb that I bought a few weeks ago – a neck fillet.
We had steamed veggies that I dug up and picked today as well as wonderful broccoli leaves from the tops of the plants. Lovely purple frilly little leaves that not only looked pretty on the plate against the lime green of the Romanesco, but were also so tender with a lovely flavour. The lamb took the same amount of time to cook as the steamed veggies. I chopped up some red baron onions into tiny pieces, (home grown of course), and added sun dried tomatoes diced in tiny pieces and a squirt of tomato puree. Once the onions has softened I added the neck of lamb fillet which I had sliced into medallions, these soon browned either side and I then added some red wine, and left it to simmer, finishing off thickening the sauce with arrowroot just before serving.

It all looked so colourful, reds, lime, cream, green, and purple, and the sun dried tomato sauce was a reminder of the summer to come.

I am sitting here with the sun streaming through the window onto my back, in my little study room. It is 3.30pm and still glorious sunshine, if it wasn’t for the fact that it was freezing outside, and the lack of flowering plants you would almost think it was sunny when you look out of the window.

Just off off to put some photos on the computer so I can post them here.


  1. sister no.4 has posted pictures of her refg. for you I made her do. said I could make her do what I want!

  2. Anonymous4:57 pm

    Never thought of using arrowroot to thicken sauces! What a good idea! Was that from the new RC cookbook?
    I remember being given bowls of the stuff as a child whenever I was 'off colour' so grew up thinking it was only medicinal...doubt you can buy it in Tescos' LOL!
    The Lamb dish sounds really tasty.BTW, the RC book you've recently aquired, is it a brand new edition or a re-print?

    off to make some bread dough, using 1/2 and 1/2 white/wholemeal flours and going to put some toasted seeds, Pumkin,sunflower and maybe sesame if any are left, as I use them in green salads, while it's proving, I'll nip into the shed and have a quick tidy, store some yoghurt/cream pots(for sowing/transplanting later in spring), and trowel up the wood chips that Rosie cat has flicked onto the grass (bless her!).

    talk anon,

    Sandie :-)

  3. Hold down the fort I am coming to dinner.How you grow green vegs. in winter? do you have a green house? or is that what you call the cons? sorry for so many questions, never mind I will look the words up in my on line dictionary. after all you speak english, i just don't know GOOD english. it is morning here but I think it is nite there, so have a good evening. patsy

  4. Horse manure is low in nitrogen. chicken manure is high in nitrogen, that is why chicken manure needs to be composted but you could add the horse manure right to the soil.I know a little about s---, but now much else.

  5. yeah, its a green house. I love them, I have promlems with my joints aching , and if I go in a green house I soon limber up. wish I had one but can't do that. patsy

  6. Hi Patsy

    My broccoli etc are growing up my allotment in winter conditions, frozen ground, high winds, snow, ice, rain. -10 one night.

    They should sprout purple broccoli any time now - should have been February, I think the dry winter has delayed them.

    The chicken litter I compost. The wood chip has only been down in the chicken pen for a couple of month - large pen, three chooks, not a lot of guano to worry about. The woodchips sap the nitrogen out of the soil so the chicken poo adds it back in - balance and harmony!

  7. Sandie - hi, so have been busy today too.

    The RC cookbook I got for £9.99 brand new.

    The lamb recipe was a spur of the moment invention - as are most of mine. As in - my back's killing me, what can I throw together to look and taste tasty?

    Arrowroot, I get in the supermarket where you get the tubs of baking powder from - in same size tubs. Why I like it is that it is clear when mixed and not white like cornflour.

    I like my bread half and half too, and crammed with seeds. And I guess the wild birds will have a field day with the mulch. just adding more photos

  8. we never have lamb. we can't buy it here. i did buy some when I lived in California in the 60's but found it greasey to my taste, but perhaps was poor cut because it was very expensive and I bought a cheap grade that was on sale.we eat beef, pork, chicken and turkey. some fish but that is expiencive also. in the days when my husband was alive we would go fishing. that was the best meal we could have. I eat frog legs but no one hunts frogs any more.I read a blog from france. he posted pictures of their markets and their chickens still had the heads and feet on them may have had the guts also don't know.patsy

  9. Bovey Belle8:29 am

    Horses DO eat parnsips Lottie, and my lad absolutely ADORES swede. I buy him one now and again and he demolishes it in 2 minutes flat!!!


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