Monday, July 03, 2006

What a scorcher – 31c today. I was only going to be up the allotment for an hour harvesting but………….

I just wanted to pick some blackcurrants that would be ripe to make some more jam (haven’t told you about the jam making yet as it will take a time to type it up and insert the photos).

It was just before 10am, the girls had laid me 2 eggs and eaten 1 – it was sticky inside so I knew! The ones that were not eaten were brown and strong!

The girls made a dash for the rhubarb patch and I gave them some redcurrants that I had used last night and they just loved the seeds.

I left them doing their usual scavenging, and eating gooseberries, the odd red and blackcurrant on the young bushes which only have a few on them, and some raspberries poking through the middle fence. Happy little noises from them as they found something else new to each and ‘talked ‘ about it to each other.

As I got to the fruit cage, the first thing I noticed were that the raspberries poking through the netting were ripe – so I ate a few – lovely and warm and juicy. Once inside the cage, I realised that there were quite a few, so thought I had better get a container and picked them – nearly 3lb at the weigh in this afternoon and just from a few canes.

Then I noticed so redcurrants still on the bushes and picked those – these were ones right in the middle of the bushes in the main stem but right at the bottom – so they took me about an hour to gather the 6lb that I did.

Whilst doing so I spied some nice ripe strawberries – decent ones this time – so had another 2lb of those. Which lead me around the back to the loganberry that has escaped through the netting – these are like great big elongated raspberries which remind me of a miniature bunch of grapes – 1lb of those too.

I finally got around to the first blackcurrant harvest by which time it was gone 1pm, so I gathered a few pounds and was going to ‘call it a day’.

I picked a lettuce for the girls, and some sorrel and gave them a call – I just love seeing them running along the path, in a funny waddle-gait and Ginger takes a run and a flapping low flight to get there first. They couldn’t wait to get in their run and get at the goodies I had previously put in there for them.

The lovely long sun shade cover, really works a treat and after a feed, they were lying on their sides in the shade dozing. Nice life for a chicken isn’t it. I too sat in the shade and just watched them, and looked and day-dreamed – for about 10 minutes before deciding to have a go at the last little patch of weeds that grow through the hedge at the field end. So I spent the next hour pulling up the tall nettles and cutting down the dock weeds and managed to clear it all. I can now get to my blackberry in the hedge that I put in a couple of years ago as a little tiny cutting and forgot about it. This year, despite this drought, it has really grown and looks wonderfully healthy with really big pretty pink flowers. It is a cultivar rather than wild, but has thorns – really big ones, but I am hoping that the big flowers will mean big berries. I just love apple and blackberry crumbles, pies, and jam – but doubt that I will get lots this year. Another nice surprise!

I covered up my big water tanks behind my shed with a large sheet of thick black plastic which I used to keep patches of my veggies beds clean when I am not using them. It should send out a message to whoever is using them. They still might have the cheek to use my green water but that has a tap on it – but I hope not – that is my last reserve of water and I am almost of out water now.

I discovered some more cut fencing – this time at the top of the strong 5ft high small gauge chicken wire that runs about 100 or so feet along the main vegetable area. It is buried a foot deep. At two of the posts the wire has been cut down from the top about 12inches and it was sticking out – that is how I noticed it. I thought it was dangerous as I could take someone’s eye out or give them a nasty scratch. So I have bent it back to make it safe. At least the rabbits haven’t learnt to pole vault yet, so the latest bit of creative wire cutting hasn’t made much difference. I think someone must have a new toy and just likes playing with it. I shan’t take any notice – I am sure that they will get fed up before I do!

It really is unbearably hot so you will forgive me for not putting in lots of photos or typing much tonight.

By the time I got home at gone 3pm and showered, we had a very late lunch – but it was worth waiting for – crispy home grown lettuce, salad leaves, herbs, potatoes, garlicky, herby chickens thighs, (organic chicken of course from my friend) but sadly not home grown tomatoes – yet!

Warm strawberries from up the lottie with evaporated milk (Pat loves it, but I would have liked cream or ice cream). He did make up for that, by bringing me a choc ice later though!

I wish I could sit still and just wilt like everyone else, but I had the fruit to deal with.

I have been making gooseberry jelly, redcurrant jelly, strawberry and redcurrant jelly; these are clear ‘jam’ which is great. They can all be used as jams, or used to glaze fruit, or meat, great for flans – and a spoon full added to gravy in the winter works wonders! Raspberry and redcurrant jam ingredients are all weighed and will be made tomorrow, followed by blackcurrant jam – and jelly perhaps – depending on the time and energy I have.

Some jars of gooseberry jelly that I have been making. I love the way the colour has changed from green to pink, and the fact that it is so clear that you can read a letter through it! - And no bits - but I might making gooseberry curd or jam which might have a few bits in it!

I also want to make mint and gooseberry jelly – wonderful with lamb as a sauce or for basting.

And of course I should mix up batches for summer pudding mixtures, and to freeze for winter use.

Off for a rest – well it is getting on for 10pm!


  1. i have to say if they are messing with your fence they are messing with the EGGS. after the egg is broke the chickens will eat it. i keep pad locks on my chicken house and yards. people esp. children are always looking for some mischief.jelly looks good blackberries should be ripe here next week. if it is cool enough i am going to make black berry jelly.

  2. Karen6:54 am

    If it was children messing why would they only break the one egg ? Sounds to me like the chicken eating them has a taste for them which they can get once they discover the taste and it is always the weaker one which is broken, didn't you say ?

    I just love your Blog. Love to see someone getting so much pleasure from the Good Life rather than consumerism.

  3. Karen7:30 am

    Sounds like you know your stuff about chickens but just wondered if this would help at all.

  4. Karen - Lovely to get your comments thank you.

    I only have three chickens, and it is Ginger that is doing the egg eating - I caught her at it.

    Thank you very much for the link - I have just looked at it.

    I am doing everything that is suggested on the site I have been doing correctly (thank goodness) the only thing I haven't get done is to worm them. I did take advice from the man I bought them from and he said that they didn't need doing.

    Perhaps I will try that though.

    Hi Patsy - I just love blackberry jam - which I think that you call jelly. Make sure you post a photo won't you.

  5. I was interested in your bit about gooseberries. I inherited a couple of bushes when we moved house and have no idea what to do with them. They rot fall off and become wasp fodder. When do I harvest them, and what then?

  6. Jabba

    Shock horror - they rot!

    Firstly if they are green ones pick them now before they fall off. If they are wasp fodder, it sounds like they are the wonderful sweet dessert goosberries. If so - lucky you, you can wash them, eat them like a dessert with cream or ice cream.

    There are so many things that you can cook or use them for. Jams, crumbles, pies, fools, how long have you got?

    So harvest the green ones now if you are living in a sunny area. They are not sweet so need cooking with sugar. If they are pinkish coloured then taste one and see - you could harvest them now if they are sweet and juicy, but they can be picked and cooked or frozen like the green ones. Whatever you do, don't leave for the wasps.


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