Thursday, August 10, 2006

My horoscope today said ‘rest and solitude and time spent indoors’ was the order of the day today. So I took that advice - almost!

Up the allotment early to just chill out with the girls for half an hour before breakfast – couldn’t miss my chicken ‘fix’. What a great way to start the day – three happy chickens, clamouring at the door waiting to see me (or am I kidding myself and they just want to get out and run free). If the latter is the case, they are never in any hurry, and are happy to hang around at my feet to watch what I am up to, often tripping me up.

I have to call them to follow me out into allotment then off they dash to their favourite spot – the damp manure mulched rhubarb and gooseberry bed for their early morning scratching – I couldn’t dally for long watching them, as breakfast called.

My ‘lazy’ day at home as usual turned into a busy one. The bantams called out to tell me that they had laid eggs. Dilly is back laying, Pumpkin hasn’t stopped and Freckles is still shedding feathers and broody, but she doesn’t attack me, as Dilly used too, she just resigns herself to being lifted out in the pen, to eat and drink and stretch her legs.

Here is the basket full of runner beans that I picked yesterday, minus ones that we had for lunch. I needed to get these into the freezer asap.

Out came my trusty old preserving to pan to put them in and blanch them in boiling water for 4 minutes. If I had been able to freeze them as soon as I had picked them yesterday, then I needn’t have bothered to blanch them!

I had a sink full of freezing iced water ready to tip them into after straining, and once cooled they were put into my now famous Kefalonia bowl in layers separated with kitchen paper to dry them off. I love the way they change colour once they have been blanched and cooled - so appetising.

They were then vacuum packed into long bags, ideal for the job, each containing 250grms, and put straight into the freezer.

I don't know how I managed managed without this machine. No more freezer bags with the beans curled up inside - or sore fingers from twisting those wretched wire ties.

Because the air is sucked out of the bag, I can actually see what is in it - whereas before all the freezer bags ended up looking the same and any moisture in the air inside made it a guessing game. In the end we had to colour code thing with coloured wire ties, as well as having them seperated into vegetable and meat bags. They take up a lot less room so I am getting so much more in the freezer, as you can see, the runner beans lie quite flat.

It is a nice feeling to get the first batch of beans in ready for winter. I will no doubt be sick of the sight of them after doing this on almost a daily basis for the next few weeks!

I made bread next, and fitted in other boring jobs, and before I knew it, it was time for lunch – Salmon fillet with baked summer vegetables – new potatoes, tomatoes, yellow courgettes in slices that looked like peaches, green climbing beans, yellow haricot dwarf beans, onions red and white, a few fresh herbs and a glug of olive oil, all arranged prettily in one dish – job done! Not much to wash up that way.

Dentist after lunch, then up the allotment on the way home to put the girls back in their secure run for the night.

I think that was the best bit of the day – climbing over the ‘gates’ calling the ‘girls’ and they rushing out to meet me. Good job they do, as I would have a dickens of a job finding them, as they love dozing off under the big leaves in the courgette and pumpkin patches, or under the rhubarb leaves.
I gave them a stroke and then felt like Pied Piper as they ran along behind me back to the meadow, and then straight into the run. I don’t even have to call them or persuade them – they just seem to know!

The man living in the back of beyond in a lovely thatched roof little cottage in the most picturesque situation you could think of – with his scruffy wood yard next to it – is about to deliver the fencing. I hope that he gets here quicker than the time that it took me to find him!


  1. the rock was one that my sister had in arizona, it is made out of the same stuff the used to use for egg cartoons. i was just having fun with my sister. but the garden was mine. i wanted you to see i wasn't all talk about gardens. your beans with the red blooms are ch. trail of tears beans right? i am going to see if i can find a place in the states that sells that seed, if i do i am going to order it and plant them around my porch for the flowers.

  2. I guess your chickens don't eat your vegetables then? We've got four chickens that we keep in a run in our backgarden and but I haven't let them out in case they eat everything in sight! Have they had their wings clipped as well?

  3. Oh you are lucky I love beans and all ours died!


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