Thursday, September 07, 2006

A bit of my allotment history for Dot in the USA

The Allotment – The Site – A little bit of History.

The land is owned by a charitable trust – our particular site was bequeathed in the Will of a gentleman and founded in 1708 – how’s that for a bit of history, and as I work up there, I often find myself wondering what sort of gentleman he was, and wondering who has worked the land over the years, although they have not always been used as allotment plots but would have probably been let to farmers.

‘Land containing 2 acres 2 roods 22 perches of thereabouts’ and was ‘subject to the tithe redemption annuity of £2.4s.10d. and now let as allotments at a total yearly rent of £8.9s.2d.’ and ‘with a yearly rent paid by the Eastern Electricity Board of 3/- for maintaining a pole of the above land’.

The above deeds were copied in 1957, but I do not know if the amounts of money are for that date or earlier. I know that in 1931 it was a field of allotments - as some of the men on their have told me all about their fathers and grandfathers having them.

It seems that the land has been used as allotments for at least 115 years, and there were others in the fields behind us as the 'new' cemetary outside the village used to be allotments!

Our field is 4.5 acres now, and has 18 plots - some of them have been subdivided, but only a few.

The rents have gone up a bit since then – but that is the only change. Indeed the abovementioned electricity pole is still there today, and is the favourite spot for pigeons and other birds to perch, waiting for the opportunity to pounce and create havoc as soon as I go home, if they get the chance.

My particular piece of heaven is set in the middle of the field and is a quarter of an acre strip.

I know that it has had lots of uses in the past - again from those whose relatives leased it over the years.

I have 'inherited' a delapidated old pig shed made out of rusting painted courugated sheets of iron. It has the remains of the concrete base of the pen too - the edges of which serve to trip me up constantly!

There used to be huge green houses on the site too - they were 'pushed over' and burnt - that explains the odd bits of glass that find their way to the surface.

One of the men remembers his grandfather keeping sheds full of rabbits on my plot too, which were raised for food of course.

And whilst I am very 'particular' about everything I do on my plot - trying to be totally organic - an old chap laughed at me when I told him at the time of clearing all the rubbish off the plot, that if I had seen what had been burnt on it over the past years (thankfully at least 8-10 years prior to me that I know of) tyres, and junk of all sorts, then I wouldn't be so fussy.

That might have explained why there was no evidence of worms three years ago when I took on the lease.

Thankfully with literally tons of pig muck that I have put on thye plot and dug in, the worms are now in abundance!

Well that's a short bit of history - and I hope that it was of interest to you.

The allotment is approximately one mile from where I live - on the outskirts of the village.

The annual rent has been £8 a year paid in arrears since I have had it - but next year it will be £10 per plot in arrears.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Good morning

An early morning quick post as we have to be out early today - but back later.

Over the weekend Haruko and I made some more face and body cream. Haruko hadn't made any before, so I thought it would be nice if she had a trial run before she made it herself (she has all the ingredients now).

Whilst baby had a nap for an hour, we made one using a different recipe with almond oil, beeswax and cocoanut oil, and essential oils.

This one turned out very white and a thicker cream. You need to put 50 drops of essential oils into the 210g mix, so we made sure that 30 of those drops were lavender, and it really smells wonderful - not too strong - and is lovely to put on your face as well as anywhere else, but on one's face at night before going to sleep, you drift off relaxed with the aromo of lavender flowers reminding you of lovely hot summer days.

I am really into making cream now and am experimenting with all different combinations. Basically so long as the ingredients are all pure and known for being good for the skin, they are fine with me.

I used to use avocado oil on my face - a tip I got whilst staying on a fruit farm a number of years ago whilst on a trip to Australia - it really worked, so next time I am going to use that in the mix too.

Haruko has a recipe that one of her Japanese friends gave her for making a cake. It used 7 eggs, honey, water, and a little flour. We did have the quantity. It invovled whisking the eggs and flour for ten minutes on fast speed, and the result was the lightest mixture that I have ever seen - and turned out to be the lightest sponge cake ever!

I made a big apple and blackberry crumble with an oat topping, so we exchanged some of each, to try at our respective homes.


Regarding the tomatoes - the weather has been horrendous veering from drought and high temperatures earlier on in the summer - to high winds now, heavy prolonged rain, and hailstorms.

I took all the leaves off the plants to (a) make them lighter as they kept being blown down, and (b) to get what little sun that we might get, to ripen them. Whether it was the right thing to do, I do not know, but it was the only way I could think of of saving the crop. That or picking them green.

Patsy I have been visiting your site and reading all your posts - the chooks are looking great - and like you I was saddened to learn of the death of Steve Irwin.

I still can't leave posts on your site - it is something to do with the change over to beta blogger - wish I had never done it now - it is a real pain. Just wanted you to know that I left a really long comment, and went back four times to try and log it, but it wouldn't let me.

I know that some people are having the same trouble with mine - hope they soon sort it out.

Have a good day everyone, and will be back after tomorrow's trip up the allotment.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Anybody missed me over the weekend then?

Have you been suffering withdrawal symptoms – I know that I have, with just the trips up the allotment to let the chickens out and then back to put them away – and also to harvest veggies.

I couldn’t even get there this morning as I needed to go to town which took up that.

After lunch though, the sun came out and I was up that allotment as fast as I could.

Stanley was coming down the track laden down with to carrier bags full of potatoes really wonderful ones, and HUGE. More of his early crop. He and his son have all the posh gear – tractors, super duper posh huge rotorvator and all the gadgets. They even have a potato extractor.

The variety is Aran Pilot and they grow them every year – so I might give them a go next year. They grow such long rows of them too and have so many potatoes rows left. Nice to sit on a tractor and let it do the work for you – I could do with some of that!

My plot looks nice and neat though, and wouldn’t you know it – the rabbits have somehow got in. Grrrrr. I took a photo last week of one of the flower beds that I weeded, and there was a 3ft tall sunflower – today it has gone – eaten down to the ground. Why oh why oh why for goodness sake.

They have dug ‘test’ tunnels in my newly prepared and sown grass paths – to think that I took all that time raking, treading, sowing and raking again to get them flat – only to have pesky rabbits dig holes all over them.

So one of my first jobs was to look for clues to see where they are getting in under the fence. It was a bit difficult to spot, but looking over to the neighbouring plot I saw a bunny roadway, and when I scrabbled around in the grass found where they had broken through – so had to use some of my wired plastic greenhouse shelves to repair it. For good measure I used five and went along the only gap in an otherwise, double wired fence. It took ages.

There is a new plan of action for next year. John and Stanley have an area which they have rabbit proofed for things they needed to protect. John made sections of wooden frames with chicken wire tacked to them – then just put in posts to support them. These are easily removed when he wants to get the tractor out to plough it all up when the crop is done.

Geoff showed me ones that he is making out of an old shed that he had – if only we hadn’t dumped all those fence panels – but you can’t keep collecting junk can you? Plus getting it up there was a big problem.

So – now that I have sectioned off into beds with grass paths the bottom second section of the plot, I am going to do the same up the vegetable end once the potatoes are dug up – or sooner if I can.

Then I can make smaller frames to fit each bed depending on what I am growing in it. I now just have to work out if I can do that with some builders’ pallets I have or whether I need to buy some timber. I can’t make the sections too heavy or I shall not be able to carry or move them myself. – A winter project I think.

I mowed the lawns again, gradually decreasing the height of the mower blade, but it was still too wet underneath to get it down to a No3. hair cut which I like. It went on strike before I could do the big area where we park our cars, but that doesn’t look too long, so it can wait another day or so.

As usual, I did some hand weeding and a bit of light rotorvating to get rid of the surface weeds, with my little tiller, so not heavy on the soil.

I picked more tomatoes – ripe and semi ripe to bake, puree and freeze for winter. the weeds are appearing again, and the crop doesn't look perfect, but I am getting lots off the plants, and those that are not up to scratch are fed to the chooks.

I also picked another pound of blackberries – which will be mixed with pureed apples which I cooked this morning, and I will freeze that until I decide whether to turn it into jam or pie and crumble fillings, again for the winter.

I make all this sound easy, but it some of it was very hard work and I was up there nearly four hours again – and I have the aches and pains to prove it.

I only took two photoes as I was too busy working and it clouded over and got quite black.

This one of the girls when I was shutting them in for the night. And the other the tomatoes netting - which will soon be coming down, and the area split up with grass paths.

Geoff turned up at 5.30pm and that is when he talked about the rabbit proof sections – a bit like a rabbit run.

I think that changes are afoot up the field, as apparently there was an inspection of the plots last week by the trustees and they were rather disappointed at the way so many of the plots have been neglected. Apparently there is a waiting list now, so hopefully those people with the plots full of weeds and just left rather than worked or maintained, might have a few words spoken in their ear. Let’s hope so.

Well that’s it for today – probably as bit of a let down for you all – out tomorrow so no chance to work on the plot – but hopefully Wednesday I will be able to, and not be under so much pressure, so will be able to take some more photos.

How many hours do you think that I have spent up my allotment so far this season.

Any guesses?

Friday, September 01, 2006

Just for Patsy - not a lot of news.

I didn't do anything up the allotment yesterday, apart from let the chickens free range, collect the eggs and put them away late afternoon - torrential rain again, as it is today also and forecast for many days yet to come.

In my defence for missing yesterdays post (LOL) I did do two pages on Wednesday. At the time I thought I should have saved one for the next day - the flower photos - but hey ho I decided to post them both in case I was too busy to get on here - and I was.

I am really touched that so many of you look at my blog everyday and miss me when I am not here, but I figured if it was wasn't allotment related it wasn't worth talking here is what you missed........boring LOL

After the chicken run, I had to drive to another village to get the layers mash as I am nearly out of it for the chooks, as we have family staying from today, so probably won't get a chance to go over the weekend.

I asked about organic chicken layers mash for them, and the cost has gone up astronomically to £11.25 a sack. The GM free, no added chemicals etc, is £5.55 a sack. As they feed on organic vegetation, and free range, I thought that it doesn't matter too much if the food isn't 100% organic, so long as there is nothing added apart from grit.

Another drive home trough puddles and flooded lanes. I then decided to go and look at a vehicle at a place that was recommended to me. Another magical mystery tour of this county. Took me a couple of hours but didn't find it. Now I am not a dumb blonde and I have a good sense of direction usually - but the instructions were rather vague - honestly. So when I got home (still before Pat was back from golf) I phoned up the chap who recommended them and got the correct and precise directions, then Pat and I went after lunch - still in the rain.

The reason that I could not see or find the place is because it is not advertised as a business i.e. it doesn't have a big sign up saying Landrover Dealer, or Ford Dealer or whatever. It just has a very little sign saying the name of the farm and that is hard to see in torrential rain. A lot of businesses are like that in the rural area where I live. Tucked out of the way, in barns - not on big industrial estates, or any industrial estates most times.

So I fell in love with one particular vehicle - had a test drive - great, really comfortable - but - and there always is one - no air bags.

So after talking to sensible grown up son, who doesn't have an impulsive head on him as far as I am concerned - told me that he was not comfortable with me driving around without an air bag. Sods law, that if I didn't have one, I would need it, and that my fragile neck and bones could not stand another car crash. (I was in one in 1992, not my fault, not that it makes any difference, an accident is an accident, but it did do some long lasting damage.) So with my sensible but disappointed head back on, I had to say 'no' and keep my little air-bagged baby for a while longer - or maybe for ever! LOL

My son said that I sounded very disappointed and that he was sorry if he put me off the car - but I just told him, that when you get older, the roles reverse now and again, so sometimes I need someone who will give me an honest opinion about something, whatever it is, instead of someone saying - oh yes it's lovely, go for it. I like straight talking, much better; you know where you stand then - even if it is not always what you want to hear, whatever the subject.

I forgot to mention that on the way back from getting the chicken food I saw a box of windfall apples outside a house with a help yourself sign. I did just that and took enough to make some more jam. So the evening was spent peeling those apples and ones I got over the weekend, and this is the result.

Opps will need to edit the photo - typo error - but not now - too much to do!

They need some pretty hats made out of Sandie's material, but I need to get into town to buy some pinking shears - they also need pretty labels too, it will make all the difference. The tall jar in the middle which is not quite full is for family - we have to do the taste test after all.

A number of years ago, on my second trip to Australia when I couried cricket tours, (which my youngest son came with me on to keep me company,) I heard a CD by 'Beautful South' we were in a car driving outside Perth. One of the chaps said at the time, now that you have heard this for the first time, you will always remember this trip.

Well, at last we have speakers for our old music system, and I put on Beautiful South, on Wednesday night when Pat was out bowling, and re-lived a wonderful trip. As the cd's were still in the machine, Pat put it on last night whilst I was jam making, nice and lound so that I could hear it above the noise of the extractor fan (we live in a detached place so it doesn't disturb anyone, and it wasn't loud enough to make the windows rattle).

So there I was, with Sandie's chicken apron on, stirring a huge pan of apples and blackberries, sugar and spice, singing away at the top of my voice to the disc. It sure was fun, and passed the time until 'setting point' was reached.

Eldest son has started to put some of my little video tapes onto discs for me, and we looked at the two he had done, when Pat and I spent three months in Australia - our last trip.

It was so nice to watch and remember. We were amazed the difference it made to actually see and hear some of the places we visited and stayed at. Looking forward to the others being coverted to dvd's now.

So that was my day Patsy - not very interesting. Today will be even duller at first, blog wise. Cleaning, washing floors, as baby will be crawling everywhere, and dentist.

Then the family will be here and the fun begins.

So probably not much blogger news over the weekend - especially with the non stop rain forecast.

Have a good weekend all of you - and rest assured I will be back on Monday - if not sooner.

Thanks so much for 'missing' me if I have a day off.