Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Frozen eggs and Fast Food

Eggs - Total to date: 186 - Day 87

KoKKo 62(86grms) 29.11.2005 Personal best
Adelaide 62 (76grms) 12.12 2005 Personal best
Ginger 62 (78grms) 14.12.2005 Personal best

Twas a really nice morning and no frost when I fed the chooks – they were already up and out at 7.30am eagerly awaiting breakfast as usual.

One egg from Adelaide was hot and sticky and waiting for me – that’s good as I had frozen the dozen yesterday and left us with none.

And for those of you curious to know what a dozen eggs look like frozen here they are - two to a bag. Now do your supermarket eggs look that colour I wonder? The photo has not been changed or touched up with any colour - these are what they actually look like! I had to put them in a bag and label them, as they are so orange and didn't want them getting muddled up with other foods!

They seem to be eating more layers mash at the moment since I have been weighing out the 100 grms a day each, they clear the lot and seem to be after more, so have been giving them more. I will have to check that they are not being greedy just in case. Fat chickens are not healthy chickens, and I don’t want that.

A trip to the dentist for a check up meant that we went into Watton another market town – just small and one straight road in the centre. Luckily it wasn’t market day – it is a nightmare to get through it then. It is bad enough most days with parking, but on market days – impossible.

Still it gave me the opportunity to go into a shop to get my main crop seed potatoes – they just so happened had everything but! So as I have the physio visit tomorrow in another little town I will get them there – hopefully.

Watton has a little Tesco store so we went in for milk and a bit of fruit. I was extremely tempted to pick up a pack or two of their potatoes to chit, they were cheaper than seed, but I could not remember what varieties were main crop – and they were not organic either, so that means their leaves would have been sprayed to kill them off before harvesting, and I am not sure how they store them.

I posted off yet more packets of seeds for swapsies and have two parcels of card craft things to pack too.

Whilst we were out (as I knew it would) a parcel came with some soap making ingredients which I swapped. I now have to read up about it and get some more things, then I will be making natural soaps, creams, shampoos, all sorts. My things I ordered through the Pharmacy had arrived too, so I will have my witches hat on when Pat is out bowling this week -I have to read up on it, but hopefully by Friday.

Just wish I could find someone close that has goats for goat milk. I asked on the post office and they didn’t know. I shall have to have a chat in Harrods, someone must know someone who has goats surely. I know a lady in Suffolk through a forum I use, who keeps goats, but hers have not been kidded so are not milkers.

We have just had lunch looking out onto the garden and on the girls enjoying the sunshine. They are scratching away in their pen at something. KoKKo is digging for England. She digs really deep holes – usually around the honeysuckle root and the rose root. As fast as I bury each night, she digs it out again. She really has a purpose. The other side are the paving slabs of the patio under the pergola so she’ll not get those up!

I am sorely tempted to go up the allotment – but am sore too and with physio tomorrow I had best not had I? So I am off to look up instructions on how to change the cartridges on my printer. (Before you all think that I am having a ‘blonde’ moment – I have to explain that I do not have and instruction book for this printer and of course I know how to physically change printer cartridges – the difficulty comes in pressing the right sequence of buttons so that it aligns itself and stops in a place so that you can actually get to them to do it!)

When I popped out to the garage I just could not resist getting a couple of mini sweet corn that I had thawed out for the girls. Adelaide snatched it out of my hand – whilst Ginger was just looking at it - I thought that she would gently peck at it – went running off with it being pursued by the others so hell bent on catching her that they didn’t even have time to squawk. Alas she downed it in one go! So I made a return trip with two more.

Ginger's idea of fast food - now you see it........

Did I hear someone say that I spoil them? There were two more eggs in the nest though – so they are worth it.

Now you don't...........Adelaide's idea of fast food!

Have another go Ginger .......... but be quick!

I just posted this and when I went back into my messages - Wizer had left a comment on yesterday's posting - how appropriate Wizer.

I know that you can freeze whites of eggs too and they are wonderful for meringues etc but I haven't tried freezing a version of omlettes the way you mentioned. I am not really into 'fast food'. I expect that you have to defrost it, then cook it - just as quick for me to whizz one up fresh - but I might just give it a try. Thanks for the comment - I love getting them. Actually Wizer, if it works out O.K. that is a good idea to make up some for my youngest son to put in his freezer. He can just get one out when he comes home tired from work and hey presto - great - what varieties do they do then?

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Mad - but true! I went up the allotment Friday afternoon

After lunch Pat went bowling again and I mentioned that I was going up the allotment – he said that I was mad!

The sky was dark, snow was forecast, and it was bitterly bitterly cold! But I layered on the clothes - got the spade, and all the composting stuff to go up there and set off full of optimism.

A good start was when the farm gates were open – so I only had one gate to negotiate.

The ground was still frozen so I managed to get the car up the muddy track without a problem.

I can’t tell you how good it felt to be out in the open air and up the allotment again. I opened the shed door – put on my old walking boots as I was digging and they are safer – loaded up the wheel barrow with spade, bag of composting stuff and camera, and set off down to the middle veggie part of my lottie.

The mission – to dig a couple of bean trenches. Boy was I cold, and the wind – well – it must have been straight from Siberia. You can see the ‘before’ and ‘after’ photos. It doesn’t look much – but the trenches are 25 feet long. The ground was frozen to about 4 inches or so deep then the rest was softer so I was able to cut out bits and they stayed on the spade. It was heavy going though. It was nice to see worms lower down – I never used to see any worms two years ago, so it is rewarding that they have returned – just proves that it is worth putting the manure on isn’t it?

Before photo

I dug out the first trench and then filled it with a layer of horse manure which had a smidgeon of hemp mixed with it, then I put on the sack of chicken litter and kitchen waste. I bent down and went a bit dizzy so thought I had better do something else before I started digging again.

I went for a walk down to Caterpillar Café to check on my broccoli and from what I saw I would be tempted to rename it The Pigeons Pantry in future. The wind had brought the top down of my tented home made cage, and I have been unable to sort it out by myself and Pat hasn’t fancied it – its been too cold on the odd times he has been up there with me when I have been dumping stuff.

Now that the pheasant shooting season is on – there have been an influx of pheasants and it looks like they and the pigeons have been nibbling the tops of some of the plants so there was nothing else for it but to have a go at fixing it on my own.

In the shed I have a sackful of the orange nylon stringy stuff that they use to tie the bales of straw. I save all the bits and tie them together. They are indestructable! I went and got some and started my task. Firstly I tied the side strutts and anchored them to the fence. Not pretty – but worked. Took a bit of tugging as it was heavy! I did the same to the other three – the bad weather had meant that the posts had leaned over and I couldn’t bang them in – hence the improvisation. The next bit was the hard bit. I had to lift a very heavy long length of wood, that anchored the netting which was wrapped around it! Took a bit of doing on my own. Then there was the little matter of wedging up the netting so that I was not trapped inside!

The fallen posts in the middle got redesigned – again I couldn’t bang them in on my own – so pushed or rather pulled on them so they went into the ground and put a milk bottle on the top so that it didn’t tear the netting – and you can see how I repeated the process.

At that point I got sidetracked – and started picking up all the dropped leaves. I filled up a sack full of them and ones that needed pulling off plants also. Some of the plants have started sprouting, a few of them were a bit deformed – so the chooks will have those, and a few weedy ones too. I left it looking tight and taunt and healthy. There is no way that the pheasants and the pigeons are going to rob me of those plants after all the hours spent on my hands and knees for days on end in the summer picking off caterpillars!

Geoff came up at that point and shouted out – you must be mad working up here in this weather! I told him that was exactly what Pat had said! (I didn't take any notice of his either!)

Whilst I was pulling up chickweed – no longer a chore – but a joy as it is a favourite of my chooks – Geoff came walking down my plot and through the gate and up to me – something that he rarely does. He just wanted a chat. He said that all he hears is that my ‘garden’ is the best up there so he came to see what all the fuss was about, and that he could now see that it was! (They call allotments gardens here in Norfolk). He went on to tell me that he and a friend knew of 20 people in the village who had cancer now – (that is 1% of the population.) Why is it elderly people always talk about who has just died or the latest doom and gloom.

I am always so grateful to be able to work my allotment – and it enforces everything I feel – who cares about aching bones, and other things, so long as I can get out and up the allotment - I am so very lucky and make sure that I treasure every moment as you never know what life has in store for you.

I decided to pack up soon after that – I had been up there for two and a half hours and was feeling pretty tired, but that second trench was beckoning me – and so too were the dark clouds and the spit and spots of the cold wet stuff.

En route I dug up some carrots – little ones I had left in too small to harvest – now lovely as you can see. I pulled up some leeks too, and couldn’t resist having a peek under the fleece at the January King cabbages – and look – not bad eh? The first ever cabbages I have grown! I tucked them back up for another day. I will do something better with them than just boil them. They deserve more than that after all they have been growing since early last summer!

The barrow was loaded but that trench still was calling – it was 3.30pm and the light was fading because of the darkening skies. I couldn’t resist it. Snow is forecast and some more bad days. I emptied out all the dead and rotten leaves from the brassica cage along the first trench – they will rot down nicely.

I then got out the spade and started on the trench. It was hard going, but I finished it! I just need to fill it with some horse manure and add the kitchen waste! I felt pretty achey and tired by the time I had finished, but elated at the work I had done. It’s a good feeling when you achieve something isn’t it?

I had to use the flash on the camera and 'lighten' it a bit as it was so dark and gloomy by the time I finished!

And so off I went home – the gates still open as the farmer and his hands were taking the pile of pig muck to the fields – and the slurry was being taken too – now that really did clear the tubes!

I passed the branch on the way home and stopped and managed, with difficulty, the squeeze the branch into the car. I had to break off more than I used, and it is the wrong sort of branch so will end up back up the allotment! C’est la vie!

The girls seem to enjoy it though!

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Making sausages on a frosty day - better than moping! P.S. added

So the day has finally arrived. Sausage making day. I still don’t feel up to par, but I was not going to let something like that put me off, I have been waiting too long to make sausages.

I bought some shoulder of pork in the village butcher’s and got him to mince it for me – when I am back to normal I will do it myself. I decided on getting 2kg – not too much for a first time effort, but enough to make all the messing about worth the while.

So here’s how it went.

Firstly there was the minced pork

To which I added some rusk and water

I mixed it all together with a spoon then divided it into four bowls and added spices to each and mixed well. Then I attached the sausage stuffing tube and mincer to my food mixer, pushed on the sausage skin and off I went merrily churning out sausages.

But I didn’t. It was a two person job, so Pat was called in to stuff the meat into the feeder and push it down – I tackled the other bit – which was not easy. I think that practice makes perfect!

You get air pockets sometimes in the process, also the meat doesn’t come through in a long even way like it does when you see them using a big industrial machine on T.V. programmes. Trying to make the links is not easy either as the meat keeps coming through the machine and so the bit you twist gets little bit of pork in it. I tried twisting them afterwards and they burst!

But here are my first efforts, and like a child with their first picture, I feel very pleased with them.

Next time it will be easier I am sure!

I have bagged them up and labelled them and leaving them overnight for the pork to absorb all the herbs and spices, then tomorrow will be the taste test. We are having one of each flavour and the rest will be frozen! So will let you know the end result.

Last night for tea we had some of my home made lemon curd on slices of home made crusty wholemeal bread and it tasted divine. After that we had a piece of summer fruit pie – a mixture of all the summer fruits I grew, with a few damsons my neighbour gave me – topped with flaky pastry and a big dollop of thick home made yoghurt! And as I savoured every morsel I the answer to the anonymous question was made all too clear. Hmmm yummy - This is the point

If I keep on like this I will have to start buying size 12 clothes as my size 10’s are feeling a bit tight around the middle! But you need a bit of cheerful food in the winter don’t you? Well I do.

The girls have laid me two more eggs so far today (3pm), the sun has come out and the frost has now thawed. The girls loved their fresh spinach and sorrel which I am glad that I picked yesterday after today’s weather.

I am off to sit down for a little while to rest my aching bones, before sorting out some seeds that I am swopping, ready to pack up and put in the post.

Tomorrow if all goes well, I will get some cream and be making butter – should be fun!


I have had a tip from Sandie to leave the cream until it is past its use by date so no butter making tomorrow after all - or today I should say!


You do not need fancy machines to make sausages. If you have a hand mincer - one of those metal ones you can use that with plastic tubes you can buy from a cook shop for about £2.30p I have been told. It is just that we are miles from any cook shop that I got the tubes for my food mixer.

I have also seen something like a plastic syringe that you can use to fill the sausage skins. When we cleaned out the mincer we actually pushed some of the minced pork into the last skin with a wooden spoon handle - but wouldn't fancy doing that with a lot though!

I am really looking forward to trying them out for lunch. If you want any info about it let me know and I can point you in the direction I went.

There are so many different sausages you can make and with fish as well as all sorts of meat. It has changed my way of thinking of them - from something not very interesting to serving meat as a meal in a different form. I will be doing a lot of experimenting in the future.

You will notice that there is a Cumberland type sausage ring - that is the first one, I couldn't do the links. I think that I might make 500grm sausages in future then just cut them in half for me and Pat. Hmm I can just see one now, nestling in a big Yorkshire pudding - and mustard mash on the side. Or maybe individual mini Cumberland style sausage in a Yorkshire pud - that would look nice even if we have company. If a pork sausage in batter is a Toad in the Hole, what would a rabbit and sage and onion sausage in batter be called. (I just thought of rabbit - and they eat sage, so sage and onion might be nice). Or pheasant sausage in batter - what can we call that - or chicken, or venison.

I reckon we can come up with some fancy names and recipes to grace any table - don't you?

Monday, January 16, 2006

Jo's Allotment

I have just received this from 'Jo' who got in touch with me last week after reading this blog.

Are't they the most wonderful compost bins? Wow and the plot name - I wish Father Christmas would get me one of those. Do you think if I put in my order and promise to be on my best behaviour he will get one for me?

Just to remind you what my home made ones look like!

This is one of them I will find photos of the others.

Not that I have an inferiority complex you understand - Jo has the benefit of youth on her side. LOL

Friday, January 13, 2006

Not a bad night's work!

With Pat out bowling I had time on my hands, so decided to make some leek and potato soup, with some celery and garlic.

I used 20 leeks that I pulled up yesterday, and our own spuds naturally, locally grown celery – I must buy some seeds and grow some this year, and garlic.

After I cooked it, I whizzed it with my twizzle stick which turned it into a Cream of Leek and all the rest soup. It made 17 cup fulls. I have frozen 13 of those and the rest we are having for lunch. – Not fattening.

I spent the rest of the evening preparing oranges and lemons for marmalade. The photo shows it in its first stage. Everything has been shredded (apart from the pips) and 9 pints of water have been added and it will be left to soak for 24 hours. I will cook it on Saturday and add whiskey to some of it – that makes it taste wicked!

The last thing I have been doing this afternoon is making yoghurt. I will let it cool overnight and strain it in the morning as we like it really thick and creamy. It saves a fortune making it yourself and is so much nicer as you can add all your own flavourings – fruits, muesli, nuts, dried fruit, honey, or just plain! I rather like it with a spoonful of home made boozy mincemeat now and again!

If you look closely you can just see the whey that has separated from the yoghurt, but I will strain the whole lot as you get even more out that way.

I have to be up early to make the bread tomorrow morning, or at least get it to its first rising, as we ate the last tonight. I have to be out by 9am for an appointment, but will hopefully be back in time to beat it up, get it to rise, and cooked in time for lunch.

We went to a town today and I got some plain bread flour to mix with the Doves wholemeal. The strong white bread flour wasn’t organic, like the Doves, but we can suffer that for 49p a bag. It had been recommended to me by other people.

So I am off to bed and feeling like I have achieved quite a lot. I have even done the stacks of washing up, and cleaned the cooker – well the top anyway.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Pumpkins, leeks, beans and rabbits

Totally given up trying to load photos - it just does not want to know!

I got a bit fed up with being indoors yesterday, so decided whatever the weather threw at me I was going to walk up to my allotment after lunch. The chickens were on their last cage-full of sorrel and spinach, so it was a good incentive to get me up there.

Right after lunching on home made chicken and vegetable curry was probably not the best time to go for a brisk walk – so I was a bit sluggish at first – but I was glad I made the effort.

The sun came out, and although it was cold, so long as you kept moving you were fine. Being out in the open air is just about the best tonic that I can think of for lifting the spirits. I hadn’t got 300yards before I met a couple whom I recognised from the other end of the village and I often used to see in the summer as they waited for a bus. (No bus stops here, you just know where to wait by the side of the road). They stopped for a chat and asked where I was going (dressed up as Worzel Gummidge it had to be either a fancy dress afternoon party or the allotment). They then asked what I was going up there for, and were surprised that (a) chickens ate spinach, and (b) that I even had chickens. They asked for how long, and laughed when I said 66 days today! So after a few minutes into my walk myself and the other couple walked off with grins on our faces.

Sods law, that both the 5 bar gates were open at the farm. When I am in the car I usually have to get out and open them, then drive through and close them again! The farmyard was caked in mud – well it wasn’t so much mud as you know what. They were moving the mountain of pig muck to the fields, and I think they were moving the slurry at the same time. Phew, it really clears the lungs! I was glad that I had my big walking boots on as I slithered to the big metal gate to the allotments.

As I closed it behind me I just stood there to take it all in. The sun shining, the wide expanse of allotments, some ploughed, some dug, some left, it made a lovely visual tapestry. When I saw the track, I was quite pleased that I had walked. You really need to be one of the tractor boys to go up the churned up track. I walk along the grassy bit in the middle and it was also sodden and slippery.

In the distance I saw movement and knew that it could only be Geoff, and sure enough I was. He had felt fed up indoors that morning too, so as soon as the sun came out he had gone up the allotment to potter. He showed me his shallots that he had set in 3” pots which were buried in horse manure in his cold frame. He pulled them up and out of the pots to show me the roots they had made. His sweet peas had been sown straight into horse manure mixed with some soil and they looked healthy too.

I just had to take some photos of his collapsed and rotting pumpkins and squash which he is going to use the seed from for this year. The texture and contrast I found fascinating, and I have been watching them collapse over the months.

He came up to look at my plot after I had mentioned something eating my broad beans – I still think that is pheasants but he does not agree. Still he came to inspect them and as we walked I felt a tinge of pride at to how neat and tidy my plot looks. His son has all the chickens at the end, and I was talking about them, and remarked that I was surprised to see all the cockerels still there and not in the freezer – but they are headed that way shortly apparently. He was surprised that I feed mine all the green stuff as he had told me not too as it upsets their stomach. I do not contradict his advice – of which I get a lot – I just go along with it and do my own thing if I happen to disagree – if you get my drift. That is not to say that any of his advice is not good – I just pick out the good bits that work for me.

We walked along down past the fruit cage – all neat and weeded, which the chooks would love to have a scratch around in – I am aching to take them up there as the cage is netted and enclosed and they could have great fun. Walking past the row of leeks, he remarked on their quality but said that I should have them up or they would get tough if they were not already. These were ones I put in in October and are not great big thick ones, so I thought they would be fine to leave for a while. As we passed the remaining rows of parsnips I mentioned the large size of the ones I had dug up and the fact that they were as creamy and soft as butter after cooking. Tender and True by name and by nature – no hard stringy cores in the middle of those.

When we passed Caterpillar Café he said that he had never seen a finer crop of purple sprouting broccoli and remarked that I would have so much I would have to give some away (which I do of everything I grow). I assured him he would be well catered for, but I want to freeze some too. With in the region of forty plants I will have loads I know, but the village shop might have some off me. If not I know some chickens who will! They are not yet sprouting, so maybe the end of January will be the time for those. You certainly have to be patient as a vegetable grower – some things take 9 months or so before you can crop them. The winds have been so fierce as always up there, that the cage has collapsed in the middle and only the two outer frames that I anchored with string to the fences are vertical. But I was not about to go and rectify it on my own in those winds! It is a two person job.

When we came to the broad beans, those plants that were not covered with cloches had been got at as you can see. I still feel that if a rabbit, rat, mouse, or deer had been at them there would be little remaining and they would look chewed rather than torn.

You can see how stony the ground is that I have to work with. I have picked up and cleared hundreds of flints but more just keep coming - I think they breed deep down in the soil!

There had been damage done by rabbits though – I recognise that easily. Some of my plants in the flower beds had had new shoots nibbled, whilst others had had their roots exposed, and some had been dug up and eaten leaving no trace. This used to be a flower! I shall have to try and remember next year what is missing! I was a bit surprised that they got in, as I took great care to bury the chicken wire below the ground and it had worked last year when I fenced off the other end. You can usually spot where they get in as they burrow under the fence, but I could see no evidence of that.

But Geoff spotted it. Opposite from us you could see tracks in Mike’s ploughed plot. A smooth beaten path – resembling a junction on the M25. One pathway heading towards the fields and another off to the next allotment disappearing at the unploughed plot.

It was difficult to see how they got in - with the grass behind the chicken wire. On closer inspection I saw the hole! As big as a foot ball. It looks like they had taken a pair of wire cutters to it! I actually do not know how the hole got there, and rabbits can’t chew through wire – at least not wire that is not rusty. However it happened I had to repair it. Geoff went off, and I cursed that I had not brought the keys to the pig hut. The reason being that last time I had to hammer it to get the door closed. I did not fancy carrying a hammer up to the allotment and back!

Luckily I had some bits of old chicken wire rolled up and tied outside by my builders pallets, so put a couple of those in the wheel barrow and some bits of tubing and other ‘straight’ things to use to stake the wire. Here is the result. I would love to see those bunnies faces when they all trot along their motorway for their evening meal only to stop and say. ‘Where did that hole go?’

It is amazing how quickly the time flies when you are working. When I packed up the wheel barrow and headed back, sliding across the corrugated iron sheets that I use for gates, and wedging them up tight to make sure the wind doesn’t blow them down, I got side tracked again. Walking past the row of leeks, I remembered Geoff’s advice and decided to heed it. So I pulled up some leeks. Some wouldn’t come out of the ground and I had no tools. It was as I got halfway along the row, it suddenly dawned on me that I would have to carry them all home! I then took ages shaking all the clods of soil off the roots! What with a black sack full of about 20 leeks and another crammed full with greens for the chickens, it was quite a bit to carry. I walked home like Father Christmas with a sack over each shoulder! I certainly noticed the hilly bits on the way home.

I forgot to mention – some of the weeds have started to grow and one of them was chick weed. Before I used to mutter under my breath as I yanked this spreading weed out. Yesterday was different and the old saying popped into my head – a weed is just a flower in the wrong place! Guess who just go crazy for chick weed – yes you got it – the girls. I gave them just a bit to see if they liked it and they were ecstatic. You would have thought it had some hidden properties in it the fuss they made! Hmmm I think it was chick weed!

Computer Problems & How to turn a tumbledown shed photo into a work of art.

Thought you might like to see what 'Mike' see link on the right, did to one of my photos. (He did email me afterwards to show me)

DOESN'T IT LOOK GREAT IN BLACK AND WHITE - WILD AND ROMANTIC! - Thought I'd better copywrite it as it looks like a winner of a Turner Prize to me. Mike is an 'ex professional photographer'. Don't think you can ever be an 'ex' one of those can you? Take a look at his web page. All his photos are stunning and enhanced with a lovely yellow shade that gives them really wonderful vivid colours. Brilliant

Here is my original in colour before it was tweaked so beautifully by Mike.

There is something magical and mysterious about black and white photos don't you think. You use your imagination more when you don't see the colours.

Must dash am late - back late this afternoon so will catch up with you then.

The girls have had a lovely afternoon of sunshine, scratching about for seeds, and the cage full of chickweed that I gave them today kept them amused for three whole hours.

They stopped only when I threw over the top of their pen, chopped up rinds of bacon. You should of seen them grab one and run off with it dangling from her mouth chased by the other two - totally ignoring the others in a pile. This pattern of behaviour was repeated time and again as each one picked up a rind and ran and ran - around and around the whole pen. Kept us amused too whilst we ate our eggs, bacon, and wedges lunch!

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

The following seed lists make shocking reading

I am a bit embarassed now that I have published my lists. It makes shocking reading doesn't it, and you must all think that I am stark staring mad!

In my defence can I plead the following?

I obviously had a very purple moment buying all those.

I think I got a bit carried away, and bought some, put them somewhere safe and couldn't find them.

I bought others on impulse and could not remember at the time if I had any of those at home.

I bought different varieties of the same veg/flower in case one failed.

One learns these things the hard way - but rather than condem me members of the jury, you can learn from my mistakes and think of it as my doing you all a service and not only saving you lots of time, but also a fortune.

I rest my case.

I could write a book on What not to do in the garden and up the allotment!

Here are the flower seeds - Phew I am all typed out now!

I also have another twelve packets that came with a calendar which are not listed!

* Denotes Moles seed packets which are bulk and come in ounces rather than seeds, so these will make dozens of packets.

*** These are gifts and not for swaps



Vegetable seed list - Update All my spare seeds gone now folks

This is the list of the veggies. The spread sheet would not download to this and when I copied it it went all over the place so here is a list of just the seed packets


Just another day in the pen - and a bit of a fright

Eggs - Total to date: 140 - Day 65

KoKKo 48(86grms) 29.11.2005 Personal best
Adelaide 46 (76grms) 12.12 2005 Personal best
Ginger 46 (78grms) 14.12.2005 Personal best

See what I mean about not being camera shy! I bent down to take a photo of them eating, and KoKKo and Adelaide came running over and were so close and jostling to be the 'star' of the photograph that I thought they would grab the camera off me and make a run for it. Ginger is like me camera shy!

Whilst out there some seagulls came flying over - high in the sky and squarking. The girls basic instinct took over, (their predators used to be eagles and hawks). They closed ranks, stood motionless, and concentrated their full attention at the sky; heads cocked listening intently, and quietly discussing what it was that was up there making all the noise, ready to make a dash for cover into their run. After deciding that nothing was going to swoop down and carry them off, they returned to the serious matter of eating.

What was that! Gave me a bit of a scare that did, great great grandma warned me of what could happen if you don't check to see what is overhead. Could be that the sky was falling in!

I don't know why you panic, they wounldn't come near us with old mother hen in the pen. By the way, I forgot to ask when I got up this morning, 'Does my bum look big in this?'

Changing the subject - you will remember the other day that I spent ages sorting out all my seeds and making spreadsheets of the vegetables; varieties, sowing times, best before date, seed supplier, and number of seeds if the packet was open. Well this is the result.

I used the cut off backs of Christmas cards for the index cards, and I wrote on each card what was in each section. (If I knew at the time that I was going to post it on here, I would of course done it in my Sunday best writing!)

I did the same for my flower seeds. It was an interesting exercise tracking down all the packets that I found here and there, and I was staggered to find that I had 70+ viable packets of vegetable seeds! Would you like to see a list? I will see if I can download a spreadsheet to here. There are still some seeds I need too, like leeks, spring onions, pumpkins, purple sprouting broccoli (I know if I hadn't have sown the whole packet of seeds last year and given so many seedlings away, I wouldn't need to buy more seed!

I will publish this and see if I can put the list on another page.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Photos I took up the lottie today

Here comes the rain

Send in the clouds

Here comes the rain again

Horsey Hemp - Lovely stuff

Lichen on gooseberry bushes

Goosberry bush

I awoke to a dull grim day - but how did it turn out?

Eggs - Total to date: 127 - Day 58

KoKKo 43(86grms) 29.11.2005 Personal best
Adelaide 42 (76grms) 12.12 2005 Personal best
Ginger 42 (78grms) 14.12.2005 Personal best

What a dull gloomy day I woke up to. It was freezing outside when I went to feed the girls, and as usual their brrkk brrkk brrkking greeting cheered me up straight away.

I left them to their breakfast whilst I had mine, and although the weather looked grim with sleet forecast, I decided to go up the allotment to get them some fresh greens. Then I thought I might as well take up the garden waste and the sack of chicken and kitchen waste whilst I was there.

It was even colder up the lottie in the wide open spaces, and I was glad that I had on two pairs of trousers, two jumpers, a fleece and a thick puffa jacket that was once Pat’s. Believe me I needed it. Thick gloves on underneath the man size rubber gloves too.

But as usual, my spirits soared as soon as I was through the farm gate. Not a soul about as usual, but that suited me fine. The pigs had just been cleared out as there was a strong smell of pig muck wafting my way as the wind was coming from the east.

After opening the shed, for no particular reason and loading up the wheel barrow, I thought that I might as well have a go at digging another trench for the runner beans, and then I needn’t cart the heaviest sack of waste down to the compost bin through one of my corrugated iron ‘gates’. So I trundled down right to the very bottom giant compost bin next to the field, which I use for hard to compost stuff or perennial weeds, avoiding the ‘gates’. I didn’t linger long at the bottom as it was really blowing a gale, and I was soon feeling cold.

Digging the trench was not as hard as it was when the ground was frozen. It was soft and like slicing through chocolate cake. I never used to pay much attention when countless television presenters, and authors of gardening books emphasise incorporating compost and manure to the soil. Growing flowers and shrubs in the gardens I have had, has been achieved by just adding spent compost, mushroom compost, blood fish and bone etc. Since having my allotment, and having an accessible supply of manure, which I have made the most of, I have really noticed the difference in my soil. It has gone from being as hard as concrete, with heavy clay, flint stones, and not a sign of worms, to a much lighter soil, with lots of worms, and a mole, but I still have the stones. It really sunk in today when I was digging the deep trench which was much easier going than when I dug the first one last year.

It is amazing that two big sacks of waste do not make much of an impression in the new trench! The idea is to fill them up over the winter and two more that I need to dig in the middle fenced off plot for more climbing beans.

I gave myself a well earned rest and took a walk up to the top of the allotments, to see the chickens.

The snow covered junk on my last visit up there, had lost its magical appeal so too the old shed!

I would love to have some more chickens – bantams to be precise – but that remains a secret at the moment. They might just arrive one day in the summer when I get my next Eglu which will be located up there. Seeing the chickens up just made me want them all the more!

I reckon these are for the pot - they are all cockerells
Here are a couple of pictures of just a few.

The sun had come out earlier whilst I was digging and it wonderful to be out in the fresh air and in the sun – and the chickens obviously felt the same way too.

Once back on my plot I was reluctant to go home and decided to stay and enjoy the sunshine whilst it lasted, so I walked down to take some photos, and stopped when I saw that something has started to eat my broad beans. Having had chickens now, I recognised the pattern of a big bird feeding. They rip off a piece, and often drop it on the floor and rip off another, only eating the dropped piece when the other supply had run out. So I figure that a pheasant or pheasants had attacked them. There have been quite a number of them around lately, but I had not seen them eat broad beans before, in fact once they had grown they seemed to be safe. Maybe the birds just pulled off bits and spat them out leaving all the pieces on the ground.

I decided to cover them up with my old cloches. The plants might get a bit squashed if they grow taller, but it is better than no plants at all. I did not have enough for both rows, but I should at least be able to save some of them.

The clouds started to gather so I figured that I would just have time to prune down to the ground my autumn fruiting raspberries. A few minutes later A turned up with a car full of sacks full of horse manure and hemp mixed. I now have a lovely brimming bin full. It smelt sweet and warm, and not unpleasant in the slightest.

The sky was grey and it was getting colder so I pruned the rest of the raspberries which took me another half an hour, and walking back I notice the tops of some of the parsnips appearing through the top of the soil – the leaves having died back over winter. I dug some of – and due to our stony ground some of them were distorted. You can judge the size of them as they are pictured in the wheelbarrow with my lady spade. The variety is an organic Tender and True and they were ones that I literally just ‘threw in’ as I had bought a spare packet in case the other two didn’t germinate, and I had read that parsnip seed needs to be fresh to germinate so it wasn’t worth saving it for this year. - It was September when I did that! It was getting even darker by then so I went to one of my raised beds and pulled up some sorrel and spinach leaves and got picked a carrier bag crammed full to last the chickens over the weekend - as bad weather is forecast. I also pulled up some leeks too. Looks like I will be making different versions of parsnip soup tomorrow.

I discovered my missing box of vegetable seeds – I just knew that I had some more seeds somewhere. They were underneath the pile of cloches which were stored on top of the cupboard – and old wardrobe – in the shed. The shed door would not shut as a strip of wood in the frame had swollen. I got out a hammer to bash the wood, and then the door. In order to get it to close I had to hammer the door along its edge at an angle and I managed to hit my head with the hammer as I raised it to give the door a good whack – my head got a good whack instead! I saw stars, but was distracted by the task of getting the door closed and locked. Then by the discovery of a mole hill beside the concrete slabs in front of the shed; then by the opening and closing of gates and getting home before the rain. I was further distracted by watching the girls antics and they attacked with gusto a quartered pumpkin, and then a cage full of the lovely fresh leaves that I had picked.

I had just got in when Pat arrived home from golf – and it was not until later this afternoon that I wondered why I had a thumping head ache, and a lump on my head! It was only after I sat down to relax after lunch and a shower that it hit me!

But I have had such a wonderful time in the open air and a bump on the head is a small price to pay. Just as Pat came home the heavens opened and it has rained ever since, so I made the right decision!