This blog is mainly a rambling kind of diary of the transition from smallholderwannabe to smallholder.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Five a Day

I've just read this article on getting our five a day and thought it might be of interest:

I think we've all probably thought of the various ways they suggest but they have links in the article to growing your own and recipes for gluts too so I thought it might be interesting.

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Friday, March 15, 2013

Hens, mainly

Update on the last post: I've still got 6 of the 10 spring onions in my bunch doing well after almost 4 weeks so I count this as a success.

It has been a funny old week.  One evening we forgot to bring the hens' water in and everything was frozen absolutely solid in the morning.  It is no fun trying to thaw out a 2 gallon icecube with 5 other smaller icecubes (plus the rabbits' water bottle) while trying not to be late for school.  We didn't make that mistake a second time! Last night was warmer so we didn't have this rigmarole this morning and it seemed soooo much easier to get ready for school.  But the weather forecast for next week is cold again : (   I'm just hoping that the forecast is a couple of degrees out this far in advance.

 It is so good to have it light enough in the evenings to be able to see the hens when I get in from school.  I enjoy watching them as I'm sure you've gathered by now. However, when we were away at half term, the main group of layers took against the hen that is bottom of the pecking order.  They had all ganged up on her and pulled most of her feathers out and stopped her getting to the food and water.  My husband made their run and constructed it so that you can section off a strip across it.  That way, the hen that is taken out of the flock is safe but is still there to see and be seen and hopefully remains part of the flock.  She has a little box on end for shelter and her own food and water and her feathers are now starting to grow back.  After dark, we put her back in the house with the others for warmth and take her back out first thing in the morning. The first week she was on her own, when I tossed in some mixed corn, she was frightened to go and eat it if it fell near to the dividing wire partition.  I didn't like seeing her that frightened of the others.  Now she will go and eat it if the others are not close by.  She doesn't seem ill in any way and it has been almost four weeks now so I don't understand why this happened.  If I can't reintegrate her, once fully feathered, then I will have a Problem deciding what to do with her.  I'd wondered about taking out the two that are top of the pecking order for a bit so that the order is all upset and seeing if that helped.  We'll see.

Most of the hens are picking up on the number of eggs they are laying per week except for the second oldest pair, who are Warrens, and they have laid just one egg between them this year.  I still check their nest box every day, just in case, but I'm not holding out much hope.  I think they have probably already laid all the eggs they have to lay in their lifetime - just my pets now and the sale of eggs from the others helps towards feeding them.


Friday, March 08, 2013

Spring onions in the spring

I was looking up something on YouTube a few weeks ago and one of the extras that appeared at the side was an article on extending the life of spring onions.  These extras are usually something vaguely associated with whatever you are looking for, which in this case was music, so what spring onions have to do with music totally escapes me.  But I was intrigued so I clicked on it to find out what it was about.

Apparently, if you use the green part of the spring onion and then pop the white part with the root still attached into a cup of water, the green part keeps on growing again. 

So when I got a bunch of spring onions (reduced, of course) I thought I would give it a go. I very rarely indulge in spring onions because my husband is convinced that they give him indigestion and so won't eat them.  One bunch is too big for me to get through on my own before they go off and I do much prefer the green part to the white.

And it works!  I put the bunch into a mug of water and keep snipping off a bit of the green to add to every salad and the bunch is still fresh as the proverbial daisy about six weeks later and lots more still to eat (and grow).  I've also tried doing what the Youtube clip said and cutting off the green part and just putting the white into water and that grew back several times although not as big as it originally was. 

So now I can buy a reduced bunch and know that I'll get more than my money's worth. So thank you to YouTube for a weird search result that has turned out great : )

(I don't usually grow them because I can't eat them fast enough on my own even if I just use cheapie Lidl packet of seeds.)

You may well all have known how to keep a bunch of spring onions going but this was news to me.


Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Work and holidays, holidays and work

We went away for half term to the farm where we stayed last February half term. I wasn't sure about going because I've damaged my knee and I knew that I wouldn't be able to do much of anything.  But we went and I'm so glad that we did.

It kept trying to snow but it never really came to anything and at least there was no rain at all.  On one day, the sun shone in a cloudless sky and it was more like summer than February.  There was a woodburner and plenty of wood so we were kept luxuriously warm.

Each day we'd get up in a leisurely way.  Just not having an alarm clock was a treat in itself : )  We'd potter and then have an early lunch and go out for a (short) drive to a bit of moorland with a grand view and I'd sit in the car with a blanket and my book and my husband would go for a bit of a walk.  Then we'd have a cuppa from the flask and read for a bit, look at the view and then go back when it started to get dark.  Usually we'd only have seen a small handful of cars and probably would not have spoken to any humans, just some sheep.  We lead a busy life and deal with people all day, every day so it is a real treat to be antisocial for a week and just be on our own.  Longer than a week and I'd be wanting to see people but a week is just long enough to be a tonic.  The clean air does wonders for my husband's asthma, too.

At the moment I can't stand for very long to bake or cook (or do anything else for that matter) but I wanted to bring something nice and homemade to have with our afternoon cuppas so I made a small tray of flapjack the night before we went.  I don't know what I did wrong but we couldn't get it out of the tray.  So we just took the whole tray with us and decided to deal with the problem later.  Once there, we managed to lever out enough chunks to go with several cuppas and then scraped out the rest as crumbs which got put into a plastic tub.  We went to the Aldi in the next town and got a few bits of shopping to eat for the week and also had a small tub of Aldi icecream which was on offer.  Those flapjack crumbs were really lovely with the icecream and a spoonful of homemade jam. 

The farm is just 20 acres and they have lots of animals so I'm in my element.  This time there were 8 assorted sizes of horses and ponies, 2 donkeys, 3 llamas, 1 alpaca, 2 English goats and a flock of various breeds of sheep,. There were also 3 Brecon Buff geese (very pretty!), umpteen ducks from little call ducks to big Aylesbury with lots of mallard crosses and half a dozen flocks of hens of all types all wandering round following their own cockerel.  They have just acquired a little flock of 6 ex-batts which are so obviously enjoying their freedom and are so curious and follow you around to see what you are doing - just because they can. They were also given some golden Sebright bantams and three of the chicks have turned out to be cockerels.  I found it strange how loud their voices were in comparison to the other normal size cockerels and how far the cockadoodledoo carried across the farm.  They walk very upright and have large tails for their size but they are very small compared to even a Warren.  The females were not old enough to lay so I didn't see an egg but they must be tiny. I've "borrowed" these photos off a website so you can see what I'm talking about

Customer Image by Tom

On the day we came home, we called into Knighton where there was a craft and produce fair.  I gulped at the cost of the baked goods and jams/chutneys.  I was chatting to an older lady who had brought her knitting to do as she minded her and her daughter's stall. We got chatting about the socks she was knitting and she showed me the ones she was wearing.  She took my address and yesterday I got an envelope containing a copy of the pattern she uses (4 needles) and a copy of the one her daughter prefers to use (2 needles) and a couple of others as well as a card.  What a lovely envelope of goodies to receive.  She was so pleased that somebody was taking an interest in her knitting and just wanted to spread the word.  This lady also said that handknitted cotton socks are much warmer in the winter so I'll have to look out for some sock yarn on offer.  I don't have any shops round here that sell knitting yarn other than one charity shop that sells cheapo baby yarn.  Anybody recommend a good mail order company for yarn?

So now we're back with our noses to the grindstone again.  However, more treats are in store: we're going round for tea tonight to our son's house so I'll get to play (gently and from a sitting position on a chair) with my little grandson and granddaughter : )

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