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

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Leaves and pumpkins

We are busy collecting leaves again as we have done each autumn for several years.  Since the hens have scratched up all the grass in their half of my garden, we put down leaves in their runs.  We have very heavy clay soil and when it rains, the ground turns into a quagmire.  It rained very heavily all day recently and when I went out to the hens in the afternoon, you couldn't see their feet at all.  They need wellies! Failing that, they have leaves which keeps them out of the mud a bit.  Leaves are also very good at keeping their feet off the frozen ground when the temperature plummets.
A couple of Christmases ago, our son gave us a thing to help us fill bags. I've looked it up on Amazon and apparently it is called a bin bag loader. We just call it "that plastic thing to help us fill bags"...   : )
Bosmere G185 Bin Bag Loader
You put it into your bag, then fill it and remove the plastic thing and there you have a bag filled with leaves or garden rubbish  - and the bag is not torn by all the little twig etc.  Not only that but the bag stays nicely open for you to put things in it.  It more than halves the time to fill 20 bags with leaves. In fact I would happily buy shares in the firm that makes them because it is so useful.
Today we filled 20 bags with leaves. We really only have October to collect a year's supply of leaves so we need to get out there when it is dry. 20 bags is pushing it and our backs are tonight reminding us that 20 bags is more than we usually fill in one day.  We must have about 60-70 bags filled already but that is not enough yet. The bags we use are the charity bags that come through the door and are never collected again.  We have not yet used all those that have come through the letterbox this year....  We are fortunate to live in a road lined with sycamore type trees.  Our neighbours don't tend to use the word "fortunate" during October but they don't mind at all when they see us out sweeping them up : )
Any Topcashback customers around?  Have you spotted in their Snap and Save section that they will refund you the price of a pumpkin up to the value of £3 until next Tuesday?  I feel lots of pumpkin soup coming in our future. Yum!

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Monday, October 26, 2015

Cake : )

It was my turn to take some cake to church for a particular event.  My hens are quite old now and are moulting.  Hens can either put their energy into making eggs or making feathers but not both. So as I am really short of eggs, I wanted a cake recipe that didn't use eggs. Sue from The Quince Tree published a recipe that she had found and a couple of others had posted that they had tried the recipe and liked it so I tried it too.  It is a really easy recipe and it was indeed lovely.  There were a couple of pieces left over after the meeting at church so I brought them home and forgot about them. It was about five days later that I found the tub with the cake tucked behind something else and to my surprise, it was still really moist and lovely.  So I commend this recipe to you:

I made one and a half times the quantity in the recipe and that took about 45 minutes to cook.  There are also some variations at the end of Sue's blog post.  You can be sure that this cake, or a variation, will be made again soon : )

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Friday, October 23, 2015

Birthday time

I've been having fun recently.  My younger daughter and my son and I all have birthdays very close together so this year we had a joint family "do".  Everybody came as well as a few close friends and we had fun just chatting and catching up.  My daughter organised the food and everybody was detailed to bring a particular dish so it wasn't too much of a chore for anybody.  The grandchildren really enjoyed themselves as there were lots of people willing to play with them.

I've also had a couple of days away in Cambridge this week. My husband had a meeting there and the hotel charged per room and not per person so I went too.  I've never been to Cambridge before so I got to wander round while he was in his meetings.  I loved looking at all the old buildings and colleges in the town centre. My one complaint is that there were very few places to sit down and give my weary feet a rest.

I'm still processing fruit. There are still quite a few blackberries on the bramble in our garden and I'm still stewing windfalls with either blackberries or sultanas and putting bags of stewed fruit in the freezer along with another bag of plums that I was given. I still have sloe and apple jelly to make and I have citrus fruit in the fridge for marmalade. I'd quite like to make some sweet apple chutney too.  I've made piccalilli because I know my daughter would like some for Christmas - and when it was all bottled, I realised that I had forgotten the mustard.  So I'm not quite sure how that will turn out...

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