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

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Losing a month

My goodness me, where did August go?  I seem to have blinked and missed nearly a month here.

We had holiday club at church. So that took up a week.  I was working with a group of six year old and my husband had seven year olds. My goodness were we tired by the end of the week! We had over 80 kids in total, aged from three to ten but with a couple of twelve year olds as well. It was a good week, though, and we enjoyed it and the kids did too. We had all the parents in with the kids for a bbq on the Friday. That was very popular. I ended up serving burgers. I don't thing I have ever even seen so many burgers in one place before. Think 80 kids with parent/s and sibling/s...

I have been making lots of jam and also a jar of pickled eggs.  I have been updating my previous "Preserving Year" post so that I know what varieties of jams I have made. The family will be pleased as none of them make jams at all.  I have been dithering about investing in some Kilner jars and trying my hand at bottling. I have got as far as looking up the price of the jars on Amazon and Lakeland. The thing is that the rings or metal discs have to bought new each year and that sounds expensive.  I know the food would be fresh and if grown yourself then you know what fertilisers etc have or have not been used. The food used would have to be cheaply acquired but then there is all the gas used and the cost of the seal not to mention the work involved.  Tins of tomatoes are on offer at four for £1 at the moment in Asda. That is cheaper than the cost of the seal and without any effort involved other than carrying the tins home.  I don't know anybody round here who does any bottling and I would love to have a chat with somebody who does. My freezer is always full and this would be a way of preserving some fruit for the winter without using the freezer.

Do any of you do any bottling?

We have also been trying to tackle our wood pile. In the spring, our chop saw broke. Then the chain saw developed a fault and needed a new part. It was still under warranty and we had a bit of trouble but eventually we got the part replaced and had a working saw again. And we got the chop saw sorted. The thing is that we were into exam season by the time we had the saws working again so my husband had no time at all left over to do anything with all the wood we had collected. So yesterday, our son and son-in-law came round and the three of them spent the whole day cutting up wood with both saws and also with the axe. They got through a lot of wood and we are very grateful to have such help and to have a good amount ready to burn : )

Our granddaughter came round in the afternoon and acted as gofer for the three of them. My job was to keep them all fed and watered. No easy job with the amount of physical labour involved in cutting up the wood.  I went shopping on Thursday evening and was delighted to get some of our favourite bread rolls reduced to 10p a pack. I would have made some nice bread in the breadmaker for them but these were posh rolls for less than it would have cost me to make the loaf. My secret weapon was a plentiful supply of cake and a huge pile of scones served with homemade jam and cream. There were only three scones left by the end of the day so I know they were appreciated : )

And then there is the allotment. Blink and you can't see the plot for weeds. The war is on!

And my little hens are laying well now. And eating for England, just like teenagers with hollow legs. Yesterday was the third day in a row that they have laid an egg each. Hence the pickled eggs mentioned above as it is a means of preserving some for the winter (for my lunches, probably in a salad) without using the freezer. I expect I shall be pickling a few more now that they are getting into a rhythm with laying.

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Monday, August 01, 2016

A new jam lover

I've made 20 lbs of gooseberry and elderflower jam over the weekend. Today I made 8 lbs of blackcurrant jam. At least I call it blackcurrant but the bushes are a cross between gooseberry and blackcurrant which produce large currants that taste exactly like a blackcurrant. I've forgotten the actual name of the bush. Maybe you could tell me?

After I had finished potting the jam, I went to sit down for a few minutes as my back was protesting. After a short while I became aware of a strange noise and went back to the kitchen to investigate. I found one of my young cats standing on the cooker enthusiastically washing the jam pan out with his rough little tongue.  He was really enjoying the jam : )

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