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

Tuesday, October 03, 2017

Missing in action yet again

I hadn't intended being missing for so long. The time gap just crept up on me because this summer has been really busy. The trouble with being gone is that I forget some of what I've been up to. This blog is a record for me, like a diary,  and now I've got a gap in it : (

I've hardly had a day to myself for a couple of months until today and I am so far behind in all my jobs around the house that I hardly knew where to start. My vacuum cleaner had started emitting smoke every time I use it so I've swept all downstairs with a dustpan and brush. I wanted a sit down after that so I have peeled and cored a mountain of windfall apples that I was given and stewed them. the nice bits of peel and cores are in the slow cooker and I shall leave them there all night and then strain them through my jelly bag and keep the apple juice for pectin stock.  The stewed apple will have some sugar added to it and bottled tomorrow because there is no space in the freezer for it.

I have spent a lot of time cooking this summer. In August the husband of one of my good friends died and I organised the catering for the funeral. It took a bit of pressure off the family. We were expecting up to 300 people at the funeral so it was a lot of shopping and preparing. I was fortunate to have some people at church who helped on the day and set up tables and made sandwiches and obeyed all the orders I issued like a sergeant major : )

We run a coffee shop at our church for six days a week and our manager was ill and off work for almost a month.  I've been the official soup maker since last Christmas but I also got to make vast quantities of cake. I filled their freezer with enough cake so that the manager would not have to bake in her first week back. Then they wanted lots of vegetarian lasagne in the freezer so that they could have it as a "special"...

August is also an important birthday month in this family. My son's three children have their birthdays exactly one week apart in August so we had lots of fun there. With the birthdays so close together, it is important to make each birthday celebration special for that child although the one at the end of the queue found it hard to wait and watch the others' special days. Quite understandable!

Another big job this summer was transforming my son's garden. They have spent the last year transforming the house and now it was the turn of the garden. The house was lived in by an elderly lady who had not done anything to the house for about 20 years and the garden looked like it had been neglected for even longer. The end of the garden had also become a dumping ground for anything she didn't know how to get rid of. My husband and son have spent many happy days bonding over the removal of many tons of soil and rubbish in an effort to level the garden. The height of the soil plus rubbish was over two feet higher than when the fence was put up originally...  That is a lot of soil barrowed to a skip and to fill a huge long raised bed almost the length of the garden. They were given a 5 metre long shed which is now in position on a flat bed of paving slabs. We had a family garden-ing party last weekend and the shed was mended and walked to its new home. I got to look after the children while everybody else did the heavy work : )

The next father-son job is to put on the door and make a roof for the shed so the job is not finished yet. Then son needs to help my husband with some of the big jobs on the allotment which have not been done because of son's garden. We had a big storm earlier in the summer and our little greenhouse was totally mangled and needs to be dismantled and disposed of because it is so twisted that it cannot be mended. The roof on the allotment shed also needs to have major repairs after that storm.

I have done some sorting out of things and have managed to increase my total of Things Gone by a respectable amount. I might even hit my target this year!

I have also added some things to my preserving year post. I made lemon squash, damson jam and two slightly different batches of sweet cucumber relish. I was given two large bags of cucumbers by my friend whose cucumber plants had gone into overdrive. Each food hamper at Christmas will have a jar of sweet cucumber relish in it but there won't be so much jam in them this year as I made very little this summer. We had lots left from last year and I didn't acquire much fruit so we decided to make do with what we had. I was also given a bag of green tomatoes and made some green tomato and banana chutney as I had found some bananas at 10p per kilo in the supermarket. It sounds an odd combination but I had the recipe and the fruit and decided to give it a go. And it has turned out nice!
Thanks to Tania from Frugal in Essex for her sweet cucumber relish recipe. You can find it here if you would like to make it from some bargain supermarket cucumbers.

I'm sure I shall remember more things to add to this account so I'll edit it as they occur to me.

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