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

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Egg problems and bargains

My new hens -  I've had them since the end of September but number 4 of the five just started laying this week and there is one still not laying. They were supposed to have been about 15 weeks old when we got them and should start laying between 18 and 22 weeks old. The first started laying after 9 weeks and then another started 3 weeks after that and the third about 3 weeks after that. Had them 16 weeks and the fourth has just started laying and one still to start. If they were 15 weeks when we got them as they should have been, then that makes them over 31 weeks old. These are just commercial little brown layers and I've never had one go beyond 20 weeks before it started laying in 20 years of keeping hens so something is wrong somewhere...

There just don't seem to be many bargains around any more. When I see a yellow sticker, my beady little eyes light up and then I see they have only knocked 10% off the price and I go away without it. A few yellow stickers not only gladden my heart but they surely make the pennies stretch a lot further. Sometimes the yellow stickers can also mean that we eat something (I'm thinking steak here) that we love as a treat but is normally way out of my price range. However pickings have been slim around here for over a year now. Still, I did find a big bargain this week. I was down at church and popped across the road to Asda afterwards, about 8pm. There were not many reduced things there but in the reduced section someone had put a whole tray of pint pots of double cream dated for that day. But there was no yellow sticker. I spotted a chap restocking the shelves nearby and went and asked him if he knew the price. He looked at the date and said that if I waited a bit, he would go and reduce them. He reduced them to 20p! The low price must have been because of the quantity of pots of cream and the lateness of the hour. I can make almost 10ozs of butter from a pint pot of double cream and this will cost me 20p instead of £1.40. Yum! I brought home eight of the pots of cream : )             I divide the butter up into small portions of about 4ozs and freeze them. I find my homemade butter does not keep as well as bought stuff but small portions work just fine. I make the butter in the food processor and keep the initial whey and the water/whey mixture from the first washing and use that for making bread and scones. Lovely! My husband loves it when he gets homemade scones spread with homemade butter and homemade jam.

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Friday, January 11, 2019

Happy New Year

A slightly belated greeting but I wish you a happy and healthy new year  for 2019  : )

We had a lovely Christmas. We spent Christmas Day with our son and his family. Elder daughter and her family spent Christmas Day with younger daughter and her family. Then on Boxing Day we all went to younger daughter's house for tea together. She organised each of us to bring certain items to contribute to the meal so that it was an easy meal for everybody. We had fun!

On New Year's Eve we went out to our friend's farm with a few other friends and saw in the New Year. I'm not used to late nights like that and it took me about three days worth of early nights before I felt human again...… And I only drank fruit juice too!

We are looking around for a new(er) car. Ours is 2004 and is definitely beginning to show its age. We have had it for 8 years now and I've been really taken aback at how much prices have gone up in those 8 years. Our car goes well but it is all those electronic gizmos that are beginning to go wrong. For example we now have two windows that won't go up and down, including the driver's window, which is a pain at a car park barrier where you have to actually get out of the car now to put in a code. There are an awful lot of other little signs of age so we thought we had better bite the bullet and start looking around - but there is too much choice. and as I said, the prices are so high. Aargh.

We went to see little grandson yesterday. His mum will have to go back to work in February so my visiting days are numbered. I really enjoy playing with him and he is virtually walking already and at nine months old. He just needs to hold on to a finger to give him the confidence he needs but it doesn't look like it will be long before he is off and away.  The cat is constantly finding new little hideaways where she feels safe from him.

We had a nasty discovery on Wednesday. We have our big chest freezer in the shed beside the house and we use that one to store meat. Well, we haven't  needed to open it since before a bit before Christmas. And it had stopped working and we have lost all our meat. And the smell of a whole freezer worth of putrid meat was just indescribable. My husband had the delightful job of  emptying it and taking it to the council tip while I went down to church to spend the day baking. He has scrubbed out the old freezer out and it is currently sitting at the end of the garden to air out before it becomes a pest proof store for the hen food in another shed. And Currys delivered our new freezer this morning. They give you a four hour delivery slot after 10pm the night before the delivery and then the driver is supposed to ring you 30 minutes before he is due to arrive at your house. Well he didn't. Fortunately my husband actually heard the doorbell because he doesn't always and I was in school invigilating an exam this morning and worrying because they had not been in touch. They were supposed to phone or text me 30 minutes before arrival but they didn't. And they broke the edge of the little wall beside the shed with their big feet so I am not happy with Currys. I've never had any problems when we have bought things from so guess where we will be buying from next time.

A friend was given several chickens. She wanted to put them in her freezer but she had to empty it out to have enough space for the chickens which were more valuable than some of the veg in there. she gave me a bag of limes so I have made lime marmalade for the first time. I am disappointed in the colour because it is a kind of a brownish colour but the flavour is wonderful. And I won't notice the colour on my wholemeal toast anyway, will I : )

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