Saturday, 20 September 2014

Back in blogland

Back from Cornwall
The weather was lovely. A little bit of mist that lifted to beautiful afternoons and evenings,
D. Was able to fish every day and we bought home a  travelling freezer full of fish. I had some pretty good CS finds - gardening clothes, a lovely boucle jacket and a pullover. My friend J, with whom we stay, had collected several bags of rubbish flour from the mill she volunteers at, for our chickens. Good hauls all round.

 We collected an animal trailer from a friends on the way back. We need this to take the sheep on their final journey on monday. As we keep so few animals nowadays we can't justify keeping an animal trailer, so sharing is the answer.

Tomorrow we will be picking and picking and gathering and collecting. Some stuff for eating, some for selling. The garden looks as though we have been away for a month not a week! A friend is coming to cut the family's hair (whoever turns up gets a haircut!) and then staying for tea. Then it's over to some friends for the evening and another weekend's gone.
 Just a quickie tonight as I am taxi for my daughters who are getting together at the nearest town with some friends.
Back soon

Saturday, 13 September 2014


Just about to leave for Cornwall.

Over the week I lay things out on a spare bed when I come across them/ iron them etc. Yesterday I put the bag out to pack and look who packed herself !

Do you think we should take her with us? I shall certainly miss her while we are away.
many thanks for your comments yesterday.
In haste

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Adam, Tomatoes and The Wall (and fishing again)

Hello All,
Thanks for your comments and good wishes for Adam
Here is a pic of his newly designed head
Looking nice and clean and dry now don't you think? the softy rested his head on my legs so that I could get this shot.
(whisper this) Is this a good time to remind you why we bought Adam as a cade lamb?

Moving swiftly on....The garden is still doing well and the tomatoes are exceptional. Here is a picture taken this week of the first part of the greenhouse. For September this is pretty remarkable for us.

As is often the case though our beans continue to be awful!

It has been really hot today and the Goathouse crew (that motley selection of orphans) were out half in the sun and half in the shade of some old redcurrant bushes. What a lovely group they are and so good natured.

These redcurrants are next to THE WALL. that D. is rebuilding after it was demolished by next doors' bull. Here it is. I think you will agree that is substantial and bull-proof. In fact in the case of a nuclear attack you could be pretty safe behind this wall. - or at least you will be when it is finished!
I have just looked back at this post so far and realised that I have posted pictures of a sheep's head, some tomato plants and a wall!  Good grief it's a wonder people bother to visit this blog when you think about it!

I have finally finished writing, printing and then posting ( with a HUGE amount of help from Nigel,) the yearly newsletter from our Civic Society. We post to 400 houses in the district to let people know what we are doing and what events are to be held in the future.  This Autumn/winter we are particularly busy with a Memories get-together for a local firm that closed in 1995,(October) A weekend Heritage Exhibition (early November) and  a Remembrance Evening (Mid November) There are pamphlets to be written, exhibits to be staged, walks to be organised and  histories of those fallen soldiers named on our little war memorial to be collated into booklet form....and copious amounts of cake to be made for each event!!
So no problem, as my mother said. "If you want something doing.. ask a busy woman"

On Saturday morning we set off for Cornwall for a WEEKS(!) fishing. not me you understand, D. will be fishing, while I help my friend, with whom we stay in Callington, with two handed jobs she saves for me, CS shopping and of course processing any fish D. catches. I am hoping to have couple of days completely to myself and will be taking the means to make a couple of Christmas presents I have in mind. Can't say what they are as the proposed recipients may be reading this.
As usual YD will be here holding the fort while we are away. If I can get the mice that power the treadmill that works my friends computer to do some work I shall blog from Cornwall.

Bye for now Gillx

PS. I have just remembered the new hens we have "rescued" Will tell you next time.

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Of harvest and lost horns

 hello Dear Frugellers                                                                                                                                                                    Before I ramble on with some random stuff I must say Hello to Pat on the Follower bar and Michelle, Kimberly and Aimee on Blog lovin. Glad to have you on board.

I also need to apologise to Beth as I gave her blog address wrong, So here it is again. Pop on over to see her great Hob Nobs recipe. She can be found at  "ten tiny toes and a button nose.blogspot" (thanks Helen for your help with this)
                                                                                                                                                                 It's been quite a few days again since I posted, but I am sure that many of you are like me with buckets of stuff coming from the garden to be processed. We can't move in the kitchen for buckets of apples, tomatoes, courgettes, beans and sweet corn. On Gardener's World the other night Monty Don was saying that harvest were 2 to 3 weeks early this year. The next day I went out to check my mid-seasons apples and... he's right! I picked several buckets of apples and even some of the Bramley's were ready.  I usually pick the Jonogolds (which are laden this year) in October/early November. I shall have to keep my eye on them. They are a good keeper and give us apples into February/March.

 We still haven't had time to jar all the honey and will need to put a day a side to get this done. I am pleased with how it is selling, something we haven't been too successful at before. Most of our sales have been to people who have asthma and believe that local untreated honey will help them. This year we have kept the honey from each hive in separate buckets as we have extracted it. Each of our hives is numbered, which helps us to keep accurate records. As we have jarred from each bucket we have put the number of the hive on the jar label. Our honey customers have this pointed out to them when they buy a jar and we have taken to saying "This honey is from Hive No. ... Would you like to view that hive?" Not one person has said No and have been excited and happy to look at the hives!

 When I was picking apples the other day I looked through the orchard fence into the field and saw something bright red moving about..On closer inspection I realised that it was Adam the sheep covered in blood!. I scrambled down from the ladders and ran into the field. Poor Adam had lost most of one of his horns. It was shorn off about an inch from his head and blood was allover his face and chest. it had obviously happened some time before as the bleeding had stopped.We cleaned him up and set about drying the wound. the biggest problem was the flies, who saw an opportunity to lay eggs in an attractive place and were bothering him. We have been seeing to him several times a day and it is all completely dried up now and looking clean and tidy. We still haven't found his horn though!

D. has been spending much of each day re-building the dry stone wall between ourselves and next door. Dry stone is not exactly accurate as he is using quite a bit of concrete too. The main reason for this is that the wall was breached some while back by the neighbours' bull, who fancied the fresh grass clippings on the compost heap. Even the best of stone walls get be pushed over by a determined bull. So D. is talking no chances and firming up the wall as he re-builds

I have just realised that it is gone midnight and I'm tapping away here as though I don't have to be up tomorrow.
So I will return tomorrow and tell you about our new chickens and what else has been going on here in deepest Derbyshire
Good Night All
Gill x

Saturday, 30 August 2014

Youngest Granddaughter, Cookies and another Scrumper

YGD has been staying over this week and last week and I'm delighted to say she will be back for a couple of days next week
She is now 9 and pretty independent and really enjoying the freedom that a couple of acres gives an active child.
 Here she is whizzing around on an old bike that grandad has dragged out of the loft. He has highered the seat and handlebars, oiled the odd nut and away she goes up and down the drive and between the buildings.

And here she is on the "swing" that grandad has made for her in a damson tree. Shy isn't she?!
 And with the doll she bought with her birthday money. She has combed and plaited the dolls hair time and time again. There seems to be quite a lot of hair on the brush and I have to keep reminding her that it won't grow again!

   Something else she has enjoyed doing is baking. What child doesn't ?! Our favourite thing to make at the moment are biscuit/cookies from a recipe I found on Beth's blog..."Twenty tiny toes and a button nose" (still don't know how to do a link) These are called "hob nobs" we have made them slighter bigger than she suggests and this means that they are soft in the middle and are little like a cross between a hobnob and flapjack. they are DELICIOUS. We also made some with honey instead of golden syrup and they were just as good. As I have plenty of honey I shall always use that in future. Pop over to Beth's blog to get the recipe.

 We noticed that the Charles Ross Cookers were being pecked by the birds. We thought probably blackbirds,who have also been pecking at the windfalls. We were wrong ! Here is the culprit...
I suppose it IS a black bird!

All for now

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Using the Tomatoes part II

Hello All
 A warm Derbyshire welcome to Julie on the follower bar and Beth and Peggy on Bog lovin, lovely to see you here!
 I said in my last post that I would share a few favourite recipes using tomatoes. These recipes are quite seasonal and include veggies at their best and most prolific right now.

Tomato with green beans 
 Put 1lb halved french beans or some sliced runners in boiling water for three minutes. Strain the hot water over a basin holding a couple of pounds of tomatoes. Cool the beans and put aside. Drain the tomatoes,which can now be skinned, chopped and put aside.
In a frying pan gently fry one large chopped onion and a crushed garlic clove until soft. Add a spoonful of sugar or honey and stir for a couple of minutes to caremalise the onions.
Add 2 tablespoons of vinegar (red wine is good, but any will do really) and cook all for a minute.
 Now add the tomatoes with their juice, some chopped (fresh if you have it) basil, pepper and salt to taste and cook for a further 5 mins.
Add the beans and warm through to eat straight away or put into containers for the freezer.

I'm not a fan of frozen green beans but this recipe does freeze well

Shallots in tomato sauce
This is is a bit Greeky in flavour.
 Peel a couple of pounds of shallots and simmer gently in a red wine and apple juice - enough to barely cover the shallots - and simmer until beginning to soften. I use these two ingredients because I make them myself, but others might use white wine. Now add two tablespoons of sugar or honey, half a cup of tomato puree a bay leaf and salt and pepper. I have given my method for making tomato puree in my post "Using the Tomatoes part I"
Gently cook for a further five minutes, remove the bay leaf and serve or freeze for another day.
This dish freezes well.

Tomatoes with courgette "Spaghetti"
 Make a passatta using whatever method you choose. I have given mine in the "Using the Tomatoes part I" post.
 Cut a couple of large courgettes lengthways into long strips, either ribbon or matchstick shape and put aside.
  In a shallow pan gently cook a finely chopped onion and a crushed clove of garlic in olive oil. Add the passatta and simmer until the liquid thickens. Now add a spoonful of sugar or honey, salt and pepper and chopped basil and heat together on a low heat.
Meanwhile fill a saucepan with boiling water from the kettle. Drop the courgette strips into the boiling water and cook for a bare minute. Strain, put the strips in a bowl, toss in a teaspoon of olive oil and pour the sauce over.
You can ring the changes with this recipe by omitting the basil and adding paprika instead and adding chilli flakes to the courgette strips.

Garden Glut Chutney.
You will need a large saucepan or jam kettle. As you prepare and weigh each ingredient, place them into this pan.
Weigh two and a half kilos of prepared (chopped) fruit and vegetables - a mixture of -
Summer squash,Marrow or overgrown courgettes; Windfall Apples; Green and/or red tomatoes;
Plums; windfall pears.
 To these vegetables add -
Half a kilo of chopped onions
Half a kilo of sugar (brown or white)
Half a kilo of sultanas, raisins or chopped dates ( or a combination of) If you don't like dried fruit or want a less sweet chutney, you can omit this.
600ml Vinegar
Two Teaspoons Chilli flakes, fresh or dried
Three cloves crushed garlic.
 An inch of ginger, grated, or a teaspoon ground ginger if you haven't got this.
In a small piece of muslin (hankie?) put 12 cloves, 12 peppercorns, 12 coriander seeds that you have cracked in morter and pestle or with  a rolling pin. Tie this muslin up with string.
 You now have all the ingredients together. Cook for two to three hours, stirring often. When you draw a wooden spoon across the bottom of the pan you should see the bottom of the pan for a second or two.
 Pot into warm jars,
 This should make about eight jars.

Hope these recipes work for you.
Until next time
love Gillx

Saturday, 23 August 2014

Potato Blight

Potato Blight
   Last week I noticed that our Pink Fir Apple Potatoes were showing signs of blight. I cut the haulms off half the bed (I ran out of time and energy to do it all at once) and bagged them up, in an attempt to stop the disease spreading to the tubers. I tied up the bag and put them aside ready to go to the tip. The next day I dug these potatoes up and dried them in the house away from all the tomatoes. Two days later I returned to the remainder, by now the all the leaves were affected. I dealt with these in the same way. as the first half. Just goes to show how quickly blight can take hold though.  Planted next to (touching)  the PFA are two rows of Sarpo Miras  potatoes. This is a blight resistant variety which I have been growing for four years now. This year for the first time I have taken a chance and grown them from my own seed. ( I will buy new seed next year) These potatoes, which are a late crop - ready around October, show no signs of blight and are going strong. We dug one plant up to see how they were doing and there was 2.5 kilos of potatoes.
Here is a picture of Sarpo Miras (on the right obviously) next to the Pink Fir Apple on the day I spotted it.

  Sarpo Miras is a non- GM potato I am pleased to say. However, I read that millions is being spent to develop a GM blight -resistant variety, using the Sarpo line. What is that about then, as if I didn't know?! The GM giants are working towards making another killing I guess, with the accompanying restrictions, that demand dependency, placed on unfortunate farmers across the globe. Grrrr.

 So far the tomatoes are clear, unlike Cro who at least has his winter preserves in, though I am keeping my eye on them.
At the mo I'm more concerned about the frost that is forecast for tonight ! I have bought in a number of squash and courgettes and any outdoor tomatoes that are beginning to ripen, before covering the plants with any mesh and plastic that I can lay my hands on. Fingers crossed.

 It has been over a week since my last post as we have been very busy in the garden and have had lots of visitors and a grandchild stopping. so this post is a bit of a quickie.
  My next post will definitely include my tomato recipes and I will tell you about a great recipe I have gleaned from a new follower on Blog Lovin.
 Until then dear frugal and self-sufficient friends.