Wednesday 26 March 2014

Individual Lamb Pictures

Hello Each !
Below are individual pics of the lambs  -
Firstly here is Adam, who as yet hasn't got the hang of drinking from a bottle!

Secondly, Arnie, who is older than the others and therefore much bigger ( and Greedier)

Thirdly, Arkwright, who is sucking my hand because he has run out of bottle.
Last but not least, Archie, Arkwright's brother, who moonlights as a rabbit!

So there you are. Old farmers say not to name them, but they still have to be identified. If we hadn't given them names within a few days these would probably, for the purposes of identification, have been called, Fluffy, Big 'un, Ear up and Floppy !
Three of the lambs are sucking at their bottles like good 'uns but Adam, I'm virtually having to force feed. He'll get the hang of it soon I have no doubt.

This Follower business is driving me mad.
I tried to follow a couple of blogs again today and AGAIN was was told "we are unable to handle your request"
A couple of friends have told me that they have tried to follow mine and have been told the same..What is going on?
On a similar subject, a (different) couple of friends tell me that they have tried to comment on mine and others in my side bar and not been able to. I think this has something to do with having a Google account. I have just asked YD and she tells me that they need to ....1. Go to Google; 2. Go to sign in; 3.Create an account. They should then be able to comment on any blog ........Hope this info is useful to others.

We had eggs, bacon (Sainsburys cooking bacon) and champ, made with left over mash and some yellow sticker scallions, for tea last night. There was a really thick bacon chop left, which I cooked up at the same time (saves heat) Today I shall cut the chop up into pieces and mix it with some cheese sauce left over from  Sunday and the last of the yellow sticker scallions. I then have to decide if I shall make savoury pancakes, cheese and ham pasties or turn them into a pasta dish. Whatever I do I shall also use some spinach from the garden - might do a simple stir fry even.  Oooh I know how to live.

Off to plant some new hops and blackcurrant bushes now. it will soon be too late to do this!

Back Soon

Tuesday 25 March 2014

Our Cade lambs

Hello Frugal Friends

Frugal World meet -  Arnie, Adam, Archie and Arkwright
 They are from Suffolk mums and a Texal father. The three smallest were born last weekend and the larger one (Arnie) is two weeks old.
Not the best photograph. Hopefully will have better ones tomorrow.
Until tomorrow

Lamb Alert

Here is a cuteness warning.
Yesterday we were phoned by someone we didn't know, to ask if we wanted some Cade lambs?
I was thinking that maybe we shouldn't bother this year, which would make the willow whip planting we have planned easier (sheep would nibble the plants unless they were netted)
He had been told that we knew what we were doing and were kind folk.
 Over the weekend two of his ewes had had triplets. One of these use had a non-functioning teat as well, so he had to find homes for one from one ewe and two from the other.
I said we would meet up with him and just have look... Yeah right!
Long story short - we are going to have the three - plus one that is a little older and has no mum.
We are collecting them this evening. They are all boys and their names will start with "A". I have phoned the youngest granddaughter to tell her and say that she can name two of them. As I rung off I can hear her saying to her mum "What about Apple?..Arnie?...?  Goodness know what she will decide on!
I will take a photo of them when we have picked them up and post it .... hence the cuteness warning.
Off to get their pen ready.
Back soon.

Sunday 23 March 2014

The easiest cake ever

Hi Everybody !
What happened to my resolution to keep up with my blog and blog more often ? Hey Ho!
 The temperature is about to drop here so I am making room inside to bring my early tomatoes in. I do have a heater that I can use, but I might as well use the heat in the house as the plants aren't too big yet and there is room.
Walking around the garden today looking at the bees, digging up jerusalem artichokes and picking spinach I note that most of the trees are in bud at some stage or another. Significantly the peach tree we bought a couple of years ago and planted last year has a couple of flower buds !! Tonight I will wrap the tree in a warm coat to maximise the chances of the buds surviving.

I have been baking over the last couple of days. One recipe that I tried for the first time that has been very successful is Mincemeat cake. I tried this because I had a large pot of mincemeat left over from Christmas. This is probably the easiest cake ever, but one of the scrummiest.
Mincemeat Cake 
 Heat the oven to 160 degrees
 In a bowl mix together-
 8oz mincemeat
4oz softened margarine
3oz sugar
2 eggs
 5oz Self raising Flour
Put the mix into a loaf tin and cook for 35 minutes - It really is that easy. - no creaming or rubbing in.

I also made a marmalade cake thus -
Marmalade Cake 
Heat the oven to 170 degrees
8oz SR Flour
4oz Margarine
3oz Sugar
one teaspoon orange rind
2 eggs
3 tbs marmalade
2 tbs milk
2 extra tbs marmalade
 Method  -
 rub the fat into the flour
add the sugar and a pinch of salt - stir
add the remaining ingredients and stir
put into a loaf tin and bake for 50  mins
place cake onto a rack and when it has cooled a little, melt the extra marmalade in a bowl in the microwave (add some more orange rind if you have some) and brush the melted marmalade on top of the cake.

Still having trouble with follower stuff, so if I have stopped following you, I haven't really and will get back on board as soon as it lets me!

Off to finish getting tea ready for the marauding hoards
Back soon

Thursday 20 March 2014

The Cat and the Stove

 Thanks to all who commented on my last post. If I send my land girls to help you all they will be going on a world tour! I shan't tell them or they might just set off with their passports!
I'm not so good again today, this blinking vertigo is really getting on my nerves. I'm okay so long as I don't move !! it is really frustrating as there is so much to do and I don't do "sitting"
I guess I shall do a spot of hand sewing and there are a couple of maps I need to draw for the Civic Society Exhibition later in the year. That should keep me out of trouble for an hour or two. These are things I usually do once I have settled down for the night, never during the day!
Fortunately I made a cheese and onion pie for today's tea, so D. can heat that up for us tonight.

Remember  the field kitchen in the workshop? The one I thought would fit nicely into my kitchen? It seems as though I have no chance of getting it into the house as even the cat has voted for it to stay outside.
Here she is, yesterday, within  minutes of a sudden downpour she fled into the workshop and settled into the kindling box in front of the fire.
I'm having some problems with my "Follower" stuff. I find that I am no longer following some people I have followed for months and can't put that right. Similarly, Some people who are following me are not showing on my side bar. Any ideas?
Welcome to Sophie Summerlin on Blog Lovin. Nice to see you here Sophie.
I think that's about it for now.
Back soon.
The weather's on the turn again for those of us in the UK, great! I thought Spring was here.

Monday 17 March 2014

My Landgirls

Hello All
I have just realised that it is over a week since I wrote a post. I have been so busy, the time has flown!

Before I forget,welcome to Karen Hymen on Blog lovin. good to have you here.

Spring is definitely springing here, with trees in bud, frogspawn in the pond and two broody hens.
While the weather continues to be dry we are spending all of our time outside, mending things, digging gardens, splitting plants, pruning trees, having a huge 2-day bonfire and generally wearing ourselves a good way. We finish as it gets dark, have our main meal of the day and, if we are not going out, collapse!

On Sunday, as is usual, the family came for tea (roast lamb..again!) While I was attacking the evil blackberries, ED said "What would you like me to do? " I suggested she have a go with the rotivator at the middle veg patch. So off she set, but it was not too easy as the blessed thing kept cutting out "Give me a spade" she said. So after moving some slabs with her dad, who set about re-laying them elsewhere, she started digging with gusto. Now ED is in a managerial position at work and it wasn't long before she demonstrated her management skills and  encouraged (press ganged, nay forced) her daughter and niece to grab a spade and give a hand. (meanwhile YD is in the kitchen getting our meal ready)
Here they are putting their backs into it, with help from some of the hens, who didn't have to be encouraged at all! The guy at the back, who looks as though he is wearing a white woolly hat is my husband. He really does need a haircut doesn't he?
 Lots of thanks and love to the three landgirls in the picture !

This is a quick post for me tonight. We are just back from the Canal Society Evening and I need to be horizontal.
I have also received my book from Amazon by Leigh Tate called  "5 Acres and a Dream" and I'll have to have a little peak before I settle down
Goodnight dear friends, be back soon.

Monday 10 March 2014

Cookery classes, Grandchildren and pruning

Hello Bloggy Friends.
Sorry I've not been around for a few days. Fine weather makes us busy!

I'm catching up on other blogs. I was particularly interested to see that Frugal Queen has been offering a Roadshow giving lessons on cooking etc. I think this is commendable and an idea that should be available to more people. Thing is.. how does this work? The more I think about it the more difficult it seems. Over the years I have been asked by people if I could offer sessions on preserving, smallholder cookery etc. But where ? In my kitchen? The village Hall? Neither of these could be seen as approved food rooms nor offer the room for more than a couple of cooks. Would my simple hygiene certificate suffice?  Any ideas Folks? have you thought of starting a cooking group?

After this weekend I'm feeling particularly proud of my granddaughters.
 My youngest, aged 8, stopped overnight on Friday. She is an early riser and whereas when she was younger this meant several hours of concentrated effort (in no way resented) keeping her occupied. it now means several hours of useful and interesting jobs. She is studying the growth of plants at school and wanted to discuss seeds and plants in a more informed way than usual. She usually has a small piece of garden to grow vegetables each year, but has worked out that if she is to grow all she wants to she will need a larger plot. We decided on an area she could have, measured it (300cms by 130cms in new money) and plotted it on some graph paper. With the aid of a couple of seed catalogues (smallholder's pornography)  she decided what to grow and I advised her what was possible and what might be too difficult. We agreed that she could use whatever seed I had and fortunately I had everything she wanted. She then proceeded to sow the early seed into pots and trays, labeling and watering and transferring to the warm greenhouse completely independently. She also started some cucumbers off for me and has negotiated for some plants that I have already started.
She was particularly keen to help with the "shop", rushing to the front gate to serve egg customers. There is an honesty pot, but this is not needed when YGD is here! People are usually happy to wait while she sorts out the right change or works out how many boxes are need for one and a half dozen.
Lastly, she tried on her Egyptian costume today. They are studying Ancient Egypt and she keeps asking her Grandad questions as she knows he loves a good quiz, hoping to catch him out. It really seems to have caught her imagination.
Here she is..

My eldest granddaughter is to start a new job and will need to take a packed lunch. Over the weekend she did a large bake of cakes and cookies to freeze and take out daily for herself an her partner. She chose some clever cost-effective recipes and posted a picture of the bakes on the Facebook site " Fill my Family on a budget"and had 88 likes and 30 comments, many of them asking for the recipes. Not bad for a nineteen year old ! 
Here is the picture she posted

Today she and I went into town to do some banking and popped into Lidl for some milk, there she bought two fruit trees for her garden. They looked good strong plants in large pots for £7.99, which is a very reasonable price if you are in the market for fruit trees.

Right! I promise not to brag about my grandchildren again for a week or two! tee hee

We have been pruning the wisteria today. It is huge and covers two sides of the house and there is also one on the front of the barn. So while D. is up the ladder I'm standing on the bottom rung "footing the ladder" and trying to duck the branches and twigs as they rained down. We have also pruned the front hedge which is made of pyracathus. D. thought it would deter anyone who might want to enter the garden, as P. is VERY spikey. Methinks that the only person deterred is me! Gosh, those spikes hurt!!

All for now folks. Lots more planting of seeds tomorrow. ooh don't you just love spring?

Wednesday 5 March 2014

better weather and Foot and Mouth

Hello Everybody !  Especially Ellen and Brandi on Blog Lovin.

The sun has got his hat on; Shout hip hip hooray !! ..Come on then  sing along. It has been cold but bright today, suits me weather-wise and I'm feeling positive.
The hens are loving it too and they are starting to lay. Twenty eggs today and rising. I've even put the "Free Range Eggs for Sale" sign out and await people seeing it and starting to come to the door again. I think I will put a few jars of honey and jam out on the stone slab outside the door too, just in case someone fancies treating themselves. The cost of honey is embarrassing, but we undertake to charge the same as all beekeepers and not sell our honey for less. Thus,we charge £5 per jar !! I know! It's a lot isn't it? My preserves are more reasonable at £1.80 a jar.
 Our friends came for the afternoon and after the ubiquitous cheesy beans ( a Tuesday favourite with the shared lives guys) the guys went outside to try to get our ancient ride-on mower to behave itself for one more year and C. and I set about a mammoth seeding session. In trays, pots and tubes we sowed parsley, sage and basil, five different types of tomatoes, celeriac, parsnips, round and pointed cabbage, cauliflower and calabrase. We also pricked out some Snap Dragons, onions and some early Shirley tomatoes.

We have been eating out of the freezer this week again and having some pretty "interesting" meals. I think the word my daughter used was "weird" on Sunday when she was here for tea. What's wrong with lamb chops, roast potatoes, brie parcels and shallots a la greque and peas ?!

I have joined a couple of facebook groups recently. Firstly, the Farmgirl chat group, which is great fun and about  all sorts of smallholdy and crafty stuff. The second, I joined at the weekend and is called " Fill my family on a budget" This a a very busy, lively group and seems to have a quite a few young people (mostly women) who are asking for ideas or passing on interesting information. It is a very interesting Frugal site, that I suspect is reaching the people that really need help to make ends meet.

I said that I would write about our experience in the Foot and Mouth crisis.
  We only have two acres. It is good land, but we are mindful to rest it often and not to overstock it. Since moving here in 1981 we have kept half a dozen ewes (mostly suffolks) and bred from them each year, rearing the lambs for meat and the occasional replacement. With a couple of smallholding friends of limited acreage  we rotated our grazing. In the late winter of 2001 our pregnant ewes were at our friends' whose smallholding was the other side of Derby.  Foot and Mouth was announced and we planned to bring our ewes home. The disease was to the north of the county, while the south seemed clear. We then heard that there was an isolated incident to the south and only a few miles from our friends. So Lock Down for them! Nothing on or off their premises. We were asked not to visit our sheep, which obviously we concurred with. Over the next few weeks as their grazing disappeared they had to feed them pellets and hay and then she had to lamb our ewes for us. It was such a difficult time for them. Eventually, we gained permission to bring them home, leaving our friends with no grazing and without the financial means to send her sheep to graze with us or anyone else. So ours came home, but what a palaver ! We had  to hire a particular trailer and special disnifectants for the trailer and our clothes and /footwear. The Ministry man sealed the trailer and accompanied us home in his car, then the ewes and lambs were unloaded in his presence and the trailer was then disinfected+++ and had to be returned to the hirer. Forms were filled in at every stage. This little journey (12 miles) cost us nearly £300! The Movement restrictions then placed on us small flock keepers made it impossible to keep the sheep economically and when our grazing started to suffer we had to take the ewes to market, which was a buyers market and we received a fraction of their value.
At no time did we suffer in the way that Weaver of Grass did. We didn't have to see our animals slaughtered and burned and our financial losses were not remotely like those who had large herds. But comparatively speaking we did struggle emotionally and financially and still do. As everyone knows the movement restrictions are now, quite rightly, strict and the smallholders' way of feeding his animals with scraps, kitchen waste and the waste from  the bakers etc is now illegal . This continues to hurt us as we used to feed our chickens and rear the occasional pig with burnt loaves etc from the local baker and cauliflower outsides from the hospital kitchens for our goats and rabbits. We used to borrow a ram and chuck it in the back of the van and bring it home. (Yes I know Adam from Countryfile does it...but it is Illegal !)
 The legacy of this is that we now buy  orphan lambs in the spring and rear them to weight and take them straight to our lovely kind butcher. We don't keep the occasional pig anymore as you can only really feed them processed pig food and very little else. John Seymour's Self Sufficiency should be re-written I suppose.

 Sorry, that was pretty down beat for me wasn't it?

Enough of this as I must to my bed.

Back Soon

Saturday 1 March 2014

Sorry Froogs!

Hello All!
Firstly. a grovelling apology to Frugal Queen.
 In my last post I was talking about  viewing numbers and said that FQ had between 1000 and 2000 views a day to her blog. Obviously this isn't correct (der!) and she actually has between 10,000 and 12,000 views a day to her blog. ! Sorry Froogs, didn't translate my notes correctly.
Phew! Glad that's out of the way. it has been bothering me.

Welcome to new followers Jane and Lance at Hattatt and to Lottie of Blog lovin. Nice to have you along.

 Linda at Greenhaven asks me to expand on the use of mesh floors in the bee hives. We stand out hives on stands about 8 inches off the ground or concrete blocks of similar height. The mesh floor is open to the ground at this height. Mesh floors allow any varroa mite that falls from a bee to fall through the floor and out of the hive. A moveable floor, with white sticky paper can be placed below the mesh floor to enable some sort of count of the mites, thus giving an indicator of the degree of infestation.. Some people also claim that a mesh floor decreases the risk of condensation. in winter. As with all beekeeping, as the saying goes "If you have a beekeeper in the room you already have two opinions" (or some such) so this view will set some beekeepers hopping up and down with ire, while others will nod sagely and say "true true"

D. finished cutting and chopping the trunks he has saved for the rest of this winter and well into the next. He feels justifiably pleased with himself. In case he thinks feels he can now rest on his laurels, and talking of wood, here is another stash of pallets that arrived at our place. Lots of burning and several fences, chicken coops and other such projects. I know there will be some of you that will be green with envy at the sight and others who think "Thank goodness I  don't have to deal with that lot!"

Project-wise, I have finished ALL my mending, made another peg bag, sewn a new cover for a sofa and have finished the Egyptian costume for YGD. I will take a picture of her in it when I see her next. I believe she is staying overnight next friday, so I will try to remember then.

I am very busy with the Civic Society stuff at the moment, with some planning issue we wish to comment on, getting ready for the AGM next month, more work on the oral history book we are writing, collecting more information  for our next exhibition and making preparations for a special commemoration of the war memorial,  with the 100 yr anniversary of the first world  war being this year. It is going to be a busy year!

I often talk about Hugh our Buff Orpington Cockerel and comment on what a sweet lad he is. Here he is last autumn helping to look after chicks with Mummy Buff. Have you spotted something? mmmmm don't think he is the biological father of that black chick do you?!

Off to rustle some tea together now. D. has gone to fetch Adam for an overnight stay, so I will probably sit down with him to watch "The Voice" as he likes that sort of programme. Later on it is his all-time favourite "Casualty" though he is pretty dischuffed that Josh isn't in it anymore and always asks me if he will be in in it this time?
I still haven't written about our experience in the foot and mouth epidemic. I will put something in my next post.
Until next time dear bloggy friends, thanks ever so much for reading.

PS It has been pointed out to me in the comments below, that I had written second world war instead of first. I have now corrected this, as it was getting on my nerves once I knew ! Thanks Kev and Cro for spotting it.x