Monday, 25 August 2014

The lost hawthorns, a newcomer, and milk.....

Continuing on with Wild Foodying.....
The Hawthorn Project, 
the gathering of the leaves and berries. 

..... it hasn't happened, because we did have hawthorns alongside a portion of our woodland, but now there is not. Was it the constant flooding from the river last winter, do hawthorns not like wet feet? Or is it the bully-boy tactics of the robust blackthorn bushes, which are romping away, growing much more of itself, thereby suffocating the hawthorns into non-existence. Anyway, I was quite disappointed that my foraging expedition turned out to be a failure.

However, there is one hawthorn left, and that is on the side of the veg plot, which Lester had earmarked to be dug up because he wanted to shift the fence line and it was in the way. Oh so now it has become protected and untouchable, because I am expecting great harvests in the future from that little bush.

But I did pick up on another Wild Foodying Project, and that is the harvesting of the blackthorn berries, sloes they are called. A search on the internet as to what to do with them came up with the info that they can be used very successfully to make sloe gin, which apparently is a super duper drink to have a Christmas. This does not appeal, so further searches came up with the info that jam and chutney can be made from the sloes, but only after they have had the frost on them. No use waiting for frost here because the birds would have had them away long before the cold spell arrives, so I shall pick them and keep them in the freezer until I have time to do something with them.

The acorns are now dropping off our numerous oak, so I did another internet search to see if they were harvestable for us, but no, I do not think so because of the many steps that has to be done to make them usable to eat. Therefore, they are to be harvested for the pigs, who fall over with delight whenever acorns are given to them.


10.30 this morning saw us on the road.
11.45 saw us back home again,
with the mission of the day being unsuccessful.
What were we up to?
Getting a boy for our girls,
in other words,
getting a ram for our ewes. 
Emailed directions concentrated on looking for a 'Virgin Mary' and a pigeonnier.
We saw plenty of 'Jesus on the Cross' statues,
but none of Virgin Mary, and defo no pigeonnier.
Still, it was a lovely drive....

Not to worry.
A phone call to the current owners of the ram remedied the situation,
and a second foray was successful.

2.30 this afternoon,
and I was holding on to a hot and sweaty ram,
who was sat in the back seat of the car.
He did not much like being there.
I was not much fussed about having to hang over the back of the front passengers seat,
having been instructed by Lester to "Hold onto him".
Good job I have strong fingers,
a result of hours of practice on the accordion and piano.
But I did feel queasy.
Going backwards was not something me or my tummy liked very much.
Anyway, he is home now,
but has to be kept away from his girls for a few weeks,
this he does not like either.
We have to put four ewes into the freezer before he can do his thing.
It is the way of life on a smallholding.


And we have milk coming into the kitchen,
Lester having milked a litre from Lissie,
who did not mind at all,
although the boy calf did not look too fussed about sharing his supper.

Tonight he is in with his half sister, Bonny,
because Lester is going to try milking Lissie tomorrow morning instead of the evening.
Yahay!!! Milk!!!!


Friday, 22 August 2014

Planks, stiffness, concreting still.....

And we are trudging on with the cementing. No camp yesterday, just did house jobs in between filling the concrete mixer......and it was late afternoon when I started turning into a plank...... and I was made to move about as if I was an elderly lady,...... but then I do have a quantity of years behind me, so should not be so surprised when my body reminds me of them. 

..... but, nevertheless, we carried on with getting the kitchen floor done. Only one  section remains undone, which is work for today. Then it is the filling in of the joins tomorrow (Saturday), and then we are finished.  Hooray!!!  Sunday,  being the day of rest for some,  will not be for us, as we head out into the paddocks to get the fencing finished so that the piglets and their mum can get out onto grass.They need to stretch their legs, and the food bill is escalating now the piglets are eating grain, so they need to get onto grass so they can root around and dig holes, a past time which little piggies love. This will also reduce the cost of keeping them.  I have also earmarked Sunday as the day I am going to have a go at sourdough, as inspired by Horst (see his blog in the side bar). all I have to do is get my butt out of this chair, get dressed, and go start that cement mixer, fighting the inclination all the while to catch a nap, preferably back in bed. Lester is out and about getting the animals sorted out for the day, and I know that he is as tired as I am. He is building a handsome set of muscles, though, which are very much appreciated by myself. I am also firming up, and will have benefited from the concreting work once the planky stiffness goes away. All in all, this is a good lifestyle to get one fitter and trimmer, better than going down the gym or vegetating in front of the telly, although vegetating in bed is a very seductive thought at this precise moment.... I need to get going otherwise I shall remain fixed into this chair for the rest of the day, saying bye for now, and hope you have a good day. 



10.30 pm, and it is now the evening of the day. 

..... and despite being cross eyed with tiredness we got that cement mixer going, and the last portion of floor has been laid,
which means that the floor is done,
although the seams need to be filled in,
which is lighter work compared to the rest of the floor. 

We finished just in time to celebrate our efforts,
so it was off to our local winery to get five litres of red wine straight from the vats, 
which cost all of about £5,
and then off the to the local supermarket to buy chocolate among other things,
because we felt the need to pamper ourselves,
which we don't often do,
but then it is not often we concrete a floor!


Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Camping out

.......I not have been 'camping out' in the accepted sense, as in rucksack, boots, tent, and sleeping bag, no, this was my camp site for the day of yesterday.....

.... attending as I was to the feeding of the cement mixer,
so that the kitchen floor chappe could be continued by Lester,
because one day soon I shall have a 'proper' kitchen,
and wahoooooo!!! what a grand day that will be. 
But for the time being, I manage,
most times with a smile on my face,
but sometimes with a grouch. 

Anyway, there I was, camping out again. To fill in the time between loading the cement mixer,and to stop myself from getting grotty, because I don't like hanging about doing nothing, I do things, providing I have a handy chair to sit upon because my legs don't like having to stand for too long. Low blood pressure, that's the problem, although I have just come across the info that hawthorn can help with this condition, because it is a 'heart herb' apparently. Since we have lots of hawthorn growing on the farm, I thought it would be a good wild foodying project to pick some leaves and dehydrate them so I can partake of their apparent excellent therapeutic properties during the winter. The berries also carry beneficial properties, but there was some discussion on the internet about whether or not the seeds were poisonous, so I am going to pick the berries, and then decide what to do with them later on. 

And this loop of internet searching also came up with the info that blackberry leaves are also super duper goodies for the body, so I am going to pick lots of them and get them dried as well. It would probably be best to pick the leaves of the hawthorn and blackberry during their lush spring growth but, no matter, now will do.

The tomato harvest has not happened this year, although we managed to save a bowlful, but they starting rotting too, so into the dehydrator they have gone.

.....together with some kale, which is another super duper producer of healthful properties, so the internet said.

Anyway, back to the Tuesday camp. By my chair I had my bag of knitting, which hardly ever gets touched, but I still have the need to always have some knitting handy, just in case I feel the need. And in front of my chair was the project of the day, which was to harvest the fennel seeds from these glorious tall plants......

..... so, three bowls.....

..... one for the seeds, one for the seed heads, and one for the seedless leavings. Cup of tea, bottle of water laced with cider vinegar, gloves to help my hands not complain too much about when messing about with the concrete mixer, and that was my camp. 

So for all the day long, except lunch time, I trotted to and fro with sand and cement, feeding the concrete mixer when it was made to be empty by Lester, and in between I sat and picked the seeds from off the seed heads of the fennel. voila! 

..... a bowl of fennel, which is something else I don't have to buy from the supermarket. I have always used some herbs and spices in cooking, but now we are providing much of our own food I am using more of them to offset the tendency towards 'sameness' in the taste of our food. To come across a grain of fennel in one's mouth during the eating of the DIY meal, and to feel that grain burst into its liquorice loveliness as it is crunched down on is such a delight. 

So the fennel will be added to the herb and spices store, and I shall go out and about and see what else I can 'borrow' from the wild after I have raided the hawthorn and blackberry shrubs. In my own small way I feel like a 'hunter gatherer' of olden times. 

Boy Calf has learnt what a delight it is to chase the sheep. The occupants of one of the bee hives are in trouble, we think, because they seem to be drunkenly lurching when going to and fro their hive, or it might be a ploy to confuse the ever present hornet attack. The hens have abandoned the tree and now roost along the benches outside the house. To hear them zizz and snore as I go to and fro between half barn and house at night (at the moment we can't go through the kitchen because of the wet floors so we have to go between half barn and house outside) makes me smile. Oh, and now I have wet snouts poking at me, telling me that the dogs need off I must go into my day...... voila!

.....more of the kitchen floor is finished. It is looking good. Concreting again today. It does feel like a bit of a plod sometimes, but our spirits are being lifted because we are having a go, and are making a reasonable job. It is not perfect, but it will do, proving that it is better to try and fail than never to have tried at all, because you might not fail, you might surprise yourself and discover that your fears did not do you justice, because you actually can do that which you thought you could not. 

Sending blessings to you.......