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.
Tough!
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!!!!

Vx

8 comments:

Ohiofarmgirl said...

"hold onto him" ha!! yay you! and most excellent that you have milk. i made butter the other day (we have a "connection" for cream) and it was heavenly. i had to look up what a hawthorn was... and now i know what a sloe gin is!
:-)

Vera said...

OhioFarmGirl, I bet you felt good eating that butter! And glad to have expanded your knowledge about hawthorns, ......and sloe gin! I just might have a go at that gin thing one day, just as an experiment!

Mizumatte said...

Verhere in north Europe hawtorn is a healthy berry, if uoy look at www.herbwisdom.com/herb-hawthorn so you can read more I can only in finnish. take care Jaana

Jean said...

Would a spell in the freezer be the same as a frost for the sloe berries? Just a thought....

northsider dave said...

We have had some funny looks when we bought a nanny goat and put her in the back of our car. You must be very strong to hold on to a ram.

Tim said...

Vera....
you do not need to make Sloe Gin....
you can equally easily make Sloe Rum....
we use the 55%ABV White Rum from Martinique...
same method...
but don't bother pricking them all over...
ram them in the freezer [the ones you've already put there will do just fine]....
take them out and let them thaw, then back into the freezer...
that breaks down the tissues inside the skin.
Take them back out and thaw slightly....
then just cut a slit in each one as you put them in the 1.5Litre LeParfait jar.
Add 200gms of sugar only and fill up with the gin...
invert and revert twice a day for the first fortnight...
shake it all about once a day for the next fortnight....
[the Sloe Rum that is]...
then tuck in a dark, but not cold, place for the next two months...
or Christmas Eve....
whichever is the earlier!!
Decant through muslin....
or one of Lester's clean handkerchiefs...
[which will never be the same again...]
add more sugar to taste at this point...
some commercial ones are cloyingly sweet because all the sugar goes in at the beginning.

You cannot taste either rum....
or the juniper in the gin, if used...
in the finished liquor...
just nice warming plummy flavours...
just the thing to ward off the winter chills!!

Vera said...

Jaana, thanks for the link....

Northsider Dave, the ram had his feet tied but he wriggled the rope undone on this front legs, which enabled him to fidget! I don't think I am very strong, but I do have strong hands thanks to the practising I do on the piano accordion and keyboard!

Tim....ooohhhh dear!!!! You have convinced me into having a go! Thanks for the info, and for taking the time to get it written out for me.

Niall & Antoinette said...

Oh, well done you with the ram!