Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Sitting on the front door step.....

Sitting by the front door, spinning. I often wonder about the people who have lived in the house over the years, especially those of long ago, and wonder what they would make of our rescue of it from a ruin. I don't feel that anywhere else in the house, just on the front door step. 

I put the remnants of the last fleece I was spinning on the compost pile because there were only a few handfuls of fleece left to spin, and they were being difficult and unhelpful as I tried to create a yarn from it, so out it went. And this is the next fleece I am spinning. It has its mucky bits, probably from under the parts that were on the lower half of the animal. Some people sort out the best of the fibres from the not so good, but I don't, I spin everything.

This fleece was stored in a dustbin bag, but even so it has stayed full of puff and fluffiness. I have noticed when fleece is washed that it seems to flatten during the drying process, so I prefer to wash the wool after it has been spun. I also like the feeling of being close to the sheep that the fleece used to be protecting from the elements, and I also like the soft smell of the sheep still lingering upon it. 

And the magic of seeing a twist of yard coming out of the fibres of the fleece. No matter how much I spin, it still fills me with awe,,,,

The Dye Project:

The production line of producing dye to colour the spun wool seems to have come to a halt, mostly because over the weekend I went through a bad patch of feeling overwhelmed by the work we are looking towards doing in the future.  Must have been the full moon which brought that on, because once the eclipse of Monday morning was done I felt a lot better!

As for the dye.....

I am still processing the sloes I picked last week. I had a look in the pot just now, and wow, the aroma of sweetness that came out of the now fermenting sloes was gorgeous, and well worth sniffing at every so often for the rest of the day. They are not supposed to be fermenting, but I don't suppose it will make any difference to the dye. The colour is beautiful.....deep purple to  a raspberry red when it is watered down slightly. 

In the kitchen......

I continue to dehydrate the riper tomatoes, thinking that that is the quickest way to get them into storage. A lot of the tomatoes are rotting now, but I have been cooking them up for the pigs. The chickens were getting them, but we have decided that if the chickens are 'free range' chickens then they need to go out and about to find their food, and not stop hanging about in the courtyard waiting to be fed, or getting the bedding in the cow barn all mucked up, or harass us when we try to do jobs outside.  They also get bored, especially the cockerels, who then start harassing the hens or squabbling amongst themselves. And  they leave poo everywhere for us to step into. They are fed morning and evening. The rest of the time they are out and about. 

But they are not allowed in the veg plot. I have just planted six rows of broad beans, two rows of winter lettuce, and several rows of garlic. They will surely find them, of that I have no doubt! So I have barricaded the entrance to the veg plot in the hopes that they will not go in there.

The last batch of meat I cooked up, which was chevre (goat) produced two meals for us, plus five jars of meat, plus lots of bits and pieces for the dogs, plus bones for them as well. 
The jars in the photo are much fuller of meat than what they look..... I think the canning process must pressurize the meat down to what looks like half the contents in the jars! 
So in total, I now have meat meals for eleven days, which is a good start.

And a raid in the freezer produced this large chunk of belly of pork, so that is going to be made into bacon. I have just made a quiche with some of the last lot of bacon I made, and it tasted really nice. After my first disappointment with making DIY bacon, I am now really pleased at what can be produced. 

And the next meat to be canned: two legs of pork. 

They have been slow cooked with seasonings, and now are being roasted, so another roast dinner for us, then into the canning jars the meat will go. 

It does feel like a production line of food processing at the moment, but I am getting used to the work it involves. I know I have said this before, but it does give a secure feeling knowing that no matter what happens we shall not go hungry. 

Off to get the pork legs out of the oven, and carry on with getting lunch done.
It is a bit of a trek to do this though, because I am banned from using the hallway in the centre of the house because work is being done on them today. So it is out of the door of the half barn, turn right, walk across the courtyard to the tall barn, turn right, walk through that barn (chasing any chickens out who might be thinking of getting into the cow pens), then the middle barn, turn right into the back kitchen. To get to the front kitchen takes a bit longer because I have to retrace my steps back to the half barn, walk through that, turn left. 
I counted 150 steps each way, which is not good if you have forgotten something you need which is in the kitchen other to where you are. 
Not to worry, in a few days the tiles will go down, and the space will be finished, apart from being painted. 

I can smell the meat cooking, so best go and rescue it.

Bye for now,



Horst in Edmonton said...

Love the front door image, it looks so picturesk, very antique. I'm sure that your house is starting to look more like what it looked like when it was newly built.

Cro Magnon said...

Do you not make ham? I haven't made one for a while, but always loved doing it. About a month under a sweetened salt mix, then hug up for about 6 months; it was so easy to make, and absolutely delicious. You seem to be very industrious.

Vera said...

HORST, we are pleased with the front doors as well, especially because they have stopped cold air coming into the house. We are starting to have quite cold nights, and these doors plus the other work that has been done to the house, is keeping the temperatures of the house still quite warm, which is a blessing after having had seven winters here!

CRO MAGNON, I haven't made ham yet, but want to. We have one young pig left to slaughter and I was hoping to make ham with a piece of that meat but will probably brine and then cook it rather than air drying it, and will try air drying later on. I don't think I am industrious....just someone who is living the life of a smallholder as best she can!

Kerry said...

Beautiful front door. Not sure how old your house is, but so many people must have stepped in and out. It is definitely a busy time of year in the kitchen, no meat here but lots of fruit and veg to get bottled and frozen x

Vera said...

KERRY, our house is about 200 years old, so lost of people would have come to and fro the house. Bottling, freezing, crikey......will it ever end this year!

northsider dave said...

I often what my ancestors would think about all the changes we have made to the farm. I am sure the previous owners of your house would approve of your renovations Vera.

Rhodesia said...

Vera you never cease to amaze me what you get up to and how you manage to fit it all into a day. I just seem to spend my life in the kitchen at this time of the year and only with the fruit and veg, bottling mostly because the freezer is full. I have bought a dehydrator which will be delivered to my FIL in the UK on Friday, we will collect it when we go over at Xmas. Same as yours, but no timer which you said was not necessary. I am looking forward to using it next year, what is there that you have found does not dehydrate well? Obviously there is still preparation for dehydrating but hopefully it will speed things up a bit for me. Take care Diane

ally said...

What a lovely photograph! Our house in Normandy was built in 1764 and I have had one or two psychic experiences within La Maison d'Alice. All well and settled now though. Hope the dyeing is coming along well. Don't know if you got hold of mordants or not but fear your lovely dyes may just wash straight out!

Vera said...

NORTHSIDER DAVE: I think the owners of past times would be alright with what we have done as well, in particular that we have also returned Labartere into being a small farm, which it was in early times before later owners from Paris bought it as a holiday home and rented out the fields to local farmers who then took out all the hedgerows and fruit trees making it a land without soul!

DIANE, oh well done, and yes, you were right not to get a timer. I never use mine, just switch the dehydrator on and off it goes. Lots of help on the internet with dehydrating, but ignore any silly advice like making sure all the slices of food is the same size because veg and fruit are never uniform in shape and size.

I have two dehydrator books: 'Dehydrator by Mary Bell', and the Excalibur' 'Preserve it naturally'. I would not recommend the book by Mary Bell, but the Excalibur book is very useful. I would also recommend 'The Ultimate Dehydrator Cookbook: The Complete Guide to Drying Food' by Tammy Gangnoff. I have not as yet purchased this book, but it was her YouTube videos which got me started with dehydrating. She is a bit clean and tidy in the kitchen (not an ounce of mud or rotten veg anywhere!) and wears plastic gloves to handle the food (she did in the early videos, not sure if she still does), but get past that and you will get good info from her.

The only thing which did not dehydrate very well was green tomatoes, but everything else is fine. As I say, plenty of info on the internet, .....and if says blanch the vegetables first then do so because it helps the rehydration process. You probably would anyway, but I didn't and the vegetables stayed all dry and shrivelled up when I tried to rehydrate them.

You will enjoy your dehydrator, I am sure of that. It has been a real blessing for me this year because of not having had time to get the vegetables and fruit into jams, chutneys, and canning jars.

ALLY: the only 'psychic' experiences I have had here are on the front porch when I am spinning! I can 'feel' the people of times past very much when sitting there.

The dyeing project is at a halt at the moment because of building work going on here, but I am aware of mordants and know where to get them, but I do expect some of the dyes to still wash out, which will leave the woven cloth looking wonderfully aged. I am not a one to like hard and bright colours, and want to have a faded look to the finished cloth. In fact, I would be disappointed if some of the dye did not wash out!

My Life in the Charente said...

Thanks so much Vera. I have copied your comment and saved it, I am looking forward to using it next year :-)) Diane

Vera said...

DIANE, ..... and looking forward to reading about how you get on with your dehydrator! Vx

minwks said...

Hi Vera, just love to read your blog. Thank you for taking time to write.
Here in Tsawwassen BC we have access to blueberries and found them almost impossible to dehydrate. I am ready to make green tomato chutney. Wish I had more land but my lovely hubby needs to spend half of the summer on the water on our boat so it is best at this time in our life to have smaller gardens and no animals.
Keep it njoying life and do hope the luxury of the Rayburn will be achieved this winter.
Regards Janine

Vera said...

JANINE, sometimes I wish I had a small garden and less animals, but only for a few minutes do I think that! Thank you for saying that you enjoy the blog, and it is because of people like you that I continue to write about our life here. Vx