Monday, 25 July 2016

Lester's sore thigh, his sawing efforts, and jamming.....

Lester is upset.
He has a long red weal along his upper thigh,
which has the merest drop of blood in one corner,
but not enough to do a good trickle,
just a small bright bead of blood,
that is all it is.
It was the big black cockerel that did it, Lester said,
came up from behind as he was feeding the hens,
With spurs raised and claws outstretched did the cockerel charge
Lester is not pleased.
Said that the cockerel would be going in the pot.
Said "Why did he do that?!" he said,
as he lifted his shorts to show me the extent of the wound.
But it was not a mortal wound,
so I could not help but smile,
no sticking plaster, no bandage needed,
and my offer of spraying the weal with a vinegar potion
was not accepted,
and so I said that perhaps the cockerel charged
because he thought that Lester was a cockerel as well.
Lester is wearing shorts today.
Between feet and shorts are his legs,
which to a cockerel this could look like the legs of another cockerel.
Cockerels have big feet, long legs,
then what looks like feathery pantaloons at the top of their legs.
I think that the sight of  Lester in his shorts
must have got the cockerel confused,
and thus he took it upon himself to go into battle,
but not by making a full frontal attack,
the coward,
but then Lester is much bigger than him,
so he did an attack from the rear.
Today's camp.....
....doing a bit of spinning
keeping Lester company while he starts the long job of getting the wood cut for the coming winter, because living the life of a smallholder requires that we work ahead of ourselves.
He used the chain saw. I kept an eye on him. Lester and me do not like the chain saw. I only let him use if for an hour, just enough for his concentration to still be reasonably sharp, after that it would possibly dwindle away. Chain saws are mean machines. Any errors of use would not easily be forgiven by it.
However, all went well, and the log pile was started.
And in the kitchen......
the greengages have been picked....

....two trays of them....

which made twelve pots of jam.
I normally use jam pot covers to seal the hot jam,
but I thought I would have a go at sealing the jam in canning jars,
which is the way the Americans make jam.
It was quite a lot of faffing around,
because I had to hot water bath the jam filled jars to seal them.
I find that using the canner to seal jars is no problem at all,
but having to fill a large pot full of water and then bring it to the boil just scares the life out of me.
Apparently you can't can jam in a canner, it has to be done in a water bath,
but fortunately Lester was around to help,
and the job was done.
During the process I did think that it was taking a lot of effort,
but feeling the seals stuck tight to those jars makes me feel confident that the jam will stay mould free. Using the jam pot covers was a bit hit or miss, with the jams starting to show signs of mould the longer they stayed in storage.
The rest of the plums I dehydrated....
and they made 500g of dehydrated fruit several hours later. These will be added to cakes and desserts instead of shop bought dried fruit.
Lester's leg is getting better, so I think he was more upset about being attacked by the cockerel  than about the wound itself.
I now need to go and wash up the jam making things because he has just brought in our next plum harvest......
Bye for now,


Dawn McHugh said...

Poor lester and poor confused cockerel, I keep making little inroads on the spinning,although there always seems to be something else to take my attention, we havent got plums, well we have one tree need some planted around the place :-)

Vera said...

DAWN, I think the cockerel has issues anyway, so we shall not be keeping him. I have not been doing much spinning either, like you say, something always seems to get in the way. Plums are our best trees for fruit....apricots and peaches are hit or miss so are hardly worth the effort, and the apple trees look like giving us a good harvest this year, which is the first year they have done so. But the plums,...we planted several different types, all of which are doing well. For us here in SW France, they are the happiest of the fruit trees we have here.

rosaria williams said...

Ah, so much to do on a farm! I hate canning, so I freeze or dry my fruit and produce, or turn them into cakes and muffins and freeze for the winter. We had to purchase a big freezer, and keep track of dates, but all works out.

Patricia Ellingford said...

Hello Vera

I love reading your charming blog, and I am sorry I had to chuckle at the thought of Lester's legs imitating a very large cockerels legs! Was a little glum until I got to that point. Sorry Lester you were only strutting your stuff.

I have a Bielmeier hot water steriliser pasteuriser which is quite large like a very large tea earn but it is ideal for doing hot water bathing here is the one I have - I got it off Amazon but several people do it its just about sorting the right price They also do a stainless steel version and if you want to cook in it best go for the stainless steel one as it has a bottom in on top of the element which the plastic one doesn't so it would make a right mess of the element. They also do a juice extractor for the top which I have yet to use - destined to be christened making some apple juice out of some eating apples I have. The instruction book is not brilliant but the potential I think is. Very clean to use and can leave it in its corner to its own devices once you get used to it. Go for one with the timer and with the temperature control on. I know you are getting a lot of crops one after the other and time is at a premium when you get gluts this might make things easier as it is a hot water bath/pasteuriser just not one you use on the kitchen stove. I am deeply envious - but you have worked hard for it and its something you have done. I use the hot water bathing method with a lot of jams and have used it with curds as well and they last a lot longer on the shelf. My grandparents had a smallholding some 6 acres most of it set to apple orchards and whatever they grew and they grew a lot Nan used to share all the crops through the family so we grew up with good veg and apple, plums, pears, and a soft fruit garden as well as the orchards which I also miss - sadly lost when she passed. Look forward to your further posts I love seeing what you have been up to.

Take care.



Marty Damon said...

Good grief! The industry displayed in your posts is stunning! You're certainly going to eat well.

Cottontail Farm said...

I had to look to see what greengages were. They sure look lovely.

Cottontail Farm said...

I think blogger ate my comment :( I was trying to say that I had to look up what greengages were as I've never seen them. They look lovely. Are they common there? I water bath my jams and jellies as well, It's worth it to know that they will keep for a long, long time. I just use a stockpot woth a trivit on the bottom anymore instead of getting out the huge canning pot.

Janice said...

I love canning, and being Canadian we can the same way they do in the U.S. I read a lot of British, European and Australian blogs and their method seems much easier. I just made 11 jars of marmalade and used the British method and I even turned the jars upside down and I was very pleased that they all sealed. I would only do this way for jam though. I don't think I would chance it with anything else.

Cro Magnon said...

Our Greengages have been hopeless this year, last year I halved and froze them; it worked very well. We once had a vicious Cockerel called 'Big Business'. He used to attack everyone; the Fox got him in the end.

Vera said...

ROSARIA, freezing produce is not an option for us although we do have three freezers, but they are full of meat!

PATRICIA, (PATTYPAN), thanks for giving me so much info about water bath canning. I am using my All American canner to water bath in, but I do like the unit you mentioned. I have had a look at in on Amazon and will investigate further later on. Thank you so much for taking the time to send me this info.

MARTY, we are managing to eat a lot of our food now, trouble is that we are getting sensitive to mass produced food now and tend to have stomach upsets if we eat too much of commercial food!

COTTONTAIL FARM, I do 2 kg batches of fruit for jamming, which makes six pots of jam, and my All American Canner is the only pot big enough to water bath them! But it is far to heavy for this use, so am looking in to getting a different unit. Greengages seem to like this region, although I don't know if they would grow wild here. They are quite a sharp tasting fruit so the jam they make carries just a hint of that sharpness, which we like. If using as a canned fruit, they sweeten up wonderfully well in their syrup of sugar water.

JANICE, I have always made jam the English way, but find that the jams can get mould on the top of them after a while. A fellow blogger recently wrote about canning jam the American way which set me on the path of having a go as well. While it does take a lot more effort, I think the longer shelf life will be worth it. As for making marmalade, we eat that as we go, so I would do the same as you did!

CRO MAGNON, I have been hoping that the fox might get our hooligan cockerel! As for the greengages....they have done well this year, but the tree will probably have a rest next year and decide not to give us fruit!

northsider dave said...

Chain saws are very dangerous Vera. You could do with a tractor log splitter to make life easier. I have had a few scrapes and injuries with farm animals and there is nothing worse than pain.

Rhodesia said...

I just make my jam, (using jam sugar for speed, so much quicker) then I just put it in jam jars and put the lid straight on. In no time I get a satisfying pop to say the jar is sealed. I opened jam the other day dated 2010 and it was perfect!!! I have never had a problem yet and I use this method mostly for jams, pickles and chutneys as well. All my friends collect jars for me which I wash well and sterilise in the oven before using them. The jam is poured straight into hot jars. Hope all is well Diane

Vera said...

NORTHSIDER DAVE, we shall probably get him a log splitter eventually, but he needs other tools first!

DIANE, I might have a try at your method on the marmalade I am making next!

rusty duck said...

Oh dear, poor Lester. I'm glad he's on the mend. You have to hand it to the cockerel though, taking on someone so much bigger than himself..

Vera said...

JESSICA, that cockerel was silly. I think he realised this after Lester and the dogs chased him round the courtyard several times. His tail feathers are now nearly no more after the dogs kept chewing on them!

Ohiofarmgirl said...

we always say that life is too short for a mean rooster... i'm very sorry for Lester's injury. and your beans look terrific! great work!

Vera said...

OFG, Lester was not to badly wounded, more his pride than anything else!

LaPré DelaForge said...

I have never heard of such a complicated way of making something as high in sugar as jam.... we use the same method as Diane...
as the jam comes up to wrinkle stage, preheat the oven to 110 centipede...
put the freshly washed jars and lids downwards onto kitchen roll on a baking tray and place into the oven...
Pauline actually whacks them in at the same time as she sets the heat... and put the jam funnel in as well if it is a metal one.
Leave at 110C for at least ten minutes!
When the jam wrinkles on the testing plate, get the jam funnel out and your ladle ready... take first tray out and place beside the jam pan... fill jar, place funnel in next jar... put lid on first and get Lester to tighten it down firmly!! Place aside to cool... seal is perfect if lid dips inward...only certain lids give that satisfying pop!
The jam keeps forever... we only know this because we make more than we eat!!
I have just opened a jar of Rhubarb & Ginger Jam from July 15th...2006...the lid opened with a loud pop, so the vacuum had held perfectly... and the taste is as expected, wonderful!! in Cock o'Vinnie... kicked me, once, from behind... as I used to play rugby and was wearing my 'Crocs'.... he was punted fully across the run... I walked up to and around him... he squared up to me and looked about to spring... so I gave a very loud "coccorico" and punted him back to where he'd attacked me in the first place.
He has never tried again... he met a bigger cockerel!!
In fact, he now allows me to ruffle his hackles...

LaPré DelaForge said...

Also never ever invert your full jars of jam... as before the vaccuum forms, a very small amount of liquid creeps out under the rim of the jar...
this is the perfect place for growing mould.
It doesn't harm the contents...
but looks horrible and means you cannot give the jars away as presents!!
You also have to clean both jar rim and lid before you put them back avoid problems of mould spores from the rim getting into the jar and pristine jam!!

And I notice that Lester isn't wearing chainsaw trousers...
as an ex-Forester, I say he really must..
a chainsaw doesn't cut flesh, it tears...
I have seen the results!!
Chainsaw trousers from Stihl only cost 149Euros... a small price to pay to avoid permanent disability. And logging, where you are always cutting down and towards you, is where the most common accidents to the legs occurs!!
The stuffing in the trousers stops the chainsaw immediately... flesh from your leg doesn't!!

Vera said...

LAPRE DELA FORGE, sorry for late response, and once again thanks for the valuable info. Lester does normally wear thick work trousers and boots for chain sawing, but I shall make sure he does not forget after your wise words!

Will try the jam making method you used, but will have to buy in proper jamming jars with the proper lids otherwise I don't think they will make an efficient seal. I only inverted a jar full of jam once, and that was after being given the info from a French neighbour, but I am not fussed with messing about with boiling hot jam anyway, and the feeling that the lid might give way and that I would end up with hot jam all over the place did make me feel uneasy. Never did it again after that!

LaPré DelaForge said...

Vera, thick work trousers are NOT chainsaw trousers!! There is a world... a dangerous world, of difference.
And the jars that you are using for your jam...
Familia Wiss... are the best there are!! NO NEED for special jamming jam jars... no need at all!!
Just remember to use a new insert every other go... or everytime if it is a chutney or pickle...the vinegar is a killer on the inserts!
But, Familia Wiss is the way to go...