Friday, 5 August 2016

More plums? Chain saw update? Kettle update?

So have now canned the plums that have been sitting in the fridge for a few days.
But I am not free of plums, because Lester brought in two more crates last night,
together with a few apples.
Meanwhile, I am supposed to be trying to empty one of the freezers of meat,
which requires cooking and canning whatever is still in that freezer,
which first has to be defrosted.
I was going to do that this morning.
Up at 5am, it would have been good plan to have started that,
but my back kitchen looked such an atrocious mess that I had to attend to it first.

One and a half hours later, the time now being 6.30 am, I had got some order into that space,
but myself said to myself that perhaps a quick nap on the settee might recharge the energies,
which it did, but the window of opportunity to get that freezer sorted out was gone.
Ah well, there is always tomorrow.
I love getting up early. Just saying.
So I have emptied the fridge of plums, got the chunk of bacon I made a month or so ago finally sliced, and felt that I had made a dent in things.
And then in came Lester with those crates of plums and apples.
And just now, at the end of the afternoon, he has romped in with half a bucket of big plump purple plums. And with a joyful shout he said he was now off to get the apples in.
We have not done anywhere near as much veg as we have done in past years, but the fruit harvest this year has been magnificent, and for that we feel blessed.
We are still dithering about whether to get a poly tunnel or not,
and if we do, where would we put it.
We have a long growing season here, so we probably do not need a poly tunnel for some of the year,
but it is the start of the growing season which is the problem. We have such a narrow window for getting the veg plots planted, Spring rains making the soil too wet to work on, and then the sun  bursts forth with a heat that dries everything up within a day or so to a rock hardness. It is then that we could really use a poly tunnel so we can get the vegetables started while the wet season is still with us, which would give the plants a head start when they are planted out. It would also help in the battle with the weeds. Planting veg seeds at the same time as the weeds are also starting to grow almost always ends up with us losing the battle to keep weed free.
It would be nice to have a tidy veg plot.
It makes us quite dispirited when we see the weeds ruling the day.
And so Lester has just brought in another full bucket of plums,
and the apples,
and harvested the sweetcorn,
and picked some more tomatoes.
Last year I didn't have the kitchen facilities that I have now,
so I am finding it a lot easier to process what needs to be done.
So am off to bed now.
Last night I had dreams which echoed my canning work.
I anticipate that that will not change for a week or so yet|!
Hope you are keeping on top of your harvest,
and that your dreams are not peppered with goings on either in your veggie plot or in your kitchen.
And one of these days I might have something different to talk about other than harvesting and chain saws! (Lester had to go to the repair man (not the one he went to at the beginning of the week), because he is having trouble sharpening the chain. He was given another set of instructions about 'How to' so he is going to try again tomorrow. The good thing, though, is that the chain saw is starting first time after the info given to him by the other repair man. Hopefully this new set of info will help him know how to sharpen the chain. He said that he is learning a lot of new things about chain saws.
 Bless him,  his days of working in an office, programming mind blowing difficult code which other people had messed up, and doing this quite easily I hasten to add, those days are so opposite to the life he leads now.
So I just smile encouragingly, knowing what a steep learning curve he is on.
But he did ask me to get the stove kettle cleaned up so he can have that bubbling away on the hob of the Rayburn once winter comes.
I did write a post on January 14th 2015 about that kettle, and did receive some very helpful hints about how to get it clean via my blogging friends.
But unfortunately the job got put to one side, and there it has stayed.
The kettle before I started cleaning it:
...and this is how far I got!

We would like a proper cast iron Aga type range kettle,
but apart from the fact that it would weigh a ton to lift on and off the hob,
they are expensive and shipment to France is high.
So we shall make do with this ditsy kettle,
which I shall clean up after my harvesting work is done,
which should be sometime near Christmas at the speed I am going!
Goodnight, and God Bless.


Anonymous said...

Just a short note to give you a pat on the back for all you manage to do in a day! Did you ever think you would be so busy when you and Lester were contemplating a smallholding? My best to you both and if I was in the area I'd help you weed!

Cro Magnon said...

You're lucky, our apples, pears, and plums have been very poor this year. I have a more traditional aluminium kettle for our stove, bought at a local troc for €1.

Jean said...

I envy you your plums. Our mirabelle trees produced about six plums this year, which the critters got to before we could.
Have you tried "barkeeper's friend" on your kettle? It seems to get most stains, rust and so on off anything. It cleans up sinks beautifully and I got some because it was recommended for removing knife marks from crockery. It was the only thing that worked and it's so useful that I don't know how I lived without it until now. You can get it from Lakeland or via Amazon.

Vera said...

ANONYMOUS, we knew it would be hard work, but it was having to get the house and barns rescued from their ruinous state that took it out of us. Now that work is almost done we have more time to concentrate on the farm. It is hard work, there is no way to deny that, especially because we have both animals and vegetables to look after, but there are so many joyous moments that come along to enjoy, and it is so good for the soul to see the produce coming in. And if ever you were in the area, you would be most welcome to share our world for a while!

CRO MAGNON, Lester says that the fruit trees seem to grow in two year cycles....that it is every other year that they give a good crop, so perhaps next year your trees will be laden with fruit and ours will have be having a holiday!

JEAN, will have a look for the product you mentioned. Sorry to hear about your plums, ..... hopefully you will have a better harvest next year!

Dawn McHugh said...

The use for the poly tunnel I like is keeping things growing all year round, I can spread the harvesting so I dont get gluts and have to spend time in the kitchen endlessly preserving, its also nice to harvest fresh salad and other veg through the seasons, it has also meant I can have a more controlled growing environment giving me a bigger variety in produce, our fruit trees I hope will be fruiting next year properly they are still young trees.

Patricia Ellingford said...

hi vera what about asking a family member to bring an aga kettle with them when they next come over. order it and have it delivered to them. might save a little. ut sounds as though u r having a magnificent harvest. my grandparents always used to say that the trees had two year cycles a heavy production year and then lesser fruit the following year to recover. their bungalow was surrounded by orchards originally 6 acres. it is a lot of hard work at ghe time but it is a blessing as you will have lots of lovely food to keep u going. half the battle is having somewhere cool to keep things whilst keepers friend is goid for brass and copper as well.take care and dont forget to have a little break sut down every so often. pattypan c

Vera said...

DAWN, I agree with your ideas of what a poly tunnel can do, and I find you inspirational with showing us the way forward. The other day we visited a neighbour who is supposed to have a market garden,....she had the most enormous commercial poly tunnel which would make yours look the size of a pea in comparison, but there was no organisation, hardly any use of the space that I could see, and was an example of what not to do with a poly tunnel! Lester and I have different ideas of what to do in a poly though....he is more for using it as a starter for the summer crops whereas I see it as being an environment similar to how you use yours. No doubt we shall sort that dilemma out in time!

PATRICIA, so Lester was right about the fruit trees giving a good yield every two years, with a smaller yield in between! My grandparents also had an orchard, but a very small one, but I still remember the fruit harvests they used to get!

Rhodesia said...

Our fruit is not good this year, only a few plums and a tree load of medlars. We may get some apples later but..... We do though have a an overload of courgettes this year and I have even turned to making ice cream and sorbet with them. Pumpkins look OK, but only a couple of butternuts. Cucumbers in force, best we have ever had. Potatoes I think will be OK when we dig them out. Tomatoes still green and carrots and parsnips looking good. Rhubarb average. Have a good weekend Diane

Vera said...

DIANE, I find courgettes are such a versatile vegetable....I have been making all my cakes with them lately!

Kerry said...

No plums this year so no plum jam sadly, but we had loads of raspberries and rhubarb. The figs are coming and so are the apples but we've nearly filled 3 freezers so I've no idea where I'm going to put all this stuff.

DUTA said...

The kettle looks like a good, nice, solid one - worth a scrub. Me ,I've come to prefer a new ,light, inexpensive kettle to be replaced after a relatively short time for health reasons, as it seems toxic metal and chemical residues accumulate in the old one.

Vera said...

KERRY, our freezers are full of meat so all the fruit and veg produce has to be either dehydrated, canned, or jammed! Envy your raspberry and rhubarb crop as we have none here!

DUTA, I shall get scrubbing soon!

Kirsty Udall said...

Thanks for the idea about canning plums, I always jam mine and eat some in a pie but never thought to can them. That kettle looks like it'll be hard work!

Vera said...

KIRSTY, we would have too much plum jam if I kept jamming them, so canning gives me the option for extending their use. They also dehydrate very well, and I use them in cakes as a substitute for shop bought dried fruit. Ten minutes at 5lb pressure is all the canning time it takes.

minwks said...

Hi Vera, Just catching up on some earlier posts. We are meandering about in the canals of The Netherlands in our boat and do not always have access to the Internet.
I have a small cold frame that I use to jump start the season for lettuce and salad greens. Bruce built it out of some old window frames. We lay it on to our raised beds and it is surprising how much we harvest out of it. I can then move it to allow the greens to continue to grow. I can then use it to harden up any seedlings I may have started inside. I manage to grow enough for ourselves and our sons families.
Our fruit tree expert friend says that if we do not thin our espalier pear and apple trees we will push them into a good year/poor year harvest cycle. So, although it is hard to take off fruit before it is ripe we end up with splendid quality fruit of consistent numbers..... Or so it would seem as we are so often away on the water at harvest time.
Our golden plum seems to be consistent in producing massive quantities of plums.
Always enjoy reading your posts and following your adventures. I would love to have a larger piece of land and animals but I am a land lover and Bruce is happiest on the water.
So compromise has kept us happy for over 46 years together.
Regards Janine