Friday, 28 April 2017

Bank holiday plans.

Our surrounding farms are in full swing.  They have their cattle out in the fields, who were obviously really interested in something, so much so they lined up in a semi-circle for it.
The currant bushes are laden!  I am really excited as I can't wait to make those delicious cordials again that we made last year.  I'll be stocking up on them this year though, to preserve rather than use right away.
We've been eating asparagus and purple sprouting broccoli a few times a week.  So far we've had it whole and in stir fries and it's delicious.  I've got a load of PSB in for 2018 as it's a lovely crop to have and fills the gap when waiting for the next years crops and finishing the last of the leeks and so on.  It takes almost a full year to harvest, so it's in a separate bed near the fruit trees.  Time will tell if it's any good there.



This coming weekend is a bank holiday and we're spending some of it with friends and the rest of it in the veg plots and paddocks.  The pigs will hopefully be moving to their new accommodation on Sunday.  We're out Saturday otherwise we'd do it before and if they escape, we need to be on site for it.  We'll be home Sunday and Monday as normal, so that seems sensible.
In the veg areas I want to get some more plants out but I'm hesitant after this week's frosts.  I also need to get a lot of things potted on and some more sown to ensure successional sowing.  I'll give the ones that are out already a feed and some pellets for the slugs (no hedgehogs can get in, it's rabbit proofed for those who worry).
I'll be checking on the fruit and nut trees that we have recently planted but I won't need to water them as we've had rain, snow and sleet in parts.  Shot lived but enough to water them.
The main crop potatoes are showing through so I will earth them up and cover them in the ongoing battle with the chickens.
I am also going to try and get something done with the field that I flattened.  I used my fiesta, as in my car.  I asked the farmers, tried to pay people and looked online.  No one could help, so I used my initiative.  I knocked myself sick going backwards and forwards, but the job's done.  Now I need to get the grass seed sown.  Obviously the ground is flat and hard, so I need to get my thinking cap on.  I have basic tools only!
I've been weeding as often as I can, to try and stay on top of it so they don't take a hold.  The weeds get thrown onto the pile of 'scrap but useful' items we keep behind the barn and the chickens see to it.  They love scratching round in them.

A busy weekend planned.  It's all too much for Rodney and Buster.



Monday, 24 April 2017

2017 Easter holidays in LOTS of photos

I have been lucky enough to have a week off work over Good Friday and Easter Monday.  I spent this at home with the kids and Ste managed to get a couple of days off too.  We got though a tonne of "work".  Work being things we enjoy doing to get our smallholding up and running, something we love!  It's not the usual feelings people associate with hearing they have had work to do. 
I thought the easiest ways to capture everything was to go photo heavy today and do the next few posts on specifics for those who have detailed interests. 
Happy photos!

Grace getting her vitamin D smallholder style!
We had time to spend with the pigs, who ALWAYS want more food.
I stood to gaze at the neighbour'scows who had gone down to the river for a drink in the April heat
I literally stood admiring my lettuce - now that's something I never thought I would say when I was younger!
We had time to watch the poultry.  It's mating/breeding season and their antics are hilarious!
Of course there is always time for another brew
It wasn't just us humans keeping a close eye on things
Some of us had more time to rest than others
Rhubarb cordial was the order of the day with the seasons amazing offerings - 7kg we have harvested already over the last month
Baa-bara was just checking her hair looked ok
We did some back breaking weeding but are pleased with the results and used membrane to help keep the weeds down in the future
Looking tidy I think?
The new blueberry spot.... which was filled with special compost where the blueberries are planted
The dog's had a bath (she didn't realise they didn't want bathing!  Poor Rodney)
The ducklings went in to their new home and loved it.  They've been accepted by the flock so that's excellent.
Grace got back on Jake after losing some of her confidence and was happy
Dotty the chicken kept an eye on the ducklings...from the duck house of all places!
We hatched and lost a gosling.  Very sad times but no doubt for a reason.
We planted out, only to discover their is a frost planned for most of this week!
We did battle with the chickens on who's potatoes they are...we are winning so far
We studied the veg plot plan....
and checked on our livestock daily as normal
some of us even sat down and enjoyed a beer whilst we checked.....see where Grace gets it from? ;)
We planted 2 hazelnut and 1 Victoria plum tree
The kids played in the river's side line and got on!
We discovered eggs in places there should be no eggs

This is an embankment - we planted blackberry bushes along the fence line on our boundaries
We got drunk and laughed at silly things

 
The best part of the holidays...we did all of this together as a family. We had family and friends over and we laughed, cried and made memories and plans. 
My kind of perfect :)
  
 
 
 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 









Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Herbs and tomato flowers

I have made some progress with starting our little kerb garden, but of course nothing like what I originally thought.  I ordered the following herbs from Victoriana Nurseries and instead of planting them into the ground, I've potted them on into larger pots until we decide where we want to put them permanently. 
# 1 x Angelica Plant
# 1 x Bay Plant
# 1 x Chamomile Plant
# 1 x Chive Plant
# 1 x Curry Plant
# 1 x Feverfew Plant
# 1 x Lemon Balm Plant
# 1 x Mint Plant - Moroccan Mint
# 1 x Oregano Plant
# 1 x Rosemary Plant - Common Rosemary
# 1 x Thyme Plant - Common Thyme
# 1 x Horseradish Plant Available from approximately late April 2017
# 1 x Hyssop Plant - Blue  Available from approximately May 2017
# 1 x Lovage Plant  Available from approximately late April 2017
# 1 x Marjoram Plant Available from approximately May 2017
# 1 x Lemon Grass 'East Indian' Plant Available from approximately May 2017

This is the bay plant which I've taken one branch from to see if I can grow it on into a tree.  I have plenty of time to offer.

This is the tea plant which is coming on well now it is in a bigger pot.
 
I think it was Dawn who introduced me to this website, so thank you.
A lot of the herbs double up as medicinal and not just culinary.  That's what I love about the VN as on their website they give you ideas as to what to use the herbs for.  For example Angelica grows best along riverbanks, which is perfect for me as I'm beginning a new project to transform our riverbank.  This herb is supposed to be good "As a 'bath oil' for aching muscles and rheumatism" which is what drew me to it.  Working and running the smallholding, both Ste and I have plenty of aching muscles!!  Also it can be used in pot pourri which I'm hoping to make as part of the Christmas hampers.
Image from google
As I use them, I'll be sure to do posts to show if they are worthwhile or not.
Mid April and I have flowers on my tomatoes (Garden Pearl) variety and also the Brandywine.  These were sown at the end of January and brought on in the house.  I'll be doing the same next year too.

I'll start feeding them with tomato feed as I think that's what you need to do once the flowers form, or is that just when the fruit starts?  I'll have to check.

Sunday, 16 April 2017

New trailer and dehydrating


Thank you to everyone who left Grace a comment, I've been reading them out to her and she will reply tomorrow as she's one busy little girl!


Steven's Dad has had a trailer kicking about where he works for years.  It's been at the back of a mechanic's garage, being used as a skip for longer than he can remember.  It was used when Ste was a kid, so that's a long time since.... ;)
Before, covered in oil and years of neglect
When we said we need a tow bar and trailer, Ste's Dad offered to fit a tow bar and give us the trailer.  So we (Ste) have been meticulously transforming the tired old heap into a new, shiny, useful trailer.  I am ridiculously pleased with it.  We can use it for a multitude of reasons for the smallholding.  So now it's been restored, hopefully it'll be around for another 30 off years!
After....total cost of wood, paint, bolts was £60 but a worthwhile investment and we have wood left over (to make a nest box with)
We've also bought a mid range dehydrator.  I love it.  We've been busy trying different things and today's session was apples, pears, bananas and mushrooms.  The plan is to have some fruit to use on breakfast cereals and have vegetables for the winter or when we're low on things, to throw into the slow cooker.  If we don't have it in fresh, I'd like to have it in stores.  Also, you never know what life might throw at you making it hard for you to get out, or sometimes you just can't be bothered after a day of working on the smallholding.
Ste bought a banana slicer which I was laughing at as a silly gadget but do you know, it saved time and kept everything the same width so I take it back, it is worth the couple of quid it cost!
I love how it looks.  What a great way to spend Easter Sunday morning.
I made Easter lunch for my family and Ste's Mam and partner.  We had roast chicken and it was lovely.  I followed it with rhubarb crumble using 1kg of rhubarb.  I really do think it is my favourite food of the season. 
I didn't get an after photo, it didn't last long enough!
I hope everyone is enjoying the Easter holidays?  We're hoping to get back into the veg plot and growing areas tomorrow as there is work to be done.  It's due to rain on the afternoon, so maybe on the morning then in the greenhouse when it rains! 

Friday, 14 April 2017

Guest post!

Hi my name is Grace. I am 10 years old and
I love living at the farm house with all of my animals.
I am so lucky to  live here with my wonderful family.

Here is a picture of the pigs.
They have grown lots since we first bought them.
My mam was getting the ducklings food when she got this picture of them.
because if there is any food in sight of the pigs then they
will squeal until you give them the food or if they're hungry they will also squeal about that.
they are going outside soon and in August we will hopefully be getting goats.


Today, when we were opening the goose shed we found some
 baby gosling's under the mams wing and she will soon be hatching some more.
The other mam is sat on some eggs as well ,so hopefully she is going to hatch some goslings too.
We also have some goose eggs in the incubator which might hatch ,as well as what the mams are hatching.
I am so excited that we have baby goslings. We had some goslings last 
year and they were all off the same mam and it all went really well last
year , so hopefully it will all go well this year.  


Here are the chickens all having a big feed.
The dark brown hen is my favourite chicken
and her name is Jess. She is 11 years old and she survived
when the fox came in the night ,but that was in the old house.
The brown chicken in front of her is called big bertha also survived
when the fox came.
They all enjoy a big feast.


And here is a chicken hiding in my pony's hay.
I think she making a nest to lay a egg for us to eat.
Yum yum... 

That is it for now ,so thank you for reading my little blog post
and I just can't wait to see if I have got any comments on my blog and I am sure
I will get some amazing comments.

Speak to you soon...
...Bye for now...Grace xx