In full swing…

And so busy with work, garden, and managing to catch some kind of yukky virus that it seems time has flown by and I’ve no time to fit in all the things I want to. I imagined my summer to be full of cordial experiments, baking and being healthy but so far it seems when I just about get one side of life sorted out – seeing family and friends more often, for example – then the balance tips and the rest of the fun and needed elements of everyday life sort of slide by unnoticed. 

But even with the garden suffering from mild neglect we’re getting a few bits and bobs…courgettes and tomatoes abound.

ImageThe chickens are also doing fine – but Sally has gone broody again. I don’t know much about broody chickens or rather, the reasons for it, but possibly something to do with abnormally constant warm temperatures? Anyway she’s happy enough being shunted off the nestbox every morning for a wing stretch and food and drink so we’re not too worried. Even partakes in a snail or two when I go on the hunt…

ImageAnd finally, look what we found in the garden…

ImageA PLUM! On a real, live, plum tree! It’s all overgrown and hidden behind what looks to be a pear tree. Plans are afoot to trim back the undergrowth and in the late Autumn or early Spring we’ll trim it up so it’ll grow back healthier next year.

Oh and one final update. A follow-on from my last post, this is what happened to the first blackberries of the year:

ImageBlackberry and apple crumble, with a twist (home made blackberry brandy, vintage 2012, drizzled on top of the fruit before baking). I can vouchsafe that it was delicious, especially with some fresh custard. 

Next up, deciding what to make with the lb of blackberries now in the freezer; wine, vodka, more pie, jam? Suggestions welcome…

 

 

 

Busy vegetables and silly chickens

Work has kept me very busy for the last week or so, hence not finding time to write anything else, or even get into the garden for a long length of time. However this is how it’s looking currently:

ImageSo in there, starting from the bottom left of the screen you can just about see the poor battered garlic (fox cubs ran over all the garlic and onions and broke most of the tops), then middle left is peas and beans. Middle right is courgette and nasturtiums. Behind them, tomatoes – the excess from the first sowing I haven’t found space in pots for. And behind them, three (I think) types of potato. And behind that, sweetcorn, which miraculously seems to be surviving, albeit growing slowly… And behind them is a new bed we just dug over which hopefully will eventually be featuring black kale (or Cavolo Nero) Beetroot (golden, striped and regular) and red cabbage. We put the seeds straight in as it’s so late in the year – hoping they’ll be alright, although might need some netting once they germinate. 

In other news, I now know what a broody chicken looks like. I was seriously worried about Sally a week ago – she wouldn’t leave the nest, she wasn’t making her regular noises, she was all fluffed up and wouldn’t move if I poked her…finally I got ever-sensible bloke down there to have a look at her. Ever-sensible bloke reckoned possible egg-bound? So we ran back to the house to get some gloves and vaseline…I couldn’t find the regular kind so she got treated to Aloe Vera. And poor thing, got a finger up the vent to see if we could find the problem egg. That got her up! However, there was no egg.

After some more reading, I picked her up to get her off the nest and check for any other ‘ill’ symptoms and suddenly realised she had a massive bald spot on her chest. Suddenly it all clicked together…she’d gone broody. Unusual apparently in their first year, but it does happen. All this time I thought she’d been laying as normal – no, she’d stopped laying altogether and whenever she spied Henny-Penny’s egg, had nipped over to sit on that! I’ve been looking up how to snap her out of it, but a lot of the methods seem a bit harsh. I mean, she’s still eating and drinking and coming outside for a stretch so we’ll leave her to it for now. We don’t miss the eggs that much; so we’ll see how long it lasts for…

Next on my list of things for consideration; summer cordials and how to revive my cauliflower seedlings that I let get  too dry.

 

An unexpected visitor

So this evening I went down to do the ‘egg-run’ as I like to call it, and found this chap (or chap-ess) wandering around the garden.

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The girls were quite bemused by it, especially when I dared to give it some of their corn! I edged closer at first, in case it took fright, but it didn’t seem to mind me, or the chooks. I wonder how it ended up there? I wonder how long our unexpected visitor will stay? 

Introduction to the ladies

Still trying to get the hang of doing this on a more regular basis, but while it’s raining outside and I’m pondering the reasons why our onion patch looks like it’s been well and truly trampled (foxes? a nearby dog? squirrels? rampant children?) I thought I’d bring the ladies into the spotlight here.

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Sally and Henny-Penny, our lovely Light Sussex. We’ve now had them about 3 months and they’ve settled right in. I named them after Beatrix Potter’s hen in the Tale of Mrs Tiggywinkle;

‘So Lucie asked a speckled hen–

“Sally Henny-penny, have you
found three pocket-handkins?”

But the speckled hen ran into a
barn, clucking–

“I go barefoot, barefoot, barefoot!” ‘

Now the ladies aren’t strictly speckled hens as such but I do love a bit of Beatrix Potter, and they have such personalities that the names suit them down to the (very muddy) ground. They’ve become a bit like local celebrities as the houses that overlook our garden have noticed there’s now life there – I’ve had at least two people ask about them and tell me they have provided some amusement to watch.

We’ve been having eggs for about a month and a half now and it’s great but I think Sally is still settling into her groove; we get about 4/5 days a week of regular eggs, then a double yolker, then a couple of soft shells, then she’s back to normal again. Doesn’t seem to bother her, and Henny-Penny is laying fine so I guess she’s just an odd one, or still figuring it out a bit. 

We’ve done so well out of them this week, we usually have a bit scrambled egg breakfast on Saturday morning but we’ve been away so I think a lovely quiche is on the cards for this week to use them up while they’re nice and fresh…if it turns out to be a stunner then I’ll post it and the recipe!

Where to start…

As the first post on my first blog, the heading has two meanings:

Where do I start with this in writing? It’s been such a long time coming in getting around to writing about our journey, I’m not sure whether to start from the beginning or just carry on from where we are now.

It was also my reaction when I first saw the plot of land we’d been offered…

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But we wanted a challenge, and were desperate to grow on more space that our little window box and front garden could currently cope with. So, after 3 months, we have pulled out all the brambles and nettles, half of a wildly overgrown Euonymus and dug over 2 good plots for veg. We have also invested in 2 chickens and are halfway to having a clay pizza oven built (more on this story as it progresses – the two aren’t related).

In February/early March I got a bit overexcited about sowing so we currently have peas, broad beans, potatoes, garlic, red and white onions, courgette, squash and sweetcorn out – with more currently being sown in case we get a freak frost, a plague of slugs or the chickens escape and eat everything. It’s all a bit of an experiment this year as we have no idea how badly the brambles will come back through, or how shady it will actually be.

So I guess the purpose of this blog is to chart those successes or failures and share some of my own passion for making do with the space you have and growing anything you can.