Tuesday 31 January 2017
Of course, they're all stuck inside so not free ranging due to the avian flu restrictions so this may be affecting the numbers in the sense of them producing more than normal. They have nothing else to do except lay eggs and eat the greens we put in to supplement their food. Bitter sweet!
We sold pretty much all of these eggs this month. The money from these sales goes straight to their feed along with the money from the horse muck. We stocked up on corn from the farmer and bought 4 bags of layers pellets on 22nd January. We started using them both the same day as we were out of corn and only had half a barrel of layers left.
The geese are laying more now, so we're taking her eggs away and using them. I'll see if there's an interest in people buying them, though folk sometimes have strange ideas and think a goose egg isn't a real egg you can eat 😎.
Monday 30 January 2017
Day 2 saw the cover go on. This is where it started to get tricky. It was very tight and I can see the zips ripping in no time. We managed it though and as it has a 12 month guarantee I'll be sure to keep that in case I need to get a new one.
Then being amazing, Ste knocked up a couple of raised beds and attached them to the frame that's there (this is how we put the PT up, this is not what's in the manual). The weight of that wood will not let that frame go anywhere. We also dug a trench around the polytunnel and buried the cover in it.
In between holding and lifting, I sowed some seeds, clipped off some of the strawberries that I'd taken from runners and forgotten about and gave some of the veg plot a tidy up, giving the chickens their treats too.
I also finally got my potatoes chitting.
Friday 27 January 2017
We have finally started to see a decline in egg production. We've gone from a corker of a day last week with a record 23 down to today's low of 8.
The middle hens have eaten one of their own as I saw them at it when I went in. Therefore we've no idea how many there could have been.
This cold snap we have had will be affecting them too. The weather has a lot to do with the amount they produce.
It's not got above freezing all day.
Thursday 26 January 2017
So the most obvious solution is to divide the beds into 1 metre lengths. They will be filled with muck and turned in to the ground that's already there. They will be 1 scaffolding board high from the ground (this also means we can use some of our muck which is always on the list of things to do). The carrot bed won't have any in.
So I plan on growing in there the following - the list is subject to change!
Bed 1 Cauliflower and cabbage
Bed 2 Calabrese and PSB
Bed 3 Peas and beans
Bed 4 Courgettes and salad leaves
Bed 5 Early strawberries
Bed 6 Mangetout and other peas/beans (I have lots)
Bed 7 Tomatoes and cucumbers (not sure if this is "allowed")
Bed 8 Early potatoes and pots of mint
Bed 9 Squash and corn
Bed 10 Carrots and radish (no manure in this part of the bed)
The remaining 2 spaces will be for the trees and herbs.
I'm hoping the above growings will be ready a bit before the outside space, to extend the growing season. Once the first earlies are done in the polytunnel then something else will go back in their spot. I'll make sure that the space is filled and keep records for next year.
We've also got the greenhouse which I will be growing tomatoes, chillis, sweet peppers and cucumbers in as well as using that to bring the seeds on ready to go into the cold frame and planting out. We had loads of tomatoes last year but even that wasn't enough so I'll be trying some outside in the south facing garden too.
Are you growing anything different? I feel like I am growing a typical veg garden which I love the thought of, but all ideas welcome.
Oh and in other news, the 3 main geese have started hanging around with Ryan now. Maybe they will accept her (we named her Ryan before we knew she is a she!)? I
Wednesday 25 January 2017
Tuesday 24 January 2017
I am super excited to tell you about my hot bed. It’s not an outdoor Victorian one, it’s an internal greenhouse one. A hot bench I think is the correct terminology. I knew there was something there last year but we didn’t know what it was and didn’t use it, we just used the space for something else. This year however, I’ve found out how to use it and am in the middle of preparing it for seeds. This is what it looks like now, I’ll share it with you again when it’s ready for use.
I have got a couple of each of the following in:
Heat loving germinating seeds: Tomatoes (different types), aubergine, peppers (hot and sweet),
Cooler germinating seeds: cauliflower, cabbage, PSB, leeks and red onions.
a propagator in the kitchen next to the window.
I’ve also decided not to get the polytunnel that I was going to get this year. Instead, as a compromise, I’m getting a smaller, green one. Now a lot of people don’t like these and say we’re throwing money away as they don’t last etc. However for us, it’s the right decision. If and when it breaks, the framework will be used elsewhere. If it doesn’t break, great. As long as it sees me through this year and some of next, I’m happy.
I’ll be putting the first early potatoes into bags and also a bed in the polytunnel and then outside when the weather allows. They aren't chitting yet, a job for tonight maybe. Again it’ll be interesting to see how it extends the season for us.
Spring is definitely on it's way. Just temperamental February to get through yet. I have still not managed to get my hands on to any Seville oranges, despite going to the shops much more than I care to! What’s everyone else up to in January?
Friday 20 January 2017
Thursday 19 January 2017
Not only is it making things from scratch but finding new, hopefully cheaper ways of doing things.
So last night saw me trial out homemade garlic bread. It turned out very nice, even it meant we were later than normal eating supper.
|Grace thought it best to get a photo for the blog|
Monday 16 January 2017
Sunday 15 January 2017
We had moved out of our family home on November 27th and into my Uncle's house which was mostly unoccupied by him for the next 7 weeks. It sounds nothing now, but when you are waiting for something, time drags. Here I am now in disbelief that a year has gone by.
As most of you will know, we couldn't be happier living where we do. The failed sales, drop outs, useless solicitors and estate agents and the long scary journey to pick the keys up was all worth it.
On moving day, Steven had gone with my Dad, brother in law and a friend to the lock up where our worldly belongings were, Mum was on childcare duty before and after school. I had to drive 45 minutes to get the keys, that would be fine it the roads hadn't flooded, the sat nav hadn't failed and my phone gave up en route! Literally! I'd managed to get there ok but it took twice as long to get back and with no phone I couldn't let people know I was safe. It was worth it though, walking in to the new house, setting the alarm off and not knowing the code - everything fell straight in to place.
I haven't missed our old house like I thought we would. We have a lot of memories in that house, but they came with us and the house is now being lived in by another family.
We were meant to live here - I am sure of it.
So we moved into our little smallholding at the end of a lane, set in 4 acres of the beautiful English countryside, that sits alongside a river, standing proudly against the beautiful backdrop. We have a barn, greenhouse and veg plot plus 2 small open barns that we utilise.
Here's a few memories from our journey, please celebrate with us before we go feet first into 2017's journey.
We would not be without one now. Simple as that. It sounds cliché, but it is the heart of our home. I've written about it many times. You simply can't beat Aga food. I'm building up my Aga kitchen wear over the years. It's great stuff.
We keep our bums warm on it, it dries our clothes, heats our hats and gloves, makes the dogs feel cosy, bakes amazing cakes, taught my daughter the love of cooking and provides a comforting warmth for poorly children.
Last year we started with chickens for meat and eggs. We put a stake in the ground and tried 2 of our Cream Legbar cockerels. This was the first time we'd slaughtered our own birds and we weren't overly impressed with the first one but the 2nd one was nice. We then made friends, read blogs, researched more and discovered a new breed (to us) that we are going to use this year, Ross Cobbs. Over the year we put 7 more cockerels in the freezer, and had countless eggs from the hens. We sold a lot which covered the cost of the feed through Summer and Autumn.
|Our layers that we brought with us - the oldies|
We have learnt to look forward, plan ahead but more importantly, be flexible. The weather, animals, kids, work, farmers, everything has an impact on what we do and we have to be ready to adapt at that very moment. Self reliance is a key aspect of the new lifestyle.
One of my fondest things. Good food on the table (good, not expensive), with a family all sat round together, gives you time to bond. It also means I need to occasionally lose the plot trying to get my son to eat his veg, but I am human so let's move on.
I have loved putting food on the table in 2016. I found the summer more difficult as I wanted to be outside all of the time, so I will be prepared for that in 2017. Now we have a dining room, I'm taking over from my Mum who used to invite the family round for Sunday lunches. I really enjoy seeing people enjoy the food I've made. More importantly - it's made from good stuff. Don't get me wrong, we're not there yet, bad food slips in sometimes, but again, I'm human and such is life.
I've been making my own bread, using the bread maker. The bread is amazing, I know what's in it and I can work it around my time. This works for me and as we know, we do what works for us.
I have tried all sorts of cakes, my first one being to repay the farmer for helping us when we moved in. He lifted our stables from the artic lorry to our house (along the lane) and had met us only the day before.
|The stables going up|
Most weekends we have had family and friends over and most of the time they are fed and watered and go away happy.
Oh Fence! Soon after moving in we started on fences. We paid a contractor to put a fence along the bottom of the field. Cows had grazed it before and they didn't need confining as the field next to us was the farmers, who owned the cows. Well my horses wouldn't respect any boundaries without fences and given the river was right at the end of the field down a ditch, I didn't fancy calling the fire brigade to rescue my horses at any point! Steven was working full time, we had no fencing tools and it made sense for the first fence to get someone in. It was done within a couple of days and we were very pleased.
|Good boy for staying put Jake!|
We have learnt to embrace how we see life and not to feel ashamed by it. Wanting to grow your own, raise and slaughter your own animals, enjoy looking at a field and shovelling sh*t, seeing beauty in things others just see dirt or moan that it smell and generally living the good life, looking up at the stars just because we can and not being afraid of the dark (it's very dark here!).
|Buddy has always loved his cuddles.|
We have some of the best views all around us. I kid you not, there isn't a day goes by that I am not thankful for them or some aspect of what we have.
The kids have played outside, just like kids should.
The the second part of the self sufficient movement came along. We bought 3 lambs and are raising them to have their own lambs in 2018, filling our freezers with lamb.
Mince and stuffing cottage pie with swede and sweet potato top This recipe came about when I was on night 2 of left overs. I had stuffing an...