More additions! Animals and veg!

I would like to introduce you to our very own smallholding chicks.  Now we’ve had chicks before and grown and eaten some however, these are different!  They were eggs from our own hens which were fertilised by our own cockerel.  The eggs we’ve had before we’ve bought in.  So we have been doing a merry dance in achieving (well we didn’t actually do much!) our own home raised chicks.  These guys were incubated as we don’t have a broody hen and we have 12 all together of 20 eggs.  Considering we weren’t even sure Big Red was having any luck, this is a huge success! 
I had my first sungold tomato fresh off the vine and it was delicious.  We’re harvesting strawberries every few days and the raspberries are showing their glowing red faces.  The currants are still trying to develop before the birds take them and I have a feeling this one will be a losing battle this year.  Fruit cages next year I think.
The local supermarket had iceberg lettuces on offer so I bought a load in for the hens and we tied them up to keep the hens entertained.  The rescue girls weren’t interested at all but the old ones went through 2 in no time.  I have been told hens love natural yoghurt and it’s good for them so I will be getting them a tub of that to try soon. 
As planned, this weekend we harvested some Elderflowers and I set about making cordial.  It was my first attempt and I must say I was very impressed.  It tastes very refreshing.  It will take some time to get used to it over supermarket drinks (squash) for the kids as they are so used to the sugar, sadly.  Although Elderflower cordial has sugar in it, I’m sure it’s 100% better for you than every day squash.
When we went to the farmers auction on Saturday, we had a great time and learnt a lot.  We came away with 12 Jersey Giant fertile eggs which will be going in the incubator tonight or tomorrow (we have 1 eggs left in there which I don’t think is going to hatch), a Buff Orpington cockerel (now called Henry VIII) which we’ve been looking for one for a while and 3 brown hens for laying.  They are young healthy birds and have fit right in with Big Red’s flock.
At the farmers auction we enjoyed some home made pies, sausage rolls and some rather poor sausage buns.  The home made stuff was fab, the sausage bun was cheap and tasteless.  You live and learn.
Finally I managed to give the pantry a good sort out so we know where everything is and the shelves are nice and clean, ready for the strawberry jam I’m making tonight with out 1kg of strawberries harvested yesterday.  YUM.

Chicks a couple of days old.
Apologies for the blurry pic, this is the auction about to start (eggs in this room).

Another cheeky face enjoying a steak pie.  My everything ❤
Our selection from the farmers auction.  Girls are in the washing basket and cockerel in the Port a Pet

Cheeky, how did she get in here.  Also my everything ❤

Seconds old 🙂

One of the new brown hens.  Clipping wings before putting out with the other girls and Big Red.
Elderflower cordial being made

My first sungold tomato!  In fact, my first EVER tomato!

Rescue girls wondering what on earth the green ball is 😀
Bored by the green ball

Strawberries are coming thick and fast.  There runners are too!
Spot the raspberry?

Our old faithful hens who we brought with us that laid the eggs which are now the chicks.  Big Red in the top next to the tree.

The new chicks at 1-2 days old

Meet Henry VIII the Buff Orpington cockerel (and my husband Steven :D)

Looking forward to the weekend

This weekend is going to be a busy one, so tonight I am going to relax with the family after spending some time grooming my horse.  I don’t get to spend a long time with her since we’ve moved in, which sounds silly now she is at home.  My plan is to do some housework whilst waiting for the shopping to arrive, sometime between 4 & 5pm.  I need to get the washing on, dry a load on the Aga and sweep the kitchen, utility and boot room floors.  Tea will be simple for the kids, they get to pick what they want on a Friday.  They never want anything difficult so this isn’t a problem.  It’ll most likely be fish fingers for Jack and beans on toast with cheese grated over it for Grace.  I have Thai Green curry to make for Steven and I.  This will be out of a packet that you throw other ingredients in with and I’m not ashamed! J
Then once we’ve had tea, I’ll put the ponies in the field for the night and spend an hour with Lydia (my horse) and I might even take a glass of wine in there!  Once all the animal feeders are topped up and their waters checked, we can think about relaxing in front of the TV.  I’ll get a shower first as tomorrow morning we’re heading out to Thirsk Farmers Market Auction and I won’t have time to wash my hair before we go and it’s in dire need.  I can nip back outside at 10pm and lock up in my PJ’s and just hope nothing’s happened meaning that I need to get dirty.  If we get peckish later on I have a fried cauliflower recipe to try.

We plan on leaving around 7.30am tomorrow however before this I need to nip out and get some Elderflower heads from the bridle path outside the house.  We’ve found a tree that we pass daily so hopefully I can take a nice harvest from that.  According to research you need to pick the flowers before noon and when they’re not we.  Then I can get that started and hopefully we will be testing Elderflower cordial on Sunday with our Sunday roast.  I’ve read it’s good for hayfever and fever in general, so that will be interesting to see as it seems a bad year for hay fever.

The auctions we’re going to are new to us and I have no idea what to expect though I hope to come home with something new and untried before.  Maybe just hatching eggs rather than livestock at present though!  Then back home for the Saturday bacon and egg bun ritual we seem to have developed and on to do some cooking and baking for the coming week.  Ideally I really need to organise the pantry at some point, but we shall see.  Saturday evening we’re out at a friend’s house as she is throwing a fund raising party for Macmillan (summer lights) so we are heading along to support her in that and enjoy a drink or 2.

Sunday my friend and I are going on an extended hack out.  This means going onto roads, only for a short period, but it gives us the chance to enjoy hacking out further and longer.  We will be setting off at 8am to keep the risk of traffic down.  The road isn’t a busy one, but it’s one that boy racers like to see how fast they can drive along on occasion.  Hopefully they will all be in bed when we go on our little adventure.

Then Sunday afternoon will be a Sunday dinner using as much veg as we can from our veg plot and lots of jobs that need doing around the farm.  We’ve had nothing but rain for a few days, so here’s hoping we have a break from it for the weekend to give us time to do things.  It’s due from 1pm tomorrow afternoon for a few hours but supposedly the rest of the weekend will be dry.

In grocery news (how un-thrilling you may think, but it’s becoming a big deal in this household!) I have found a veg box scheme supplier who are delivering to us on Wednesday.  Now if their produce is nice and fresh, it provides an excellent top up to what we have produced, means we can support local businesses and focuses the mind on using those items that week in the menu plan.  It also, importantly, means we can eat seasonally which is a big deal for me and hopefully in time Steven and the kids.  The sell milk from a local dairy so we are trying that along with some of their raw milk which I hope we like. 

In between that I have Tesco delivering the items that they don’t sell, to keep up in stock and by doing this is focusses the mind on sticking to our already low budget, only buying what we need and reducing waste.  All things I need to practice at and really want to achieve.

Finally, as I’ve rambled on long enough, I have started to create lists and checklists meaning we all know what’s to do that day in the house.  The kids have to pick 2 a day to do and Steven and I can share the remaining jobs between us.  One of the checklists is for the meal plan to be written up for the coming week so that’s on me to do.  I’m on it!

Have a lovely weekend everyone.  I’m pleased to be back blogging as normal as I hate it when I am disrupted!  Inevitable at times.  Hopefully I will be back with picture to report on the auctions and Sunday’s cooking session.  On Monday we’re due our next batch of chicks which will hopefully become table birds for the most part.  If not, layers are fine too!  All large fowl so should hopefully be a good size.