Day 3 – baking and veg plot updates

When I was at work, everyone was asking me where I am going for my fortnight off.  Of course, we enjoy a break as much as the next person but we’re not going abroad this time (we are later in the year though, I’m not averse to it).  However what I do want to use these 2 weeks for is a combination of things.  Firstly to spend plenty of time with Ste and the kids doing things that they find fun and that do not cost the earth.  Secondly to get on top of the veg plot, greenhouse and polytunnel and house chores so that when I’m back to work, it’s more of ‘maintaining’ than ‘drowning’.  Included in the house thoughts is cooking for the freezer. We do have some space left in there, not much seen as though they are all full of meat.  However I’ll make sure they are stacked well and there’s plenty of home made produce in there for go-to meals.
Today started off as always feeding the animals and checking everything is present and correct.  The dogs came with me.  They love that I am off work.  Then back in for crumpets and a cup of tea before heading out with the kids and dogs to the feed shop as we needed more layers pellets and corn.  We were back and sorted by 9:15.  The kids offered to help out for an hour by tidying their rooms with the view to spend time after lunch doing the craft things they have both been waiting for.  They did a great job so I am pleased.  Making a start on cooking for the freezer, first up was a lemon drizzle traybake a-la Mary Berry.  I had all of the ingredients in, including the lemons thankfully.  It took no time at all to prepare.  It’s a throw it all in recipe, which suits my lifestyle 100%.


It turned out really well so I am adding it (and the cookies I made yesterday) to my batch bake list as the kids loved it as you can see!

In the veg plot, I have a million and one things to do.  I decided the best way to go about it is one bed at a time, finish it and move on.  Sounds obvious but when you get out there it’s hard not to start something and move on before you finish as something always catches your eye and before you know it the day is over.

So today I lifted the onions from Bed 1.  These have been brilliant, great size, didn’t go to seed and every single one came up so as long as the taste isn’t too bad then we will stick with these each year.  If it’s not broken then don’t fix it.  They are Sturon an Garnet (sets).  The bed was full of weeds in between the onions, they’ve been crazy after all this rain.

However I am really pleased with the results.  They’re all drying out head down which my neighbour told me to do.  We’re due a really heavy down pour tonight so they’ll get a wash and tomorrow is supposed to be lovely so they should dry out nicely before being taken into the barn.

I also tidied up the swiss chard as it was taking over, despite us using it regularly.  I’ll definitely be growing this every year, it is so versatile. 

Also the chickens love it so they got all the of bits that I tidied up.

So that’s 2 of the beds weeded and tidied up.  Although I didn’t start on the other beds, I noticed a few squashes coming along nicely which made me very happy.  I’d missed a couple of courgettes whilst I’d been so busy at work too, so I roasted them tonight for tea.

I’m really pleased as we had a free, home raised meal tonight.  It was pork burger (with chilli) in a homemade roll, cucumber and tomatoes, roasted courgettes, red onion and pepper with steamed Athlete potatoes.  It was delicious however a talking point was I’d thought the peppers were peppers when in fact they were chillis, ooops…..Burgers aren’t something I ate until this week – but these are too nice!

I also made a couple of loaves of bread for the freezer and I will continue to so we have them ready to just take out.

We then went out bramble picking for the first time this year and got a great haul which I will preserve with tomorrow as it was a bit late tonight after a busy day.

Another couple of photos from today that I took as they caught my eye and I’d like them to look back on for August memories.


Nature’s morning

Today was the start of a back to school and work, normal week.  Although school started last week, they were only there two days so I don’t think the teachers do too much with them, knowing that the kids are so excited to see each other again. 

So we have our new routine back in place, getting any homework done as soon as we get in whilst I finalise tea.  The kids and I sit together in the kitchen and complete everything that’s needed, pack the backs back up for the next day and then they are free to enjoy themselves, which includes getting some jobs done on the smallholding of course.  This includes collecting the eggs, filling the feeders up or changing the water.  The horses usually need doing although they are living in the field at the moment so apart from ride and keeping the field poo free, there’s not a lot of jobs to do there.

Can you believe we haven’t picked any brambles yet?  Maybe you can if you haven’t had any yourself.  I was so sure the masses of bushed that are around us would be heavy with brambles but their fruit is so small that you don’t get a bramble off it, it’s really not worth the pickings.  I think we may need to venture to our old bramble spot and get a few tubs full for the freezer.

Speaking of which, we’re going to buy a new freezer this week and hopefully get it delivered at the weekend.  Our kitchen freezer simply isn’t big enough for what we are going to need.  Soon enough we should have some whole chickens and a goose ready to be froze too, which definitely won’t fit in the kitchen freezer.  I’d also like to stock up on some milk as we’re very sporadic in how much we use.  I’m looking at getting a tall upright, opposed to a chest freezer as although I like the thought of the chest freezer, I often hear about people scrabbling around in them having to shift everything from the top to get to the thing they need at the bottom etc.

My husband spoke to the farmer we’re getting our new additions from and we’re told they should be with us shortly so fingers crossed I can post about them soon.

We’re due a lovely week of weather here in the North East and although I’m at work, I’m going to get out and make the most of it by finishing off those jobs in the greenhouse and veg plot that we started a few days back.  Then I need to start thinking about moving some of our rotted manure to the beds that will be sitting empty until Spring and covering them over to keep them protected and weed free.  I’ve also started a drawing for what’s going where in the veg plot for 2017 summer harvest, so I’ll take a picture of the drawing and share it with you this week once I have finished it.

Finally, the most important part of this post.  My kids were chatting amongst themselves this morning and Jack made a comment, I didn’t hear it, but Grace’s response was “the morning’s don’t belong to us Jack, they belong to nature” and although she may not have meant it how I ended up thinking of it.  She’s so right, it will carry on without us, we’re just here to enjoy the ride.  So let’s enjoy every minute – I’m so thankful that we’re getting to do what we love.  Happy Monday everyone J

Whilst we are waiting

We are keeping ourselves busy with natures freebies.  Today we went for our second bramble picking of the year.  We take a good haul but leave plenty for other people and the birds.  They are currently sitting in a bowl of cold water letting all the nasty’s float out, before being open frozen and bagged up.  Hubby uses them for his smoothies and I’ll of course have to make a apply and bramble crumble with them.  We may go back next week for the last picking.

Rodney and Buster, the two latest additions to the family are settling in very well.  They are 12 weeks old tomorrow and have now had their first injections.  An awful experience for them as the first one is a stinger but it is for the greater good.

In smallholding news, well smallholding to be news, we had a valuation completed on Friday which means we should get the results back by Wednesday.  Fingers crossed they say it is worth what we need for the mortgage. 

I wonder what this week will bring?  Will our buyers finally get organised and get some paperwork through to the solicitor?  Will our purchase property find her onward house as she hasn’t as of yet.  She will move in to rented if she needs to but by when is the question!  We are hoping to move on Bonfire night…….It will be a Guy Fawkes we certainly will remember, remember.