Day 4 – Christmas potato seed planting and rumtopf

Day 4 of my holidays has seen a beautifully sunny day here in the North East of England.  It’s still breezy though but this year has been.  I’ve never known it be so windy for so long in the past but then I suppose I’ve  not been growing fruit and veg or looking after so many animals before, that the wind impacts?
I’ve still been getting the kids up at a decent time as mine seem to suffer if they have late mornings and inevitably later nights as they can’t sleep.  The kids helped me by feeding and watering the chickens and then collecting the eggs.  What a haul from the last couple of days!

 
The kids spent the next couple of hours playing and I started off the Bachelors Jam or Rumtopf as it is referred to.  Growing up I’d remember an earthenware jar that was in my parents house but I didn’t know what it was for.  Then when I started blogging and read Patty Pan’s blog about Rumtopf and I realised what it was for.
 My Mam kindly gave me the pot when I said I was going to make some.


I added 500g blackberries from our haul last night (which was over 3kg!) along with 250g sugar and left it for an hour before adding a litre of brandy as this is what was given to me by my lovely Mam at the same time as the Rumtopf jar.

I was supposed to make a crumble at the same time but the clock was ticking and I was itching to get out in the veg plot so I left that for later and put the brambles back in the fridge to keep a few more hours. 
The bed I’d tasked myself with today was the fire pit bed.  The previous owner had burnt allsorts in it and I’m forever finding nail, hinges and the like.  I added manure to the soil along with blood, fish and bone and hoped for the best.  Well the cabbages did marvellously and I’d put off harvesting them until my 2 weeks break.
It was a mammoth task.

They were dug out and the area cleared of weeds which was back breaking but very worth it. The Christmas potato order has just arrived so I set about putting them in.  I ordered 15 tubers from crocus – 5 each of Charlotte, Duke of York and Pentalin Javelin.  These were the only ones I could find as the other online stores I either missed or didn’t sell any.

I planted them all 30cm apart and 60cm between rows as there was plenty of space to do so.  Here they are with their beds now looking like something from Halloween (picture taken from the opposite end of the bed than the earlier one).

 Here’s the bed once I finished with it.

 
I then tidied up another bed which wasn’t too bad thankfully and sowed some quick crop salad leaves and radish in a space that’s appeared there, where the first early potatoes came out.

I tested out a panoramic view, so this photo is slightly distorted but you get the idea. 

 
Soon it was time for tea and I decided to cook one of the hams we’ve had in the brine.  It’s been in since Sunday so over a week which is a bit too long but after cooking it, it was perfect!  I’ll post the recipe another time.  All of the hams will be cooked and sliced for the freezer.
 
We finished the day off with a walk to forage some bullaces (wild plums).  Someone has already raided our spot but there is a tree most people haven’t found yet, and that was full though it did require some acrobatics.  They are in the fridge now.

 
Ste also finished the stock fencing he wanted to get done.  This will deter the chickens from scratching the area where we use as a dumping ground for weeds, branches that are no good for anything, leaves etc etc.  It’ll keep the animals safe and the rubbish separate.  It means he can move on to the next part ultimately giving the poultry more space. 
 
The kids got their craft items done, the dogs are happy and I’m enjoying my time off.  All in all, a great family day together.
 

Summer in winter

A long time ago I came across a recipe on the bbcGF website called summer in winter chicken.  It’s a really nice recipe and every now and then it pops in to my head as to how we can have summer in winter occasionally.
So the best way to do this for me, is to capture the foods we love in summer, and use them in winter.  Something I intend to do a lot of this year, and we didn’t do too bad last year considering it was our first year.
There was an alcohol theme though!
I did raspberry vodka which was delicious, a really refreshing treat in a long glass with lemonade.

When the damsons arrived, I wasn’t prepared!  So I made vodka with them too! I’d been given some bottles of vodka, and I don’t like it, so it seemed the best option.
We decanted it at the weekend after 4 or 5 months and it really was like having a summer drink, very nice again with lemonade.
It went from this:

To this:

Isn’t it a pretty colour?

Along with the blackberry scones I made at the weekend, it’s really been giving us a taste of things to come for 2017. 
I intend to plant more raspberries and also get some brambles (blackberries) planted as they are non existent here in the wild.  The sloes and elders made up for that though. 
Can you feel the build up to the growing and preserving year starting?  I can!

Hedgerows, puppies and yukky things

I’ll start off with hedgerow photos.  Outside my house starts a bridlepath.  There’s a multitude of things along the bridleway however at the start of it, where my fence is, are bramble bushes.  Now I was mightily excited about these when I moved here, thinking we’d have hoards of brambles coming out of our ears and planning all I could do with them.  So I was disappointed to say the least when we got none!  They looked like they were starting to develop but just never did.  So I am wondering if we should cut them back down to the ground and let them start a fresh? 

I think we will strim the whole area and see what’s what.  I think there’s room to plant some small fruit trees/bushes out there.  I’ll chat with Steven about it this weekend.  We do have enough on our plates already, but my brain doesn’t switch off it seems!

Poor quality, my hands were freezing and wet.  The area I’m talking about is on the left.  Hi Rodney 🙂
More of a close up
My gorgeous girl, she could run this place single handed, she is so good.

Seen as though Rodney snuck into the top photo I thought I’d show you the dogs (I still call them puppies a year on) playing in the barn the other morning, whilst I was doing the horses.

Obviously something has been here, but what?  15 mins then were here for.
Rodney got bored before Buster

He realised he may be there for some time, waiting for his brother

 

We didn’t find anything Mum

Finally to the yukky bit.  My veg box arrived on Wednesday as expected so I used some of it to go with tea.  Jack, my son, love cauliflower at the moment so I was pleased to see one in the box.  Cutting into it, the flesh seemed a strange texture and on investigation it looks like slugs have been enjoying their winter in there.  I rescued some of it but as you can see in the yellower coloured photo on the top middle floret, there was lots of slug slime (?) all over.  I think I stabbed the slug when splitting it down.  Ooops.



The joys of growing your own (even if I didn’t grow this one)
Happy Friday everyone and have a fabulous weekend.  We’re hoping to start our next project this weekend, more soon. 
Tracy 🙂