Look at these big birds

Some time ago, maybe 20 weeks now (I’m thinking in chicken dates here), we were given some eggs.  The guy giving them too us wasn’t sure if they were fertile or even if they were, may be too old to hatch.  He said if they hatched they’d do us well.
Fast forward 20 or so weeks and we have a bunch of happy, healthy & huge young Brahma hens and 2 cockerels.  
We gave one cockerel back to the guy who gave us them as typically he didn’t get a cockerel in his hatch.  That suited us well though, as we didn’t want 2 cockerels in the same place and he would be too big for our other birds!

They really are pretty birds and a feature of the smallholding that we didn’t plan, I’m really pleased.  They make my veg plot come alive.  The area they are in has turned to just hard ground now, so we need to feed them additional greens.  
Their coop will be too small soon! We will move them to an area bigger and with grass again and then the area they have been in will be great growing ground after they have been manuring it for me.  In the mean time, they are more than happy where they are 🙂

Have a lovely weekend everyone, we have a busy one planned here.  Lots of work in the veg plot but also continuing with the renovation of part of the farmhouse.  We will have a new bedroom and en-suite soon enough!! (Said with fingers and toes crossed!)

Comforting Chicken stock/bone broth – recipe slow cooker

Comforting Chicken stock/bone broth

Link to my YouTube video which includes how I make chicken stock

Makes as much stock as you add liquid. 
This is a guide, use what you have in and that you like.  Adapt and be flexible, it’ll turn out great regardless!  
Point to note, the healthier life your chicken has had, the healthier your bone broth/stock will be for you.
The addition of ginger is recommended to help with immunity (my opinion only!).
1 chicken carcass, all odds, sods and last bits of meat included.
2 onions or leek
3 sticks celery
2/3 carrots
1/4 turnip/swede
Lots of garlic cloves
Root ginger, thumb size or so
1 tsp black peppercorns
1 tsp whole cloves
Herbs such as thyme, mixed herbs
Bay leaves

Don’t be precious about this.  
Bung it all in, you can even afford the skin on the onions, it’s up to you.
Roughly chop the rest of your veg and put in the SC with the carcass.
Garlic I bash and thrown in.  
Ginger I cut up or bash to release the flavours and throw it in.
I don’t measure the peppercorns, cloves or herbs but feel free to.
Cover with as much water as it needs to have everything submerged, season with salt if you use it, I do.
Leave it on low overnight or for 6-8 hours and then once cooled, strain it through a colander then a sieve.  The liquid is your stock which you can freeze or pop in the fridge for a few days.  Use it whenever recipes as for stock and it is so nice!

Enjoy 🙂

Isolation picture update….pigs, ducklings, GYO, Easter – exciting updates!

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Hello everyone! (Firstly sorry the text is so small, it won’t accept changing to larger for some reason).
Well I am busier than ever, I don’t know about everyone else?  I think a lot of people who are at home are struggling for things to do which I sympathise with greatly, I can imagine it driving them insane.  Here things are the opposite as I am working from home and the kids are being home schooled by me as Steven is still at work and will probably continue to be, given that its supplying food.  
I have been thinking about what to cover in this blog and as I’ve been undecided, it’s taking too long to get out there, so I thought I would just show you in pictures and update you with each pic.  Who doesn’t like pics after all!
I have to say, raising our own meat is so rewarding, health wise and financially!  This bird was over 2kg and has made 4 family meals for 4 hungry, chicken loving people.  The roast was Sunday, curry with shredded chicken Monday, chicken, leek and bacon pie tonight and then the carcass made stock which will make an abundance of other meals, so more than 4 really!  I do one chicken a week and every time, I can’t get over it!  I am finding I am missing having raw portions to cook from and we could always joint them but then I find it a bit of a waste, my own enemy!  
I was in the veg plot, beavering away as you do, when I literally turned round and look what was staring back at me!  We don’t normally get asparagus for another month I don’t think, regardless I am thrilled and we had some for tea last night 😀  It was DELICIOUS.

Something else we have started doing with great zest is selling eggs.  We have increased our poultry numbers significantly and now get around 40 eggs a day, which we sell.  The money we get from eggs is used to feed the poultry and the rest goes to our pot which we will use towards the 2020 goal of saving money for the whole paying your mortgage off project which we are kicking off next year.  Hugely exciting times!

Ooooh look, whilst in isolation I’m obviously needing to make 3 meals a day, which I did before really but it feels like I am doing more now.  We used to eat out once a week so maybe it’s that?  Speaking of which, we’ve taken the decision to carry on the lockdown lifestyle once it is all over as we actually enjoy it and it suits our plans and dreams very well.  Silver lining?  Anyway, I was showing you the below picture which is a quiche I made from 4 eggs, 1 cup of milk and 1 cup of cheese, spinach from the greenhouse and tomato.  It was SO nice.  I can’t tell you how much I am enjoying cooking right now.
Below is the area we had pigs a couple of years ago (it’s rested for 2 years since) and guess what?  WE HAVE PIGS again!! There’s a pic futher on but the below pic is to show you the work we have been putting in to part of the area that we have agreed to grow more (yes, more) food in.  As it’s had pigs on it, the ground shoud be great but there is a lot of grass, weeds and stones in it.  Rather than spend months trying to get it perfect, we have covered in thick mulch on the left, just out of this photo and shown below we have used weed suppressant.  Hope it works!  We have fruit bushes and potatoes in there for now.  I am planning on putting brassicas in to the mulch which is rotted horse muck as I researched and found out that anything leafy like cabbage, kale etc will do best in the muck this year.  If something needs to form, like a cauliflower head, that may not be too good.  Will try a couple though just so I know.  Really pleased with this area and now it’s to keep it up and stay on top of it.

 Two of my favourite recent photos, after a hard day’s work, we had a fire to burn through some items, which Ste being a man, loved.  I LOVE to see him stood, surveying his land and taking it all in (hopefully thinking what other jobs he can do).  The photo below that is when Grace came over to see us as by this point we were sat by the fire having a much earned drink.  She has so much love for her Dad and I love to see them having a good time together.  It makes all of the teenage tantrums easier to deal with.

We found this log which Ste has since kept to turn in to something, but look at this natural pattern.  Maybe by woodworm?  Fabulous to look at though.

Something else I have been doing is making scones every Friday or Saturday and leaving them, with a bunch of others things, out for my parents to collect.  Sadly it is no contact collection and along with a veg box from Ste’s shop, is their only source of food right now, so it is essential to them.  We do miss them hugely.  Anyway, here’s last week’s scones, done in a muffin tray.  They were bacon, cheese and chive and were so nice.  They froze great and Ste had one for breakfast this morning.  I heated it up a little in the Aga and served with butter – yum!

Ooooh the veg box, look at this.  We stopped the veg box deliveries a while back, along with the milk.  A few reasons which I am not going to delve in to now but I just wanted to share how excited I was when I got this delivery on Saturday – it is amazing and we have used everything except a few parsnips.  I will maybe do them for tea tomorrow, or freeze?

I mentioned my parents collecting things with no contact.  It is their Wedding Anniversary today, 42 years, and this picture shows the card and gift we left outside for them to collect.  

Just because I can’t do a post without showing the dogs, here’s Rodney showing off his balancing skills and how he now likes to sit.  Annie and he have had a few disagreements lately and he tends to hang around higher up these days!  He also likes to sit and watch the pigs, how cute is that?

Ducklings!!! We have ducklings!  Am I allowed to be excited about something else!  We hatched our own and have more hatching now.  These are for eggs, meat, sales but regardless are my favourite animals!  Look at the one in the middle.

Here’s the cake my Mam made for us for Easter – how lovely and thoughtful, left on our doorstep!

More cooking – just cheese and chive scones now but I love making these!

Whoop whoop, we managed to acquire some flour!!! I am making ALL of our own bread now and will continue to, so flour is key to us.  Also we came across a large bag of mince for £12 so this is now either eaten, cooked and in the freezer or in portions.

Finally a picture of what we’re having in abundance and are selling too.  Rhubarb and eggs!  I’d love to hear your rhubarb recipes if you have any to share and I will link and share on one of my next posts.

That’s it for now everyone, take good care of yourselves and stay home if you can.  

Chicken and egg

We have been extremely lucky as our chickens have not gone off lay which we expected over the winter.  We’re getting plenty of eggs each day still and combined with the youngest lot coming into lay in December, we’re very pleased with our daily yield as previously we’ve gone down to zero over winter.  I am going to start recording the daily amounts in my diary, yesterday was 10 from 37.  I was  supposed to start it once the whole bird flu thing has passed but it seems that is hanging around a while and I don’t have time to wait for it, it will now be business as usual in this household.
With eggs in mind, I am very conscious that we need to be paying more respect to the humble egg.  We have them at our disposal and it should play a bigger part in our journey to self-sufficiency that it has.  Therefore I shall be making more of an effort to have them as the main ingredient in at least 1 evening meal starting next week.  Wednesday’s meal will be shrimp egg foo young.  I had this many years ago and it was delicious but I’ve never had one since.  I’ll also be using them more in my day to day life, eggs for breakfast or as an ingredient.  I use a fair few, but shall give them more stage time!
Now to the goose.  As per a previous post, we are very surprised to have 3 geese eggs hiding in the shed.  I wasn’t expecting them at this time of the year, and hadn’t researched something else to do with them (yes, they’re just eggs, I know).  Last year I made lemon cake and it was delicious.  We have enough sweet food in to feed an army and I am cutting back on sugar intake for a while, so cake didn’t appeal to me.  I will spend some time looking for other people’s suggestions, so if you have any, please shout up.
Today, Ste and my Dad have been putting a greenhouse frame together and covered it in mesh. This is going to be used as a fruit cage this coming year. It is very light to lift so I can see it lending itself to multiple jobs.

Grace and I collected the soil from the ever growing mole hills and put it into one of the new beds. It only took 20 mins and we may as well see the silver lining in it. 

I put together one of my Christmas presents which is a seed organiser.  I will be filling this tomorrow.

The next door neighbours children have spent the afternoon here and seem to have enjoyed it. I fed them tea after giving them a couple of hours with the ponies.
Also, home made pizza on the menu yesterday – love home made 🙂
Now for a night in front of the fire.