Outside space in February, including seeds, chickens and eggs

Look what we found growing in the muck pile, perfectly polished mushrooms.  They are still there, I don’t trust myself to identify mushrooms, but I do appreciate them and one day, who knows, Ste may try them 😉

 Where there is muck there is money?  We we gifted a gesture of cash for some muck we bagged up for the allotments recently, isn’t that great?  Maybe we can make an income from it as we look to set up our own little farm business in the coming months.

 The muck has been getting used in the veg plot to feed or mulch the beds before we covered them.  It’s hard work, but very worth it.  Hopefully this will keep the weeds down as well as prep the beds for when we are ready to fill them.  It’ll be end May, early June here for most things as last year we learnt the hard way when we had a frost on May 27th and we lost a load of plants.


One thing we want to get sorted pretty soon, maybe on a March goal is the rain water collection and how to then use it.  We think we will get a motorised pump to help distribute the water from the tanks to wherever it needs to be.  At the bottom of the veg plot, on the other side of the fence is the compost heap we are trying to put together.  It’s coming along really well with green and brown items.  According to Charles Dowding, it should be ready in 8 months or so once full.  I have no idea how long it’ll take to fill, it’s a big size container!
It is the furthest bed here that we are using it for.  The other beds look like this mess as the storms that are passing through keep ripping the fronts off them.  I’m going to turn one in to a hot bed and sow some carrots and parsnips in them this weekend – how controversial using muck for roots 😉
Wandering away from the muck heaps takes you around to the greenhouse where I’ve been sowing seeds since Valentine’s Day.  The leeks took a while to show but they are there!  I’ve a couple of varieties to try.  This was my workstation at the time!

 The salad, kale, tomatoes etc are coming along well.  Some of these will be pricked out and moved on this weekend, which hopefully won’t shock them.
 Giant sunflowers!!
 Thrilled to see the wild garlic Ste bought me for my birthday (best present EVER)  taking hold.  We have NEVER had it before, so I hope it likes living there. 
I rescued some snowdrops from a near death experience at the muck heap too, not sure where they will go yet.
Taking a step outside the greenhouse is a view to stop and enjoy.  It’s not all been rain.
Then we have the latest additions!  I have such a soft spot for ducks and I can’t tell you how thrilled we are to get these 4, 3 girls and a boy of the Aylesbury.  We’ve already been getting lots of beautiful eggs from them which we have popped 19 in to the incubator in an effort to start breeding them as we would like to become a supplier in the area, which there isn’t many of.  Another income opportunity hopefully.  
We’ve been getting plenty of chicken eggs too and have lots of lovely people asking to buy them from us each week.

The geese on the other hand aren’t laying yet and they won’t even use the blinking pond we re did for them! I have no idea what’s going on there, they prefer to drink the stagnant water that gathers in the drain pipes and things laying around the place!
Staying on the poultry theme, the meat birds have just been processed and my god are they big.  I’m really pleased with this lot, which will see us through the next 10 weeks for sure.  We have a plan with meat birds, I’ll come back to that again in another blog post.
The other meat we produced in 2019 was the lamb, which I took the last lot out of the freezer the other night.  Hell’s bells I didn’t realise there was so much left.  So I am now frantically cooking this lot, to refreeze in cooked form and get it put back in the freezzer in an orderly fashion.  Again, it’ll be on the foody post in the coming days and weeks.
Here’s my kitchen window view keeping an eye on the weather.  We’ve had some spectacular colours!
Something else that has been going on is the tup arriving.  He joined us on the 16th Feb and will stay with us a few weeks.  Hoping to have lambs the first week or 2 in to July, but it could be 3 weeks after that, depending on if he catches them or not.  I think they are all pleased to be inside at the moment on dry straw with nice hay.  It’s certainly better than being on the wet muddy fields with the storms blowing a hooey around you.
 Here he is, we called him Arthur.  He’s very sweet and his black ears are forever twitching in opposite directions.  He’s not that tall compared to the last tup, but he’s chunkier.  Let’s see what happens 🙂

Finally, Annie is still underwhelmed by everything and is still sneaking a nap in places she really shouldn’t. 

 Have a lovely weekend all.  We have a very busy schedule Friday through to Sunday so we will catch up with another post next week.

Richard the duck

Richard, our most recently acquired duck, is a mucky little thing. Well big thing. He’s actually huge. Since we adopted him he’s been kept in the barn in our growers pen with the other chicks that were of a similar age. He’s outgrown it now and to be honest, he’s getting very smelly. I’m saying that and I have 4 horses in there who don’t smell anywhere near as much. So tonight we introduced him to the other ducks and he’s spending his first night with them in their coop. I’ve probably picked the most gloomy, windy and stormy night of late but he’s got a roof over his head so should be ok from that aspect and fingers crossed he isn’t bullied.
Grace carried him from the barn to the outside area. He cuddled in to her which she loved. The plan for this back area is to clear it out and have a good think about what we can do with it. People say goats live well on rough, nettle land but when I read up about them they seem to be selective eaters and wouldn’t take kindly to the nettles area? Either way we are going to extend the duck area to include the orchard so they get to roam around more. Given the damage the geese have done by bullying the ducks in the past, we’re separating the back of the barn and the orchard so the geese and ducks shouldn’t come into contact with each other. There’s quite a bit of work involved so Ste is taking care of that ad and when he can.
Also we have some huge mushrooms growing in the horse muck!! This is pure muck so I am going to see what we can do about growing our own safe mushrooms next year.

Party plans amongst other things

I don’t know if I am imagining it but I think I can already see the difference in the fields from the rain.  I’m hoping for some sun after the downpours we’ve had and then maybe everything will have a growth burst.  The greenhouse has been firmly shut up to keep the heat in for the last day or two, opposed to the previous week when the doors were flung open along with every vent I could find as things were struggling in the intense heat.  Ah the lovely British weather.  I wouldn’t change it for anything!

Now speaking of the greenhouse, the tomatoes are thriving since I planted them in my well-rotted muck from my lovely horses.  However something else is growing in there too.  Mushrooms!  Lots of white rubbery ones and some tall skinny grey ones.  I said to Grace, my daughter who is 9, that I wonder if we can eat them.  Of course she looked horrified but I will find out and Steven and I will have them if they are edible.  I won’t give the kids them in case I get it wrong, but also they both hate the texture of mushrooms.

We are throwing a big party in a little over a week and I’ve been preparing like mad in between everything else.  I’m going to try and make a few homemade items in addition to the shop bought (sauces etc) to give people a literal taste of what we’re all about.  I was thinking about the following.  Breads – Onion bread, Sun dried tomato bread, Apple Cider bread and a seed bread.  Now granted, these will be made in the bread maker, but all the ingredients will be fresh and there’s obviously no dreaded e numbers in there.  As I will need to make a couple in advance, does anyone have any experience which of these breads might freeze better?

Asparagus is something else we have in abundance, so I am going to make an asparagus quiche as we have a couple of vegetarians.  Is there any other sides or BBQ food that would be doable with asparagus?

Rhubarb – the rhubarb and ginger jam that I made is happily sat in in the pantry waiting patiently to be put to good use.  I *may* use some in the sponge cake I am going to make for Jack’s birthday cake but I need to give that some thought as I’ve never used the flavour jam in cake before.  However for the BBQ if I have enough rhubarb and have time, I may do a rhubarb chutney. 

Eggs.  I’ll also do some hard boiled hen and duck eggs (if the ducks start laying again by then as the ducklings only just hatched) but I don’t think the geese are going to grace us with their eggs any more this year.  If they do I will hard boil some of those too, as I’d like to show the different eggs we have on offer here.

I’m also making frittatas to chop into small squares and serve as nibbles to pick up with a cocktail stick.  We’ve had comments off rude people before about frittatas being pauper food, so I am going to make it stand out and hold its own. 

Now I think that’s all we have edible ready at the moment and reading back, I’m really pleased with it! 

When we’re back from holiday our cockerels will be almost ready to eat so that will be our next test.  I’m not sure I am ready to be there for the slaughter, which I know I should as it’s not fair on Steven to do it on his own, but I will happily take its feathers off and watch as he gets it ready for the oven.  I will do a Sunday lunch for family and we can all have a feast to celebrate him having a happy, healthy life and in return us having a happy, family meal.

Speaking of meat, we have 6 ducklings in total now.  Isn’t that fabulous?  We have learnt from the goose mistake and have secured their water area so that they should be able to get in and out safely.  They may find it hard to get in and out of their house, so we will keep an eye on that and make any changes they need.  As much as I love the ducklings, I can’t help but let my mind wander to what sauce goes best with duck.  Come the winter, we should be getting a nice freezer full of meat (the boys) and some extra eggs from the girls once they’re old enough.

Have a lovely Bank Holiday weekend everyone 🙂