Rain, rain and more rain – but that’s ok!

I think most of the UK has had rain this week.  The ground here desperately needed it.  It’s rained non stop for a good few days so all of the water butts are full.  Some of the barn guttering is blocked from downpours and things are looking a bit depressed (my chamomile is squished for example) but once the sun comes it’ll right itself.  However some of the animals are loving it:
Some not so much
 The 4 Vorwerk girls and 2 boys sought shelter in the barn, you only ever see them in here at feeding time but looks like they all fancied a trip to the hairdressers together.

After complaining about the pigs not turning the field over as much as we’d hoped – look at it now after the rain!  I’m really pleased.  These 2 will be going within the next month and they will have done a great job by then.  Once they go we will get in there and take out the roots they’ve uprooted but not eaten, maybe rake or tiller it depending how it is and then leave it until March when it’ll be planted up with potatoes then squash later in the year.  We’re also growing 2018 pigs fodder in here.

The sunflowers are now heading for 5 or 6 foot and some are really strange looking!  Pretty colours all the same.

Look at the sweetcorn!  This has flew up with the recent downpours!
 
This morning I was outside at 5:30 sowing seeds.  Crazy you might say but there’s method in my madness.  Firstly, my back was giving me jip and I needed to walk it off, secondly on a weekend I always seem to get distracted by other jobs like weeding and thirdly I find I get a lot more achieved when I get out of bed and get on with it straight away.  Of course I had to go to work so the only way to get everything done is get up early and crack on!  The seeds I got in were spring onion, pak choi, leeks (second cropping, winter giant 3), perpetual spinach, cauliflower autumn giant, cabbage verbote 3 (which was organic and I’d not realised).
The rain always makes the veg plot look so green so I quickly snapped a couple of shots for you to see from this morning.
Beans intercropped with spinach in this closest shot

Lavender and spuds in this view, plus the obligatory steel bin to burn stuff in!
 Chamomile is what you can see, all squashed in the middle of this pic.
Brassicas with Jerusalem artichokes below.  I wasn’t sure if these would be ok together but I am moving the artichokes to a metal bin (with holes in) one this round is done.

That’s my round up done, enjoy the weekend.

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 🙂

April showers

Today has been a lovely and sunny day up  until tea time when the wind and rain started.
It gave us more than enough time to ride the ponies out and get a couple of outside jobs done. Grace and I gave both ponies a good groom before going in for tea and a little baking session. I made some flapjacks which more often than not I forget I have put them in the oven (yes I used a timer and still manage to forget) and tonight was no different. They are mostly still edible but I could kick myself. I always do that with rice pudding too!
Looking out from the front of the farmhouse, we have some new additions in the field. They are not ours I hasten to add, but it’s lovely to watch these cows frolicking around although the horses weren’t keen on them!
Finally before bed time, Ste made jelly with the kids which I am sure they will enjoy tomorrow when it is set.

Goose egg lemon drizzle cake

We are off together for the weekend and Easter Monday. It’s been lovely to have some time together even if the weather seems to be against us. It’s been raining and wild with the wind so we haven’t managed to get too much done outside though yesterday the kids and i managed to go for a lovely walk.
The horses were done first thing today and they got an hour out each before the rain hit.
We had to pop to the shops as we are decorating our first room and need some wall lights. We didn’t find any lights we liked but we did get some strawberry plants, 2 rhubarb plants and another raspberry stick. So I was quietly pleased despite meaning we still need to go out to find some blasted wall lights we like.
Instead of being outside, which is always our first preference, I did some baking. I made a lemon drizzle cake using one goose egg and 1 hens egg. Oh my it is fantastic. Now it might just be Mary Berry’s recipe, but I like to think it was the goose egg that made it the nicest lemon drizzle cake I have ever made (also the only ;)) I also made a mackerel pate type thing which was a hugh fearnley whittingstall recipe and it was nice but Ste thought it was just glorified tuna! I have a simnel cake in the Aga now which says 5 to 10 hours in Mary Berry’s book so I shall see how it turns out after 5 hours. I don’t fancy staying up until midnight to wait for the 10.
Tomorrow I am making Easter lunch for my family and in a few weeks we will do it for Ste’s side. It’d be too many in one go. Fingers crossed it turns out ok! Happy Easter all.

Easy lamb tagine

Weather wise, today has been a wash out. As I had a study day meaning I was at home, I decided to make a warming tea to see us through the damp and dreary weather conditions. Something comforting for everyone to come home to.  The lamb tagine I made was on bbcgoodfood website and was very tasty though the sauce was a bit thin for my liking.
I made foccacia bread to go with it and it was OK for a first attempt. I did let it rise long enough as I hadn’t factored that in to the timing. It was all eaten anyway!
Still no goose eggs!  The geese were the only ones enjoying today’s downpour. The ground is sodden, the field is flooded and everything is dirty!
Pig palace was coming along well or so I thought but Steven has decided it won’t be escape proof enough and is going to redo it all again! That’s OK though as we aren’t planning on getting any until April.
Today I also made a basic sponge recipe that was enjoyed after the lamb tagine. Next time I will add something extra to it.