Thursday, 17 August 2017

Clean quailhouse

quailhouse Aug 17

The quailhouse is cleaned out every three months or so. It had its latest clean on Monday. Quail droppings quickly become dry and dusty. The muck has gone into the manure bin which is now full. Anyone in the Sunniside area is welcome to take some natural fertiliser for their garden.

Apple branches for the goats

apple branches for goats Aug 17 (2)

A friend chopped down a couple of apple trees in his garden over the weekend. He let me have all the branches. A bit of a feast for the goats. After the leaves and bark were eaten, the branches were chopped for firewood. No waste!

apple branches for goats Aug 17 (1)

Sunday, 13 August 2017

Lots of logs

shredding branches on Whinnies Aug 17 (17)

The recent work to clear the pile of branches on the Whinnies resulted in lots of firewood which is now being stored to dry out. All we need is a heating system that uses them as fuel. Getting that done is still on the to-do list.

shredding branches on Whinnies Aug 17 (19)

shredding branches on Whinnies Aug 17 (24)

Is Georgina pregnant?

pregnant goat Aug 17

There is a possibility that Georgina, mother or grandmother of all our goats except for Pinkie, may be pregnant again and possibly even due in the next three weeks. She has been getting bigger for some time and I am no longer able to put that down to her being "gassy"! The father can only be Spotless who died in April, a couple of weeks after Georgina gave birth. If events turn out as we now expect, we clearly made a mistake leaving Spotless to roam freely with the nannies when they are due to give birth. I much prefer to give the nannies time to recover from a pregnancy. Fortunately, Georgina is in excellent condition. Watch this space for more news.

Rained off at Swalwell

Swalwell Fayre Aug 17 5

We set up our stall selling preserves at the Swalwell Community Fayre yesterday, just in time for the rain. Alas, the wet conditions were not helpful for jam sales but the two goats we took - Pinkie and Snow - proved to be popular with visitors as we sheltered under trees.

Swalwell Fayre Aug 17 3

Creating space

shredding branches on Whinnies Aug 17 (1)

On the Whinnies Community Garden, in the bottom end of one of the old allotments, was a huge pile of sticks, branches and tree trunks. It was a bit of a hindrance to get into our Farside allotment. Over the past week, I have been helping the volunteers to shred branches and chop logs. The end result is a large new space that can be used by the volunteers in the future, a heap of mulch and better access to our allotment.

Photos before (above) and after (below).

shredding branches on Whinnies Aug 17 (21)

And a few action shots:

shredding branches on Whinnies Aug 17 (9)

shredding branches on Whinnies Aug 17 (2)

shredding branches on Whinnies Aug 17 (16)

shredding branches on Whinnies Aug 17 (12)

shredding branches on Whinnies Aug 17 (3)

Friday, 11 August 2017

Rhubarb, apple and cherry jam

Rhubarb, apple and cherry jam Aug 17 (1)

Our huge surplus of rhubarb and cherries is being put to good use this morning. I am making rhubarb, apple and cherry jam. The cherries have been boiled and strained (life is too short to stone each one individually). The resulting liquid (1.25 litres) was added to the jam pan along with 2kg of chopped rhubarb and 2kg of chopped apples.

Boil the whole lot until everything is pulped and then add 4kg of sugar. Bring to setting point and them put it into hot, sterlised jars.

Rhubarb, apple and cherry jam Aug 17 (2)

Thursday, 10 August 2017

First duck egg in ages

duck egg Aug 17

Our ducks stopped laying a couple of months ago. I have no idea why. The birds are healthy and in good condition. They eat well. But we are getting no eggs. That is until today. One egg from one of our young birds was waiting for collection this morning. Hopefully the others will follow her lead.

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Hay delivery

hay Aug 17

Over the past couple of days we have been given a good quantity of hay. It won't be enough to get us to spring next year but it should get us a good way through the winter, helping us to avoid buying in feed for the goats. We will continue to make hay through the rest of the summer to ensure we have enough to keep us going until we start feeding the goats branches and leaves again in April.

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Making smoothies

smoothie Aug 17

I had a go at making a smoothie today from ricotta cheese (made from our goats milk), fruit pulp, fruit jelly and milk. I'm rather pleased with the results. It was also a good way to use up ingredients that had been in the freezer for a year.

Repairing the henhouse

repairing the henhouse Aug 17

Our main henhouse is built entirely from reused waste materials, mainly old doors. A heavy hailstorm recently damaged the roofing panels and since then rain has leaked into the henhouse and turned the floor to mud. We recently were given some old roofing panels from a demolished conservatory and over the weekend, we used them to rebuild the henhouse roof. Hopefully, the hens will be a bit drier now.

Hive check

bee hive Aug 17

We did another check on our four hives yesterday. All are in good order and are growing to fill the spare frames. There is a great deal of brood so the queens are active. Each hive got through a bucket of sugar syrup over the past week so each hive was fed again.

Sunday, 6 August 2017

August production figures

I've just been adding up our egg and preserve production figures from August:

  • 427 hen eggs
  • 592 quail eggs
  • 4 jars orange marmalade
  • 12 jars rhubarb and orange jam
  • 29 jars lemon curd
  • 4 jars blackcurrant jam
  • 24 jars lemon marmalade
  • 10 jars rhubarb chutney
  • 10 jars rhubarb and gooseberry jam
  • 14 jars rhubarb and redcurrant jam
  • 6 jars redcurrant jelly
  • 7 jars cherry and gooseberry jam
  • 6 jars apple chutney
  • 12 jars apple, redcurrant and gooseberry jam
That will keep us going for a while!

Rhubarb swap

rhubarb Aug 17 (1)

A friend had some surplus rhubarb and asked me if I wanted to trade it. I took 3 jars of jam and a jar of lemon curd to his allotment where I discovered just how much he had. We filled the boot of our Polo. It will all be frozen in the short term as we don't have enough jars to turn it all into jam. This does however create a problem with freezer storage space. We are trying to get through older contents to make room for this summer's produce. This one rhubarb crop will fill all this space - and we have the rhubarb on our Farside allotment still to pick.

rhubarb Aug 17 (2)

Saturday, 5 August 2017

Picking shallots

shallots Aug 17

We have had a relatively good crop of shallots. They are now picked and drying off. Watch this space for how we will make use of them.

Friday, 4 August 2017

Coal the mascot

Snow and Coal Aug 17

Coal has been chosen as the new mascot for the Whinnies Community Garden and she will be appearing at events there over the summer and autumn. We are still getting her used to being on a lead and having people around. She is getting used to being walked around the garden and is becoming very friendly, especially if people have food with them!

Toad on the allotment

toad on allotment Aug 17

When I was doing the lock-up a couple of nights ago, I saw this toad hopping past the henhouse. I'm all for having wildlife like this on the allotment as toads eat bugs, slugs and snails (as do the chickens and ducks as well). Let's hope this toad survived the chickens the next day.

Drying nettles

nettles Aug 17

The process of building up a stock of winter fodder for the goats is underway. We have been making hay but we are now drying a large bundle of nettles each day to add to the fodder. We hang the bundle in the goat house (suitably partitioned off from the goats). It takes about 4 days for the nettles to dry out. Hopefully we can build up enough of a stock of fodder over the summer to avoid having to buy in feed over the winter.

Thursday, 3 August 2017

Raspberry, rhubarb and apple jam

raspberry, rhubarb and apple Aug 17

We picked more wild raspberries earlier this week. This time they went into making 16 jars of raspberry, rhubarb and apple jam. The rhubarb had been sitting in the freezer since last year and we need the space. The apples provided the pectin.

Broadening our horizons

broad beans July 17 2

We have had a good broad bean crop this year. We have harvested 9kg of beans which are now in the freezer. The goats and chickens liked the empty pods.

Beans are full of protein, minerals and carbohydrates so they are one of our most important crops. As well as using them as a vegetable side dish in main meals, we will also be using them to make veggie burgers and sausages. Watch this space!

broad beans July 17 4

Lemon meringue pies

lemon meringue pies July 17

In an attempt to use up our surplus lemon curd, we made lemon meringue pies. We still have lots of lemon curd still waiting to be used!

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Mint syrup

mint jelly Aug 17 (1)

This was meant to be mint jelly but it did not set fully. Instead it is a thick syrup. It still tastes great. We can add it to lamb sausagemeat to make lamb and mint burgers and sausages.

mint jelly Aug 17 (2)