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Monday, 15 November 2010

Pumpkins and more jam!

Remember those little pumpkins growing in my garden? My how they've grown! They store wonderfully in a cold room. Today's furry model is Bobbie, he contemplated eating the pumpkins (after an experimental nibble of the stalk) but settled for posing instead (it's really any excuse with him).

With one of the pumpkins I made gluten free Pumpkin Pie to take to Nath's mom's for his sisters Birthday dinner. That only took a little bit of it, so with the rest I made Pumpkin Jam! You can find the recipe I used here, I tripled all the ingredients and I used Jam makers sugar and also added a sachet of pectin and sugar set...just. It tastes great! It actually made 4.5 jars, the part jar will be used to make experimental Pfeffernuesse.

Sunday, 14 November 2010


This cute specimen of Greyhound beauty is Lenny, who's 12 years young. You wouldn't think a bag full of raw, mud covered Maris Pipers would have so much appeal to the canine nose would you?

This pile of spuds is from the middle bed, and is about 4/5 rows worth. I was hampered in my harvest by having had my first horse riding lesson the day before (argh my poor legs!). Still it was exciting to dig in and unearth handfuls of Maris Pipers, rolling out like pale yellow treasure.

Issues: A few had tiny holes in which I am presuming to be Keel slug damage (as Maris Pipers are susceptible anyway), but to be fair that was only a tiny number which I ditched. Most are affected by common scab (also common both with Maris Pipers and sandy higher pH soil) but it's only cosmetic so who cares! I am trying nemaslug next year as after a slow start the garden is now a slug haven...and my beer traps don't work in the rain!

All in all, a mighty fine treasure haul!

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Chicken Update

I haven't wanted to post this one because I am still upset about it, but sadly now we only have 2 chickens as one died, my favourite chicken Ruby :o( Apparently we can't have more ex batts at the moment as Nessa is a bit of a bully and has been pecking at Clara's back. I must confess I am tempted by the lure of Light Sussex hens, but ex batts are so lovely in temperament and I would feel guilty if the space didn't go to another ex batt. You can only increase your chicken population in two's as they need an ally against the existing hens who will bully them at first, until the pecking order is rearranged and everybody knows their place.

The good news is that the remaining two chookins now made friends and Clara's feathers are at last grown in, although she looks a bit purple at the moment from the anti pecking spray which contains gentian violet extract. The picture at the top is Clara, bless her.

I am tempted by the idea of making my own chicken coop, or wire enclosed run. With more space to roam we could increase the size of the flock in the coming years. I am very tempted by an Eglu Cube, but the price is a bit prohibitive!

This is an affiliated link to a groovy site where you can essentially buy plans to create your own chicken housing. I could really do with a spare coop for when I need to introduce more hens (that's more hens as opposed to moorhens!).

Chickens eat what ever grass or weeds are inside the run within the space of a week. We have 4 Greyhounds and the grass has all but stopped growing for winter so we have decided to made a temporary static base for the chicken run. We've chosen half log style low edging and soft wood chips. They will still need to be changed once a month, but at least we won't have to keep moving the run weekly and will conserve some lawn until spring to keep the mud at bay.

We are enjoying this programme at the moment Giles and Sue Live the Good Life. I suggest you check it out if you are interested in self sufficiency, chicken keeping etc etc (BBC2 Monday 21:00). The write up reads "In celebration of The Good Life's 35th birthday, Giles Coren and Sue Perkins step back in time to 1975 to find out what it takes to make the self-sufficient dream a reality".