Wednesday, 7 December 2016

Bird Flu!!!


Quick one here. I know I have been away from posting for a while though I have been reading other blogs.
Still incredibly busy here, though it should slack off a bit soon now that  the Civic Society's public consultation is over, with the assessment of results nearly complete.
The big news today is BIRD FLU!
It is the first time that we have been asked to keep our free-range birds in for 30days because of bird flu on the continent. This request (on the news) was really quite robust when in the past it has been more of a suggestion. So today before I let the girls out of their 3 sleeping/laying/fox proof homes, I gathered various pallets, string etc so that I could secure them away from wild birds.
As someone who prides herself on the freedom my girls have, I am saddened that they will not have their lovely lives for a month. Not as upset as the girls you understand, as they are seriously p****d off!
The 6 almost-pullets in the goose house are now restricted to that house and the small run attached. The goathouse crew (new cockerel, a couple of broodys and grown chicks) are now shut in the goathouse. Later today I shall combine these two groups into the goathouse as they will have more space there. The main flock are excluded from the orchard and are in the first run before the orchard where we usually feed them. This run is netted above so should exclude all but the smallest birds, who access this run from all sorts of entry points!

Here are some of the orchard hens. This enclosed area is four times the bit you can see here, The little old house you can see is left there as a place to shelter, with some nice dry soil underneath for bathing. Behind me is a hen house that opens onto this run too, at the moment  no one is using it, though it is available if they want it. Further through the run is the entrance to the main chicken house and through the fencing is the orchard.

Here is a pic of the hens in the orchard (on the other side of the part of the fence you can see above) a while ago, they are crossing the pond that will certainly miss now that they are "locked in"
And here is the empty orchard this morning! A  rather sad sight.
I guess I will be using some of the stores I put by ( to keep them interested in the winter) sooner than I expected.
All for now, hoping to blog again soon.
Gillx

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

The Apple Mountain

Hello from a wet and windy Derbyshire. The river is up and some of next doors sheep are marooned on little islands of grass where the river has burst its' banks. I shall keep and eye on them.
Thank you so much for the comments on my last post. I learnt a lot and hope some of you did too. I will round up with a quote from Aneurin Bevan
"No society can legitimately call itself civilised if a sick person is denied medical aid because of lack of means" (I hope I remembered that correctly, but you get the drift)
Update on the apple mountain.
The other day I blogged that I was on my own for the day and not expecting visitors (fat chance- saw quite a few!) One visitor was especially interesting. he knocked at the door and said that he saw I had apples for sale, wondered what kind they were and if I had any not fit for selling ? Erm yes! This guy works for a small local brewery and was wanting to have a go at making cider. We walked around the holding together looking at what we had and I agreed to fill a couple of sacks for him while I was sorting the glut/picking up windfalls. Over the next week I put different kinds of eaters (he already had plenty of cookers) in the sacks and he collected them last week leaving me with a couple of bottles of their beer. I am looking forward to trying his brew.
 I finally have some cider on the way. I used 4 large bucketsful of mixed varieties and got 7 and a half litres of juice. Not too bad.. Eight trays of perfect eaters and a tray of Bramleys are now in cold store and I have a barrowful of Bramleys to process for the freezer. EGD and I made several jars of apple and honey chutney towards the Christmas hampers and our own winter stores. I have put a bucket aside for Cheeky (sheep) before they go off. The chickens have a barrowful of rubbish ones and the really awful ones are on the compost heap.
All sorted tah dah!!!
Still on a bartering/food theme. Godson arrived with some more pallets and a couple of pheasants he went away with a jar of marmalade and some fish. Just how I like to deal.
Here is EGD just starting the prep for the apple and honey chutney. It was great to have all the ingredients grown here. (Including EGD who was born in my bed!)
 Here is Adam just starting the beans sorting. he so loves this job and I so love it being done. from 9 o'clock we have butter beans, black beans, the tray to be sorted,; Borlotti; Lazy Housewife and  Streamline. As you see there are many more Streamline than I will need for seed and we don't eat them dried so will save for the pigs.

A couple of days ago before the rains came I looked into our neighbours field and saw mushrooms. I was very excited as we have had none this year. I collected a bucket and stealthily climbed over the wall to find.... turnips! the farmer had thrown several buckets out for his sheep. (not the only animals feeling sheepish)
All for now
Keep warm and safe
Gillx

Tuesday, 15 November 2016

US verses UK health care


You know how it is, you're on facebook and you hook into all sorts of rubbish. You read one thing and then see another on the sidebar and you're away to another clutch of stories about dogs being rescued or cats doing hilarious things.  Today I have been reading "27 grateful people share the most incredible acts of generosity someone has ever done for them" There were lots of stories about good teachers and strangers paying for food etc, but those that stood out for this British girl were those when people in the US were helped out with medical bills. There's this girl who has type 1 diabetes, who currently has little health insurance because she is a student. She is making her medication spin out as far as possible and a lovely nurse gives her some freebie meds. from the pharmacy to help her out. Then there is this woman whose husband has had a heart attack and has recently lost his job, who is helped out by the kindness of strangers. Similarly a guy who has cancer and little health insurance to cover his months of treatment.  I'm sitting here horrified!
Back in the 80's my husband had cancer, it was over 5 years of chemo, surgery and radio therapy before he was clear. At the time he was employed and would have been able to pay into a health insurance scheme (should he have needed to) though the treatment would have come to tens and tens of thousands of pounds. Years pass, with several health issues such as anaphalactic shock from wasp stings, diseased eye and cataract op, all requiring regular medication, and then the firm he works for folds along with the private pension fund that he has been paying into for 23yrs! It is now difficult for him to get a job, but we have the smallholding  so we decide that we can manage as I am still employed. We started to offer Bed and Breakfast, which did pretty well and then seven years ago while he is putting in the mandatory fire escape(!) he becomes ill again and is told that a valve in his heart is no longer working well and will fail at any time (probably damaged by the radio therapy all those years ago) Back into hospitals, open heart surgery and constant, huge amounts of medication for life. And at no time have we worried about the cost.
A few years ago a college friend of mine who married an American was over here for a visit. The year before she had given birth to her third son who was born with a cleft palette and who had many corrective operations. Whilst she was with us her husband, back in the States, was shot outside a cinema and apart from the obvious concern for his health she was also extremely worried that they had used up all their insurance on the son. What a dilemma!
So my British bloggy friends, as if you don't know it already, The National Health Service is THE BEST! I'm sure you all have examples.
All for now
Gillx
PS this is not my planned post, but my little foray into Facebook set me off!

Friday, 11 November 2016

More animal antics.

Hello All
 Last night was our Remembrance Evening at the village hall. It is lovely to see our mature locals getting together for a gossip and a reminisce. We have a short service followed by tea and cake (more baking!) and we run a raffle, the proceeds of which go to the Royal British Legion. The RBL did us proud with a standard bearer and a representative to read the dedications, reading out the names of local guys who lost their lives in  WWI and WWII and leading the two minutes silence.
Today I shall be printing out 400 x  2-sided 3 pages to be posted to all the houses in our district. We are to hold a consultation evening on the 1st December to gather residents opinions on our Society's vision for a  9 hectare site. The printing includes a questionnaire for people to fill in. Let's see what happens. A couple of the Civic Society guys and myself will be posting this weekend, some of those letter boxes are evil!

Remember me saying that I was hoping to make some cider this month? I have been collecting apples that won't keep and are less than perfect. I have two wheelbarrows full so far and trays (and trays and bucket fulls of perfect ones)........
Is there a young offenders institute for chickens? The pullets are at it again!

 Remember Cheeky and the apples?

When I wasn't quick enough with said fruit, she pretended to be a dog! 
The dogs are actually waiting for balls to be thrown, but are also partial to an apple, which they just steal from buckets in the kitchen.

The only problem with posting these jolly pics is that you can see how untidy our place is, not at all as neat and tidy as most that you see in blogland.
Today is a rare day for me. I am on my own ALL DAY.
The shared lives guys don't come on Fridays and David is on his mandatory first aid course today.
 I have a long list of jobs to do as long as your arm, but I am procrastinating by blogging. My second blog this week. Heavens!

Enough of this. Off to put some soup in the slow cookers and start printing.
Welcome to Di saye on Bloglovin and Jane Austen and Maude on the follower bar. For some reason I can no longer tell if you have a blog. Please comment and let me know if you have so that I can have a nosey!
Love Gillx

Monday, 7 November 2016

Winter draws on!

 Hi Everyone
It looks like we are in for some cold weather. Not really suprising as it is November. However, after last years' warm winter it has made me think my winter thoughts! I went into the "occasional" linen drawer to find the heavy curtains that I put at the two unglazed outer doors and realised that I didn't get them out last winter, that's how warm it was.
We have plenty pallet wood and logs in for this winter and one of the Shared Lives guys has been happily chopping sticks and filling animal feed bags to the brim. He sits in the workshop, warmed by the old field kitchen which is fuelled by pallets of course, with a big chopping block in front of him , lengths of wood, cut on the bandsaw by David, on one side of him and an ever growing pile of kindling on the other. Radio Derby is playing and the kettle is continually boiling for the endless cups of tea or oxo. Our other shared lives guy is a very tidy person and loves to sweep up any sawdust or shavings which he puts in bags and takes into the barn ready for muckng out chickens or rabbits. It would be good to take a photo to go with this little cameo, but their privacy is paramount.
I was wondering if any old people in the village might need some help or support this winter, perhaps with a bit of shopping or offering to share a warm meal or just popping in to see if they were okay. I was then reminded that we ARE the old people of the village....really?!.. when did that happen?!

I'm gradually putting produce into store. It has been a pretty good year in the garden, with the exception of the beetroot and peas which have been very poor. I'm still picking tomatoes, which is unusual for November. The marrows have been exceptional, with many huge marrows from one plant. There are only so many marrows a family can eat so I collected a few together to put into store for a while until I can face them again. I piled them against barn wall one day and the next day this is what I found. Vermin came to mind obviously and I cursed myself for being so lackadaisical and leaving food out for them.
 Some hours later the culprits gave themselves away ..
 The other marrows that weren't in this pile are now in store and will be given to the chickens in the winter for a change and something to do. That way I won't have to think of how to cook them too. win win.
Last week I had a whole morning when I didn't expect to see anyone or go anywhere so I set to to process some more stuff. The previous evening I cut up two red grapefruit, four sweet oranges, four lemons and a couple of pounds of cooking apples.  I just cut the citrus fruits into six and then thinly slice these segments. I peeled and chopped the apples and then put the fruit into a clean bucket and covered with seven pints of water, covered the bucket and left overnight.
Here is the contents of the bucket poured into a large jam kettle. This I cooked slowly to reduce. behind the pan is some bread rising (no point if wasting the slow low heat. To the side is a bowl of cookers.
 While the marmalade is simmering and the bread is rising I started on the tomatoes. I cooked a bowlful in the microwave and then pushed them through a sieve into a saucepan. The remaining pips and skins went into the chicken bucket
 I now have two pans to keep an eye on while the contents reduce.
 Meanwhile I bash the bread into shape and cover the tins with a cloth at the opposite end of the cooker. A blolognaise sauce is now cooking at the rear and the oven is on and a bowl of measured (6lb) sugar and some jars are in to warm. I skimmed quite a lot of fat off the mince before I added veggies and put this into the dripping pot, this I placed into the oven to melt it all into one with the older dripping.
 Once the fruit had reduced by nearly a half I added the warmed sugar and cooked to setting before pouring into warmed (mayo) jars.
So, sans bolognaise sauce and starting from 9 o'clock is marmalade and a paltry boiling of beetroot, strewed apples and dripping, a loaf and some cheesy breads and tomato puree.
 Lastly, I thought I would share a pic of the books I am reading or have just read currently. I always have at least four/five books on the go and read whatever reflects my mood. I only read in bed at night, from about 11.30 until 12.30-1.00
The Women Rule the Plot was a present and the others I bought at charity shops.
That's more than enough for now ("too true" you say)
Back soon
Gillx
PS It's a long time since I did a cooking-type of post, I hope you weren't bored with it.

Friday, 4 November 2016

Codling moth, harvests and getting rid of ALL dogs

Hello All
Well I might be a miserable old curmudgeon but my last post saw lots of hits and quite a few comments and I didn't lose a single follower!
Many thanks for all your comments. Looking back at old posts the ones where I "go off on one" seem to be quite popular. You're a funny lot !

And so to Codling Moth. Thanks for ideas and experiences. Rounding these up I have decided on a regime to try.
In the next week or two I shall slather some Vaseline (petroleum jelly) around the trunks of all my apples and plums about two foot off the ground. I shall add to this some Vic or stockholm tar, I've got some somewhere if I can only find it, which should make the grease unattractive to chickens, birds etc. It looks like there is no point to tying an actual band to the trees.
Next year I shall use Pheromone traps. One trap treats five trees within 50 foot. I reckon two in the orchard and one in the front garden should do it. Sue from Suffolk says that the refills work out much cheaper. In another area of the holding that has one apple, two plums and a greengage I shall try one of the homemade traps from the many youtube tutorials that I found. Cro uses a tar oil spray which might be the answer for the odd tree on the paddock boundary.
So wish me luck and if you have a go please share your results

I have been really busy with the Civic Society Heritage Exhibition over the last couple of weeks and we still have our Remembrance evening next week and a public consultation at the end of the month to set up, host and evaluate. We also have a major Planning Application to comment on. I really wish there was more time for the historical research that I enjoy so much, but there is none at the moment.

Picked a few more bushels of apples this week. Goodness knows what we are going to do with them all. We have the signs out but everybody else has plenty of apples. I have one evening free next week when I hope to catch a young person or two to help me press a bucketful or two to make cider.

The beans are about finished and there are many dried pods to collect. I have them all over the house in trays. When I am sure they are absolutely dry I pour them into bowls ready for Adam to sort into colours on his next visit, this is probably his favourite job after having a bonfire!.
 There are many speckled pink/black beans from Prizewinner, which are unattractive cooked so I am going to put enough aside for next years' seed and the rest I shall save for pig food (we hope to get a trio of pigs next year) Has anyone else fed their pigs dried runner bean seed?

We went on our last sea fishing trip of 2016 a couple of weeks ago. The freezer now contains copious amounts of fish, much of which we must eat to make room for the lambs in January. I make that sound like a problem don't I?!
 Any fish recipes to use the pollack and ling ? I'm always glad to ring the changes.
While we were in Looe we went for a meal with friends. I was talking about the labs I look after  that belong to my granddaughter and daughter. One of the company then said that he thought that all dogs should be got rid of. He said that the risk of just one child going blind was too great and that dogs were a scourge and there was no place for them in our society!
Bit extreme eh?!!!
Here are Coda and Sammie. Butter wouldn't melt.....
 Here is Cheeky and Chives eating apples. Chives isn't too fussed about them but Cheeky LOVES them. She comes to the gate every morning and blarts until I throw half a dozen into the field for her (and no, it isn't making any inroads in to the apple mountain!)
 Here is Coda saying "Can I have our ball back?" To which Cheeky replies "Not until I am sure it isn't an apple" I'm afraid she has destroyed quite a few balls this way and poor old Coda have to watch the destruction.

I have lots more to write and a few photos to share but this post is long enough. A warm Derbyshire welcome to a new follower on the side bar and one on Bloglovin, for some reason I cannot see who you are!
love Gillx





Monday, 17 October 2016

A couple of rants


Bit of a rant here.
I promise to round up the grease-band advice in my next post.

How do you react to a blogger whose views offend you? There have been a couple of times recently when I have read a blog of someone I follow with a similar lifestyle (self sufficiency, prepping etc) and they have posted something that I really can't agree with, worse than that, I have found it uncompromising and offensive and it has upset me and had me shouting at the screen.
 What to do? ignore it? put forward my differing view? unfollow?
 I'm actually quite good at presenting a different viewpoint in such a way that I don't trade insults nor suggest the person is an idiot for holding a different view. Many years as a Social Worker have ensured that I can be clear and honest  yet diplomatic (I'm the old fashioned kind honest!.. you would have wanted fighting your corner!)
In the last post of this kind all the comments agreed with the person, with increasing degrees of nastiness and sycophancy and what surprised (disappointed ?) me was that other bloggers-in-common who I know to hold lives/views diametrically opposed to the post say nothing.
Yes, I did leave a short comment.

And while I am ranting.....
 Must couples really have to go to some exotic place to get married? My children and grandchildren, who are all employed, are receiving more and more wedding invitations that they have no hope of attending at times of year that they are unable to get time off to weddings in far-flung places. Should they attend they will have to find the air fare and hotel costs and use up their valuable annual leave and savings (house deposit) for someone else's "Special Day". Sorry, I don't get it! Get married abroad, just a couple of you and have a"Bash" when you get home for all, but these folk end up doing both, as, surprise surprise! grandma and grandad have never really wanted to go to Peru and friends with children might not want to take their babies to a warm country in the hurricane season etc
Gosh I'm on one today aren't I? I bet I'll get it in the neck and cries of "bah humbug" for this one.
Back soon with a grease band post and update on the bees (pretty safe stuff)
Gill