Sunday, 1 December 2013
It looks like we will have another bumper crop of Jerusalem artichokes. Last week we recovered a large number simply by pulling out the dead stalks. So watch this space for artichoke soup, artichoke gratin, roasted artichokes and any other artichoke recipes we can think of!
We have been suffering from wind recently. No, I don't mean we are enduring the results of eating too many beans or artichokes! Instead, we have had a couple of storms that have bodily moved our two polytunnels. The one above was literally picked up by the wind and carried over the allotment and deposited on top of the greenhouse. The photo was taken after we had moved it over on to its side. The second was caught in a 2nd storm a few days later and ended up in the neighbouring allotment. It has been damaged and we will have to decide how to use it in the future.
The first polytunnel to fall victim to the storms is pictured below after we moved it to a new location. As you can see, we have removed the cover. Fortunately, the damage to the frame was rather minor.
Meanwhile, the freeing of the plot next to the goat paddock where the first polytunnel previously stood has given us the opportunity to extend the goat paddock. We will do this shortly. We have decided that instead of using the additional site we have taken on for the goats near our existing allotment, they will stay where they are but with a much bigger paddock. This makes sense in terms of the fencing. The new site is a long plot what would have needed a huge length of fencing. Extending the existing site therefore makes more financial sense and it means we can get the new milking goats sooner. The photo below was taken after the storm blew the polytunnel onto the greenhouse. The goat paddock will be extended to include at least the area of the henhouses, if not more.
Saturday, 30 November 2013
Pan haggerty is one of my favourites and is simple to make but, sadly, is a meal I don't often have. So, in an attempt to break with that tradition, we had pan haggerty last night. To make it, slice some potatoes and boil them. Then, in a deep pan, put in a layer of the boiled potatoes, then one of chopped onion and then a bit of grated cheese. Keep putting in layers until all the ingredients are used. Put on a low heat for about half an hour. Cover the pan whilst cooking. this helps to cook the onions and stops the ingredients drying out.
The potatoes and onions were locally produced. Alas, we had to buy the cheese as we are not yet into milk production.
Wednesday, 27 November 2013
Our most recent check on our hives, earlier this month, led us to believe that two of them had died. One of them was dismantled and put away. The other was left to be dealt with later. Another warm, sunny day today brought the bees out. And I spotted that the hive we thought was dead was, well, very much alive. It has been an odd hive as it had a queen that was laying only drone eggs. A colony only producing drone brood is under a death sentence so its apparent death earlier this month was not unexpected. Today I saw workers flying in and out of the hive. It could be that the previous queen was killed off by the hive in time to replace her with a new queen or it could be that the existing queen has sorted herself out and has started laying correctly. We will inspect the hive soon so we should be able to get a better picture of what's happening.
On Sunday we held another of our community cafes at Marley Hill Community Centre. We call it the Allotment Cafe and we encourage people to bring in their produce which they can swap with our preserves, eggs, honey and so on, as well as have a meal in the cafe itself. We try to use as many locally produced ingredients as possible so it is often the case that what people swap with us finds its way into the meals we provide. Sunday turned out to be a good day for swapping. By the end of the day we had trays of apples, a fresh trout, a bag of blackberries and lots of parsley. We had to turn down the offer of Jerusalem artichokes. We already have an embarrassingly large quantity of them. And today we were given a large bag of apples from the back garden of a house just up our street. We can never have enough apples. We use huge quantities of them in making chutneys and jellies.
Tuesday, 26 November 2013
Monday, 25 November 2013
We have had a rotten week with the ducks. Last week, the older group of ducks suddenly decided to stop using their duckhouse in the evening. That meant they would be out on the allotment overnight and vulnerable to foxes. No matter what we did, we couldn't get the ducks to reoccupy their house. Sure enough, next morning two of the ducks had gone and a day later another went as well. Our second group of ducks, which we hatched in the spring, had stopped using their duckhouse over two months ago. They spend nights on the pond and for six weeks they survived the foxes until, last month, two of them fell prey to them. At that point we put another 6 duck eggs into the incubator. And then, last week, there was a terrible accident and the incubator was knicked off its stand. 4 of the eggs were smashed. It was all the more frustrating as the 28 day incubation period had only 5 days to go.
Yesterday however the remaining two eggs hatched. Last week we put another 6 eggs into the incubator rather than wait until today, after the more recent hatchings, to start them off. Hopefully there will be more ducklings just before Christmas.
And finally, the two groups of ducks on the allotment have now merged to form one. This is almost certainly because the dominant drake in the older group was one of the birds caught by the foxes. Previously he chased away the younger birds. Now the younger drake is filling the gap. A united group of 5 now spends night times on the pond, giving some protection from foxes, and we have succeeded in netting the pond each night, helping to keep the foxes at bay.