I've been away recently, hence the absence of posts over the past two weeks. I spent 4 days in Berlin and two in London. Back home here in Sunniside and my main activities last week were all to do with earning some hard currency - I spent four days doing the photos at a conference of statisticians in Newcastle and then two days writing a parliamentary campaigning publication I edit. And then I had, on Saturday, a couple of markets for which I needed to prepare. So, though the hard currency was suitably earned, it meant I have been unable to sit down and write about being self-sufficient. So, here's some catch up notes about where we are.
The self-sufficient diet has continued though obviously I was not eating my own food when I was in Berlin and London and at the conference I was well fed by the statisticians! We have however done quite a bit of trading over the past few days. Our half pound jars of honey are fetching a good price in terms of other people's allotment produce. As a result, we have a good load of green tomatoes and this afternoon they will be converted into chutney. We've also used honey to buy turnips, green beans, potatoes, courgettes, a marrow, a basil plant and onions.
I did manage to fit in one preserve making session last week. On Friday I picked a bucketful of blackberries. They are late this year but the crop looks a good one. A friend dropped off a basket of cooking apples for me so I used some with the blackberries to make bramble jelly. I still have the pulp left over and this afternoon I will make it into bramble cheese.
Unfortunately our cockerel Malteaster has died. This was expected. He had been fading away for a couple of weeks. On the next allotment, his brother is looking in excellent shape so we hope to get some fertile eggs from our neighbour. The hens we swapped with him a few months ago for fence material (along with the cockerel) have just started to lay. We are hoping the hens from the same batch we kept ourselves will start laying soon as well.
Our ducklings have decided to abandon the duck house and have taken to spending the night on the pond instead. I'm not happy with this as they are vulnerable to foxes if they choose to leave the pond. I have no idea why they have changed their sleeping arrangements but it has not been possible to get them into the duckhouse. Interestingly, of the 5 ducklings that hatched at the start of June, only one has turned out to be a drake. So hopefully our duck egg supply will increase on a few months' time.
Meanwhile, just before going to Berlin, I put the honey I harvested into jars. Here they are, in the kitchen at Marley Hill Community Centre where we run our Allotment Cafe.
And finally, we have had a delay of 4 days before collecting the goats. The person selling them to us asked to rearrange the date as they weren't available on Sunday. This was useful as it allowed David more time to build a cage inside our Defender and it gave me more time to create the temporary goat house on the main allotment. Their permanent home on the goat paddock will take a bit longer to create, hence the temporary run for the next few weeks. Watch this space for more news on them.