Tuesday, 28 February 2017
The greenhouse door in the autumn needed repairing so as a temporary measure we removed it, put the door from a retired shower unit against the gap and held in in place with a pallet. The approach of spring forced us to carry out the repair. Hooray! We can now get into the greenhouse. It is already filling up.
Signs of spring are early this year. I spotted leaves on the hawthorn hedges which I would normally have to wait until April to see. And over the weekend, I spotted a frog hopping into the small pond in the Whinnies Community Garden. I took a closer look and found lots of frog spawn in the pond. I like having lots of frogs around. They are great for eating bugs.
Last week we discovered that Groundwork North East has lots of fruit trees being sold cheaply at their nursery at Lobley Hill, Gateshead, just down the road from us. On Saturday we paid them a visit and bought four apple and two plum trees for £18, ie £3 each. We often pay more than £20 for a tree. What a bargain! The trees are now planted on the far side allotment.
Our herb garden was previously on the allotment we use for livestock. We took the decision to move the garden to the far side allotment and I'm pleased to report that the herbs are starting to grow. We still have some to move (sage and lovage) and we have lots of seeds to plant as well. Jobs for the next few weeks.
We have dug up all the rhubarb on our livestock allotment and in our back garden and moved it to the far side allotment. I'm pleased to say that all the transplanted roots have taken well to their new location and are growing new shoots.
It reminds me that I still have lots of rhubarb in one of our freezers. It will probably be made into jam.
Friday, 24 February 2017
The days are getting longer, temperatures are rising, spring is approaching. Time to sort the seeds for planting. We have been too haphazard and unplanned with our seed planting in the past. This year we are being much more systematic and focused. Hopefully we will not be ending the year telling everyone that our vegetable-growing efforts fall behind our livestock and fruit-growing activities.
The Whinnies Community Garden have been replacing old fences recently. They ended up with a large pile of wood and told us we could take it all for firewood. That saved their having to have a bonfire. We have started moving it back to the gate into our livestock allotment. It will have to be chopped up but once we have the new wood-fired heating system installed at home, this wood will be the first fuel we will use on it.
We have now started planting up our Far Side allotment. This is the first time it has been used for a number of decades and it is to be used mainly for fruit growing. However we are putting some vegetables on this site (our small allotment at Marley Hill will be our main vegetable growing site). We had already planted shallots and garlic and then realised we had lots more space to fill. So we bought more shallots (Mikor) and garlic (Cristo) on Wednesday and have already planted them.
Monday, 20 February 2017
Sunday, 19 February 2017
The days are noticeably getting longer. On 21st December, the shortest day, I did the lock up of the animals at about 3.45pm. Now I am doing it about 6pm. And at the end of last week, I spotted greenery starting to burst from buds. The picture above is of rose leaves. I am hoping the hawthorn will be earlier than usual this year. We have lots of it to cut back but we can only start once it is in leaf so that it can be fed to the goats.
Wednesday, 8 February 2017
We have rendered the fat from the pork joint we had on Sunday. The fat and leftover bits were put into water, brought to the boil and simmered. Once reduced down, the contents are put through a sieve. We then repeated the process a couple more times to make sure every bit of lard is extracted.
Monday, 6 February 2017
This was not entirely a self-sufficient meal - the pasta and parmesan cheese came from the supermarket. The bacon however came from the last pig we bought but has been in the freezer for a couple of years. The egg that was mixed with the pasta and bacon was laid by one of our hens.
Spot and Spotless prefer to eat their first meal of the day from the trough in the milking stand. Spot however is quite small and her legs are too short for her to reach the food with all 4 feet on the stand, resulting in this rather amusing scene of her front legs dangling while her head reaches into the trough!
We think she is not going to grow any more and that her smaller size is not related to her being pregnant. We think there is some pygmy genes somewhere in her genetic background. Georgina, her mother is too big to be a pygmy but has pygmy colouring and marking.
This covers the past 2 months. We built a separate paddock for our billy goat, the chickens had to be moved to an enclosure because of emergency DEFRA rules, we secure a supply of sustainable fuel and lots of recipes are tried.