Sunday 29 March 2015

More quail eggs

One of our quails started laying again earlier this month. Only one though. We waited for others to start but there was no sign of more eggs. And then yesterday, there were 4 eggs waiting for us. I'll have to dig out a few more quail eggs recipes.

Fencing off the herb garden

We spend last Sunday morning fencing off the herb garden area of the main allotment to keep Pinkie out. As well as the herbs, that area contains 3 bee hives which she rubs up against, and soft fruit shrubs of which she is making something of a meal. The poultry can still get into this area. They don't touch the herbs so they don't cause any damage there. A forthcoming job however is to fence off another area, this time for the kids when they are born. We will need to create this area to put them in when they are being weened.

Saturday 28 March 2015

Potato bags

A small confession: I did not get round to harvesting the potatoes I grew in potato bags in front of our hive stand last autumn. I had temporarily put chicken wire around the bags to keep the animals off. Earlier this week I removed the chicken wire and let the chickens get into the bags and eat the weeds that had started growing. The potatoes will be harvested shortly.

Friday 27 March 2015

Cream legbar green eggs

We hatched some cream legbar chicks last year. Of the 7 hens that survived, 3 have been rehoused with other people as part of swaps. Of the 4 we kept, we were beginning to think they had found a secret place to lay and that at some point we would discover a stash of small green eggs - most cream legbars lay green eggs. We searched in vain. Whilst our other hens started producing weeks ago, there was only a fleeting glimpse of green eggs. And then in the space of one day, we found 3 green eggs. All of them were small, indicating they were laid by young birds. The eggs however were in hen houses or places under sheds and hedges where many of the other birds lay. So it seems they weren't secreting their eggs in places I hadn't discovered. Instead, they were simply later than the others at starting to lay.

Monday 23 March 2015

Using the patio as a growing space

Our patio has been drafted in to the self-sufficiency project. It is the location for crops of leeks, cabbages and strawberries. The leeks and cabbages are in bags we sometimes use for growing potatoes. The strawberries are in specially made pots that stack up on top of each other, allowing the space to be used more efficiently.

Planting more rhubarb

You can never have too much rhubarb. We were given a large root cluster recently. Instead of planting it on the allotment, we've put it in the back garden. I'm hoping to get the first crop in a few weeks' time.

A rather large rosemary plant

I found this large rosemary plant left outside my allotment gate yesterday. I think it may have come from one of the new allotment holders on the site. He's taken over a plot that has been neglected for a year. He certainly appears to have picked up quickly on the fact that we don't waste anything!

I've put the rosemary into one of the troughs to keep it watered whilst we decide where to plant it.

Another vegetable curry

We've still got loads of vegetables to use up, including a pumpkin which was not going to make it to the end of the month. Time for another vegetable curry. It provided the two of us with three main meals. Tomorrow I suspect we will still be on vegetables. Soup is likely to be on the menu.

Elderflower champagne

We have about 40 bottles of elderflower champagne made in previous years to use up. We had one over the weekend. We weren't necessarily celebrating anything but the one we consumed was made last year. Very nice!

Sun bathing goats

Spring is here. Hooray! Sunny and warm today. The bees were out in good numbers. The goats however had a great day sunbathing, especially Pinkie.

Sunday 22 March 2015

The leaning beehive of Sunniside

This was the scene that greeted me a few days ago. We think Pinkie, one of our goats, had rubbed up against the hive and caused the legs to buckle. We have since repaired the hive stand but today we are going to fence off this part of the allotment to keep Pinkie out. The corner also contains lots of soft fruit bushes and our herb garden. Pinkie's presence there is not helpful!

Saturday 21 March 2015

Hay bags

My goats love hay and over the past few months we've been putting the hay in nets and hanging them from the fence of the goat paddock. Alas, the goats have shredded the sacks, which are not cheap. This unnecessary expense is not to be repeated. I've gone back to the old way of giving goats hay. I put it into empty chicken feed plastic sacks with a big hole cut in the side. It's a good way of saving money and turning waste into something useful.

Scrambled eggs

I have been absurdly busy recently. That means meals have had too little attention. Cooking has not been elaborate. Dinner a couple of nights ago was scrambled eggs. Fortunately, that meant some of our duck egg mountain was used.

First quail egg of the year

A nice surprise awaited me yesterday morning when I fed the quails. The first quail egg of the year was waiting for me. There was another one this morning. We have 11 quail hens. I'm hoping the others come on stream as quickly as possible. One or two quail eggs a day aren't much use to me!

Friday 20 March 2015

Cheese pudding

We have lots of eggs and breadcrumbs to use up. So, with a bit of cheese which, sadly, was bought from a supermarket, these ingredients were combined together to make a cheese pudding. I suspect we will have more in the future to use up the eggs. You don't have to add cheese. We could add onions or other ingredients instead.

Monday 16 March 2015

Bangers, mash and kale

We decided to use up more of our tamworth pork sausages for dinner yesterday but we also used up our last kale, picked fresh from the Marley Hill allotment. We have however a whole stash of other foods to use up, including 5 drakes and 4 cockerels which are still wandering around the plot.

Thursday 12 March 2015

Half way through the pregnancy

Pinkie, our golden guernsey goat, is not halfway through her pregnancy and she is getting big! Nevertheless, she seems quite comfortable wandering around the allotment. The weather is getting warmer and we have had a bit of a dry period so she is spending more of her time outdoors.

We will shortly have to start making preparations for the arrival of the kid (or kids) in late May.

Omelette and sprouts

All those eggs to use up and a pile of sprouts to get through. The solution - a big omelette with sprouts on the side. I never understand why many people dislike sprouts. I love them!

And then there were 8

Two days ago, I found 7 duck eggs waiting for me when I let the ducks out in the morning. I have 8 ducks (and 7 drakes though some of them will be slaughtered soon) so I wondered how long I would have to wait until the final bird started laying. I didn't have to wait long.

Yesterday morning, 8 eggs were waiting for collection. I now have a rather large haul of eggs that need to be used up. Baking sessions may be on the horizon.

Green shoots

Spring is definitely approaching. We have our first green shoots on the allotment. Our gooseberry shrubs are springing into life. We will, however, have to protect them from the goats. Pinkie has already tried to nibble the sprouting leaves.

Thursday 5 March 2015

Little and large

The extremes of eggs size came into play today. I found a tiny egg in one of the hen houses. And then I found a supersized egg under the shed, where some of the hens sometimes lay. The small one probably has no yolk. The big one is probably a double yolker.

The homing hens head home

The two chickens we gave to Liz on the neighbouring allotment, which decided to hop back over the hedge into our plot, have now been returned to their new home. They have a run made from a fruit cage so escape is not going to be easy. Liz has bought 3 more hens from Durham Hens to go with them. No eggs yet.

And then there were 6

Yet another duck has started laying. Recently we had 6 duck eggs waiting for me when I opened up the duck run. Only 2 more ducks left to go to start producing.