Saturday 31 October 2020

Self-isolation ended

I have been goat sitting for a couple of weeks. A friend tested positive for covid and he owns a couple of goats. As he had to self-isolate, I was recruited to look after the goats. That came to an end today and I'm pleased to report my friend is in good health, as are the goats. 


I don't know what variety of beans these are. They were grown by a friend and he let me pick the rest of the crop. They looked like runner beans when in the pods on the plans. When removed from the pods they look like butter beans. Anyway, the beans I picked are all now in the freezer.

Thursday 29 October 2020

Apple jam donation

15 jars of apple jam made tonight. They will be part of a batch of 100 jars of jam I'm making to go into Christmas food parcels which Gateshead Council will be delivering to vulnerable households.


Wednesday 28 October 2020

2 tonnes of apples

My recent appeal via Facebook to local residents to swap their surplus apples grown in their back gardens for our homemade jams continues to bring in large quantities of fruit. We should easily get through the winter with what we now have. Indeed, the problem is now a shortage of storage space!

We are continuing to collect apples but what we are getting in now is used largely for charitable purposes. We've made lots of preserves which we have donated to a fairshare scheme. I gave a sack of top quality apples to go into packed lunches for children. And I have an order for 100 jars of jam which I will donate to a hub which is providing food parcels to vulnerable households. I will be making the jam over the next couple of days.

In the meantime, if anyone local has some unwanted bread trays, please pass them on to me. They are ideal for storing apples.

Tuesday 27 October 2020

Green tomato chutney


The last of the tomato crop is now picked. Most of the late ones were green. Time to make green tomato chutney. This pan produced 11 large jars.

Leftover cabbage and potato peel soup


I hate waste. So, faced with some leftover cabbage and some potato peelings, what was the best way to put them to good use. Answer: make them into soup.

Blackberry and apple gin

 The last of the blackberries have been picked We did not quite have enough to make blackberry gin so we compromised and made up the difference with some apple. It will be ready for drinking in 3 months.



We were given 4 rabbits by a friend who goes shooting. We have skinned and gutted them and put them in the freezer where they will remain until I make game pies later this year.

Sunday 18 October 2020

Relying on the Rhode Island reds


October is the time of the year when the hens' productivity drops to scarcely anything. Typically we get 2 or 3 eggs a day though we broke all records last week when there were 6 eggs on a single day! It is our Rhode Island Reds we should be thanking for producing eggs. We have 3 adult hens and they often outperform the other 35 or so hens. We have been aware for some time that this breed is very productive so we have put a great deal of effort into raising chicks. We have about 12 though we don't know the proportion of hens to cockerels yet.

Duck in the bath


The recent heavy rain has meant we are dealing, yet again, with lots of mud. While most of the time this is not a problem for the ducks, occasionally they get so overwhelmed that they are unable to clean themselves. And when that happens, they probably won't survive. So recently we found one of our ducks covered in mud. We brought her back to the house and put her in the bath where we showered her (ducks love that!) and washed off the mud. A meal of wheat followed before we returned her to the livestock plot.

We are planning to move some of the ducks to our main field where we will set up a duck run. They will therefore be on grass and the aim is to let them eat it to clear plots for planting with vegetables. Once they have cleared a plot, we will move the run (which is made from the frame of a polytunnel) to another site and we start the whole process again.

The hay has arrived

We were unable this year to make our own hay crop. We had aimed to have a contractor in to cut the hay and bale it but it just didn't happen. Next year our plan is to have our own equipment so we don't have to rely on the vagaries of an outside contractor. In the meantime, we have bought in 3 large round bales of hay to get us through to early spring. The sheep rather like it!

Friday 2 October 2020

The Importance of Carbon Offsetting

 I occasionally take guest posts from others where I broadly support the views they are putting forward. Below, the post wassent to me by John Hannen of Mediaworks. 

The Importance of Carbon Offsetting

One rising issue that the UK face is how to tackle climate change. As our populations and economies grow, the environment is feeling the strain of our increased energy needs. This means we all need to look for ways to reduce our carbon footprint, and quickly.

For some, choosing to reduce the amount of plastic we use, recycle more, or even turning down the thermostat in our home by one degree, the journey towards a greener way of living has already begun.

Despite this, more is needed to be done. Last year the UK government announced plans to achieve ‘Net Zero’ status by the year 2050[1], a target which aims to stop the UK from contributing to the increase of CO2 in the atmosphere. However, public awareness on how this will be achieved is still lacking. In fact, a recent report from the Citizen’s Advice Bureau found that just 38 per cent of us are aware we’ll need to change the way our home is heated if we’re to achieve this goal.[2]

The reality is, until the day comes where we are entirely carbon neutral, creating a carbon footprint is unavoidable. From heating our homes and offices, to driving our cars or even making a cup of tea, it’s inevitable that we can’t always live up to the green standards we’d like to.

However, for those wanting to find ways to avoid being accountable for some of these inescapable emissions, there is a solution – Carbon Offsetting. Here, we look through the benefits and how it can lead to a greener life.

Defining Carbon Offsetting

For the emissions that can’t be prevented, carbon offsetting provides an alternative to this. A process in which people compensate their emissions by funding projects that provide sustainable development in communities around the world. These projects offer an equivalent reduction in emissions to those you create; either counteracting or absorbing carbon dioxide and bringing balance to the environment.

For many big brands, this strategy has already been adopted. The likes of EasyJet[3], Shell[4] and Gucci[5], all now use Carbon Offsetting to help improve the environmental impact of their businesses. 

The Importance of Carbon Offsetting

When emissions can’t be avoided, carbon offsetting allows for people to make a positive contribution to the environment.

These causes have also received huge funding, helping to improve the economic, social and health situation to whole communities. With people at the heart of Carbon Offsetting, as well as ecosystems, it allows us to begin future proofing for a cleaner, greener world. 

Why choose to Carbon Off-set my Emissions?

All of us have a shared responsibility to lower carbon emissions for the future. For the likes of homeowners, this means being given the chance to balance their carbon footprint. For the environmentally conscious and those looking to reduce their impact on the climate, Carbon Offsetting gives them the tools to make a difference. Whilst it shouldn’t be used as a stand-alone approach and is best used as part of a wider carbon reduction strategy, it will help people reduce their impact on the environment. Additional changes that individuals make in order to lower the impact they have on the environment is by switching from gas to Liquefied Petroleum Gas LPG.

Off-setting the carbon emissions I can’t control?

From helping some of the poorest households in West Africa to access eco-friendly cooking equipment, to supplying clean hydroelectric power to the local grid in rural China, there are a diverse number of benefits to carbon offsetting. One example is the Kariba REDD+ Forest Protection project in Zimbabwe, Africa. Since its launch in 2011, it’s avoided more than 18 million tonnes of carbon dioxide from being released into the atmosphere and has prevented deforestation in an area of nearly 750,000 hectares.

Although carbon offsetting isn’t the only answer, it can play a part in the bigger solution. Many individuals and companies are already doing much to reduce their carbon footprint but choosing carbon offsetting is another step in the right direction, by supporting worthy sustainability projects that deliver quantifiable greenhouse gas reductions.

Dash for the last weeds of the season


We are putting in a last dash to get pick the weeds on our Farside plot before they die off for the autumn. Weeds may be  pests to other people but to us, most can be used as food for our goats. They love them!

Leak proof!



I occasionally get sent products to test and then write about on this blog. This is the latest, the ION8 leakproof bottle. Regular readers will probably know I hate waste and single use bottles are a particular focus of my hate of appallingly bad use of resources. I am a very liberally minded person but if I were dictator for a day, near the top of my to-do list would be to ban the production and sale of single use plastic bottles, especially those used in the sale of bottled water. (I never understand why anyone would want to buy bottled water when you can get it from a tap for nothing!)

Anyway, when I was asked to test out the ION8 I decided to give it a go. We have tested it to near destruction on our smallholding and despite that, it continues to live up to its billing as leakproof. Despite our best efforts to put it through its paces, it is just about indestructible. So this is far away from the throw away society I dislike so much and which is so damaging to our environment.

So, stop buying bottled water and use tap water instead. And as the ION8 has survived the hard work of being used on our smallholding, it will survive just about anywhere else. Fill it with tap water and enjoy!

Thursday 1 October 2020

It's getting colder

 We are now past the autumn equinox. Days are now shorter than nights and the temperature has dropped. So it is time to start using again our supply of logs and branches to fuel our woodfired stove to heat the house. The problem is Pushka our cat very quickly seized the best place to enjoy the heat!

Stuffed marrow


I found some ricotta cheese in one of our freezers recently, made from some of our goats milk. I therefore mixed the cheese with breadcrumbs and chopped onions and then filled a marrow with it before baking it. A very pleasant meal.