Part 2

I have set a target to post this before December arrives, its now the morning of the 28th and we have just had a power cut, which has motivated me to start typing this. The motivational power of having no internet. Continue reading “Part 2”

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Early start, late finish.

It has been a funny start to the season, late March, early April showed so much promise with temperatures reaching the mid twenties (77f). The noise of traction could be heard all around as farmers rushed to get seed in the ground. We were no exception and with a new array of tractor tools fashioned from old horse drawn equipment I set too and managed to prepare the ground for a dusting of oats by the 5th of April. A good early start to the years crops.

Continue reading “Early start, late finish.”

Bringing home the bacon

I know, I know I said bacon and the picture is of sausages!

March already, when did that happen! So much for my resolution to try and post more on the blog. It’s not like I haven’t had anything to report, as we have kept ourselves busy and the house becomes more of a house everyday. Continue reading “Bringing home the bacon”

Happy Christmas 2015

I know it’s been a while, in fact it has been far too long, but once again I’m using the time of year as an excuse to post on the blog after a six month break. I hope to write more again next year, at least once a month, but for know I’ll take this opportunity to wish any one who is still reading a Happy Christmas and a prosperous New Year!

As you can imagine lots has happened over the last six months, although it probably comes as no surprise that the house remains unfinished, oh well!

Malina as ever remains our main focus and her progress in walking, running, climbing, talking and jumping up and down in muddy puddles keeps at least one of us busy and both of us entertained. Any frustration and annoyance that she may cause us is melted away in a second with her smiles and loving hugs, and she knows how to work a crowd. The years ahead promise to be full, eventful!

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The house has moved on, just not as fast as we had hoped, but the rooms upstairs are taking shape and if the carpenter ever bothers to turn up after letting us down on several occasions (I hope he reads this) then we will be able to complete the corridor and have clear passage to the two rooms we have completed so far. Knowing that there is a bath upstairs has tempted us to make the trip on a few occasions, but I’m looking forward to the day we can slip out of it and into bed without a change of footwear.

The animals keep us honest and continue to reward us with the egg tally well over 2000 for the year so far, although our foray into keeping chickens for meat only filled the bellies of the local buzzard population which seems to have grown along with their girth. Our one time flock of 54 chickens is now reduced to 16 and I have had to bring them back into the fold and construct an elaborate system of fishing wire and old Microsoft software CD’s to keep chicken off the bird menu. So far Small Business Server 2003, SQL and Exchange are doing a good job, it’s certainly the best use I have had of Bill Gates legacy so far. Thankfully the pigs are providing us our selfish protein requirement and we have branched out into rabbits as an alternative and additional meat source. The goats continue to receive free board and lodgings, although there is a rumour that they will be meeting a young chap called Billy on the 30th of December, so we may be getting milk to help balance the books by the middle of next year.

The harvest was good on the whole, despite the near drought conditions over the summer and into the autumn, everything except the onions exceeded our expectations, although we only planted what had done well the year before in our heavy clay soil, relying on the in-laws to grow the things we didn’t and exchanging for spuds which we had in abundance once again. With close to two tonnes of oats and enough tomatoes to have our very own La Tomatina, both barn and pantry are well stocked and will keep us going until the next harvest.

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The future is where it’s at and we are looking forward to it. Hopefully I’ll be announcing that the house is complete and we are taking guests, along with news of more kids, although only if Sunday and Monday (the goats) are receptive! I’m also hopeful that I will be able to point you in the direction of Gosias website, where she intends to sell her handmade soaps, bath bombs and salts, crocheted items and….well who knows what else she will start to create in the meantime. I’m all for it, just as long as she can keep me in the lifestyle that I have become accustomed to!

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Bye for now, hope to see you next year, sooner rather than later. After all, I have to update you on the composting toilet!

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Tomato ketchup from courgettes, yeah right!

I didn’t mention in my last post that we (Gosia) cooked up the first batch of tomato ketchup. Her mum stumbled across the recipe about three years ago and sales of tomato sauce have taken a serious hit in the village ever since, some shops see no reason to stock it all!

No pictures, just a copy of the scribbled notes from Gosias recipe book, an increasingly thick binding, with a few notes on preparation.

You will need:

2Kg (4.4lb) of Courgettes. You know the big ones that appeared in your garden overnight that could be marrows!

1/2Kg (just over a 1lb) Onions

400g (1lb) Tomato puree

200 ml (7fl Oz) Strong vinegar (10%)

400g  (1lb) Sugar

Handful Dried Basil

Handful Herbes de Provence (mixed herbs)

2tsp Sweet paprika

1tsp Chilli powder

Handful of salt

We scaled up the recipe to 6Kg and it made a total of 42, 200ml jars, the meaning of life perhaps!

What you need to do:

Peel, deseed and then grate the firm flesh of the courgettes and onions, or finely chop. (we do this ‘washing up’ bowl scale)

Add salt, mix in and leave for 4-6 six hours

Come back to the bowl when you remember about it and squeeze the mixture to remove the water.

Put in a big pan, cook till soft and mushy

Add the rest of the ingredients

Cook for a further 10-20 minutes to thicken it up a bit, them blend for a smoother sauce if desired

Add to jars and then pasteurise in a big pan of water for about 10 minutes

Enjoy

We will make another two batches before the courgettes disappear, dropping the sugar and vinegar content slightly as a matter of taste. One batch will also have added fresh chilli’s to keep BBQs entertaining.

You could of course make your own tomato puree, if you had a bumper crop, you could also use your own herbs, it’s also possible to make your own vinegar, which would just leave the sugar and salt as the shop bought ingredients making this a seriously low cost ketchup. But for now we bought it all in bar the courgettes and onions, and the cost still only came in at around 15p for a 200ml jar.

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