Monday, 6 July 2015

Sun, a storm, more sun and a good rain.

Five Days of Diary Entries.

It's been a lovely start to the month weather wise. Although the lack of rain for watering is starting to cause worries as we have nearly got through the 9,000 litres we had stored from the roofs of the 2 farm buildings.
Some of my time has been spent here
underneath the walnut tree, always the coolest part of the garden when the weather is really hot. A few walnuts growing but no doubt the squirrels will pinch them as usual.


Wednesday 1st
Very hot but with a bit of a breeze.I picked more gooseberries on and off all day and put them out for sale. With 4 bags of freshly dug potatoes, 2 cucumbers, 2 bunches of flowers, a bag of courgettes and a bag of green beans our gate income was £45.50. - Handy. Herb omlettes for dinner, with a home made bread roll and salad of lettuce and cucumber. Col turned the hay on both fields. Kate-who-had-my-goats came to collect the feed bin and hurdles she has bought from us - another handy £90 in the kitty. I forgot to say that last weekend a friend from Suffolk Smallholder Society came to look at our 2 movable chicken sheds and will buy both which will be a bonus of £400 sometime in the next couple of months, when they are ready to have them delivered.

Thursday 2nd
It was hotter here today than yesterday through the morning, but cloudier later. Col had been checking the forecast and decided to small bale our field late morning. We had one helper to load trailers and sold 28 bales straight away. The rest has gone into the horsebox trailer, the big car trailer  ( parked in the workshop) and the old caravan chassis trailer (  parked in the hay shed). We were done by 1am with 150ish bales out of the weather just in time because there was a short downpour at 1.30 which would have put off baling. We had our first cauliflower as cauliflower cheese for dinner and planned to do a few thin sliced chips with it but the deep fat fryer decided to give up the ghost. Another thing that I won't replace. I managed to watch some tennis but had to pick more gooseberries so missed most of the Nadal/Brown match which apparently was very entertaining. Gate income today £25. Plus £56 for the hay.


Friday 3rd
 Picking gooseberries several times again. I've not kept a count of how many punnets have been put out for sale this year - just couldn't be bothered. Also out for sale today-- a cucumber glut (found 10 lurking under the leaves so sold them for 25p each and they all went), a giant marrow that must have grown overnight as I'm sure it wasn't there yesterday and potatoes. Gate income today = £37.  I popped to Tesco first thing for the main July shop. There were some things on my list that would have been cheaper at Aldi, until you factor in the cost of a 50 mile round trip. We only shop at Aldi when we have several places to go in Ipswich and there is nothing we need from there at the moment. Col did odd jobs here. He  sent for a handle bar extension for his bike so that he can sit a bit more upright and got that fixed, he now needs to build up some strength so that we can cycle together. I find biking easy but he has always found it hard work, especially  before he knew he had angina and  had the stents put in 2 years ago.
My copy of Home Farmer magazine arrived. If bought from a shop it's £3.95 but you can buy online for £3.45 inc. postage. I subscribed for a while but couldn't really afford to keep it going for the amount of information I was getting from it, so now I look online to see what's in it and buy an occasional copy. This month there was a recipe for courgette and cheese patties ( although they called them rissoles) which I thought was worth a try. We ate them with our first broad beans and first small calabrese.
 They were  a mix of  softened finely chopped onion, grated cheddar, grated courgette, dry crumbled bread and a little ground mixed nuts, seasonings and an egg. The mix was very wet so I rolled them in some dry breadcrumbs before shallow frying and it was only as they were cooking I thought that I could have added a few porridge oats. The verdict - not a lot of flavour but very crispy! ( a bit overdone!) The nuts added nothing to the mix so I would use a little extra cheese and bread next time.
That was our third home grown veggie meal in 3 days.
Also in the August  Home Farmer an article about keeping chickens on a budget ( i.e not spending a small fortune on a dinky little chicken house) and building a dehydrator, from an old fridge for drying food which sounds better  than splashing out over £200! I'm a real skinflint when it comes to  gadgets. To me they are just one more THING that needs cupboard space, cleaning and replacing when they break. My idea of self-sufficiency is to do without things and eat with the seasons as much as possible but I know others swear by them so I'll shut-up!( Especially because of my Sunday confession!)
Several new arrivals on the campsite today - we have a busy weekend but then just 2 pitches in use all next week and NOTHING in the bookings diary for a whole week later in the month, which is worrying.

Saturday 4th
Fantastic storms overnight with sheet lightning illuminating  everywhere.We had what sounded like a lot of rain but turned out to be  just ¼ inch or 5 mm. At least it will have put a little bit more into the storage tanks.
The hay bales which were on the old caravan chassis trailer had to be taken off into the hay shed today when Col had a phone call from a friend who had a friend wanting to buy the trailer to use it for carrying a man powered hovercraft! Something I had never heard of. Pedal-powered apparently!
He paid £50 for it.
 After picking enough gooseberries to put out 10 punnets this morning and digging enough potatoes for 3 bags full, I decided to have a day off from harvesting and selling as  there was a tennis-fest on TV. Then the temperature crept up and it was soon too hot to stay inside  as we had our hottest day of the year and even the breeze was hot. The sun had moved round by the time Andy M was playing so I came back in to watch him win.
 We are now digging the Charlotte potatoes, just so delicious in a potato salad, which is what we had for dinner with some ham and salad. I usually use chives and parsley in potato salad but the dry weather has almost killed off the chives despite watering whenever I remember. The parsley is just inside the poly tunnel so gets watered early every morning when I do the 50+ tomato plants.

Sunday 5th
The weather was sunny first thing but thankfully not so hot as yesterday.
CONFESSION - I am a car boot shopaholic! Despite the house being for sale I'm still going to boot sales and spending ................................................£2.50!
I was really pleased to find this Framecraft ceramic bowl with lid for putting some cross stitch in.      (the picture you see is just an illustration not stitching)
The very old label on the box says £18.99 and I paid £1.50. There's no cross stitch fabric or threads with it which doesn't matter as the chart was for 18 count which is too small for my eyes, so I'll find a picture of something that will fit on 14 count Aida.It looks as if Framecraft don't even sell these any more. The large book -  A Slice of Organic life was just 50p and I think there is a profit to be made there when we have our yard/barn sale to smallholders. The Robert Barnard book, also 50p, is one I've not come across and is small enough to fit in a bag of books to take if we do go off in a caravan. I shall now go and put some more books from my shelves into the car boot/yard sale boxes to make up for this frantic buying madness!
The clouds came over during the morning making it cool enough to work in the big poly-tunnel and lots of the bottom leaves on the tomato plants have been taken off, de-shooting done and weeding plus tying up finished. By 10.30 we had good steady rain which carried on right through the early afternoon.
We cut each others hair and then settled down to watch the British Grand Prix,it got so gloomy that I needed a light on to cross stitch.
Later the sun came out again, a beautiful summer evening. Time for more Gooseberry picking.

Back in a day or two
Sue



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