Monday, 30 August 2010

Plum Weekend

We've had a great bank holiday weekend. To start with My wife had her best friend and her daughter over (which I took to mean two extra pairs of hands). We managed to get loads done from car booting to digging the rest of the potatoes off the allotment and picking a huge bag full of french and runner beans (as well as filling our mouths with raspberries as we worked).
In the afternoon we decided to make plum jam. On Friday I had picked a big bag of Victoria plums from the farm after I finished work and brought them home with me, the only trouble was I think the bag was too big and we ended up making 21 jars of jam! I would have preferred to have used yellow egg plums but they were over (I managed to put 6 bags in the freezer last week), the jam tasted good and had a bit of a tart taste like a plum jam should. To make it we used 5.1 KG of stoned plums and the same of sugar (this looked like a lot of sugar!).

To round the weekend off we went to Pershore Plum day, this was much bigger than I thought it would be and spread over the whole town. We brought a few bits and bobs like plum cheese and black pudding as well as having some lovely plum cider, I also brought a book on the history of Evesham orchards and learn how there is a cider making circle in the next village to ours. Might have to see if I can join...

Sunday, 22 August 2010

Trying To Rotovate

This weekend I had planned to rotovate the new half of our allotment, and today I managed to get down there for about 4 hours and achieved the grand total of nothing. The rotovater just bounced off the top and I ended up just leaving lines across the top. I think I'm going to have to admit defeat and get the man in with the tractor to do it the first time. I'm a bit gutted though as I got myself all worked up to do it.
We did manage to dig up one row of potatoes today and have trug completely full with them (I think if it had rained earlier we would have had more). Also we've been on a freezing mission - I picked a large bag of yellow egg plums and froze all of those and tonight Claire has been blanching beans by the hundred weight to put in the freezer (as well as cooking a Sunday roast with more vegetables than I can count (well five but it doesn't sound as impressive)).
I also brought another fig tree at a car boot, it has the biggest leaves I have ever seen on one and it's about half the price you'd pay in a nursery. I'm not sure what it is about trying to grow an exotic fruit that is notoriously difficult to grow but I'm determined to have some of my own figs at some point even if I have to have 10 trees!

What to do with a Broody Hen...

Normally I get quite annoyed by my hens going broody but this week I decided not to keep chucking her off the nest or put ice cubes under her. Instead I've been given 16 quite random eggs ranging in colour and size to hatch out.
The eggs were given to me from a nice couple who have a smallholding just down the road from my fathers farm, I'd never met them before but my dad sells them corn and straw for their animals. When I picked the eggs up they showed me the possible ex-owners of the eggs and the two possible cockerels who could be the fathers (one large barnavelda and a small buff arpington bantam). The hens ranged from welshsummers, light sussex, rhode island red and a large number of crosses (big and small), I'm pretty sure if this hen manages to hatch out these eggs then anything could turn up!
My worries are that I've put too many eggs under her (16 - anyone know if this is too many), the hen is very young (not even a year old - teenage pregnancy!) and she is a hybrid and although she is being a good mother now (and very vicious with it) will her broodiness last 21 days and how will she behave when they hatch?

Thursday, 19 August 2010

Extreme Survival

At the beginning of June, I spent a week in Scottish highlands on an extreme survival course with my brother and a group of 6 other like minded strangers and three instructors.
We had to first hike into an area to camp, carrying all we needed for the week long course. When we arrived (we were knackered) we then had to make camp, constructing an area for a fire as well as enough shelters for the 8 of us.
We manged to just get up the frame of shelters big enough for purpose and the realisation that collecting enough water and making it safe to drink was going to be a major part of this course as the nearest stream was half a mile away over some quite rough terrain. Before we could settle we were taken down the side of the wood for our first lesson - game preparation - deer. We all had a go at jointing and skinning the animal and it was much the same as a rabbit but on a bigger scale.
The next four days were great, we managed to get our shelter pretty much water proof (with one minor disaster), we learnt more game preparation including squirrel, we learnt about making signal fires and how to fire a flare (very good fun), we also had quite few lessons on map reading and navigation. Also the water situation was one of the key things we all learnt - you must have water on the boil all the time or suddenly you've run out and that's when a situation can become dangerous.
The week was simply great fun. I learnt loads as well as spending plenty of quality time with my little brother doing what we both enjoy. I'd never been to Scotland before but the landscape was amazing and it seemed so empty of people (one of the reasons I enjoyed my naked wash at the stream a little bit more). We also made some great friends, people who I hope we will keep in touch with and go camping with again, so we can learn bushcraft from each other and have good company while we do it.

Saturday, 14 August 2010

On a rainy summer afternoon...

Well I've been neglectful of my blog the last few months but I've been extra busy (not sure anyone reads it anyhow!).
I'm going to do a few posts with what I've been up to (Survival course, allotment, etc) but at the moment I'm sat in the house looking at the rain on an August afternoon. Last week we went on holiday to Tunisia and had a great week doing things like ridding camels and seeing how they grow dates on palm trees. We even did a trip down to the Sahara Desert and although I don't think I'll go back to Tunisia (bit too much of a beach holiday destination for me) I definitely want to go back to the desert, there's something about it...
We got back on Wednesday and after unpacking I popped down to the allotment and came back with well over a bucket full of veg to be dished out to friends and family. Not sure what we're going to do with all the french and runner beans - good job we've brought a bigger freezer!