Friday, 22 August 2014

end of summer

Already, in mid august, we are experiencing the end of summer.  Far too early!  We can only hope that the warm weather and sunshine will return for another few weeks.

Our normally scorching summer days have turned balmy.  The nights are cool.

The swallows are gathering to fly south to Africa.

Apples are ripe and dropping from the trees.

Everyone is left feeling rather disappointed and deflated.  After a long, wet and miserable winter (even though not as cold as usual), we have had a very short summer.

All signs are pointing to another long winter, and a cold one at that.  We shall see what happens.

Most of the sunflower fields are already faded and waiting to be harvested, but there are still the odd ones which have bright sunny flowers.  Even on a dull and grey day they are beautiful and give a much needed splash of warm colour.

Annoyingly, my tomatoes are not yet ripe.  I have the fruit in abondance, but not enough sun to ripen them.  We may be eating a lot of green tomato pickles etc this year.  Worst thing is that I will have to buy tomatoes to make sauces and preserve for winter.  Feels really wrong to do that somehow when I have such a big potager.

The chicks are doing well.  We have enough eggs to not have to worry about buying them.  I would like a slight surplus, but that will happen when I enlarge the flock.

I was very excited last night when I was making us a light snack of eggs on toast for dinner, and we had double yolkers!  What a bonus!

OK, enough time spent inside, there is work to be done in the terrain.

Saturday, 16 August 2014


Once again I have not been sitting at my computer as too much to do outside.  Apologies as photos and updates very overdue.

Well, we have our rooster now, and he is lovely.  Still doesn't have a name.  Can't quite decide what to call him.  Would love to call him Roger the Dodger as he spent the first few days dodging the girls.... but we have too many Rogers in the village, so it would not be tactful if I had to explain the joke behind his name .... hmmm.  Was thinking of calling him Bordeaux - as Coq au Vin is a bit of a mouthful.  We shall see what happens.

Whilst the girls are pretty shades of browns and coppers (with mullet hairdo's!), he is striking in white, grey and black, with tiny hints of coppery brown.  Still a bit of growing to do, so we are waiting to see how big his tail gets and what form his comb will take.

The girls are laying pretty much everyday.  Beautiful pale blue eggs like jewels.  Have had one full size egg so far, the rest are "training" eggs and a bit on the small side.  They are very happy and content in their coop.  No more attempts to explore the terrain, so their wings have not needed to be clipped.

Sophie loves the chickens, but unfortunately the rooster is not so fond of her visiting them.  If she gets too close he gets a bit stroppy and fluffs himself up and runs at her.  Would be interesting to see who came out the victor in that battle!  Both are little warriors.

Our freezer is filling with veg ready for winter.  Haven't started preserving yet, but will have to start soon.  Hasn't been a fabulous year for the crops as too wet, so everything is late and some things not doing too well at all.  Still no aubergines and the capsicums are only just fruiting.

One thing that is thriving is the sureau and berries in the hedgerows.  Have made one batch of elderberry jelly, but will have to make more to sell.  Also have a batch of syrup put up ready for winter.  The blackberries are ripening, so will go foraging for them monday and make up some blackberry jelly.  Also a few kilos for the freezer.  Rosehips on the eglantines seem to be coming along nicely.  Am keeping an eye on them so I can harvest for eglantine jelly in a month or so.  I detest the texture of rosehip jam, far too gritty for me.  The jelly is the same lovely perfumed flavour, but a much nicer texture.

My jams and jellies are now available to buy at Chez Tante Mabel at Fondemoulin.  Hopefully they will sell well there and benefit both Bev and I!

The apples are nearly ready for picking.  This year we are trying to get a group together to take all our apples to a professional cider mill to have them crushed and pressed.  You need a lot to do this, and no one has enough on their own.  So if we club together it should work well.  Also, the more varieties of apples in the mix, the better the flavour of the finished product.  Win for all!

OK, time to go and make rhubarb compote.  I have a bountiful supply of rhubarb, which is fabulous.  I could eat rhubarb every day with no problem.