Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Storage Of Leftovers

Just gone through the fridge and found some left over fresh pasta from the other evening
One portion size

Into the vacuum sealer

All sealed in its original bag ready for the freezer

The other thing that was in the fridge was a left over jacket potato we ended up with a spare because grandson decided he was going out to eat
Make bag to fit

All sealed and into the freezer
Now we have to really clear the freezer down as it is built in and wont be coming with us, so this morning I made some head way into it
Some of last years summer fruit, Blueberries, Blackcurrants, Raspberries, blackberries, Gooseberries, I have not got them defrosting and plan to mash them down a bit then put them into the dehydrator, I will divided them into a couple of mixed bags, vac seal them easy to store, then I will use them to make some summer fruit puddings at the other end when I have time. With dehydrating there is no rush to use up, if it takes me a couple of years so be it. A friend is bringing me some food barrels with an air tight lid, so I can move all dried goods and dehydrated foods easily and the stuff can stay in the barrels safely as well.

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Stitching In Time

After printing out my patten yesterday for a tunic top, I spent the evening cutting out the pattern, and today I got the fabric cut out and started putting it together, its now complete.
I was an easy Kwik Sew pattern, easy it wasn't not the pattern but the fabric its so stretchy slinky and slippy there was moments were I just had to walk away from the machine that time was spent outside pulling up a few weeds, then back in again on the machine, I refused to be beaten and I wasn't.
The next one to make will be easier as the fabric is different not as slippy and slinky.
I am impressed with the patterns that you print off, all the details are there and they come out perfect.
I did get some bread baked today and made a lovely Seafood Chowder for dinner.
On Sunday hubby put up a temporary shelter for the Alpacas and last night he went over to paint it, this morning when I went to give them breakfast there coming to meet me was a white Alpaca with brown paint all down one side, so three guesses what he was doing after hubby left them last night.

Monday, 28 April 2014

Bargain Fabric

Yesterday I was up in Bradford meeting with one of our fabric suppliers, seeing new ranges of fabric and shopping for the shop, we always pop into the suppliers shop after these trips and there on special offer at £1.65m was these lovely jersey knit fabrics 
I couldn't pass up a bargain like that, they have a lovely softy silky feel to them as well, so a couple of meters were purchased of each, I fancied doing a tunic top from them with long sleeves, all my patterns are packed and the box is in storage and not being one for shopping at the city centre, and having to spend ages going through pattern books trying to decide then finding the pattern I like is about £10, I had a look on line and came across this site Sewing Patterns you buy and download your pattern instantly and print it out, I tried one of there freebies to start with and set it up to print on A3, yes its all in sheets you have to put together, but that is no hardship and it was just like a real pattern with the instructions fabric layout different sizes the works, so I purchased a pattern for $2.99 for a tunic, it printed out on 18 sheets I didn't bother printing out the trousers but saved them for another time.
Here it is all laid out ready to taped together and cut out, all the pages are marked telling you what order they go in, its a lot easier than spending hours at the shops and cheaper.
Right off to cut my pattern out so I can get started tomorrow. :-)

Promise Of Summer Fruits

While pottering about the garden today I noticed how well the summer fruits are forming

Kiwi about to blossom

Blueberry in bloom

Plums are forming

Gooseberries swelling

Redcurrants swelling

Blackcurrant forming

I think they are further forward than this time last year as we are still in April the fruit is coming on great, promising a very fruitful summer.

Saturday, 26 April 2014

We Have Sold Again .............

Justa short update we had a viewing today and they have come back with a higher offer than the previous buyers, they want a quick turn around as they have sold and renting up the road from us.

So next week end we move forward and head up to Wales to familiarise ourselfs with what we are buying.

Book Review Perennial Vegetables

A review on not one but two books on the subject of perennial vegetables, this is a subject I very much want to get into, the idea of having vegetables there that don't have to be raised from seed each year, the other thing is they can be grown among the borders along side flowers and plants so its a win win situation.
The first book Perennial Vegetables by Eric Toensmeier a lovely book with lots of lovely inspiring photos, lots of detail covering 100 easy to grow edibles, the big downside that I didn't realise when I was ordering it was its written by an American and covers the growing climate over there in the USA, some bits are relevant but the majority would not apply to the UK.
The second book How To Grow Perennial Vegetables by Martin Crawford, is for the UK, loads of easy to understand cultivation tips, photos, descriptions and how to use the plants in the kitchen. As well as the common plants he covers some of the more unusual plants that will thrive in the UK, the book also covers aquatic plants and edible woodland species. 
Both books have there merits but not being able to grow Papaya and such like in the UK loses the first book marks. 
It was after reading these books that I started looking for some Yacon growing tips and found them last week, perennial vegetables is a definite must on my list of things to grow.

Friday, 25 April 2014

Its Like Waiting For a Bus

We all know what its like waiting for a bus you wait ages then three come along at once, well our house sale that bottomed out last week it seems is now back on as the buyers have instructed a surveyor who is coming out next week, what there plans are we don't know neither does the agent so confused we all are over that one, we had of course put the house back on the market after hearing they couldn't proceed and we have a viewing lined up for tomorrow and another for Monday, we have spoken with the sellers in Wales and they are happy as they are doing a barn conversation and were relived they have a bit more breathing space as they didn't think they were going to be ready for when we wanted to move in, but now it seems they may have to work a few night shifts if the sale of this one is still progressing. 
Confused well I am, on the Alpaca front the agreement we had with the field owners was we could keep them there until the end of May as they had plans for the field, they are happy to delay there plans in return for some regular eggs and produce from us, we need to build the Alpacas a temporary shelter as they no longer have access to the shelter they were using so that is on the week end job list for hubby, as I am working Saturday and Sunday I am off to Bradford to our fabric supplier on a buying trip for the shop.

Yesterday I had a lovely package arrive with some Red Yacon growing tips, Yacon plants are used as a perennial vegetable, 
There is a good article about it here Yacon Plants I am interested in growing perennial vegetables so being able to find a supplier was a bonus as everywhere I tried had sold out, and finding the red ones was an even bigger bonus
They are not impressive to look at but these are just the growing tips,  I got them from Yacon Supplier there all dutifully planted up in pots now so I will keep you updated on there progress.

Hubby is just collecting a take away for tonight's dinner, I am still in treat mode then I am settling down to read a few blogs. :-)

Thursday, 24 April 2014

Messing About In The Water

Today most of the day was taken up with setting up the solar powered aquaponics system, there is a lot of adjusting to do on these things to get them running right, and every time you think you have cracked it, it turns out another bit needs tweaking. 
Here is a short video on the system running 

I am hoping to get a few Tilapa fish to try in this system, and the gravel trays will be stocked with lettuce, watercress is already in place, and in the third tray I want to try a cucumber and melon plant.
Any plants you grow in aquaponics have to grown in soil less conditions, I have started some seeds off just for this system and they are grown in little sponges. The waste matter from the fish is what feeds the plants and as the water is returned to the holding tank it has been cleaned by filter box and the plants.
I spent a bit of time watching the bees today as well, they were really busy in the sunshine, bringing back pollen of which there is plenty around for them.

As well as playing about with water and Bees  I did get a few brasicas planted out, and had a bit of a tidy around outside, Grandson had his girlfriend coming over for dinner this evening so I did a venison casserole using up some of venison road kill we got the other week, it was really nice to serve a meal up to lovely young lady who is not a fussy eater, she was very keen to try the venison as she hasn't had it before and was very interested in how we use road kill, not bad for a 16 year old. If your squeamish don't scroll down to the photo of the deer.

 We are lucky and often get a deer at the side of the road and it taste all the better for being free.

That just about sums up my day.


Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Worm Hotel

After reading Compost Woman's blog about her womery Wormery blog post   it got me thinking this is something I would like to do, I never seem to have much success with compost heaps, I just cant seem to get them hot enough and the turning I find difficult  because we have those stupid shaped ones like a cone, we haven't space to put aside for building a decent one.
I did a bit of an internet search and came across Wormcity wormery, I bought a 100lt womery that came with worms bedding and bran feed this there selection of wormeries  Wormcity 
I ordered mine through Amazon as I needed it arrive on a day when I was at home as I dint want the worms left sitting in the sun.
So It arrived today, I ordered it on Monday so brilliant delivery.
First Put the base together and line with newspaper

Next add the coir bedding mixed with a little compost

Add your worm guests

Sprinkle on a handful of bran feed

Add a couple of inches of shredded newspaper

Pop on the lid
Very easy to set up, the instructions are very clear and easy to understand, there is another 3 trays to add when needed, so the worm hotel is open for business.
The wormery comes with a tap that you use to drain off liquid (worm tea) that can be diluted down and used as a plant feed, it takes a couple of months for any liquid to be produced, and the info said its about 4 months before there is compost to harvest. As each tray gets filled up you add another and the worms work they way up into the next.

Little things please me and having worm guests is one of those things.
Tomorrow I put a post up about the aquaponic system that I set up today.

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

A little Bit of Pampering

After being on a downer after last weeks news from our buyer, I decided that a bit of pampering was needed, so it was out with the old and in with the new, and a bit of retail therapy was on the cards.
Our bedroom was looking a little tired, I knew how it felt as I lay in bed thinking we need some new pillows.
So I stripped the voils down and gave them a good wash, I was embarrassed by the amount of muck that came off them, I stripped all the bed, put the rugs out for a good airing and beating, wafted my feather duster around and cleared out the cobwebs, cleaned the windows and the mirror doors on the wardrobes, wiped all the paintwork down, then it was off to the shops
1 Duck Down quilt
2 sets of Egyptian cotton sheets
1 quilt set in Egyptian cotton
2 pillows
2 lampshades
and a long sunset picture
came back put it all in place instructed hubby were to put the picture, he started saying why you doing all this when we are suppose to be mov............... he was stopped right there with my answer, don't say a word .

The result 

A nice refreshing new bedroom, its like being on holiday.

Got in from work to find my friend Mr Amazon has been and brought me this
Now this I find very exciting, it even came with a screw driver, that's good.
What is it ? its my solar power water pump that I am going to trial with this years aquaponic set up.
We have a fair success with our first attempt last year, but this time I want to do with solar and set it up in the tunnel, we don't haves mains down there. So tomorrow day off work and I shall give it all a go.
I will update tomorrow hopefully with some success.

Monday, 21 April 2014

Bees and Stuff

We decided to make up some frames for the Top Bar Hives to sit on, raising them up to a more comfortable working height, we had some old timber sitting at the side of the house so put it to use, at some point we will make some nice looking stands for all the hives, all that bending over plays havoc with your back, and you can be bent over a hive for about 20 mins at a time just checking them. 
One of the hives on the stand compared to the other what a difference that extra foot makes.

As the weather was playing ball, I emptied out all the aquaponic trays and gave the pebbles a good wash down in readiness to be put to use again
I knew those plastic veg boxes from the farm shop would come in useful, they were great for putting the clay pebbles in so they could dry off in the sun and get a good airing.

Also got some crisps made today, so we can have a well earned snack tonight, I do prefer home made crisps, this bowl full was from 2 potatoes
And we have a selection of flavours to choose from
we usually put some crisps into a bag sprinkle on our chosen flavour and give it a good shake, the crisps would keep up to a month in an air tight container, although there is no chance of them lasting that long.
I use Crisp and Dry cooking oil for making crisps, I much prefer it, I slice the potatoes on a mandolin so I can get really thin uniform slices, leave them in water for a few hours to get as much of the starch out as possible, then dry them off then fry in the hot oil a few at a time and keep turning them as soon as they start to colour lift out and drain. 

Hope you have all had a good day, back to work tomorrow.

Sunday, 20 April 2014

Rain Stops Play

Today started off dull grey and chilly, but I got outside and made a start cleaning down the poly tunnel inside and out, getting rid of all the green algae that has accumulated in the past year, the light levels in the poly tunnel are now great so everything should come on fine, didn't realise how grubby it was.
I also managed to spend a bit of time in the garden sowing some radish, lettuce beetroot and snowball turnip seeds, I noticed there was some gaps in the peas so I have inter sowed the gaps with some purple mange tout that way I will know which peas are which.
We went down to the farm shop to get some new long canes so I can put up my bean wigwam in readiness, while we were there I picked up one of there £1 boxes of fruit and veg
3 onions just as well I have run out
4 parsnips for tonight's dinner
1 head of broccoli also for dinner tonight
2 little gem lettuce
1 Pepper
1 Apple
1 Cucumber
1 Orange 
5 lemons
not bad for £1 and I do love these plastic crates also got a new drinker for the chooks as the plastic broke on there one this morning.

The rain started at lunch time so it was back indoors for a bacon and mushroom sandwich for lunch, we are still using the bacon that we cured at back in January
I vac packed it all in pack of 8 rashers and popped it in the freezer its the best bacon we have ever had and so easy to do. I think we still have about 4 packs left.

After lunch I thought I would a time trial with my new induction plate versus the gas burner, so set it up with identical pans on both and a pint of water in both
here is a video of the trial

managed to get back into the garden a bit this afternoon before the rain started again, so indoors once more and armed with a little seed shopping list to purchase off the internet, and I want to look for some bamboo to grow myself so I don't have to keep buying canes.

Have any of you out there in blog land tried induction cooking I would love to know how you get on, as I have now decided its an Induction cooker we will have in our next home.

Saturday, 19 April 2014

Dear Estate Agent

Dear Mr Estate Agent 
Can I please trouble  you to refresh your memory on the type of property we are looking for.

Minimum of 3 bedrooms by bedrooms I mean ones with a window, you can get a bed wardrobe and chest of drawers in not a converted cupboard and you must be able to open and close the bedroom door with the said furniture in place.and a little room to walk around would be a bonus.

Living room, large enough to take 2 sofas and have a log burner or the facility to take one. 

Dining room not a necessity but as an extra  large enough to take a table and chairs and dresser, would be great if it had a fire place.

Bathroom, with shower toilet and sink, if it is a fitted bath with an over shower then it must have sufficient water pressure to run the shower.

Kitchen the heart of a home, solid fuel Aga/Rayburn  or facility to take one, extras that would sway me are a butler sink I don't like there piddly little stainless steel sinks that only take 4 inches of water I want a proper sink you can sink up to your elbows in, bath the baby and do the washing.
Also in the kitchen I would love a walk in pantry, oh and mister estate agent if you could find me house with a cellar as well as the above I might even have your babies. 

Outside it has to be a rural location, with a minimum of 5 acres of pasture land with access, 
A couple of outbuildings would be fantastic. Even a small wooded area.

Services, if it does not have mains electric that's fine, but it has to have its own water supply or mains water,
There has to be private access to the property and I don't want a road frontage.

If I could get all this I would be a very happy bunny, some things I could compromise on so don't send me details of 3 bed detached town houses with a postage stamp garden.  That has a converted walk in wardrobe as the third bedroom, Situated on a busy main that you have to look both ways before stepping out of the front door.
Sending out such details is a waste of money and time, perhaps you should go to your boss and suggest that you only send out details of people are looking for the money saved could go towards the office christmas party. 

Thank you . Happy Easter.

Watercress and Aquaponics

I was clearing out the experimental aquaponics set up we tried over the pond last year
Aquaponics experiment 2013
we mainly grew lots of water cress in it, well it sort of grew and thrived itself, there was only 6 little plants that I grew from seed, so in reality the aquaponics experiment was a success

Aquaponic trays first planted

As you can see when it was first set up we planted some lettuce and the 6 watercress plants went into the middle tray. Anyway I digress I was clearing out the trays the other day and the watercress had survived the winter so i gave the big clump to a friend to grow on and I fiddled about with some little seedlings that had self seeded amongst the clay pebbles and the pond.
I have left the ones in the pond they can grow there but some of the seedlings from the trays I am trying to bring on.
Rescued watercress seedlings.
At the moment they are sitting in a bowl of water but I need to sort out some running water for them, otherwise the water will go stagnant and that wont be good, so I am looking for a solar pump I have seen a couple of small ones on the Internet but I am still undecided on the set up.
Watercress is expensive to buy so growing my own and over wintering it is a bonus.
The idea of aquaponics is growing stuff in a soil less environment and using water to carry nutrients to the plants, the nutrients come from fish waste, so the water is pumped from the fish holding tank into a filter box were friendly bacteria clean some of water, the water is then moved by gravity from the filter box through the plant growing area were it is returned to fish all clean, the set up can be run with fish for the table and that is the path we hope to take, so last year was very much just trying it out so we could see how the whole thing works, it is very easy to set up, I hope to have a larger set up in a poly tunnel and use it grow salads tomatoes and cucumbers and of course have the fish to eat with them.
Best of both worlds. 

Friday, 18 April 2014

Book Review Back Garden Self Sufficiency

The correct title being 
The Essential Guide to Back Garden Self Sufficiency
edited by Carleen Madigan

What I found interesting from this book is how from a quarter of an acre you can harvest, 1.400 eggs, 50lbs of wheat, 60lbs of fruit, 2,000lbs of vegetables, 280lbs of pork and 75lbs of nuts.
Impressive numbers, that what caught my eye.
It has lots of interesting subjects and covers the basics like, One way to start is to think about what you and your family actually eat. Preserving your harvest, Wild foods and basic livestock that is viable to keep in a back garden, chickens rabbits and beehives. She breaks it down into 3 sizes of garden, Half an Acre, Quarter of an Acre and a Tenth of an Acre, but really anyone with any space can take lots of tips and advice from the book.
No fancy photos but lots of sketch drawings, charts and information on extending the season, average UK weather.
Defiantly a book to have on the shelf to dip in and out of, a very modern up to date approach of self sufficiency.

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Onwards and Upwards

Got over my sulk from the loss of the buyer, as dissapointing as it is there is nothing that can be done, so its onwards and upwards with life. 
I spent some time in the greenhouse yesterday always a good place to think, dug out some of my old terracota pots, I do like terracota pots they have a lot more carachter than plastic pots, I have sowed a collection of herb seeds in them that came free with a magazine and used my labler machine to print out some lables for them.

Dont know why I never thought of printing out lables before, its so neat and tidy, and as I bought a box of 10 compatible cartridges some time ago for the machine it makes sense to use them up. 
I did notice that my Dahlias that are planted in an old galvanized bucket were being atacked by a slimy pest, i had a hunt round and couldnt find the offender, then I remembered that I had some reels of copper tape in the shed, so I used some around the bucket

Again this is something I havent used before but had kicking around for a couple of years, I remember getting it in the pound shop, I dont like using slug pellets in the garden always have concerns for birds and hedgehogs and voles, and we dont use any pesticides on plants because of the bees and the tortoise.
In the greenhouses I have some natrual pest control, my carnivorous plants, its a collection I started a year ago and they have over wintered well,

The pitchers are growing back on the pitcher plants and the venus flytrap is growing new traps, the sticky sundew already has a few captives, the little half barrel that I have turned into a bog garden (top picture) has three diffrent pitcher plants in it and is displaying some beutiful flowers at the moment that have a lovely lemon smell, last years the pitchers on that plant grew to be 18 inches long, the half barrel lives in one 
greenhouse and the individual plants get scattered amongs the trays of the other greenhouse. I do find them fascinating plants and so easy to look after.
Thats me up to date now so time for work we sart an overhaul in the shop today so its going to be a long day.

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Bad News

Our buyers came for another visit today and informed us there buyer has pulled out, so we are back to square one, tomorrow we put the house back on the market and we may have to pull out of the house we were buying. I am angry and upset, we have gone to the expense of the solicitors and surveyors, if we were in Scotland it would be different and less likely to happen, I do wish they would change laws in England to protect sellers.
Right now I feel like taking the house off the market completely and just staying put, it would be less stressful. I hate this living in limbo, even if they find another buyer quick we could still be looking at September before moving, when everything was planned for the end of May, September seems a long way off. 
This of course now gives us another problem, the Alpacas are suppose to move out of there field end of May, there is no-where local to move them too, so I may have to re-home them. 
That's all I feel like writing tonight.  I am off to drown my sorrows.

Monday, 14 April 2014

Just A Day of Sorting Stuff

Started the day with a visit to the surgery to see the nurse, who did a lovely repair job on the damage I did to the stitches yesterday, she gave me a stern telling off, re-dressed my hand and sent me on my way.
So I thought a day of light duties was in order, I started with the seed boxes

I have two seed boxes, one is an old ammo tin I picked up in the army surplus store I got 2 for £5, hubby painted it for me and I used it to store unopened packets of seeds, my other seed box is an old index file and it is used to store part used vegetable and herb seeds.
I had lots of multiple seed packets so I bundled up some to take to a friend tomorrow, I am slowly changing all my seeds over to heirloom variety's so I can start collecting my own seeds.
Next job was the shed, It is always fairly tidy but I needed to thin down pots and trays, so I bagged up a load of them to take to the same friend along with some crop protection tunnels.
all set to be loaded into the car.

It was then time to pack some more boxes 
I got myself some fragile tape in the hope it will be noticed, still got plenty more boxes to do but the pile is growing.
So my day of light duties comes to an end, I am now off to cook dinner.

Sunday, 13 April 2014

A Bit Of A Set Back

The day started out great, sunshine and blue sky, we walked the Alpacas through the village only 2 people stopped for photos this time, but they still generated a fair amount of interest from passing cars, walkers and all those cyclists who were taking part in a road race, when we got back to the paddock I wanted to check there hooves and give them a bit of a trim, big mistake I ended up ripping open 2 of my stitches, I didnt fancy a day in A & E so we did a repair with steri strips and I will pop along to the surgery tomorrow to see if the nurse can repair the damage, I donth think I am going to get my stitches out on Thursday now. So I have spent the day being extra carefull not to do more damage, so no weeding, no gardening, no clearing the pond, packing or cooking.
Hubby decided to clean the consevetory windows, while I sat inside and pointed out the bits he missed while reading a book.
Dirty windows

Clean Windows

He then set about cutting the grass, while I went and played with my sewing machine, I thought I would get my challange blocks done, we were given a templete for the center of a crazy patchwork block  and had to make some blocks up, I have done 2 8inch blocks and a 14 inch block.
crazy patchwork blocks.

 Dont know what the blocks will become yet, they were fun to do and used up some of my fabric stash.
Having  day of sunshine has ment I have put into use the solar kettle, its handy on days like this as I can make my endless cups of tea without having the expense of using fuel.
Solar Kettle
Hubby is now making dinner, we are trying to clear the freezer down, I found some veal T-bone steaks tucked in the back so we are having them with roasted butternut squash, the last one we have in storage. 
I am off down the tunnel now to pick some spinach to go with dinner.