Saturday, 16 April 2011

Spring has sprung



At last after a really cold and long winter spring has arrived and as in previous years everything in the garden is shooting up. The doos are as prolific as ever and I have removed 16 eggs and it is only April. They have got very canny though and the other day I found two china eggs unceremoniously turfed out of the nest and onto the ground.

The chickens too are laying very well and every week we get at least one double yoker which puts my calorie calculations out a bit but tastes delicious so I just eat it anyway and don't bother if it takes me over my target for the day, an eggs an egg for all that. I have been on a new eating plan since Feb 1st and am amazed that A, I have stuck to it and B it has worked. I am now into a size smaller dress, trousers and top.

I have been just like a domestic goddess of late too, last weekend I made Rhubarb and Ginger jam and this week I made Rhubarb and Pineapple jam. The rhubarb  above is in a hand made date palm basket that a wee  Omani gentleman made me in Nizwa ten years ago, little did he know it would travel thousands of miles and be used for my annual rhubarb harvest. Next week I am making Rhubarb Chutney and Rhubarb Vodka. We do have quite a lot of Rhubarb this year. I also harvested the very first two shoots of my asparagus this morning, brought it in and steamed it and ate it! Delicious it was too! The apples we stored last autumn are still doing really well, so well that I gave away 10 kilos the other day and we still have two boxes left, they stored amazingly just put into plastic boxes with mesh sides, no newspaper or fancy shelves. There are plenty to put out for the blackbirds and the fieldfares had a load too. Yesterday morning the Moonzie wildlife came up trumps with seven partridges visiting the greenhouse area. Limpy the pheasant is still a regular visitor in the garden and still waits for me to fill the doo food hopper  so he can get in first.


The green stuff in the picture above is Woodruffe, which is a strange German herb I brought back from Ardorf last year. The Germans make jelly from it and also use it to make a strange drink, only consumed in May in Ostfriesland, must get the recipe for it now I have the herb growing everywhere.

The front of the house is looking very pretty with pansies popping up everywhere, last year I had to do with 'volunteers' from the previous year but this time I am managing my time a bit better and am actually getting some planting done.

Happy Easter wherever you are!

Stop press: The  Victoria Plum tree has 24 blossoms on it and the Lizzie Plum has five. The Thames Cross has nothing at all. I have decided to plant a Nuttery at the side of the garden and will have pictures and details  in the next blog, also news of our new Log Cabin in the trees ( overflow accomodation, all mod cons for extra visitors who like dogs) ( Should read who like the sound of dogs!)

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Long time no blog!!

I know it is an age since I was last here but working full time and Caribbean holidays, partying over Christmas all take their toll.

We had two weeks in St Lucia again in November and as ever had a brilliant time, we arrived just after devastating hurricane Tomas ( not enough loss of life for the BBC or the world to take much notice ) but for the island it was a sad time, loss of life, loss of homes and loss of livelihood. When we got there  a week later than planned we could see just what destruction there had been. Jans garden had lost a few trees but for us not a lot changed.  Some poor folk were without water for weeks. We had taken a few meager supplies  of water purification tablets and baby clothes to help out via the Red Cross but it was mere token gesture.

We came back to Scotland suffering the onset of one of the worst and coldest winters for years, actually we sat at Gatwick for two days in bright sunshine unable to get home and when we did it was a journey of fairly epic proportions,  we were jolly lucky, our luggage and more importantly the Chairmans Reserve Rum did not make it  for two more weeks.



Once we got back   to Moonzie sadly we were effectively marooned as the snow continued to fall and I did not make it in to work that week apart from a brief foray on the Friday but heavy snow fall caused me to have to leave early and come home again. So late starts and early finishes were the order of the day for the next week.

Christmas arrived all too soon along with a houseful but we had a grand time, had no champagne related incidents  apart from sore heads and all in all had a jolly fine time despite the track resembling The Cresta Run. We became very adept at getting unwary travellers out of seemingly impossible  ice related situations, including the very odd couple who had come down the track to 'look at the stars'.

January arrived, we had a lovely New Years mini party with six of us here, it felt like twice that amount though. Sam was offshore earning more buckets of money but we raised a glass in his general direction.( Some 150 miles North of Lerwick on the raging North sea.)

The blog is supposed to be about doos and Chickens and so here goes, the hens are wonderful, especially the Black Rocks Tia and Maria who seem to have thrived on the bitter conditions and have not missed an egg laying day since we got them. Rosie and Arriety being slightly more delicate have missed a few days but have now started laying again.

The doos have continued to be as amorous and as productive as ever and late last year when we got back from St Lucia discovered a new baby who we have called Lucky. One of the very few of the class of 2010. This year we already have two doo babies, Bittofadoo and HairDoo ( named by Jan ) We also have two more eggs incubating but as we seem to have lost 4 over the window this should top the flock up nicely. After these babies I will be out once again removing eggs every weekend.

I was out today looking at the raised beds, hopefully the asparagus will have survived the freezing weather and we may get a crop this year.  The Jerusalem fartichokes are as abundant and productive as ever. I have ordered some plug veg plants for may as I do not have the time to plant seeds and raise my own veg, Sam and I have formed a cooperative and he will help out I hope, otherwise I could have visions of the Chicken Licken story.

Bruces little beech tree has survived the winter and looks like it will be wonderful this year, it has grown much bigger and thicker and looks to be a stayer. Four years this weekend since we lost old Properjob Watts.

Had a rush of blood to the head yesterday and have ordered 15 tons of gravel to put on the parking area, it arrives on Tuesday, sadly I shall be at work but rather fortuitously Herb and Sam are both off and at a loose end.

Monday, 13 September 2010

Apples suitable for Snow White

We have started picking the Beechgrove Apples and they are truly wonderful, fabulous flavour and texture and the flesh is tinged with red where the skin colour has bled though to the flesh. They have almost been too successfull as one branch has broken off due to the weight of the fruits. I think next year we may have to pick off a few small apples to prevent the same thing happening again.

The new double glazed window are coming on apace at the front of the house, so much better for bird and doo  watching. The picture above is the old secondary glazed set up and below are the not finished new windows.
 It was the Leuchars Air Show this weekend, weather grim in the morning but better in the afternoon, shame the traffic arrangements turned into a shambolic debacle and most folk took 6 hours to get in and then some who got back to the park and ride at 6pm did not leave the car park until 9.30.  Herb watched from along the track by Pusk Farm, I had seen it all before!

Off to try and find a recipe that involves copius quantities of broccoli and red apples. The farmer has ceased harvesting now the price has dropped too low and I have tons of apples to deal with. The hens like the free broccolli greens and florets though. Shame that they won't eat apples.

Sunday, 5 September 2010

Talented chickens?

video
Discovered today that the chickens have a liking  for shoes and dangly bits on trousers! They are getting bolder by the day but still refusing to eat pellets or mash and seem to be doing pretty well on scarps and forage. The guy in the pet shop says that I am too soft on them and to withold all scraps and treats until they start to eat. I guess like kids they will not starve themselves.

We have taken down the original dove cote for cleaning and refurb although the doves seem not to have noticed, maybe with less nesting holes we will have less eggs to discard this month.

The doo on the right is Stumpy who sadly lost a foot in the roof accident earlier this year. She manages very well and the next picture shows the stump if you loook carefully.


I dug some Pink Fir Apple spuds today, they look a bit odd but am told they will be delicious. I also harvested the onions whioch look fabulous and enormous! the next picture also shows some of the Moonzie goodies we have been producing this summer, Blueberry Jam, Bramble Jelly and Bramble Vodka. The Crab apple and mint jelly took 7lbs of crab apples to make one and a half pots of jelly. I was looking to buy small jam jars and ended up buying full jars of Tesco Mint sauce at 24p each and binning the contents to get the right size jars at a resonable price! Amazon wanted £3.99 for six wee empty jars!

Sunday, 15 August 2010

SLAUGHTERED

Should have been a good day, sun shining, bright blue skies and warm. Out of the sky came a killer and this is the result. Killed by a hawk only six feet from the back door this afternoon. It takes twenty minutes for a hawk to kill a bird, as it takes that  length of time to pluck the breast clear of feathers, then tear through the skin to pluck out the heart while it is still beating. And some misguided people still think that sparrowhawks should continue to be protected. They once were a threatened species now they are so abundant they are eating all our songbirds, sparrows and thrushes and MY DOOS! Next time you wonder why you don't see or hear so many you will know why.

This was one of my original doos so it is either  Ben or Jerry.

On a happier note Nikki came round today and we ringed two babies, Cocka Two and Voodoo Two.

Friday, 30 July 2010

When I grow up will I be lovely like you Mum!

A baby doo is not exactly a thing of great beauty, but I am sure his/her Mum loves him!
As Sam said Like a Bollock with a beak!

After having no babies all year I decided to allow three eggs to hatch and two have done so but sadly I think the third baby has been devoured by a predator, maybe a weasel or a rat. Yesterday the  third egg was just 'chipping' when I checked on it, the other two had newly hatched. When I checked again today the broken egg was in evidence but no baby so think it must have been taken overnight. The mother of the little beauty above was none too pleased when I took her baby for his first photo session and gave me some mighty wing flaps and pecks and growls but soon settled when I returned the youngster to her.

The pergola is looking glorious with some amazing trusses of roses all over it, the honeysuckle is also blooming well and it makes a smashing place to sit in the evening when the weather is right. Not that that has been happening too often this summer as yet .


The chickens are laying three eggs a day and have turned out to be the friendliest lot of hens so far. They are loathe to free range too often but are happy enough in the run.

Just a quick update not much doing down on the farm these days, having a lazy week off work but I did make some  Pittormie Raspberry Vodka, ready at Christmas!
                                         " I wonder when I will grow into my beak!"

Saturday, 3 July 2010

At last an egg!


The new girls have settled in very well, are really friendly and Rosie has started laying eggs at last. Not very big eggs but lovely brown eggs with firm whites and golden orangey yolks. It has been lovely and dry so the run does not resemble the quagmire it did last year and hopefully by the time we do get some rain Sam will have constructed the long promised boardwalk so I can safely cross the Bog of the Eternal Stench.

This is a picture of Mary and I at Kinshaldy beach after we scattered Auntie Maureens Ashes in the general area where her younger brother Sam was scattered. It is a lovely spot, great views for the sea and nicely sheltered from the harsh North Sea winds. As we drove to the beach through the forest I remarked on the lovely smell of woodsmoke, forgetting all the dire warnings about forest fires. On the way back we spotted the  second of the 7 fire appliances it was to take to put the fire out after nearly 12 hours.


 My birthday was celebrated quietly with a fish and chip and Bollinger supper by the stream, a warming fire and a few neighbours over to join in.  Sam and Dan lit a fire later on as you can see. Moonzie looks great at this time of the year and the stream is a lovely place to sit and enjoy the peace and tranquility of the countryside, until, that is, the gas powered pigeon scarer starts up accompanied by the drone of the water pump to irrigate the broccolli. Still the farmer has taken up my kind offer of  being on-site-qualty-control for his broccolli so as soon as it is ready I will tell him and he will arrange for the ten acres of the stuff to wing it's way to Morrisons.

Cheers!!
 The girls really wanted to come and join the fun but stayed safely behind the wire for now.  The doos are stll laying eggs just as fast as I can remove them but so far we have had no babies this year at all. As soon as I can get an accurate head count I will see if we can allow at least one pair of chicks to hatch. We appear to be down to 17 doos but it is difficult to count them. Due to the Gas Banger Bird scarer, and the giant plastic hawk bird scarer they spend a lot of time hiding around the roof and cotes and it is hard to get a good count. Still now the crops are established hopefully all the noise will abate.

Looks like we may be in for a spot or two of rain tonight, great for the garden, not so good for Captain Ahab who has yet again headed West on what is forecast to be an interesting week weather wise, 60mph gusts tonight for a starter!  Then rain, rain and even more rain, great for the reservoirs, awful for the sailors.