Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Hen Party

The hens are having a fabby time in the absence of Roly, today they discovered the delights of eating on the well!

I have ringed the two newest babies, Fondoo and DooDooRonRon and was surprised to see that Fondoo also has two black tail feathers, I think his dad has been about a bit as VooDoo also had similar markings so guess they are siblings.

Yesterday when the dove sitting on the plastic eggs was out for the changeover I removed the eggs as she had been on them for a month. today I have covered all the nesting holes with paper in an attempt to encourage them into the new upgraded doocottery arrangement. So far they are just sitting on the 'balconies' of the old doocote looking vaguely puzzled. How can I tell puzzlement in a doo, no idea, I just can!

Sadly we only have one plum left on the Victoria tree but on a positive note today Herb and I had a large ripe fig each, that makes about half a dozen this year with more on the way. They are every bit as good as any I have tasted in countries far warmer than this. I think leaving it in the greenhouse has been the secret of my success this time. The Family Beechgrove BBC Tree has produced its first fruits this year, all looking very healthy. All the other veg in the garden are looking good yet again this year. We have loads of courgettes of all shapes and colours and are once more getting into broccoli overload. If only I had realized that the farmer was also growing broccoli in a field very close then I never would have. The 'volunteer' Jerusalem Artichokes have come up brilliantly, I think I will have them for evermore. I should have been more careful harvesting them last year if I did not want any more but they are quirky and a fun vegetable, if non stop parping is your idea of fun.
Off to feed the tomatoes, not a fabulous crop, more leaves than fruit but from my other gardening friends this seems to be a trend, maybe it is something to do with the 'barbecue summer.' Actually when a barbecue summer was forecast they were actually dead accurate, as we all know in UK, arrange a barbecue and it is bound to rain!

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Speckled Jim made it home

Just had a call from Mr Ivor Myers of Huntingdon and he has told me that Jim made it home last week! He is fit and well. Well, he was a champion homing pigeon, but after his collision with the window I did think it may have knocked his homing skills off kilter.
Well done Jim!

I've got a crook chook!

Poppy the very old hen is not too well. She appears to have an impacted crop, it is huge and swollen, far more than normal, she is quite blue around the wattles and is sitting hunched up and looking sorry for herself. This is quite odd and even more odd is the fact that she did not even bother to come out and free range with the others in safety as the dog next door is away in kennels at the moment.

The picture shows Ronnie, Roxy and Peggy tidying up the spilt dove feed at the base of the bungalow cote. I have forced some olive oil and water into Poppy's throat and have massaged the same every few hours, she still looks a funny colour but the crop is a lot less distended after four hours of therapy. I am quite glad as the next step would be a bit drastic and involves the use of a scalpel blade and then superglue. Apparently farmers do it all the time and the chickens never feel a do they know, speak chicken do they? She is a sorry sight at the best of times, being four years old she is quite old in human years, but she is a nice friendly wee thing and will live out her days with me if she remains well. She laid her last egg some time ago so is a bit of a sponger but we don't mind! From free ranger to freeloader!

Bit of excitement down at Moonzie this week, some rapscallions pinched a Land Rover from a nearby town and dumped it on our track after removing all the good bits. If only we had a Landy we too could have had some spares before the police took it away. Mind you it was fingerprinted and DNA taken so perhaps it might not have been a wise move.

Off to check on Old Miss Poppy, fingers crossed.

Monday, 13 July 2009

Courgette, garlic and cream cheese soup

I have had a request for the soup recipe so here it is:
If you are going to freeze it leave the cheese out and stir in when reheating. I also made it with some double cream added at the last minute, delicious.

Serves 4
1 kg courgettes - any size and colour
250g potatoes ,peeled or scrubbed
2 cloves garlic, peeled & crushed
1 medium onion, peeled & chopped
30ml olive oil
150g soft cheese
Handful fresh chives, chopped
Handful fresh summer herbs of your choice, chopped
1 ½ mild-flavoured stock made with Bouillon Veg powder

Wash the courgettes and chop them into chunks. Cut the potatoes into cubes (smaller than 1 inch).
Heat the oil gently in a large pan. Add the onion and garlic.
Gently cook for about 5 minutes, to soften.
Add the potatoes. Stir. Cook gently, covered, for about 15 minutes, until about half-cooked.
Add the courgettes and stir. Cook for about 5 to 10 minutes until softened, stirring occasionally.
Add 1 1/2 pints of veg stock - just enough to cover the contents of the pan. Bring to the boil and simmer gently for 10 minutes, or until the potatoes are soft.
Remove from the heat and blitz the soup.
Add the cheese & herbs.
Season to taste with salt & pepper.

Hope that you like it.

This is the Courgette Cake recipe which is wonderful!

225 g plain flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp bicarb of soda
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
3 beaten eggs
1 tablespoon golden syrup
150 ml sunflower oil
100 gm brown muscavado sugar ( I had none and used that granular brown, worked fine)
225 gm courgette grated
1 tsp vanilla essence
50 gm walnut pieces

Preheat oven to 180C

Sift together flour, BP, Bicarb , salt and cinnamon

Add all other ingredients and mix very well

Transfer to baking tin, I use a round 8" tin you could also use a loaf tin

Bake for 45 mins to 1 hour until skewer comes out clean

Cool in tin 10 mins and then turn out and allow to cool completely

Top with butter icing and bits of walnut.

Saturday, 11 July 2009

Voo Doo

This is VooDoo with his rather wonderful tail feathers. He is now out of the nesting box and spending a lot of time on the nearby rowan tree. It is a shame he is a singleton as usually the new babies have a mate to sit with but he is a friendly wee thing and is feeding well so should soon be up in the air with the others.
Speckled Jim never came back thank goodness. Hopefully he headed south to Huntingdon.
I have been harvesting veg like mad as lots of things have come at once yet again, and have made and frozen several pots of courgette, garlic and cream cheese soup which is delicious and I also made a courgette and walnut cake which was exceptionally good. Yesterday I made four jars of beetroot and chilli relish (own beets and own chillies) Today I sowed more fancy Italian lettuce seeds and spring onions. I have had to put a net over the blackcurrant bush and also over the blueberries which are laden. The blackbird seems to have discovered if he alights on the net and bounces up and down he eventually gets to the fruit anyway. I have already had two figs from the Turkey Fig in the greenhouse and it looks like we will have six more to come this year. The Victoria Plum tree by the summer house has four plums on it! I have now decided to have a go at Asparagus so Herb has measured out a plot for the deep hot beds and after his trip to Ireland will be making up some long lasting raised beds. Asparagus is a wonderful perennial vegetable that once planted will give spears after two years for up to twenty years, should see me out!
Sun is shining again, time to water the garden and delouse the hens.

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

The Saga of Speckled Jim

This is my dove cote arrangement in the garden. The doos are now feeding from the new feed tray as I have stopped putting feed on the well, this has not impressed Harry Potter or Percy Pheasant who have both been sitting on the well at various times awaiting the next free handout.

The saga of Speckled Jim continues. On Friday, as advised by his owner, I released him early in the morning and he promptly flew up, over the house and onto the dove cote for breakfast.
Not South towards Huntington as he should. As I was away for the weekend I let him have his liberty but planned to trap him on Monday and try a release a bit further away. However before I could trap him yesterday afternoon he flew into the dining room window and stunned himself so I was able to pick him up and put him back into the cat box. This afternoon I drove him about five miles away and liberated him him Lidles car park. I watched him for a bit as he wheeled around and flew in the right direction, South, before he turned and flew back overhead where I was and then headed right out of Cupar on the road towards St Andrews! He has not yet reappeared and hopefully will not.
I have replaced two eggs with china eggs to halt the baby factory that we have got going in the dove cote. I felt dreadful doing it as the eggs I removed were warm but as they had only been laid for a couple of days the chicks would not yet be formed. The mum doo has not noticed the swap and is patiently sitting on the impostors.
Doo Count is 17 with 2 eggs, hatching due on Thursday.

Thursday, 2 July 2009

Bath Time and a visitor

The hot weather arrived at last in Fife yesterday and we had temperatures as high as 25C. The doves love a bath and yesterday they were queuing up to take a dip and cool off. Needless to say Bully took to hogging the water but eventually they all got a turn and really enjoyed it.

I forgot to say last time that the new doo called Voodoo was fine after the crow attempted to get in and he is now almost ready to leave the nest box. He spends long periods on his own with his mum or dad coming back to feed him regurgitated stuff every few hours. I ringed him this week with a red ring and was fascinated to see that he has a single black feather in the middle of what looks to be a lovely fan tail. He also has feathered feet which only a few of mine have. A very special doo indeed!

Yesterday I trapped a visitor who had arrived to feed with my gang, I was able to trap him under a transparent plant cloche by the string and stick method, and it worked! I looked at his leg rings and discovered he belongs to the Royal pigeon racing association and was able to contact his owner, a chap in Huntingdon. The bird is three years old and quite a champion racer. he was released from Lerwick for the race but the fog and heat put him off so he has stopped off with us for a rest. I am going to liberate him tomorrow after a good days R&R and hopefully he will head back to England again.

Yesterday we cemented in the posts for the two new cotes and this evening will get them up with all due ceremony and a beer in the summer house to celebrate being a Three Cote Family.
I will post a picture next time.