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?

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


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.

 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.

Saturday, 5 June 2010

Here come the girls!

This is Arriety and Rosie and Tia and Maria, the new girls.

They arrived a couple of weeks ago and quickly settled in, Tia and Maria, the Black Rocks quickly established themselves as right at the top of the pecking order by temporarily becoming the fowl version of a velocoraptor by taking great chunks out of Rosie and Arriety. But now they have all settled down and at night all cuddle together in the nest box and  seem to be the best of chums.

No eggs yet but it is early days as they are still young. I decided that we would just use the Little Hilton Chicken House and the Old House leaks and so that will soon be consigned to the dump or the bonfire, it will make for a bit more space in the run too. Once the new girls are settled in I will let them out to free range and they can take their chances with Roly and the Fox. Much better to dine on worms and slugs and have some fun, to see a chicken chasing a butterfly is a wondrous sight, they literally run and jump and then usually bump into a fence or a wall as they are too busy looking up to look out!

I found this sign in the garden centre and just loved it, Herb is not so keen!
The weather has turned well and truly summery and today it is yet again almost too hot to be outside, never a happy medium here! (Arriety by the way was the daughter in The Borrowers book and Rosie is  named after my dear friend who bears no resmbalnce apart from her lovely nature and lovely name!)

The veg garden is looking great, the hot weather has caused all the Pak Choi to bolt but everything else is looking grand. Time to go and get some watering done now, no doubt there will be a hosepipe ban soon. The farmer has very kindly planted about ten acres of broccolli all around us so I will not bother this year!

Sunday, 16 May 2010

Spring has well and truly sprung!!

Sincere apologies for not blogging for ages but the job really has filled my time but I don't mind as I love it. It is so interesting, I get to meet loads of really different types of  folk, murderers and the like, and the days just whizz by...and they pay me and I get to buy gorgeous stuff.

Just for the girls, just one of the gorgeous stuffs I have bought so far!

And for the boys this is some if the gorgeous stuff Herb has bought too. It is a Mulching, Self Propelled mower and Herb says it makes moaning the lawn a positively enjoyable experience. Actually they were not his exact words but it makes it all so much quicker, for the uninitiated, it clips all the grass into tiny sharp pointy bits and shoots it into back the ground, so you never ever have to collect the grass ever again or so it says on the box, whatever it does, it works!

This is the Beechgrove TV Apple Tree and it is laden with blossom this year, looks like we will have a bumper crop later on. Sadly this year the plums look like they will bear no fruit, we have not got a single blossom on any of the three trees, maybe it was just too cold or mybe they are just too young.

I have planted up the raised beds and devoted one to being an Asparagus Bed for the next twenty years, that should see some of us out!  I also have Pak Choi, Bulb Fennel, red and green frilly lettuce, red and yellow beetroot and Pink Fir Apple Spuds, not to mention onions and radishes. The greenhouse is also bursting to the seams again with the fig which this year has 18 fruit, tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers. Some interesting herbs including a little known herb called Sweet Woodruffe that I brought back from a recent trip to Germany.

This is the pergola that Herb put up last year and already the roof bit is getting covered with lots of lovely climbers and ramblers, we have roses, honeysuckle and just flowering now, a rampant clematis Nelly Moser. As you can see the sun is shining today, in fact so much so I have been out with just a t shirt on, and some jeans of course. This is not something that is seen very often in Scotland, the sun I mean , not jeans!

The other thing that has taken up our time has been having a new kitchen put in. This is the old kitchen.

This is the new kitchen!!

Love the wine cooler! No beer just wine and bubbly!!!!!

And another one. Right now I am going to take a bottle of something cold from the chiller and head up to the summer house for a well earned rets while I contemplate the next week at work. The summer house is looking good too.

The doos continue to be very active on the egg front, so far this year I have removed 27 eggs and replaced them with china eggs. We appear to have lost one doo, possibly to the hawk but as we had two with leg injuries it may just have left to die quietly. On the injury front, one doo has lost a toe and Stumpy has a leg that is about to drop off, but otherwise Stumpy is healthy, flys well and hops about very happily.
Sun is over the yard arm, I'm off!

Saturday, 20 March 2010

Doo-sastrous weekend

After having nothing to blog about for weeks last weekend we had a fairly awful time. Not exactly sure what wnet on but it looks like two doos that were on the gutter somehow got their legs trapped under the slates and damaged their legs quite badly. We think it was a combination of the legs becoming trapped and then Randy taking advantage of a trapped doo and bonking them senseless.

The first wee doo we rescued was DooDooRonRon and sadly her leg was so badly broken, her foot was hanging by a thread of tendon and she had lot so much blood, that we had no option but to gently cull her. The second doo was Pixie and I was able to paint her wound with iodine and she is doing OK, she hops about on one leg quite well and is eating and drinking.

The next day we again noticed a commotion and a third doo was in the same predicament, same place on the gutter so once more the ladder came out and Herb recued the doo, this one was DooDoo ( the second Lucian Doo to come a cropper) and she flew off but was having real problems. I was unable to get to her to deal with the le injury. I caught her one day but agin she escaped. She was spending a lot of time in the dove cote and was very quiet, so today I took the chance to have a look at her leg. As soon as I picked her up I smelt a dreadful smell and suspected a very bad infection but in fact on looking at the leg saw she had gangrene in the foot and leg and a fair way up to where the leg joins the body. Sadly she had to be culled as she would not have survived and must have been in terrible pain.
This is Pixies foot after the application of iodine. She is doing fine now.

The spring warmer weather has got their juices up and today I had to remove 5 more eggs from the nests and replace with china ones. I am hoping that we will have no babies all year but think that the doos may be wising up to me and we think that one doo may have started nest building in a bush.

The garden was looking great until we had some foraging deers pass by and they chewed the red curly kale down to stumps! I had not even tried any. Have prepared the beds for the arrival of the very expensive asparagus crowns any day now, will have to take precautions to make sure the deer do not fancy of this particularly tasty delicacy.

All my gardening is going to have to be done at the weekends now as I have got a job and start at the end of the month, goodbye to lovely long days in the garden in the summer, hello rat race!

Monday, 18 January 2010

After the Great freeze...the Big Thaw

The snow stayed on the ground for 24 days before finally melting, in the process it managed to turn to ice and then deposit great sheets of the stuff through my greenhouse roof shattering six panes of glass and covering the fig and the overwintering geraniums in shards of glass.

The ice on the track still remains in places, at one point the track was like a bob sleigh run with ice three or four inches thick, treacherous underfoot and difficult to  move about on. The chicken run is still a quagmire with icy puddles remaining. However the chickens have moved on and have been adopted by a friend and are now happily living at Earlshall Castle  in an oak wood with three big cockerels and 60 other hens for company. I was finding looking after them just too much due to my incapacity with my ongoing arm problems. I may get some new hens in the summer once we have had a chance to look at the drainage of the run and maybe install some boards for walkng on to keep me out of the slippy zone, having mild panics about slipping since my Lucian banana adventure. Am actively looking into getting a pig to rear on for 20 weeks for some good home grown pork and bacon for the winter, the run is large enough and the stock fencing pretty strong so it would make a good short term home for said pig!

The doos are as prolific as ever and I have had to remove 5 eggs this year alone. Two are now happily sitting on plastic eggs none the wiser. I am going to have a go at selling on any youngsters that we do get and will convert the little Hilton Chicken House into a temporary house for them.  At the last count I had 21 doos, more than enough for a garden like ours. I am having to rethink the feeding strategy as the hopper which was a good idea for holidays now never stays full for long as all and sundry are feeding from it, a new lighter coloured pheasant has joined Percy with the limp and we have also had a weasel and a rat. Herb saw the rat off with a well aimed shot, it leapt a foot into the the air before it succumbed!

The veg garden is still producing stuff and today I picked two lovely cabbages destined for tea tonight, the red curly kale looks healthy enough but has not grown overly large. The sprouts are coming to an end but we still have plenty of gorgeous leeks for cock a leekie soup! If only I culd persuade someone to like Jerusalem Artichokes, just have to store them until the pig arrives!

Today it is like a spring day up here, blue sky and sunshine and we have not put the heating on for the first time since we got back from St Lucia. I will light the fire later as it is bound to get chilly  later. Snow forecast for later in the week, ho hum, life goes on!

Friday, 1 January 2010

Happy New Year from the Menagerie!!

Christmas came and so did the snow. We had a fairly full house for Christmas with Mum, Stu and Sam and Sarah and Fiona and Nicci and Carmen popped in now and again too. All that was missing was our Soldier, out being a Bah Humbug  in Afghanistan. Stu built the Snowman above in his honour it is a Snow Muz!

We all  had a ball, no fights, apart from snowball fights. The boy Cousins decided that the girl cousin should be treated appropriately and everytime she left the house she got snow down her neck! Boys will be boys!

The doos seem to be really enjoying the snow, it makes them slightly less of a target for the hawks although just this morning we saw a very graceful Peregrine swooping low over the garden, it set the doos up but they all seem to have come home. The doos have definitely not read the Dove book as since December 1st we have had five babies with more on the way if the bonking is anything to go by. We are going to remove all the eggs that get laid from now on, a bit of a task for me as I am still unable to fully use my hand despite being out of plaster for two weeks. The doves continue to take daily baths in their drinking water even when they have to break the ice to get in!

The chickens are still laying well and loved being looked after by Fiona over Christmas. They are totally free ranging at the moment as Roly is in Kennels!

Moonzie is looking lovely at the moment although the ice is treacherous, the track is like a bob sleigh run.
The one thing we have noticed with all this freezing weather is the fact that many more animals and birds are in the garden. The pheasant and hare are regular visitors, as are the hundreds of Fieldfares, a sort of Scandinavian Thrush. We also have a pair of woodpeckers, all the usual suspects and today for the first time spotted a weasel darting about under the doo cotes. We think it was a Weasel and not a Stoat. The difference being a weasel is weasily recognized while a stoat is stoatally different!! There has been a fox  prowling about too but so far he has steered clear of the chickens, we saw 6 deer in the field beyond the orchard the other day too so the cullers never managed to get the lot.

That is about it for today, it is still way below freezing so no chance of me venturing too far and there are masses of left overs yet to be consumed, I just love left over Moet accompanied by left over Quality Street.

Happy New Year!