August 11

Bumper Double Issue
There has been a delay in the summer issue of action and adventure however now all is back on track. Many nieces who thoroughly approved of our endeavours and fed the pigs had visited me.
We are bringing in crops. Starting with broad beans, and these did really well in the polytunnel. It’s a bit of a worry that they didn’t do better outside but the salt filled gales have blackened the leaves and the outdoor beans were a sorry site.
Generally the outdoor veg patch has not done too well. The wind is largely to blame although caterpillars, slugs, blight and deluges of rain have all added their own unique way of creating havoc in veg corner. Some plants have faired better mainly the flowers and I have a very colourful and bee filled landscape that is pleasant if not edible.
Inside the broad beans grew tall and healthy; we ate them for a number of weeks and then realised they needed preserving
I remembered seeing dried broad beans in North Africa with pigeons strutting on top of the barrels and I believe they were buried in the pyramids so we commenced our experiments with drying.
A couple of attempts were required and finally the dryer was built. Unfortunately for the broad beans they were the first crop and they became wizened, brown and small so that they fitted into a little glass jar and have been put to the back of a shelf. I have had a couple of experiments with rehydrated broad bean goo and so far they have proved more successful than you would think.After the trial period the solar dryer mark 2 was in full steam when the peas came in. After picking they were podded and hung in the greenhouse in a row of pillow cases gradually being put through the dryer until they were yellow and split, these taste great.The oats are probably the most scary; out they’re, grown up, proper crop. Totally out of our own experience range and defiantly a step towards self-sufficiency.
Within the lines of oats docks followed by yarrow grew through the mulch, which are both nutrient givers. We harvested by pulling up the seed heads in our hand and it took just 2 days to get them all in. Now they need drying further then crushing and winnowing. There is too much bulk for the dryer so they are being laid out on big sheets with bird netting on top and they dry quite quickly when there is some sun. Still learning about later procedures Ted is off on a train journey today with a book. We have realised that our sweet corn, which is also growing, very well can be left on the plant after ripening to dry and be used as polenta so I shall try that. We have had our first taste of porridge with blackberries for breakfast and it was good
The crew of three chicks are growing well we have 2 cocks and one hen the three Chiquita’s. They refused to settle in their own specially built run; They have not become part of the original flock they have their own routine and fave places and different snack and chat times thus ensuring that the two groups of chickens take up considerable portions of time. Somehow whilst this has come about various girls are becoming less reliable layers and so we are often only getting 3 eggs a day to what was 10 birds. This all changed however, when Mummy became broody again this time she hatched 5 chicks so now we say goodnight to 15 chickens. The new chicks are very cute and very small and go chirrup a lot.
Due to the parentage non of the chicks can become fully blown adults on the farmstead they must go into the pot eventually and I am growing sage and onions ready for that day.
Pig demise. It transpires it was bad planning to get boars in spring you have to kill them at 6 months or they become aggressive this appeared to be a good plan initially but with all the other food coming to fruition it might be better if this happened later next year.
So without further ado pig day came around.
We borrowed a trailer, which was hooked up the night before, and we created a route for the pigs to travel. For a few days previously I had practiced getting them to follow me through different routes and if I was holding the pignuts they would follow so we were quite confident that I had full control of the pigs. I had tipped most of breakfast in the trailer and we woke them up early so they were sleepy and hungry and presumably docile and yes they followed me out of the gate with no problems; now rather than been a bit nervous of the big wide world they had never seen before they put their chins up and said Oh this looks like fun and gambolled about the place paying no attention whatsoever of the breakfast bucket the carefully prepared route or even each other. I got Winston to the trailer buy which time Ted was stuck in the ditch with Puddlemuck, put Winston was too silly to get up the ramp. When we finally got Puddlemuck round to the trailer he went in fine so now we had to recapture Winston and heave him in. Finally tucking into their breakfast it was just the small matter of realising that I was stuck with the pigs between the exit and myself and I had to clamber over them to get out of the low trailer but finally we were off. The drive fazed the humans a lot but the pigs continued to enjoy themselves. The most difficult part was backing the trailer into the yard then we had to walk the pigs into the holding area which with no lure of breakfast or any experience on our part was challenging but we all got in front of the shockers happy and healthy and I can honestly say they experienced no stress during their short but full bellied lives
A week later we returned to collect the carcass and sausage stuffing began.
We had scoured ebay for all the relevant bits and were as ready as you can ever be really. We sawed of the chunks for the freezer and got them in. Then we have 2 back legs in salt for air-dried hams. Two front legs in brine for sliced ham, bellies in salt for bacon some back bacon in brine then a massive pile of sausages salami and chorizo. Basically following Hugh FW river cottage guidelines very carefully. All in all it was a very very steep learning curve.
Now the pantry is full and to finish of the bacons Ted built a state of art smoker that was magnificent in its performance and beauty Meanwhile the planning permission has chugged ponderously away and finally the passing place has been built. So we have started preparing the stonework and locating materials. There is a general air of apathy over the project these days, we are quite happy in the caravan despite it all being rather brown, and we are struggling to find the creative energy to move the building project on however, to help in this endeavour we have been most fortunate to welcome a new member of the family onto the team. A 1935 Wolsely just the essential item every self sufficient project needs

This entry was posted in Plan A. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s