Wednesday 30 March 2016

New Rhubarb

I'm always on the look out for new things to grow or new varieties.
The rhubarb I grow is from my mums garden and she inherited it from the gardener who lived there before her. It's a great type, keeps it's shape well when cooking and isn't too sharp, we've no idea of the variety but I know I'll certainly keep growing it. 
That said I've always wanted to see how it compares to other types and if there's much difference. 
I saw this "Raspberry Red Rhubarb" at the weekend and I decided to give it a go, it says it's a newly developed strain that doesn't need forcing (I hardly ever force mine any way) and should be slightly sweeter with thinner stalks. 
Anyone else have different varieties of rhubarb? What's your favourite variety?

Sunday 27 March 2016

Ready for the Sheep - Well Kind Of...

Well the field is ready for the sheep. I've fenced off the daffodils and a strip at the bottom of the field to leave a bit of fresh grass for once they've lambed.  
First fence in to protect the daffodils 
 I've not got much grass anywhere so it's going to be a bit of a juggling act until the grass starts growing again. I've been lucky to over winter them at my fathers, otherwise I'd be in real trouble about now! 
Second line of fence to leave a good patch of grass so that the new lambs have somewhere to go.
 We've been feeding them a mix of oats, barley and a little wheat to keep their condition and get them ready for lambing. They seem pretty keen to come to the bucket - I'll post a video of some hungry sheep another time! 
Sheep HQ 
My base of operations for the next few weeks will be the back of a stock box I've borrowed off my dad. Inside it I've got the corn for feed, some hay and straw and I'll add my "sheep bucket" later (the sheep bucket contains all my bits to look after the animals like dagging shears and things like that). I've also got the use of the small barn, in the rented field, for any problem animals or new borns when it comes to it, other than that most things will be happening outside.

Wednesday 23 March 2016

Simple Greenhouse Repair

The door on my large greenhouse drives me wild. 
For the last couple of years I've put up with it dropping as it swings open. This means that you have to lift it up every time you want to close it.
I think we all have things like this, little jobs that would probably only take half an hour to fix and save a lot of annoyances. 
Last year I made the gates for my garden to save me having to fight with the rabbit wire each time I went in there, once I'd done it I couldn't believe I hadn't done it sooner! 
The greenhouse door took a little thinking about but with a small metal bracket bent to suit and a nut and bolt I had it sorted whilst the girls played in the sandpit. A little bit of a bodge but it works. 

It now swings open and shuts easily, no more fighting the greenhouse door. 
What little job did you put off for years and then regret you did once you did it (if that even makes sense!)?

Tuesday 22 March 2016

Barefoot Gardeners

The girls have this habit when they play in the sandpit, they like to go barefoot. 
Doesn't matter what time of year or how cold it is, they like to get their feet in the sand.
I've given up trying to fight it and just smile as I see them running across the garden carrying their wellies. Trying to keep them from walking it all round the house is another matter, we make them dunk their feet into a bowl of water before they're aloud in!

Simple childhood pleasures

Monday 21 March 2016

Some Of Next Years Firewood

Last weekend I managed to get round to cutting up that massive branch that fell out of one of our giant oak trees last summer. 
 The branch was the size a of a good sized tree, with plenty of wood on it to keep us warm. The smaller stuff will be alight to burn next year and the bigger stuff the year after. 
I didn't bother cutting up the main bit of cord wood though as I haven't got the time to split it and it's easier to move in two big lumps.

I then had a helper pick up all the wood with me.  

Bless her she worked really hard and kept telling me how strong she was. She moved wood for as long as I did and didn't stop until it was done. A little grafter in the making I think! 
Who else has started getting next years firewood (and the year after) already? Feels good to have some heat in the bank! 

Sunday 20 March 2016

Sheep Bagging Up

I've found the last few days really interesting on the blog and I've deliberately not replied to comments as I think all that needs to be said has been said. But I really appreciate everyone's input, be it positive or negative, and I thank you all for that. 

But back to normal service.

The sheep are due to lamb quite soon. Only one I have seen looks like she is starting to "bag up" where their udders and teats start to grow in size as they come on to milk, a sure sight that a lamb is not too far away.
On there way to the trove to be feed
Currently they're still over wintering on some grass my father rents but they'll be back here in a couple of weeks, which means somehow I've got to figure out where we're going to lamb. It's looking like outside and in a 16ft by 12ft lean-to at the moment, but I'm sure I'll manage.
We've been feeding them a couple of buckets of oats per day and they've really gained condition, hopefully it won't have made the lambs too fat (as it makes them harder to come out) but only time will see on that one. 
Has anyone else ever lambed outside? 

Saturday 19 March 2016

Shoot, Shovel And Shut Up

"Shoot, Shovel And Shut Up"
A fellow blogger left this in the comments after my post about the Fox on Thursday, saying that it's the rule of the modern rural life and unfortunately it's becoming true. 

To many of my friends around here I'm an oddity, someone who follows the old country ways as if they're instinct, but I fear I'm a dying breed.

Luckily seeing the majority of the comments on my blog over the last few days, I'm pleased to see that many share my views and, although I might have been courting controversy by even posting that post, I'm pleased that I can show a true picture of what I do here. To do anything else wouldn't be honest.

I may have lost some readers in the process, or then again I might have gained a few that respect that I have nothing to hide in what I do.

Thursday 17 March 2016


Well for a change I've managed to chalk one up to me rather than the fox, although I did loose a chicken the other day but I'm not sure to what. 
I shot this vixen about 30 yards away from the bottom chicken pen. 
It's the time for year when they get brave, so with lambing fast approaching I'm pleased to have removed this potential problem early on. 
Like with many of my hunting and shooting posts, I was in two minds as to post this post or not as I know how people get when it comes to animals, but I see things very black or white. This fox is a predator and the animals that I keep on this little homestead are it's prey. 
I don't see shooting this animals as something to be enjoyed, I see shooting it as a necessity. 

Tuesday 15 March 2016

Flat Battery On The Tractor

If you use a vehicle everyday and it has a flat battery one morning, chances are the battery is dead. If you haven't used a vehicle for five months then chances are it just needs charging. 
A case in point is my tractor. Dead as a door nail. Half a day on charge and it coughs into life with a cloud of black smoke (or not on Sunday - needs a bit longer on charge). 
 This little battery charger has had some use over the last few years. I think as soon as you have a smallholding you have to have something that doesn't start first time, kind of an unwritten rule.
Growing up on the farm was no different. I remember that we used to have to leave certain vehicles within range of an electric socket or next to another, more reliable, vehicle so it could be jump started in the morning, sorting this minor problem was something we learnt at a fairly young age. 
So what's the most unreliable (but easy to sort) vehicle you've owned or currently own? 

Sunday 13 March 2016

Canning Night

All week I'd been excited about Friday night. 
I wasn't going out, I was going canning! 
A friend, Sarah, and me were going round to Kirsty's   house to try out her new pressure canner that she'd had for Christmas. 
We were going to be adventurous and try canning meat for the first time. We'd decided on a spaghetti sauce with mince beef in it, Kirsty had found a recipe we like the look of a few weeks before hand, so we all brought some ingredients with us and we set to it. 

Things went well, the only slight hitch we had was the fact that the electric hob wouldn't get the canner hot enough, so Kirsty had a brain wave and got her gas BBQ dragged inside. Propped up with a chair this was perfect to keep the cans at 11 pounds of pressure for the 60 minutes needed. We did leave a window open so we didn't die from poisonous gas as well! 

In the end we had ten jars, with only one that failed to seal properly. 
I can see this being a very addictive hobby! 
Anyone else been canning meat or does using a pressure canner put you off?

Saturday 12 March 2016

Rough Hands

Just before bedtime, sat on the sofa my eldest daughter was playing with my hands, she stops looks at me and asks:
"Why aren't your hands like mine daddy?"
"What do you mean sweetheart?"
"Smooth and clean"

I'm proud of every scar, callus and cut on my hands, each tells a story! 

Tuesday 8 March 2016

Garden Harvest

There's still plenty to be had in the garden at the moment and I was quite please with this little collection for our roast on Sunday. 
Managed to have leeks (although there isn't many left now - another couple of  meals), jersualm artichokes, New Zealand Yams ( I love these more and more each time I eat them) and the last of the parsnips. 
Few things more satisfying than going out and digging up the food for tea! 
What are you harvesting at the moment?

Sunday 6 March 2016

Rotten Galvanised Rabbit Wire

Well yesterday I manage to find out how those pesky rabbits had managed to get into the garden the other day. 
I spotted a game trail going across the garden next to another damaged tree.
Game trail under the wire
 The most annoying thing is that the trail seems to go under the wire, but four years ago when I put this wire in, I spent a lot of time digging it into the ground a good foot or so so the rabbits couldn't dig underneath it. 
The trouble is it's rotted off at ground level. So far it only seems to be one section but I'm more than a little disappointed with the galvanised wire that I bought. I always thought that the posts would give out long before the wire. 
 So I did a repair on the fence, digging in some more wire and attaching it to the old wire. I'll have to keep an eye on the rest of the wire now as well, I'll probably only realise I have another problem when I see more rabbit damage.
Anyone know a solution for stopping wire rotting off like this or have a better solution for a rabbit proof fence. Maybe if I ever get all my other jobs finished I'll build a wall around the garden! 

Friday 4 March 2016

Garden Apprentice

Few things make me happier than having one of the children help me in the garden. I managed to get out in the greenhouse after work one night this week with the lighter evenings.
Between us we managed to sow a few seeds and pot on some cuttings I took last year. The cuttings were of some of my more expensive plants, so I was quite pleased, having another 5 cocktail kiwi plants around the smallholding will be great in a few years time, as will some more blueberries and Chilean Guavas. Just need to find places to plant them all now. 

Each and every night when I get back from work she has to come and shut the chickens in with me (wearing my hat - not the one in the picture), she's not worried about the dark at all. I think I've got myself a little apprentice in the making (although the wife says she's too young to learn to shoot yet)! 
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