Thursday 27 December 2018

How did I do against my self reliance goals 2018?

It's that time of year again where I look at how I've done against some self reliance goals I set myself earlier in the year. Looking back I'm really pleased with all we've managed to achieve this year and I seem to have managed to at least tick a few things from the list!

#### And Don't worry I know some people are chomping on the bit to see the new kitchen - a short video tour will be uploaded soon I promise! ####

Community -

Well I think I can safely say I'm a fixture of the village now, I'm involved with a few few things now!

The play group has run all year and we have had a great friend join our ranks to help, so with three of us running it and a healthy number of mums and dads turning up each week it seems like the playgroup will run for much longer yet! I'll have been going to the playgroup for five years in the spring and helping to run it for two, such a great way for families to meet each other and hopefully makes new parents feel much less isolated.

I've also tried to help at the children's school where I can as it does feel like the heart of the village.

After completing the school library in time for the opening of the new school in January, I seem to have been roped into a few more projects since then.

Wednesday 26 December 2018

Merry Christmas!

A little late but I'd love to wish everyone who reads and follows this blog a merry Christmas!
 I love being able to share what we get up to here and reading all your comments, emails and interaction on social media.

Thank you! Hope you all had a great day and a nice break up to the new year.

Sunday 23 December 2018

Christmas Dinner prep

I managed to get a bit of our Christmas dinner sorted on Thursday.

I picked out the biggest meat bird we have and processed him ready for the table.

Friday 21 December 2018

Sneak Peek In The New Kitchen

The kitchen is slowly taking shape. 

I'm determined to have it mostly done for Christmas day and to cook and eat in there!

Friday 14 December 2018

What Chickens Are On The Homestead?

I seem to have a lot of chickens here at the moment.

I haven't spoken about them much this year on the blog so I thought I'd give a run down of what I've got and what they're for. 

Tuesday 11 December 2018

Heritage Seed Library Order & Peas Boiling HARD

As anyone who reads this blog knows, I'm a little obsessed with seeds!

And when I joined our local seed swap group last year it seemed logical for me to join the Heritage Seed Library as well. 

They're part of the charity Garden Organic who try to promote organic gardening. They keep a bank of old varieties of seed that they are trying to prevent from going extinct with members breeding them each year. 

Each year as a member of the HSL you can pick six packs of seed from the list. The idea that you grow a few to taste and the rest to save for seed. The pack size is quite small so it might take a few years before you have enough seed saved to be worth sending back in to the library, instead spending your time to build a reserve. 

Last year was utter chaos for growing for me and I'm glad that I didn't have the last few seeds of anything as I doubt there will be any going back. But that's the beauty of it, some (good) years you can give back to the library and others you can just experiment and see how you do. With lots of members the risk is spread.

The list has lots of options to choose from and from this years I chose some that are relatively easy to grow without the risk of cross pollination. I picked:-

Scotland Yellow Tomato
Bijskij Zelty Tomato
Black coco Dwarf French Bean
Fat Baby Achocha
Bronze arrow lettuce (lucky dip extra)
Sutton's Harbinger Pea
Blue Prussian Pea

In the packs of peas there is only about 8 to 10 seeds so they need to be sown in pots, protected from everything!

I'm especially looking forward to growing Blue Prussian Pea as it's in an American book I own called "Heirloom Vegetable Gardening" by William Woys Weaver.

He describes the pea as "as a excellent split pea" But gives further advice on the storage of dried peas, "like any dry pea should never be kept more than a year. An insightful article called "Why Peas Boil Hard" appeared in the gardener's magazine (April 1831, 249) and explained that if peas are stored too long, they will cook "hard," never really softening no matter how long they are boiled. This observation is as true now as it was then, with one further footnote: peas stored for two or three years have also lost significant portion of their nutritional value. This is why it's important to date all stocks of dry peas and beans."

Really interesting I'm sure you'll agree, but I should imagine that the fact we can now store them in airtight containers and in vacuums would seriously increase their shelf life.

One years soup peas collected from a handful of peas - These are called Latvian Soup Peas or the "Grey Pea" 
So I'll try to build a stock of seeds from the 8 I have. Might take a couple of years, or the efforts of a mouse could wipe it out before I begin! Peas are easy to build up numbers though so I'm hopeful.

Anyone experimented with how long you can keep soup and dried peas for before they stay hard even when cooked?

Who else is in the Heritage Seed Library and what have you ordered for next years growing season?

Sunday 9 December 2018

Banana & Chocolate Fairy Cakes

Each week we buy a lot of bananas and normally the kids fire through them like they're the last ones on earth. 

But sometimes they get pushed to the back of the bowl and forgotten or I buy too many (the children are as unpredictable as me!) 

So when that happens we turn to baking!

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