Saturday 3 April, 2004
Asparagus is something we've always intended to grow, but have never really got around to doing (other than a thoroughly unsuccessful attempt to grow from seed). This year though we ordered 10 crowns of Connover's Colossal, and they arrived yesterday.
Last weekend, in anticipation of their arrival, I prepared their bed. The perennial raised bed will be their home for the next 20 years or so, and it needed considerable attention to get it ready for the asparagus. The resident strawberry plants were removed, the soil dug deep and then riddled to a depth of 18 inches to remove large stones and other debris. Finally a good quantity of compost and well rotted manure were added, together with a few handfuls of sand to aid drainage.
Saturday 3 April, 2004
The last of the pork from last year's Tamworths was defrosted overnight, in readiness for the weekend's main event - sausauge making. Over the past few weeks we've gathered together everything we needed: 2 sizes of casings, from the Natural Casing Company; a nozzle attachment for our Kenwood Chef; acidophilus from the health food shop in Stirling; and finally a good sized gigot and rolled shoulder from the freezer. We'd also identified our recipes, one for pork sausages and one for salami, both from the River Cottage Cookbook.
Sunday 4 April, 2004
Our early spuds - Red Duke of York and Pink Fir Apple - finally went in the ground today, in last year's pig pen. Although the pigs did a fine job of clearing the grass and weeds, they didn't eat the stones, bricks and varied detritus located about 12 inches under the soil. So preparing the trenches for the spuds took just about all day, instead of the few hours I'd bargained for. It's not even a certainty that they'll grow into anything worthwhile - the chitting was less than smooth due to an alternately cold and warm shed, and it was only in the past few weeks that they've had a decent chance to sprout in our spare room.
Monday 12 April, 2004
If this site had a strapline it would be "If we can do it, anyone can". As a child I was officially The Least Practical Boy in the World. Anything to do with using my hands that didn't involve a keyboard, joystick or mouse was beyond me, and my family despaired. But now behold my gate, crafted this morning by my own fair hands from the raw materials. It's not perfect, and I made a couple of elementary errors, but I'm proud of myself nonetheless.
Wednesday 14 April, 2004
A part of our smallholding activities involves selling produce like eggs and pork to colleagues, friends and associates. Although we practice organic principles, using no chemicals anywhere and feeding only organic, gm-free feed, it just wouldn't be worth our while at the moment to consider organic certification. Enter stage left the Wholesome Food Association (thanks to the Smallholders On-line newsletter for the prompt).
Thursday 15 April, 2004
A quick plug. When we stayed in the Scotsman last month they provided a nice range of teas and coffees in the room, including some of these 15 minutes organic teas. I was disappointed when visiting their site to find that they only sell to trade, but an enquiry got a friendly response advising that they can now be bought by consumers from a couple of vendors.
I ordered from The Tryst and they arrived safely and quickly. The Sweet Camomile and Berry teas are particularly good....
Thursday 22 April, 2004
The little bastards are back, but this year I've caught them early and fully intend to destroy them. This morning the first evidence of the annual gooseberry sawfly invasion was found - a few leaves low on the larger of our two bushes had the tell-tale dotted lines of eggs running along their veins, and about a dozen leaves were swiss-cheese holey, meaning some of the eggs had hatched and the baby caterpillars were already munching their way to adulthood.
Friday 23 April, 2004
We took the day off work to go to the Country Living Spring Fair Scotland at the SECC. It wasn't bad, basically of a subset of the craft, food and clothing areas at the Royal Highland Show. We agreed that at half price (7 quid for the 2 of us) it was just about worth the entry fee, and since we stocked up on sauces from the Curry Sauce Co. at a special price we shouldn't grumble. The Red Thai is my favourite, and thankfully they will be at the RHS again this year so we can get further supplies in June!
Saturday 24 April, 2004
We've had a number of enquiries lately from people looking to buy Tamworth weaners, or looking for more information about the breed. The best first point of contact is the Tamworth Breeder's Group:
Tamworth Breeders' Group, Broad Leaze, Boyton, Warminster, Wiltshire, BA12 0SS. Tel: 01985 850208.
In the short term, if anyone is looking for weaners we know of a breeder in Biggar who has piglets available which were born last weekend. Contact us or leave your details in a comment and we'll put you in touch with him.
Saturday 24 April, 2004
Homer's journey to becoming a full member of the family continues. Physically he looks really well - his coat is black and glossy and he's probably about optimum weight. Mentally and emotionally, he's making progress, too.
Firstly, he now acknowledges his name and will come when you call him (usually). Secondly, he's much less nervous around us. He rarely starts away now if approached, he's happy to be brushed and we can stroke him with two hands at the same time (this used to freak him out). Thirdly, he is treating the dogs with the same disdain as Copper and Cassius do. He now comes out of his room when the dogs are around, particularly at feeding time. He's also chased Tess, who's back at bottom spot in the heirarchy. Finally, he started getting out and about right through the house - on windowsills, the settees and the chest of drawers in the kitchen, which is one of Cass's spots.
Tuesday 27 April, 2004
Rosemary chose a rose scented soap, while I went for the more manly (or so I kid myself) peppermint and something else, I forget what exactly. It's fab stuff, produces a great lather and the peppermint really gives your bits a zing in the morning, reminds me of when I was a bit slapdash with the ralgex in my football-playing days.