Thursday 3 June, 2004
As mentioned previously here at TAS we joined the Clackmannanshire Horticultural Society this year, and I have been gently persuaded to operate the exhibitor database for this year's Annual Show. Now, wanting to take a full part in the society, we both intend to enter a good number of classes at the show, which is to be held on September 13th in Alva - Rosie in baking and perhaps some floral classes, myself in the vegetable classes.
The problem is I haven't the remotest of notions about what showing vegetables involves. A quick Google just scared me - how on earth do you produce carrots like these?
Friday 11 June, 2004
We lost another hen this evening. Two of the retired sheepdogs from the neighbouring farm occasionally come to visit us, and we make them welcome, give them a stroke or a brush and a few dog biscuits. They're good natured souls, and have had a hard life. One of them is Meg's mother, Gyp, who is an especially sweet dog. The other is Lyn.
Lyn sometimes chases the hens, but since Tess does exactly the same we'd never really worried about it. Tonight though she killed our Light Sussex, one of the original 3 hens we bought in 2002. The farm dogs had been down to visit, and had had their usual treats and attention. I was busy in a corner of the field trying (unsuccessfully) to plant some large silver birch trees (another story). Rosemary was in the house getting Lorna ready for bed. The garden gate was open, as it often is. Suddenly all hell broke loose around the bird feeder, about 50 yards from where I was working, and the Brown Leghorn flew along the lawn wings flapping. The Sussex had met a swift but violent end, neck broken.
Wednesday 16 June, 2004
I'm an opportunisitc soup-maker. If I see something reduced to an outrageously low price in our local supermarket my first instinct is to buy it an make soup with it. And so it happened this afternoon - a big head of organic celery and a load of broccoli all at a knock-down price.
Fortunately my family and I all love soup, any time of the year. So although this probably isn't ideal weather for Celery and Stilton or Broccoli and Stilton soup, that's what we've got oodles of now. If you think they sound good here are the recipes - dead easy and very, very tasty.
Saturday 19 June, 2004
Our 3 Tamworth boars will be 25 weeks old on Monday, which means they should be approaching their optimum weight for slaughter. With this in mind I weighed them this morning.
How do you weigh a pig? No, not with a big set of scales, but with a piece of string. Measure, in inches, from between the pig's ears along its back to the base of its tail. Call this measurement A. Next, measure around the pig's girth tight behind its front legs, and call this measurement B. Calculate A x B. Divide by 10 for a fat pig, 11 for a medium-built pig, and 12 for a lean pig. This will give you the approximate weight in pounds.
Saturday 19 June, 2004
To keep you up to date with Homer's progress, he's coming along nicely. He likes to sit in the kitchen, usually under the table, while you work about. If a small piece of cheese should not be required by the cook then Homer will take care of it. I'm not advocating feeding cats mountains of cheese, by the way, but food has been a successful way to Homer's heart!
Tonight I was on the phone to my sister. I sat in the front hall, with Homer and Cassius. It is becoming increasingly difficult to tell the difference between the two, in certain circumstances. Cass popped out through the cat flap - except it wasn't Cass, it was Homer. Casual as you like, the boy's gone for a wander round the garden! He must have been out for at least half an hour and probably longer - when I next saw him, he was appearing round the greenhouse and coming home.
Sunday 20 June, 2004
Despite some early damage by weevils it's been a success, and we started picking and eating the Douce Provence last week, 16 weeks after sowing. The Douce Provence are low growing, at a height of 2-3 feet, while the Pilot are about twice that height. With all peas it's important to start picking as early as possible and regularly, to encourage further flowering and prolonged cropping, even is this means the peas themselves are on the small side - but they just taste all the sweeter for it.
Tuesday 22 June, 2004
This time of year is one of my favourite. Most of the hard work in the vegetable garden has been completed. We continue to cut and pick salad and spring onions, and other crops are starting to come to fruition - early peas, garlic, shallots, autumn-sown onions. And then there's the promise of a lot more to come:
Gooseberries about ready to harvest; strawberries with the first tinge of red; blackcurrants turning from bright green to deepest black; the first tomato fruits swelling daily; flowers on the capsicums; truss after truss of flowers on the super sweet 100 cherry tomatoes; sunset apples cropping heavily; douce provence peas; courgettes seeming to sprout from nowhere overnight.
Sunday 27 June, 2004
I continue to harvest early peas. The Douce Provence are cropping moderately, but the Pilot are cropping very heavily, and although the former were of a cropping size about a week earlier, the weight of the Pilot crop and the fact they are still covered in new flowers makes me think these will become our regular early pea. There is little to pick between them in terms of flavour.
So today's pickings yielded about a pound of shelled peas, popped straight into the freezer in a suitable container. There are a lot more to come, so maybe we will be self-sufficient in garden peas the coming year.
Sunday 27 June, 2004
Dan and I made our annual visit to the Royal Highland Show on Friday. The weather was lovely - which was great because it bucketed rain on Thurady and Saturday.
I love the Highland. I started going when I was a student - as an agricultural student, it was part of the course of study to spend four days a year in the late, lamented Herdsman bar. I don't do that anymore but I enjoy it justa s much and maybe more.
I was very fortunate to be introduced to Mr Willie Allan, renowned breeder of Highland ponies and, indeed, breeder of my own Smokey. Despite all the ponies he must have bred over the years, he seemed to remember every one and seemed genuinely interested in their progress. Smokey's (remember his proper name is Munro of Millfield) full sister was at the show (Misty) and his half brother, MacCallum (aka The Bandit). Smokey and the Bandit - get it! Bandit is much smaller than Smokey and yellow (I think) dun. He also had a wad of red rosettes to his credit.
Tuesday 29 June, 2004
More rich pickings today - our first Red Duke of York spuds (duly despatched to the olds), 4lb of gooseberries, the first of the blackcurrants (just ripe, and really only picked to take some of the weight off of the overburdened branches), our first wee courgettes and more mange tout and spring onions, all for a stir fry.
The potatoes were very encouraging, being a good size and blemish-free. Red Duke of York are our favoured early variety, and it's nice to have them again after last year's order went unfulfilled because of our supplier's seed failure. Their colour straight out of the ground is fantastic - next time I lift some I must take a photo for the gallery...