Friday, 14 June 2013

Watch out County Show....................

..................    here I come!  Having a lot of feet up time, I've decided to put it to good use and organise some entries into the county show this year, at the beginning of September. I won a lot of prizes when I was wee in the village flower shows, and have won a few prizes and a couple of cups in more recent years at smaller local shows.   I want to record my progress online too, but not sure in what way yet, so that will be coming up too. Going to be a hard graft, under pressure of time constraints, but I'll rise to the challenge as best I can . Watch this space................


Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Think I've got the hang of it.................................

Might have cracked the re-sizing thing with Windows 8, let's have a go.....................

Yay!   lol. I'd like to make some of these too :)

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Bomb-proof strawberry jam

It's that time of year again :)  My kitchen is smelling gorgeously of cooking strawberries, so I thought I'd share my recipe with you again, it never fails, and is very easy.

4 lbs strawberries
3 1/2  lbs granulated sugar
6 tbsp. lemon juice

Hull the berries, cutting the larger ones into pieces and leaving the smallest whole.  Place all ingredients in jam pan and set on a lowish heat, leave until sugar is completely dissolved (if not dissolved, the jam will crystalise around the top on storage). When all is dissolved, up the heat and keep at a good rolling boil until setting point is reached, remove from heat, leave to settle for 5 minutes, then pot into hot, clean jars, cover with a clean cloth and leave until cold. Cover and label, store in a cool, dry place.

ps sorry for lack of pictures, am trying to work out how to retrieve and re-size them with Windows8 - I won't be defeated lol

Monday, 10 June 2013

Ignorance and cowardice alive and kicking in The Vale

What a sad, sad turn of events.  I was having a wonderful day up until the mail arrived, among the letters being one addressed to 'The Occupier' at my address. Said letter is from the District Council and is to inform me that an official complaint has been made about my cockerels'  'excessive' crowing. To say I am upset is a gross understatement; not only because the complaint has been made to the council, but for the following reasons:

-the complainer seems not to know my name, or bother to have found it out to pass on to the council

- the complainer obviously knows where I live and has not had the common decency to come round, see my set up and discuss the whole situation leading to an amicable outcome.

Instead, my hackles have been raised, tears of anger and frustration shed and I am now geared up to fight for my right to keep my poultry in as natural conditions as I can.  I have left a message with the Public Health Officer to return my call, and I am going to invite him here to see me in person so I can put my case to him, and he can see my birds etc in situ.

I have lived here for nearly 16 years now, and have kept cockerels for about 10 years, this is the first complaint I have had against me and my birds.  All my cocks up until now have been rescued/rehomed ones. For many years it has been my ambition to rear some of my own, and my interest lied in rare breeds as most of you will know, so I bought some rare breed hatching eggs from e-bay and hatched them in an incubator.  The breed is Scots Dumpy, a breed I 've wanted for many, many years, both for its Scottish associations and the fact that I would be contributing to keeping such a rare breed going.  I also successfully hatched some very rare breed Shetland ducks. Out of the dozen Dumpy eggs I bought, 7 were successfully hatched.  I lost 2 young ones to predators, leaving 5 birds.  The next few weeks proved that I had 3 cockerels and two hens, at this time, hardly crowing due to their young age. One morning, a woman from the small estate to the side of us warned my husband that there was some disquiet about my cockerels crowing in the mornings; she named no names.  That same morning, I lost one of the cockerels, found dead in the run. Down to 2 cocks and two hens. Badger predation led to the loss of one of the wee hens while I was in hospital, so I now have 2 cocks and 1 hen left. The smaller of the cocks, Donald, has been put into a separate house and run with Janet the hen to see if they will rear some chicks from me, to start my own flock of Dumpies. Geordie, the larger of the cocks stays outside with my two remaining other hens left from the badger attacks - a Lemon Brahma and a Dorking.  I will be getting more hens soon to make up numbers to sell eggs again. 
As you know, I have been very ill, with over 9 weeks in hospital; my husband has been feeding and looking after the animals for me at the moment, until I am well enough to take the full responsibilities back.  We have had other family issues to deal with in this time, and he works full-time and long hours. Over this period, the chickens had taken to roosting in a tree, and were left there due to time and energy constraints of my husband. Obviously, the noise from the crowing was probably louder as the cocks were outside. Now I am back and getting back into things, they are being shut away at night again.  The council enclosed a helpful leaflet from the Poultry Club about cockerels, but I do everything within my ability to keep them properly and without nuisance to anyone else.
In all the years I have been here, I have not complained to any neighbour about noise - strimmers, motorbikes, cars, car alarms, barking dogs etc.  My house is one of a pair of semi-detached ones, at the end of the main street. One side is bordered by a small field where the calves and cows are and the bull occasionally; over the back is open fields leading to woods; third side is a high wooden fence between us and next door, road frontage is about 50 ft or so back from the pavement.  A genuine rural, working village, with my house beside a farm. It is ideal for keeping poultry and other animals, etc.
I'm trying not to get too het up about it due to my present illness and resulting blood pressure, but to say I am disappointed, upset, frustrated and angry is the least of it. I will keep you posted.

I wonder if these same people are ones who get annoyed at the loud and mournful bellowing of the mothers of the young calves who have been taken from them, going on at all times of the day or night - probably as they reach for the milk from the fridge..................

Sunday, 9 June 2013

Damn your oily hide, Dan Pearson!

Not really, he's a sweetie!  Enforced rest with my legs up resulted in me having the time to sit and read a Sunday paper, choosing The Observer, a perennial favourite with me.  Dan P has a gardening page in the magazine, this week focussing on plants that happily self-seed around.  He mentioned erigeron karvinskianus and the white from of herb  Robert..............  I didn't know there was a white form of herb Robert, so off I go on the net to find some.  Ended up at the wonderful Plant World Seeds.  Ordered the erigeron and white herb Robert, but couldn't resist some other beauties, including variegated white flowering honesty, which I grew a few years back, and the variegated form of hesperis matronalis. Several unusual tomato varieties fell into the basket too, as did some rather pretty fritillaries............................. am now over £30 lighter on the old bank balance, but what delights when the postman brings them.................
I am so delighted to be back at my home and getting into the garden again, so much needs doing and sorting and planting, but will be taking it slowly and easy for a while.
On a related note, I have housed Donald and Janet, a pair of Scots Dumpies, separately, to see if she will produce some chicks for me, fingers crossed. The larger cockerel, Geordie, stays out with the two hens left after the ravages of the badger recently :(  I aim to get some more hens to up their numbers shortly and get selling eggs along with flowers and plants by the gate. happy days indeed.