And Back to Real Life…

We’re now into pea-picking with an abundance of fresh peas every few days – we’re bringing home about 1.5kg – 2.5kg every couple of days. Admittedly, there’s a fair bit of that weight that’s pods, not peas but, even allowing for that, we’ve put over 3kg of peas into the freezer in the past week.

Calabrese is just starting to head up nicely on the allotment, taking over from the summer purple sprouting broccoli as that goes over in the garden. The chickens and rabbits are loving the uprooted brassica plants! Cauliflower in the garden are also now over (and we’ve frozen a couple of kg): on the allotment they’re looking healthy but not yet forming heads.

The red onions are now all lifted and drying, the whites are starting to come home.

We’ve been eating our own courgettes this week and the plants are flowering well, so the supply should keep up for a while yet. Tomatoes are still coming in steadily from the plants in the conservatory, though the harvest this year isn’t a patch on the super crop last year. Last year we were growing grafted plants and next year we’ll go back to them – hopefully that’ll bring back our bumper harvests!

Beetroot are coming in nicely from the garden and looking good for later on the allotment, too. At the moment we’re just eating them as they come but hopefully we’ll start freezing and pickling soon.

We singled the swedes today and it looks very promising – we should have enough swedes to be self-sufficient for the year. The bunnies and chooks pounced on the thinnings, too!

The buckwheat has been a major disappointment; it never really got past the white clover and though some of it flowered, the rest just didn’t do anything. I’m clearing it all in sections for rabbit food, so it’s not wasted, and I’ll try again next year without the clover. Perhaps I need a less vigorous cover-crop! We’re also having trouble finding the main carrot, parsnip and root parsley sowings through their clover cover, though once ferreted out the plants look healthy, and we’re putting a heck of a lot of clover top-growth into the compost bins so the compost should be good! I will be on the lookout for a less thorough cover-crop for next year’s sowings, anyway.

I’m awaiting delivery of a vacuum packer/sealer that will assist in our long-term storage plans, and I’m also about to order a canning pressure cooker from the States (why do we have to import them from the States? Why aren’t they available here??) which will also widen our preservation horizons. Further updates as and when these tools arrive!

Our new freezer is installed in the shed and purring quietly away to itself, so we’re in the process of clearing the freezers in the house and defrosting them, then one will be put up for sale, one will stay in the kitchen for stuff we want kept handy indoors, and the third small one is now outside ready to be dedicated to dog-food and (once I start slaughtering young bunnies) ferret food.

The bunnies are doing well; Jezebel’s bunch have just opened their eyes so it won’t be long before their poor mum has to fight her way into the food dish at breakfast time! It does look as if she has nine, though the little devils are still being a bit elusive in the nest and lurking under the surface. Delilah is due next week and Trudy a few day after that, so this weekend will be nest-box-building time again!

My application to join the local gun club is ticking along through the process and I’m hoping that soon I’ll be learning new skills and, eventually, will have the ability and the opportunity to add some larger game to the menu; geese and deer spring to mind. That will be a good way down the road, though – I need about 6 months with the gun club as a member before I can apply for my FAC (Firearms Certificate) and then a while longer proving my safety and reliability (not to mention building accuracy and skill) at the gun club, punching holes in paper targets, before I can apply to have my licence ‘opened’ and be allowed to shoot anywhere but on the firing range.

I would like any politicians reading this to realise that it’s the proposed air-rifle licensing legislation that’s pushed me into applying for an FAC! If I have to spend the money getting a secure cabinet, doing the paperwork and jumping through the official hoops to get an air-rifle licence, I might as well expand my shooting interests from the (previously) cheap option of an air-rifle into the (hitherto) more expensive realms of rifle and shotgun ownership. If they hadn’t started mithering about the air-rifle requirements, I might never have got round to the paperwork for the FAC and SGC, though I have previously shot both rifle and shotgun (on private land, under instruction from the fully licensed owner!) and enjoyed them both.

So there, politicos!



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