30 January 2017

Poly Tunnel Update

Just a quick update on the poly tunnel before I run back outside and carry on shifting soil.

The inside of the poly tunnel is now almost finished. A bit of levelling up of the slabs is needed but the raised beds are in and awaiting their mix of top soil and compost.

I've moved almost a tonne and half of top soil in the last couple of days and I have at least another tonne to move. Then there are the 40 bags of compost to lug through to the field to top up the beds so there is loads of nutrients in there for me little seedlings and I have also collected some llama poo, which I have in total abundance courtesy of my lovely llama boys to add some extra oomph to my soil.

I can't wait to get planting, I'm trying to control my urge to plant every seed I possess but it's getting harder by the second and finally, I have some seeds that I can actually plant so tomorrow, thats what I plan to do. Watch this space for a seed planting list and the biodynamic planting methods that I will be following this year.

16 January 2017

Hummus and Poly Tunnel Progress

Well, there is much excitement in the field right now, the poly tunnel is almost at the stage where we can put the polythene cover on and get things ready for planting. You have no idea how excited I am. It's just laughable really but I have actually been having sleepless nights about getting things done in time for when the growing season starts! I know it's only January but I just can't help myself. 

The side rails are on, the rails half way up the sides are on ready for the metal channels and the wiggle wire to fix the polythene in place and the weed membrane is now covering three quarters of the inside. All we have left to do is level the end of the poly tunnel where my lovely table and chairs will be and then the raised beds need putting back together and the paving slabs need to go down and the doors need to be made and then it should be done. Actually, when I write it all down, it sounds like there is still a LOT to do :-) never mind, we will just keep plodding on and it will be done before we know it.

Before the side rails went on. 

The door frames are actually are level

Anyway, in order to take my mind off the fact that rain stopped play last week and we couldn't get anything done outside, I had a go at making hummus. I love hummus but it's getting really expensive in the supermarkets and more to the point, I tried some hummus that a friend of mine made a couple of weeks ago and it was so amazing the shop bought stuff was a pale imitation by comparison. My domestic-goddess-esque friend used dried, soaked chickpeas because she's so organised that she always puts me to shame but I used tinned chick peas because I had forgotten to soak and cook the dried chick peas I had bought and I used red peppers from a jar for the roasted red pepper hummus that I made because, sadly, I am nowhere near as organised and goddess-like as my friend. It tasted amazing though and I will definitely be doing it again. Here is the basic recipe. I tried making the basic stuff two ways, one I left coarse and chunky and one I blended into oblivion because apparently that's how it's traditionally meant to be. I have to say I preferred the chunkier version but my absolute favourite is the roasted red pepper hummus.

One point, if you use peppers from a jar, which are preserved in olive oil like mine were, reduce the amount of oil you add to the hummus initially because the additional oil that's on the peppers can make the mixture looser than in the original recipe. You can always add more at the end of processing if the hummus is a little thick. I also used a light tahini paste, not really because I wanted to cut down on the calories but because it was the only one they had in the supermarket. 

I'm going to try a lemon and coriander one next and then who knows what else I might add to the basic recipe. I guess the sky's the limit. 

Basic houmous recipe

Serves 6-8 as a starter

2 x 400g cans of chickpeas (reserve the liquid and a few chickpeas for decoration)
4 tsp tahini
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tsp crushed sea salt
6 tbsp quality extra virgin olive oil (plus extra for drizzling)
3½ tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
Paprika (optional)
Coriander or parsley leaves (optional)

Rinse the chickpeas in cold water and tip into the food processor. Add the tahini, crushed garlic, salt, lemon juice and seven tablespoons of the reserved liquid from the cans. Turn on the food processor and slowly pour in the oil while it runs.

When the mixture is fully combined and smooth, tip it into a serving dish. Drizzle with some more extra virgin olive oil and decorate with a few whole chickpeas. Sprinkle with paprika and finely chopped coriander or parsley leaves, for colour.

The recipe is a Jamie Oliver recipe and can be found here

3 January 2017

Happy New Year to All

Hi everyone, I hope you all had a fabulous Christmas and New Year. Ours was so nice, I can honestly say it was one of the nicest Christmases I have had in a long time. I was thoroughly spoiled and despite only having Christmas Eve and Christmas Day off work, it was so lovely to spend time with my family that it's a real anti-climax now that everyone has gone home and it's back to being just the animals and me, at least during the week. Weekends are now full of hard graft trying to get the poly tunnel up and running, finishing off the raised beds on the front lawn ....... only one more to construct, paint and get into place and then it's sorted, and then, generally tidying things up and getting rid of the "building site look" before the growing season starts in earnest. I am simply so excited that it's getting harder and harder to face the drudgery of my hideously boring-but-essential day job. I know it provides the money for things like seeds and compost and plant pots and poly tunnels and paving slabs and the endless other things we need to help us on our way with the self sufficiency venture we have planned but the reality of grumpy, stroppy and downright nasty customers I have to deal with on a daily basis can be a tad trying after a while. Still, I am very hopeful that by the end of the year I will be able to quit my job and concentrate full time on growing, harvesting, making and baking and there won't be a pair of shoes or a grumpy customer in sight :-). 

Anyway, here are a few of the pictures we have taken over the last few months of the progress we have been making. 

The poly tunnel has gone from this 

The beds are laid out where they will be and the internal patio/potting/cooking/filming space has been marked out and once the ground has thawed out, we can get on with the levelling of the area ready for the paving slabs. There is loads more to do, mostly stuff I don't quite get because I can't picture it in my head but hubby assures me it will be "a piece of cake". I'm withholding judgement until I see what happens but he's pretty good at doing stuff like this so I'm hopeful it won't take too long. 

I drew a little picture on my whiteboard of how I wanted the poly tunnel to look. After my husband had stopped laughing at my awful drawing, he then sighed with resignation when he realised I was actually being serious and we set about designing the space ........ including the bunting which everyone thinks is bonkers but I don't care lol 

The cover will be going on now that the wiggle wire has arrived!! I kid you not, that's what it's called lol, it's a very cool way for stretching and fixing the plastic in place without using nails. It's been MIA for the last week until about 11am this morning when I donned my metaphorical "Sherlock" hat and went to find it. It had been delivered to totally the wrong place but after a process of elimination I managed to track it down and bring it home. Case Closed lol :-)

The chickens are under lockdown because of the avian flu risk. They'e none too pleased about life in captivity but it's for their own good. They have a new toy to play with. My husband read somewhere that chickens are inquisitive and that one woman had bought hers a child's xylophone to play with so I hopped online and bought them this.

I've not actually seen the using it yet but they like to go and look at it. They also have loads of shelves and ladders for them to hop about on and I've ordered them a chicken-safe mirror because apparently they like to see their own reflection lol. I have no idea if this is true or not but I'm happy to give it a go if it makes them more contented while they're on lockdown.

They've also been having the odd treat every now and then. They love water melon so I have been adding a few chunks to their bowl a couple of times a week and this morning, it was so cold and frosty that I made them some porridge. They totally love it. No milk or sugar, just oats made with water and given to them while it's still warm. Only as an occasional treat but they seem happy and contented enough and I'm still getting a couple of eggs a day from them so they must be doing ok.

The girls tucking into their breakfast this morning. 

Anyway, that's all I have time to write for now. Got to go chop and collect some firewood, fetch llama food from the feed store and make something hot and delicious for my supper because it's absolutely FREEZING here in Cornwall just now. I will just leave you with my favourite picture of my house this Christmas. I've never had outdoor lights before but this year I decided I would give it a go. I totally LOVE them and I'm never taking them down :-)

Happy New Year Everyone XxX