The recent government rules on keeping chickens in / away from migrating birds which might be carrying H5N8 bird flu – has made me do something I have intended to do ever since we stopped keeping goats.
When you mainly cook from scratch and grow a lot of your own veg, and buy the rest from local sources, you end up with a lot of peelings. Especially when you like to have a lot of different types of vegetables with each meal!Now this was never a problem when we had goats – there was always the bucket for the edible scraps for the goats and the bucket for the compost heap. The latter generally only had onion skins, citrus skins and teabags in – judiciously mixed with torn cardboard loo-roll tubes and such stuff.
When we sold the goats, prior to putting our beautiful house on the market, the vegetable peelings joined the compost bin . . . even though I kept saying to myself that I ought to prepare them for the chickens.
With the chickens compulsorily being kept in closed-off quarters I eventually did something about it!
I first found that if you just give raw peelings, toppings ‘n’ tailings, outside leaves etc to the chickens they will peck at it … but they will not clear it up efficiently … for that you need to give it a light cooking.
So, after I have cooked and served-up our meal I now drop the whole pile of peelings into the largest pyrex bowl I have already used (in cooking the meal) and pop it in the Microwave for 10 minutes.
When it is cool I put it back into an old bowl (or a re-purposed sweet tub even) to take out to the chickens.
They love it – especially with the odd soft apple, from the apple store, sliced up in it too.
AND as a bonus, now they are back out on the grass and getting the extra veg-peelings regularly too, we now have the deepest yellow yolks going – yes even darker than usual – and that was pretty good anyway – and yes – this is the actual colour – it is not a trick of the light.So we get to eat tasty, rich, healthy eggs and I get to feel even better now that the peelings are being used properly again.
Late again, I know (supposed to post this at the end of each month) – so here we go! Can’t resist starting with this out-of-this-world alien-like lichen in full fruiting body form! Wonderful. Please click on the picture to appreciate it in full size!
Next up is those pretty and delicate flowers of this season , the second year in a row where they have been prolific in the hedges around here – I give you the violets!
As pretty as these are, everyone knows a violet when they see one, but what about a hairy woodrush. Large patches of these have appeared , not only in the orchard, but also on a damp area of the front lawn. Small, delicate and interesting in shape.
Spotted in amongst the daffodils – a hen pheasant. She went on to lay a clutch of eggs amongst the daffodil stalks in the orchard, not too clever in an area where a labradoodle roams. She’s moved on to a wooded area nearby now
And, I know it’s not wild, but above these daffodils is the magnolia, casting its beautiful light.
A quick catch-up on the goat kids.. oh yes — they are still feeding ….
Cute or What?
And here’s the chicks’ Daddy (well of some of the chicks now hatched) handsome fellow, isn’t he?
some of the chicks in the brooder
And here’s some of the chicks, a total of 31 only this year – lots were not fertile at all.
So great to share some of the nature notes from around our little corner of Cornwall and our smallholding. And so great to share the wonderful Free Draw to Win a Kindle or one of four other prizes including an AnnMade slate cheeseboard and ecopies of my three novels. If you’ve already entered (if not – why not – it only takes a sign-up to this blog) please share the good news and let all your friends and family know so they can enter too. And good luck to you all – a lucky five people out of just one thousand must win something but there’s only 269 places left as I write, so hurry.
Do you like taking photographs of nature – what was your favourite picture of? I love to hear all your comments.
For the past twenty days I have been turning eggs.
To be more accurate, I have been turning eggs for at least ten days more than this, as they require turning once a day even while you are collecting them to put in the incubator, but these twenty days are the ones that count as the eggs incubate.
We lay them out on trays of sawdust, marked with a O on one side and a X on the other with an arrow on one egg per tray to remind me which way to turn them*. Over twenty years ago we bought a large, second-hand paraffin powered 100 egg incubator. This old beast has been temperamentally incubating our eggs each year ever since.
Modern, and expensive, incubators automatically turn eggs for you, each of our eggs has to be turned over, morning one way 180 degrees, evening back the other way the same, gently by hand, rotated not flipped. *(Though this is to prevent the yolk from settling on one side of the egg it’s not a good idea to keep rotating in the same direction as this can create a ‘spiralling’ effect on the contents)
Though there are about 80 eggs in the incubator they are not all from our own flock, which we have reduced to just seven laying hens, as the maximum premium collection time is just 10 days and they don’t lay quite that many! So a number of the eggs are from a friend’s flock of mixed hens giving a wide range of shell colour (and eventually, we hope, chickens)
And that is it – not counting your chickens until they have hatched! One thing you learn in doing your own incubation of eggs is that the number you get out bears little resemblance to the number of eggs put in. So, we wait to see …
Another harbinger of spring for me is eating the first rhubarb of the year – slender, tender stalks of fresh rhubarb sweetened by laying a few fronds of Sweet Cicely over them as they cook. If you have never come across this amazing natural sweetener then be prepared to be amazed, I was! A friend at the market gave me a couple of uninspiring looking roots, which I planted and which took (I am not green fingered, so this was a bonus) and grew these delicate cow-parsley-like fronds. A few of which, laid across rhubarb or cooking apples, will lend them such a sweetness that no added sugar is necessary! You just lift the fronds off after cooking and dispose of them (into your compost bin of course).
Now for the Hungry Questions – then a little goat-kid video about it …
If you have been following my Fat Woman Thinning? posts you’ll know I’ve said you shouldn’t go hungry between meals – I know – counter intuitive isn’t it.. I mean, what diet ever said you shouldn’t feel hungry. (BTW if you are following the results from last week are on the FWT? drop-down – 1lb down!)
Anyway, I’ve been thinking how you know when you are hungry.
Fact is half (or more) of the times that you think you are feeling hungry; you are actually thirsty. Doing the resistance weights course you are advised to make sure you drink plenty of water anyway – it helps metabolise the fat your body is burning. And I have said I always drink a glass of water about 10 minutes before I eat a meal, it cuts out the ‘thirst’ part of ‘feeling hungry’ and perhaps helps you feel full earlier so you don’t tend to overeat. So, first stop when feeling ‘hungry’ is to check you are not thirsty. (NB. it is possible to over-do the water – be sensible about it)
Then there is the ‘bored’ sense of feeling hungry. Yes, if you are bored sometimes your brain suggests that you might feel peckish … So, if this is the case you need to ask yourself – do I feel hungry just because I am feeling bored? And if answer is ‘yes’ then go and do something well away from the temptation. (difficult, I know, if you have to be working in the kitchen) My main ‘bored’ time for ‘feeling hungry’ is often while I am occupied – with doing the boring work of cleaning, but now I recognise the signs I can easily fight them and will have my ‘safe munchie’ (safe for me – as one is usually enough) of a cube of plain chocolate and a brazil nut with some hot water and milk to drive away that hungry feeling.
Ok, so you are not thirsty and you are not bored, and there is pudding on offer after your meal. Do you eat it? Are you still hungry or is it just ‘habit’. Do you ‘always’ have a dessert? Now, I love a dessert – especially with fruit – and cream oh and sometimes meringue too! So, if it is just habit but you don’t want to cut out your lovely puds then pop it away for an in-between meals snack. No, you wouldn’t want to do this everyday with a high carb pud – but a plain yoghurt or stewed fruit (with sweet cicely) would be great.
Lastly there is the ‘am I hungry or am I just tired’ question. Yes, feeling tired can trigger a feeling that you are hungry, that you need a ‘quick-fix’ and you will crave the sweet high carb foods. Ok, so you may not be able to take a ‘power-nap’ (ten minute shut-eye) but if you can this may sort the problem. Otherwise resort to the drink and your safe munchie solution, combined with doing something that occupies your mind happily and you may get through until you can get enough sleep not to feel tired.
I guess these two might be hungry! They nearly have lift-off!
and maybe you might just be hungry too, look it’s lunch time already!
But before you go and eat – have you entered my great Draw to win a Kindle or 1 of 4 other great prizes, including ecopies of my three novels … and if you have, have you made sure all your friends and family have entered.. there’s only 398 places left so don’t delay click here for all the details. And as always – I love to read your comments on whatever part of the blog interestes you!
So I’ve been trying to write this blog for the past fortnight and feeling guilty that I haven’t seemed to have time to put down all the thoughts I’ve been having about it. There have been a combination of things getting in my way (as it were) To start with there was the small matter of the smallholding duties of getting 29 chickens in the freezer. Christine (a friend I first met at the Callington market who, incidentally, makes the best lip-balm I have ever come across, http://www.cornishcreams.com from all natural stuff including Cornish beeswax as well as lots of other lovely skincare goodies without the nasty chemicals ) says I must not go into details about the demise of the chickens in my blog
However, I am still going to post this photo as I find it so interesting to see the wide variety in livers when all these birds were raised together, free-ranging with poultry corn ad-lib. Needless to say this is the sort of job that is not done in five minutes and comes on top of the usual slate work and general household chores.
Then there was the fact that I had set myself a deadline for completing the first major edit of my new novel ‘The Angel Bug’ as I had promised to send it to Tim Smit of the Eden Project, Cornwall to read and to get his ok for me to use him as a character (as the only real person in the whole novel) So all the time I could access to sit before the computer was devoted to that.
So, back to writing this blog. You see, we had a talk at WI, entitled ‘Growing Old Disgracefully’ and it was amusing as intended, but as I got to think about it I felt it had rather strayed from the aim, turning more into a ‘grumpy old woman’ diatribe (like the TV programmes of the same name) And talking of growing old and of the WI – you hear people say weird things like ‘Oh I might join the WI when I retire’ or ‘Oh I’m not old enough for the WI’. I actually joined when I was 15 and apart from the time I was at college and then lived in a city for five years (no WIs were allowed in the cities then) have been a member ever since. (there, that’s that grump out of my system)
Anyway I got to thinking what I would call ‘growing old disgracefully’… or perhaps not disgracefully but certainly not growing old as expected. Along with many others I love the list of ‘disgraceful’ things Jenny Joseph says she will do in her poem Warning – ‘When I am old I shall wear Purple, With a red hat which doesn’t go, and doesn’t suit me.’ If you don’t know this poem it is worth looking up, however, some of the things she warns that she might do seem old-fashioned for today.
A good friend of mine went to her first belly dance lesson at the age of sixty … as I already do that I started wondering what I can take up when I get to that age. One of the most enjoyable afternoons I had recently was when sons 2 and 4 took me rock climbing. This is only the second time I have done this (first time in my forties with the WI!) but I got a real buzz from it.
This train of thought led onto the ‘bucket list’ that has become popular, a wish list of things to do or see before you die (or reach a certain age). So I’ve started compiling mine, not necessarily ‘disgraceful’ things, more adventurous, exciting or unusual things to try, see, experience. What would be on your list?
I hate foxes! Until you see the decapitated bodies of your own hens strewn around the farmyard in the middle of the afternoon you could be forgiven for thinking them attractive creatures, but their wanton killing is not on, nor is coming in the afternoon, it’s not playing the game. If we’d left them out late, after dark, it would have been our fault, but the middle of the afternoon is not on!
I decided it was about time I started a blog… after all I’ve been writing one in my head for ages.
I didn’t realise how tricky finding a title for my blog was going to be, I considered many pithy and wise sounding names, only to find others had the same idea before me. I considered a list, ‘my blog on writing novels, keeping chickens and goats, sand sculpting, body-boarding, slate-ware, belly-dancing , cake-decorating, poetry and life….’ Too long winded I thought, but that’s what its going to be about. My life and my passions within in it…. so welcome to
Ann Foweraker – Publishing my novels and other Passions