Monday, 8 October 2012

Weekend of bikes, chicken poop, bean poles, cider and roast duck

Saturday was our local charity bike ride. It's in its 3rd year now and was great to see 1100 riders dust of the bikes and tackle 4 different distances all for a good cause.
We also when about sourcing another bed. Not for ourselves, but in preparation of our visitors in December. So I am pleased to say, no one should be sleeping on the floor in our house this Christmas... except maybe the dogs.

Sunday was a little more farm orientated. I had a list of chores- cleaning out all the chickens was top of my list. So all old bedding and manure collected and placed in the composter. All fresh hay, shredded paper and saw dust laid for comfy roosts. Even if our young Old English Game cross hens (recently introduced to the chicken run) insist on trying to roost upon the fences or in the garden. To which I have persisted with taking them to the hen house, in the hope they will learn.
We had hoped that crossing the Old English Game with a heavy layer (like our Australorps or Light Sussex) would have made them a little heavier- less agile and possibly more docile… Definitely not the case. We have 5 beautifully marked, lean and athletic pullets, determined to do their own thing.
I regularly find 2 in the front garden, around the small enclosed run; that I usually house the young chicks (before they are big enough to join the rest of the flock). Where they were initially housed, and where their rooster siblings are still. I am hoping once we move them out, they will not want to return there. Luckily the dogs have not been particularly bothered by them (so far). Matt even called the dogs in yesterday, so that we could catch the bird; only for the birds to follow quite happily behind.

So whilst I up to my elbows in poultry poop, Matt strimmed the edges and fence lines and then begun turning my pallets into an extra garden bed-  Something I had intended to do whilst he was away. However (as difficult as it is for me to admit) I just couldn’t get the boards off the pallets. So was grateful he did, so we filled them and begun transferring some of my quicker growing/producing veg over. Allowing more space in the other beds.
I weeded (for hours), flowing the few days of showers and constructed a few bean/ bean supports from bamboo and twine- In what will now be the bean bed. They look the part, so hopefully they work. As I also transplanted out the last of my snow peas, bortotti and butter beans and interplaced some strawberries and spinach. It sounds like an odd combination, but apparently they make good companion plants and should grow quite nicely on the ground, whilst the beans and peas grow up. So saves on space and hopefully less ground coverage should equal fewer weeds (fingers crossed).
So this week I will progressively reorganise my garden beds (again). I pulled out the over bearing coriander and mint plants ( as they had gone into flower and we now have some in the herb patch) along with the rocket; as it had also gone to flower and both Matt and myself decided that neither of us are actually fans. If you pick the young leaves they’re great, but these were established, mature plants (and quite bitter), but the pigs were grateful.
Matt also began his first batch of cider (well a blend of cider and perry). Now we have made cider from one of those tins, but this time he had use apple and pear juice.  Now we haven’t gone as far as crushing and pressing the fruit ourselves… especially being in the tropics as soft fruits do not grow too well. But this is a step closer, so I’ll let you know how it goes.
And for dinner last night we roasted or first hatched and raised duck. I have to admit I was wary, as we had skinned them and duck is renowned for being greasy. So I admit I had concerns as to whether it would be dry (without the fat). But it was delicious… well worth last weekend’s efforts.