Sunday, 12 June 2011

Back to blogging and the start of summer

My darling Mum
Your most unreliable blogger strikes again. It's literally months since I wrote however I do have lots of partial writings in the draft section, they just never made it to being posted. One of the major reasons for starting the blog was as an update for my dear Mum. Not only did she enjoy reading about the chickens and the garden, it also made her use the laptop. It was a major reason for keeping the blog updated, that and of course a phone call from Mother asking when the next posting was due!

It's been six months now since Mum died. There is still a big hole in all our lives and there is not a single day that goes by when I don't think about her. Not a single day when I don't think of something that we would talk about:
"What's the recipe for bun loaf?"
"What else can I try to stop Tallulah laying thin shelled eggs?"
"I think I've found a Jerusalem artichoke recipe that won't have you farting all night"
"Have your dahlia's started flowering yet?"
"Can you make me some green bean chutney if you get any spare beans?"

Sadly they are all now conversations in my head however I do still need a bun loaf recipe, I think I have tried everything with Tallulah, the eggs are okay at the moment but she has only just started laying again, Mum never needs to eat Jerusalem artichokes again, there will never be a competition to see who's dahlias flowered first and the green bean chutney will go down in culinary history as a memorial to Mum's as she made the very best.

Anyway as well as for Mum it's back to more regular updates about chickens, gardens and life in general in South London. Actually the life in South London and the pups is fully covered in The Marvellous Adventures of Max and Millie (click on the link in the sidebar).

Nigella eyeballing the camera
Hen wise we are just about back to all four laying, at last. Silkies I have to say are THE most stubborn broodies. Yes, before anybody comments that being broody is their forte, I know but can you get them out of broody mode until they have done their requisite time? No!
Fortunately the Sussex are fairly easy to get out of it - I can usually get them back out again in 7-10 days if not faster. Saying that both Nigella and Ruby do seem very susceptible to an attack of scaly leg after a broody period. Poor Ruby does get it both very quickly and badly, most topical treatments have never worked however Ivomectin works extremely well so both girls have recently been "spotted". Also after her recent broodiness Nigella was getting a bit mucky behind so she also indignantly suffered the chicken horrors of having a bum wash in the shower! Still, she is looking gorgeous as ever now.

Product Details I do enjoy reading about the trials and tribulations of other chicken keepers and even more reading about good food so what a find Five Fat Hens was. The author Tim Halket has some great recipes and also has a wonderful approach to life, one I fully endorse and agree with (like how crap and overblown New Year is). Well worth a read and cooking a few dishes from.
Ruby attempting broodiness

With the amazing weather this spring the allotment and garden really have had a flying start. Allotment wise there has been lots going on - in fact the weeds have been giving us a good run for our money trying to outgrow the veggies. Still we have broad beans, peas, french beans, onions, shallots, pumpkins, squash, courgettes and both artichokes all on the go at the moment.
Garlic failed (no idea why) and the giant french banana shallots also failed to grow but that's about all we have had fail so far.
Scratching about
Oh the strawberries were early and mostly got stolen by the local wildlife as were all the cherries that disappeared and not even ripe! Next year that tree is getting a net over it!
At home we have been cropping all the usual stuff such as salad leaves and radish as well as growing tomatoes, cucumber, melon and have a few trays of kale and celeriac ready to plant out later in the year for some winter crops. God, that sounds as if we spend all our lives gardening, I promise we don't but it makes us sound very busy!
The good thing is that the chickens get lots of veggie clippings and thinnings and they still relish every slug and snail they can get. I wonder if all those scraps and garden molluscs make our eggs so tasty?
So hopefully back to more regular updates, next time I shall endeavour to include an egg recipe, until then have a good week.