What a stunning morning it was going for a lovely early puppy walk...I do truly love autumn mornings.
I have bug hotel envy!!
Earlier in the year, I bought a lovely little blue bug hotel for the allotment. It's about 30 cm big. So this bug hotel is a little more impressive. I might have to recreate something similar on the plot this winter, if I ever have any time, in amongst moving from plot 18 and getting 51 straight...but a girl can dream.
Autumn is my absolute favourite season. I love the colours, the chill in the air on a sunny day. My birthday is in the autumn...but I adore Halloween and Bonfire Night and the colourful run up to Christmas. I love the autumnal fashion and I think the colours and layering really suit me and I love getting back into my boots
There's nothing I like better than being outside, and kicking up the leaves, going foraging and generally lapping up as much vitamin D as possible.
The downside and it's really a downside for my poor pup...is ticks. I hate them. And despite her being well up to date with treatments, I've found a few over the past couple of weeks. I know the colder weather should mean that you see less ticks...I think because of the different habitats I'm frequenting at the moment, she's clearly picking up more. I think I will need to buy a tick remover, as I'm really not very good at getting them out. The other worry for me is that they could be deer ticks and therefore could spread Lyme's disease. She had one on her head last night and I found a tiny one under her armpit this morning. I will keep a close eye on her and I think I need to talk to the vet about what tick medication options there are, as her current treatment doesn't seem to be working very well.
I was given these roses about a week ago, as small buds. And they've bloomed into the most beautiful flowers. I'm actually really impressed at how well they've lasted. I have a stunning old climbing rose at the front of my house, but if you pick the flowers they last about five minutes. Maybe I need to find out what kind of roses these are and plant some bushes.
Today we went to a local goat farm. We went and saw all the goats before buying some lovely homemade products.
I love a good autumnal forage. At this time of the year, there's sloes to be found. I've found crab apples, elderberries and rose hips too in past. But my most exciting thing to forage for is, without a doubt, mushrooms. I think it's the challenge of mushroom hunting. I'm not very good at it and can't identify much, but the most common ones. But there is something gleeful about finding them.
It was mainly chanterelles that we found. But there are also three ceps somewhere in the depths of the basket.
I think we are going to try to dry some of them and see how that goes...it would be nice to have a stash to eat later this year when they are all gone.
This week I've spent quite a bit of time in the forest forging and managed to gather an enormous bag of chestnuts. I've been perusing The River Cottage Handbook on Preserves quite a lot lately (I've recently made spicy crab apple jelly from it and also beetroot relish) and spotted a recipe to make chestnut jam. Last year, I made creme de maron (vanilla and chocolate flavours)...but it doesn't keep well, so it was quite exciting to see a way to keep chestnut to enjoy off-season throughout the year. So my plan is to make a batch of the jam.
Now the last time I did anything with chestnuts, it was a real faff. Scoring, boiling and then roasting the chestnuts and then double peeling them when they are still hot...ouch, my fingers did hurt. It's worth it, but you do need to dedicate a decent amount of time to it. So this year, I thought I'd have a search online and see if there were any hints or tips for best ways of shelling them. I found a few articles which said you need to score half way around their middles (the round part of the chestnut)...and then roast them and they should open up like a clam.
I gave it a go this morning and about half did actually pop out like a clam...I think I have some fine-tuning to do, as I think I might need to boil them for a few minutes before they go in the oven as I think the ones that didn't pop open might be due to them being too dry. So a few test runs are needed, but I'm quite please with the initial results. I'm having to roast in batches anyway...so it does give me a chance do some testing of the best method.
I'm hoping I get to make the jam today and then, I might make some creme de maron and try glacing some of them...
Marketing day and I couldn't believe the size of these chou...definitely not mon petit chou!!! I think the squash also look really good eating.
Look at this little fellow I found in the woods...it's a fire salamander. I guess the rainy weather brought it out.
I thought I'd better do another quick update on my 52 Books challenge. Things are going really well, and I've just got 3 more to go to reach my target for the year. Hopefully I should manage this quite easily. Last year I managed 57 books in total...and a little part of me would like to beat this if possible too.
A long long time ago, I read some of Freda Warrington's vampire books - A Taste of Blood Wine and a Dance in Blood Velvet. I absolutely loved Freda Warrington and I recently discovered a whole load of other books which she'd written. I actually got Dark Cathedral on audiobook, as it's not easy to get hold of as a paperback anymore. I couldn't stop listening...I truly loved it. I've got the next one in the series to read - Pagan Moon. So hopefully that'll be one of my next entries.
Tomato harvest...a few green ones, as they had fallen or the trusses were overburdened. I also picked some of the lighter red ones, as they'll ripen at home.
I'm super excited...I've just booked to pick up my first batch of chickens. I'm going to be rehoming some ex-battery hens and will pick them up on 1st November.
It's really good, as it gives me a little more time to get ready. I've been advised that ex-bats have never eaten layer pellets, so I need to start them on mash and move to pellets by gradually integrating them. So I have some time to get them and also, to do a few last minute tweaks to the chicken run, as I ran out of cable ties and although I'm pretty sure all the gaps are filled, I'd like to do a few final checks. I don't think I can be overly secure as it's the difference between life and death.
One of my allotment neighbours had all their chickens killed in the first 24 hours by a fox. It wasn't a big gap in the fencing, but foxes are smaller than you imagine under all that fluff. So even small gaps need to be filled. I would be totally heartbroken if my lack of attention resulted in anything like that happening and I'm lucky enough that all of us on the site can benefit from the harsh lesson.
Anyhow, the plan is to pick up these four ex-battery hens and let them settle in to their new home for a week or maybe two and then go to one of the farms to get some hybrid point of lay hens and maybe some bantams. I'm not exactly sure where I'm going to go yet. As I've mentioned in the past, I really want some silkie bantams, but they aren't that easy to source. So the places I've looked at to get the POL hybrids don't seem to have silkies...the places that do have silkies seem overly expensive and I don't want to pay £40 for a chicken. So I'm having a bit of trouble working out the best place to go at the moment. I may end up getting a different bantam breed instead of a silkie. I quite like lavender pekins too...polish bantams are also really cool.
I think I just need to look at the hybrid chickens and decide on the place to go for them. If I need to get the bantams elsewhere, that's fine...I had hoped to get the rest of my hens from the same place in the hope that I would only need to do one lot of introductions...but I think bringing in new hens is something that's inevitable when owing chickens. I also don't want my ex-bats to be too stressed through all the changes. But I guess we'll see how things go. I have two hen houses and an extra small run which fits inside the big run, so at least I have space to be able to separate chickens if needs be.
A few of the flowers from the garden...at the moment, my garden is a bit of a mess. During the summer, I had a lot of work done on the house and during that time, had a lot of skips and labourers. There was quite a bit of down time, where the plasterer/electrician etc was working we made use of the skips and the manpower to remove the disgusting decking and dig the old concrete patio out, to get ready for the new garden. This won't be done until new year, when the kitchen is finished...so it looks like a bit of a bomb-site at the moment. But the apple and pear trees have been in bloom, the herb patch has carried on smelling and tasting delicious and there have been some really pretty flowers/weeds. :)