Archive for April, 2012

Rain, rain and more rain

Yesterday it didn’t stop raining, all night and all day.  We had 2 inches of rain, it was non stop.  In the morning we went down the hill from Buckland St Mary towards Bishopswood.  There is a river there and we went to see how it had swollen.  To both the right and left of the road are fords, which had completely overflowed.  The water was gushing at a tremendous speed and I wouldn’t have liked to try and cross either one.  This is the one to the right:

The Ford at Bishopswood

And this is the ford on the road to Marsh, which is left off the road to Bishopswood.  The water was coming down in such a torrent!

Anyway, today Monday, the rain has eased at last, so hopefully this water will die back. Our last couple of B&B guests left in the rain yesterday, but they were braving it to go visiting other places.  I think I would have gone straight home!! Visit us at www.lodgehousebandbsomerset.co.uk

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Beat the weather gardening, or sowing seeds indoors when its raining outside and you don’t have a greenhouse!!

Like most of the UK we have been experiencing a lot of rain in the past 2 weeks.  In fact we have had 2 inches of rain in the last couple of days, as well as hail.  Down by the hens it is just mud, it is so wet.  The hens don’t seem to mind too much, they still spuddle around in the puddles and even drink from them.  They do look a bit bedraggled but are still producing eggs,  – we got 13 eggs from 14 hens today, so not too bad.However, for us humans day time rain, although needed as many parts of the UK have drought conditions and hose pipe bans, is just a nuisance as it stops us from getting on with the outdoor work that we want to do.  Unfortunately I don’t have a green house yet, so getting seeds started means either sowing direct into the ground, and it is just too cold at the moment, or sewing indoors.

For ages now we have been collecting the cardboard inners of toilet rolls or kitchen rolls.  The toilet roll inners are just the right size for me to start off seeds in, but the kitchen roll inners I have to cut into 2, hence they are different heights.  I find an old roasting dish and fill each  cardboard tube with compost and then sow one seed into each tube, and put a little more compost on top.  In this way I have sowed Courgette, Sweet Corn, Squash (Petty Pan) and Runner Bean seeds.  The runner beans I put 2 seeds into each tube.  Then I water them.  So here they are:

My seeds in cardboard tubes

Then I moved them onto our south facing window sill in the dining room. You can even see our wedding photo on the window sill, which we still keep there, although we have been married for coming up 18 years now!!

Seeds on the window sill

The beauty of  this method is that without a greenhouse I can still bring on seeds indoors.  When they have germinated and sprouted and the weather is a bit warmer, I will plant the cardboard tubes into the ground, thus not disturbing the roots, and then the plants will grow on from there. So all in all a good afternoon’s work, and all tidied up before our B&B guests get back here. visit us at www.lodgehousebandbsomerset.co.uk

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Seeding and planting in our Spring garden

 After the heatwave in March it has been cold this April with typical April showers and sunny spells.  So our gardening has had to be done dodging the showers.  Firstly we have 4 large areas that we have laid with lawn seed.  We bought a 25 kg bag of lawn seed off Ebay and mixed this with compost so that the seed had something to stick to and then sowed it by hand, all before it rained.

large area laid to lawn seed

You can see Tia, one of our cats, got in on the picture, and also you can see the border I created in the Autumn with daffodil bulbs and a stone edging, all stones taken out of the garden. Next it was time to get the potatoes in.  Our first earlies went in a few weeks ago and are already coming up.

First early potatoes already coming up

Our second earlies and maincrop had been left to chit and were now ready for planting. Here are the maincrop Anya potatoes that have chitted.

  Chitted Anya potatoes ready for plantingWe use newspaper as poor man’s weed suppressant sheet.  It keeps the weeds at bay for a while and then eventually disintigrates, so is quite handy to use. So then I got to planting out the potatoes.

planting out the potatoes

We also planted a bed of onion sets, and then under cloches I planted spinach, raddish, beetroot and salad leaves seeds.

You can also see the shrouds that are  round each of our garlic plants.  This is to protect them from the rabbits that ate the lot last year.  Elsewhere in the garden the purple sprouting broccoli is plentiful and we have been eating it with every other meal.

We ate the first of the seaon’s rhubarb on Tuesday this week.  I have 6 plants so can pull a couple of stems from each plant so not to weaken them by pulling too much from any one plant.

Healthy rhubarb plant April 2012

I made a lovely rhubarb crumble which went down well with our friend who was staying with us at the time. With the current cold temperatures and frequent showers it is not conducive to working much in the garden.  Oh well, there is always tomorrow!! visit us at www.lodgehousebandbsomerset.co.uk

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Goodbye Mrs Cream Legbar hen

We have had to say Goodbye to one of our Cream Lebbar hens.  She was so poorly she couldn’t even stand up in the end.  I said to my husband, if this were a cat or a dog, you would take it to the vet and have it put down, so perhaps we should despatch this hen and put her out of  her misery.

It’s not a very nice task, but I didn’t have to do it.  Neil wrung it’s neck and put it out in the woods as fox take away.

A couple of weeks ago this hen was standing away from the flock and fluffing up her feathers.  She didn’t seem interested in food, and wouldn’t come running when we threw down bread or grain.  She became more immobile as the days progressed, and got that she wouldn’t go up the ramp into the hen house at night, and Neil was lifting her up and putting her in the nest box.  She wouldn’t come out again in the morning and again we were lifting her out. Until she was just so weak that it was cruel to keep her living any longer.

We spoke to a farmer friend of ours who suggested it might be a respiratory disorder but it is difficult to know without taking the hen to the vet and economically it just doesn’t add up to take a £10.00 hen to the vet and pay £40.00 for advice,  –  you could buy another 4 hens with that money.

So it was Goodbye Mrs Cream Legbar. At least the other 14 all seem healthy enough.  We had 14 eggs from 14 hens yesterday, so can’t complain at 100% production.  The hen that died was the only one that laid cream eggs, the rest are shades of brown, with the other cream legbar laying blue eggs.

So there we are – life in the country, where death is all part of the circle of life.

visit us at www.lodgehousebandbsomerset.co.uk

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Little Easter Fairy Cakes

Today was my turn to make small cakes for the “Golden Age Group” that I help out with.  This is a club for elderly people in Churchingford every fortnight.  They have a speaker, then a high tea of sandwiches, scones and cakes.  As we have just had Easter I decided to make my fairy cakes with an Easter theme.

Little Easter fairy cakes

It’s a simple recipe.  You weigh the eggs and then add the same of sugar, butter and flour.  I used 3 eggs that weighed 200g, so beat together 200g of butter and light brown sugar, then added 200g of self raising flour.  I split the mixture into 2, and into one bowl I added a teaspoon of mixed spice and half a teaspoon of ginger powder and a generous sprinkling of dried currants.  Into the other bowl I added 4 teaspoons of cocoa powder, then turned them into individual cake cases.  Popped them in the oven at 200 degrees for 15 minutes, and left them to cool. I made some icing out of icing sugar and water, and for the chocolate icing added more cocoa powder, and then topped them off with mini chocolate eggs.  I’m always making cakes, as I like to offer my B&B guests cakes when they arrive.  see us atwww.lodgehousebandbsomerset.co.uk

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Easter Simnel Cake

It is traditional in the UK to have a Simnel cake at Easter.  This is a rich fruit cake covered in Marzipan and the traditional decoration for the simnel cake is eleven balls of marzipan arranged in a circle. These represent the disciples – omitting Judas.

I have also added Easter Chicks and coloured chocolate eggs to my cake.

My Easter Simnel Cake

So does this tradition exist elsewhere in the world or is it a very British thing?

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Visit to Ferne Animal Sanctuary

Yesterday being a lovely sunny day, and even better than that it was my birthday, we decided to go out to lunch and we visited the modern new cafe at Ferne Animal Sanctuary.  Had yummy Thai fish cakes and then went for a wonder all round the grounds and looked at all the rescued animals.

They have a number of free range hens of all different breeds.

Ferne's free range hens

There were also some newly rescued ex battery hens which were still in a sorry state.  At least now they can scratch around in the open and in time their feathers will grow back.

An ex battery hen in a sad and sorry way

At Ferne there are a variety of animals and birds including some geese that have their own pond and enclosure…

Ferne's geese

and some goats that have a big field to roam around in……..

Ferne's goats

There are rescued cows and an odd mix of old sheep….

Ferne's sheep

And then there are horses, cats and dogs, bunnies, chipmunks, chinchillas, an avairy of birds and a few others too.  It’s a lovely spot with paths around the grounds and a great view…

view from Dragonfly pond

Ferne animal sanctuary do a great job taking in unwanted pets, and rehoming where possible, but where it isn’t possible they provide a permanent home.  All this is done with donations from the public, there is no charge to enter.  So before we left we made a contribution to all their good work.

Then it was back home to look after our B&B guests.  visit us at www.lodgehousebandbsomerset.co.uk

 

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