Archive for August, 2012

She just curled up her toes!!

We went down to clean the chickens out this afternoon.  We did all the normal stuff, changing their straw, sweeping out the sawdust and droppings, filling up their pellet feeder and changing their water.  Neil was in the hen enclosure doing the water, when he saw one hen step on another that was laying down.  The laying down hen did not move, which Neil thought was odd, so he went to investigate and found that one of our Speckledy’s had just curled up her toes and was lying in the sunshine dead!!

We had no warning of this.  She had not acted poorly in the preceding days, we had not seen any signs that anything was wrong and there she was laying on a patch of grass in the middle of their run, so unlikely that she died of fright!! We can only assume her heart gave out or something similar to suffer sudden hen death.

Neil took her poor body away to the woods for the fox disposal service. So now we are down to 13 hens, 12 laying birds and one foster mum, who doesn’t lay at the moment as she is still looking after the chicks which are 7 weeks old today.  Today we had 11 eggs, including one massive one (ouch!!), so not bad for 12 hens!!

If you want to try our eggs for breakfast visit us at www.lodgehousebandbsomerset.co.uk

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Wood, wood and more wood

Last Monday Neil volunteered to help out at Neroche Forest moving some wood that had previously been felled.  Glad it wasn’t this Monday as it has done nothing but rain today, but last Monday was better weather so not too bad for working in.  Neil was one of about 20 volunteers who moved masses of logs up hill to where they could be trucked away.  At the end of the day, all the volunteers were able to fill their cars with some of the wood, so Neil brought home a boot full  (For US readers a trunk full).

Neil with a log

The wood was stacked in our garage and left to dry out.  Neil will then have to use his chainsaw to cut it up into pieces small enough to go into the woodburners.  But this was a great haul and a great reward for his work, as wood is a form of currency around here, where most people have woodburners, and to buy in wood to burn is expensive.

Neil’s car full of wood

If this rain continues and it gets any colder we shall have to think about lighting a fire!!

visit us at http://www.lodgehousebandbsomerset.co.uk

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Simple pleasures – homegrown and homemade

During a brief respite in the rain (it has poured here for 2 days solid), I managed to get out and pick runner beans.  The beans love the rain and have been growing like mad.

runner beans picked today

We have so many beans I am taking some to a friend tonight and I have already posted some to my Dad!!

I also noticed that our second row of peas have started to swell in the wet weather, so I picked some today, just enough for tonight’s dinner.

today’s peas

Whilst I was out picking veggies, my little cakes were baking in the oven.  I just used one egg, weighed it, and used equal quantities of butter, castor sugar and flour, then added ginger powder and sultanas.  Really simple little cakes that only take 18 minutes at 200 degrees C to cook.

Little ginger and sultana cakes

We’ve just had a cup of tea and a little cake still warm, lovely.  So simple pleasures for a wet weekend.  Now I must go and get on with some ironing, not such a pleasure!!

visit us at www.lodgehousebandbsomerset.co.uk

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9 wins at the Buckland Flower Show

Today was the annual Buckland St Mary flower show. It’s not just flowers, but vegetables, cakes, eggs, photos, jams etc. We entered a few categories for a bit of fun, not taking it too seriously, although some people do.  It’s very competitive.  The money raised from entry fees etc is going to the Chard Hospital League of Friends, so a good cause.

A selection of veggies and flowers

Anyway, we took our exhibits in early this morning and went back this afternoon to see the results of the judging.  A red card is first prize, a green one second and a blue one third.

prize winning cabbages

My cabbages won a first prize, which was a bit of a surprise.  Of course I never normally pick 2 cabbages at once, there being only 2 of us to eat it, but luckily we have friends coming for dinner tomorrow night, so I can use them up.

I also won first for my courgettes.

prize winning courgettes

I picked about 8 courgettes including some yellow ones and put these 3 in because they were roughly the same size, so that obviously worked.

My blueberries won a second, should have been better than that, our blueberries are gorgeous!!

My blueberries

Neil got a second for his onions, which was really good as we have never grown red onions before.  Last year his onions were not placed but he won a first for potatoes, but this year his potatoes did not win.

Neil’s red onions

Overall we came away with 9 wins, so we reckon we did quite well.  When we got home I laid out all our prize winning products and here is a picture of them all, including a photo that got a third.

All our prize winning products

If you want to sample our prize winning produce, then visit us at www.lodgehousebandbsomerset.co.uk

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Making “Swiss rolls” in the fields

There was a lot of noise the other day in the field right by our garage.  The farmer had cut all the grass down and had brought his tractor in to bale it up.  It was quite ingenious.  This tractor drove over the cut grass and pulled the grass up and and formed it into a bale and then shot it out the back.

The field behind our garage

Next another piece of machinery comes along, picks up the bale and shrink wraps it in black plastic.  This is clever stuff, it just winds the black plastic all round the bale and then shoots it off into the field.

The black plastic wrapping machinery

The two tractors worked right across the field until all the cut grass was baled up and wrapped in black plastic to protect it.  You can see all this from the guest bedroom window.

So visit us at www.lodgehousebandbsomerset.co.uk

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How cute!! Mother hen and the chicks

Last night at dusk I peaked in at Mrs Speckledy and the baby chicks as they had just gone up the ramp into the chicken house and were resting in the nest box.  It was so cute to see the little brown hen under one wing and the 2 little black chicks under the other wing. She really is a good Mother hen.

Mrs Speckledy and the baby chicks

Want to see our baby chicks?  visit us at http://www.lodgehousebandbsomerset.co.uk

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First runner beans and eating from the garden

A couple of days ago I picked our first runner beans, just small tasty ones, but they are coming on nicely now. They had a slow start what with all our cold rainy weather, but all the rain water did them good.

First runner beans

So we had dinner that night with our own runner beans, our own potatoes, and our own peas, followed by our own raspberries, so we really are eating from the garden. My very own “Pick your own” at home!!

lovely peas from the garden

I’ve been sitting shelling peas and topping and tailing gooesberries whilst watched the Olympics.  It’s been really exciting with team GB doing so well.

It’s time to dig up the first of the onions and we have cabbages, spinach, and other brassicas coming along nicely.  I love eating from the garden, no food miles, just food feet!!

visit us at http://www.lodgehousebandbsomerset.co.uk

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Moving the chooks

As our baby chicks are now 4 weeks old we wanted to move them and their mum, Mrs Speckledy out of the ark and into the old hen house with an enclosed run.  We had purchased a new hen house for the other chickens, so we put that in place, added an electric fence and on Friday night moved them out of one hen house and into another, so that in the morning when they were let out they would be in their new run.

The new hen house

The next day we cleaned out the old hen house and made it ready for Mrs Speckledy and the babies, but catching them to move them proved slightly problematical.  Firstly Mrs Speckledy thought we were killing her she made such a racket, but as we moved her first, she obviously didn’t want to be separated from her brood.  Next it was the turn of the babies, but they are fast!!  One jumped out of the ark when we opened it and made a bid for freedom.  Good job we had taken the fishing net down with us, so we were able to catch it.

Neil with the little brown chook

The little ones squeaked like mad as they didn’t like being separated from Mum, so we moved them as quickly as possible.

me with a little black chick

It took a while for Mrs Speckledy and the baby chooks to come down the ramp and into the enclosed run, but they soon got the hang of it and there is a lot more space for them in that run.

The other hens were enjoying the long grass in the orchard as new turf to spuddle about in.

hens in the long grass

They soon made themselves a spot to have a dust bath and they scattered all the bark that we had put round the base of the trees.

the light sussex in their new area

So all in all a successful move for all the chooks.  Our original hens laid 11 eggs (out of 13 hens) on the first day they were in their new hen house and area, so I don’t think they were too traumatised by the move.

visit us at www.lodgehousebandbsomerset.co.uk

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Sparrowhawk in the fruit cage

Our neighbour called us the other evening to say there was a bird caught in our fruit cage.  I went down to investigate and to open the door to let it out thinking it would be a pesky blackbird as they will do anything to get to my raspberries.  Instead when I got there I found it was a sparrowhawk.  I recognised it by its yellow legs.  It had found a gap in the netting between the roof netting and the side netting.

Sparrowhawk in the fruit cage

It was flapping about and flying back and forth, but of course did not see the open door that would have meant its freedom!!.  I didn’t fancy going into the fruit cage as I wasn’t sure if the bird would attack me if I got too close.  So I called Neil and he came down with a towel.  His idea was to wrap the towel around the bird, prise it from the netting and then set it free.

close up of the sparrowhawk

However, before we got round to doing that the bird found the same gap it had entered through and quickly freed itself and flew away.  You can see where the green string that was keeping the roof netting and the side netting together has come apart, so now we have some repair work to do before the same thing happens again.

visit us at www.lodgehousebandbsomerset.co.uk

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