Smallholding Sunday

I am starting a series of blog posts, about the things we get done and need to do around the holding…. maybe accountability, maybe a kick up the bum when we need it, maybe all just pie in the sky….. I will add videos onto the YouTube Channel for a monthly tour of the main bits of the holding as well! Hopefully around the same time as my monthly updates posts!

So for a first posting, maybe a list of to dos I seem to add to almost daily. These are over and above our daily chores of feeding and watering the animals which has to be done whatever the weather, although the chickens didn’t like the snow we had recently!

So my list at the moment:

  • Barn gutterings and down pipes (this will have to wait till later in the year and for a dry time, but we have managed to repair the middle barn sidings so far less water incursion there)
  • Tin hut finishing (there are MANY small and large jobs for this to happen but it will happen this year!)
  • New duck enclosure, they need a new house, more space and we plan to add it onto the current large chicken run
  • New willow plantings, both basketry and biofuel (J has finally said the whole little field can be put to willow!! Yay!! Well other than my dye beds, which will move up to allow for the duck enclosure to be added.
  • Renovate chicken shed enclosure after fox incursion last year, make the run ‘walk in able’
  • Make a hedgehog enclosure, Holly will need a safe outdoor garden space to live in come the spring, with log piles, a shallow pond and sleeping box.
  • 2 long hedgerows to cut and reshape into a hedge rather than the tangled mess, and to also add to our wood supplies for next year.
  • Camping pitch x1 in the far pasture.
  • Start clearing the holding field for building work/landscaping though this will be an ongoing project over the next few years. I plan to build a cabin to run courses and more forest school etc.
  • Planting, growing, harvesting, fruit and veg
  • Planting and growing dye plants
  • Ongoing garden projects, both for the children and for flowers and prettiness!
  • Make a pond
  • Make more wildlife garden areas
  • Plant trees
  • Continue clearing and sorting the inside of the barns, removing rubbish, from years of accumulation both by us and the previous owners. Making workable areas and storage.
  • Pigs, at some point in the springtime the pigs will head off on their final journey to the abattoir

We have always had lots of plans each year for this place, last year we did a lot of gardening and we managed a few final fencing jobs, some holiday let building, a pig house, and a play palace for the boys. In fact since we bought the place in 2014 we have built a house, started and almost completed a second, built a veg garden, three huge raised beds and a polytunnel, planted an orchard, fenced and fenced and fenced. We have built a fruit cage, planted withy beds, a dome and a tunnel, more gardening after beating back enormous bramble forests….

So far this year, we have managed to start cutting back one of the hedgerows, the longest in fact! We are about halfway down the inner side, the outer side was done by tractor flail cutting. So just the tops to do on that half and then into the really overstood half! This has so far gained us about 5 foot more garden space for the holiday let. Now I need to chip the brash and get the willow fedge planted and the holiday let garden can rest till spring, when patio, gate building and planting will start in earnest. The far field hedge will allow us to plant some quick growing pines, for biodiversity, screening and firewood and also to prepare the camping pitch and compost loo site for the summer months.

We have planted our little horse chestnut tree, we have mastered sourdough and we have measured, planned out and written a to order list for the three new enclosures or extensions we need to build.

Scrumptious Saturdays – Ketchup in the slow cooker!!

The Fourth in our series of recipes! And a great slow cooker ketchup that tastes better the Heinz stuff in our opinion and does not have half the ingredients!

You will need:

  • 1.6 litres of pureed tomatoes
  • 120ml of water
  • 125g sugar
  • 180ml of white vinegar
  • 1tsp onion granules
  • 1/2tsp of garlic granules
  • 2 tsps of salt
  • 1 tsp of English mustard
  • 1/4 tsp of pepper

Method:

  • Blitz the tomatoes in the blender
  • add all the ingredients into the slow cooker
  • Cook on high for 10-12 hours, until it has reduced by half
  • Blend again with a hand blender
  • Push the mixture through a fine sieve and bottle.
  • You can water bath can this to make it last longer!
  • if you like a bit of a kick, you can also add chillies to make it a chilli ketchup!

We would love to see your efforts!! Please hop on over to Facebook or Instagram to show us!!

Scrumptious Saturdays – Apple Jelly or Chilli Jelly

As the apples are harvested it can sometimes be very daunting as to how many there are around here! It increases each year as we have around 50 trees (albeit a mix of plums, pears and apples) that we planted in November 2014!

We stew some apple for pies and crumbles, we juice loads for apple juice (which we water bath can for longevity) and cider…. and then there is jellies and sauces!!

You will need:

  • apples
  • jam sugar

Method:

  • If you would like to make apple puree sauce as well as jelly then core, peel and chop your apples, otherwise rough chop your apples
  • Put them in a large pan with water and boil until it has all turned to mush
  • Pass the mixture through a jelly bag, i.e. load it up and leave it to drip, do NOT squeeze the jelly bag or the liquid will not be clear.
  • Wash out the pan and return the dripped through apple mixture to pan. Using approximately one pound of sugar per pint of liquid add your sugar.
  • Bring the mixture gradually to the boil stirring until the sugar has dissolved and then stirring occasionally until the mixture reaches jam temperature.
  • Pour your apple liquid into hot sterilised jars and seal.
  • If you would like to make chilli jelly dice your chillies and add them to your hot sterilised jars just before you pour in the liquid.
  • If you would like to make puree sauce, push the contents of the jelly bag through a sieve, add a little sugar to your taste, reheat and jar in hot sterilised jars.

Come and show us your efforts with apples over on Facebook or Instagram!

Scrumptious Saturdays – Chocolate Courgette cake

The third in the series of recipe posts and this is one of our favourites!

You will need:

  • 375g flour
  • 75g of cocoa powder
  • 2 tsps of baking powder
  • 1/2tsp of seasalt
  • 4 large eggs
  • 120ml of oil
  • 120g of butter
  • 340g of light brown sugar
  • 2tsps of vanilla essence or extract
  • 1 pack of chocolate chips
  • 400g of grated courgette

Method:

  • Preheat Oven to 180
  • Cream together the butter and sugar and add the vanilla
  • Add the oil and eggs and beat
  • Add in the flour, cocoa and baking powder and mix well
  • Add in the courgette, seasalt and mix well again
  • Add in the chocolate chips
  • Pour the mixture into one large cake tin or two loaf tins, greased and lined
  • Bake for 30-40 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean

We would love to see your efforts!! Please hop on over to Facebook or Instagram to show us!!

Scrumptious Saturdays – Courgette and Feta Fritters

The next in our series of recipe posts from the recipes we use regularly around here at the smallholding, preserving our harvests for scrummy treats through the year!

Today is the turn of Courgette and Feta Fritters

You will need:

  • 600g grated courgette
  • 100g self raising flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 spring onions
  • 150g feta
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 2tsp of dill/mint/coriander (optional to add all 3, or just one or two)
  • oil for frying

Method

  • Add the salt to the grated courgette and leave for 10 minutes
  • Using your hands try to squeeze as much liquid out as possible
  • Add the flour, eggs, and mix well
  • Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well again
  • put a frying pan with a small amount of oil in the bottom over a medium to high heat and spoon in tablespoons of mixture to make individual little patties, flipping them half way through cooking to brown both sides lightly.
  • These taste amazing hot or cold and freeze really well so if you batch cook a load you can add them to lunches as and when!

We would love to see your efforts!! Please hop on over to Facebook or Instagram to show us!!

Scrumptious Saturdays – Beetroot and Horseradish Chutney

I have decided to share a few of the recipes I have collected, tweaked maybe perfected for our tastes here on the holding preserving our harvests and allowing us delicious treats through the year, whether they be canned, jarred or frozen!

I am going to start with Beetroot and Horseradish chutney as a request from a friend who came recently to camp out in our fields as a quiet alternative to a camp site. (and yes we are thinking of using our 28 days allowances now each year for weekends of campers!)

Beetroot and Horseradish chutney

You will need:

  • 750g of raw beetroot, trimmed peeled and finely diced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 dessert apple, diced
  • 2 tbsp of freshly grated horseradish (top tip if you freeze it before grating it wont sting your eyes, plus you can grate a heap and freeze it for future use)
  • 200g sugar
  • 300ml of white wine vinegar
  • 2tsp salt

Method

  • Put all the ingredients into the pan ( I use a large heavy based pan or Maslin pan)
  • Bring the pan slowly to the boil stirring until the sugar dissolves
  • Cook gently then for 1-1.5 hours stirring occasionally
  • Once the chutney is done, you will know by performing the channel test (use a spoon, drag it along the bottom of the pan to create a channel and if no liquid refills it fast then you are good to go)
  • Jar up into hot sterilised jars, put on lids and allow to sit in a dark cupboard for 2 months before using.

I hope you will enjoy joining me on this culinary journey and would love it if you shared your efforts over on the Facebook page in the comments or over on Instagram!

All go round here!!

So over the past few days we have been working hard to get things sorted, built, planted, weeded and moved!!

We have weeded both large raised beds, and I have started to plant seeds for veg in there, using my scaffolding plank as a bridge across to stop me from stomping all over the bed!

Yesterday I potted on a load of seedlings in the Polytunnel and blimey it was warm in there!!!

We have happy ducks moved into their new digs…. and the chickens now have wood chip flooring in their runs!!

The muck heap has been shovelled back and some of the compost from the back excavated to fill the raised beds, the small tractor is a godsend for jobs like this!!

And someone has discovered the rubble pile….. apparently it’s his castle!!

Tomorrow we move onto the fruit cage of doom and clearing the veg garden paths!!!

So plans for Tyddynbryn!!

Social distancing smallholding style!! We have an absolute load of work to get on with here on the smallholding and with the nice dry weather that has started we have made a start!!

Moving the chickens and ducks to new turf. Wood chipping paths and flower beds and around new raised beds!

Having cleared the Polytunnel a while back, we have started some seeds in there and in the house. Today we have started in the veg garden, turning the beds from an absolute weed ridden state into something we can actually plant into!! So we have seeds ready for starting in successional sowings there!!

We have started a few projects for the boys for play, including a bean teepee…

These times are going to be difficult, but I am certain, no determined that we will come through it and be more organised, sorted, prepared and ready to face the new world head on. We are using this as an opportunity to finish projects started, start new projects, action plans we’ve had on the back burner for an age it seems.

So as for plans….

  • Weeding (there is always weeding)
  • Growing veg and fruit
  • Dyeing all the yarn
  • Clearing and sorting first the house, then the barns (I’ve started this as a wet day job and am part way through upstairs…. slow work with two small helpers though)
  • Finishing the new cottage
  • Building a tree house (if W gets his way it will be two storeys!!)
  • Making a garden or lots more garden areas
  • Gates, trying desperately to keep the errant hound in and the free range children!!
  • Processing the giant log pile into useable stacked logs ready for next winter

And there is likely to be more but I’ll add them to the lists as I go along!!