Friday, 24 March 2017

False Economy

Piglets at 9 days
This is another one of those blog posts where nothing too exciting happens and we bimble along, same old same old, and spring takes place around us. We receive another nice email from our pig breeder, Adrian, with pictures attached showing our piglets at 9 days. I am quite keen that we end up with the 2 very spotty ones in this picture but I probably need to go into negotiations with our good friends Sue and Rob who might also have chosen those two or, indeed, the breeder, who may even has his own ideas on what should go where.

Otto Lenghi's cauliflower cake
Our egg supply increases and starts to push us into 'glut' mode. Even the three female geese hit 100% this week - 3 eggs every other day. We are giving away as many as we can - I took half a dozen goose eggs over to our good friends in Sligo yesterday - and Liz is digging our all our multi-egg recipes to try to use them up. We use Guardian 'celebrity' chef Otto Lenghi for some of this, in particular his "Cauliflower cake" which is very much a Spanish tortilla focused on cauliflower.

530 grammes of cleaned up beeswax
We worked our way through the 'dead hive' recycling and felt like we were doing almost a pig thing - using everything but the squeal. There was an awful lot of ivy honey and debris in there but we managed to extract and clean up a nice disc of 530 grammes of clean beeswax, which Liz will be able to put to good use in her furniture polish (50/50 with coconut oil).

The honey final score was 1.69 kg of rather dark, hazy honey. Friends of the blog may be disappointed that we will not be giving out any of this partly because there are only 3 jars and also because we do not 100% trust it, coming from the failed hive as it did. If you visit, we will happily give you a taster as it is delicious and full of all those flavour ingredients that you do not get with commercial, often heat-treated and finely filtered honey (like pollen, bits of bee, proteins, amino acids, volatiles, free minerals, chemicals from plants; all the kind of stuff that bakers of WHITE bread would tell you, you were better off without!).

Bees from our surviving hive all over the dumped 'cake'.
The stuff we sieved out of the melted comb (mainly lumps of pollen, solid ivy honey, dead 'babies' and other lovely stuff) ended up as a 'cake' which we chucked onto the compost heap thinking that maybe the magpies could use it up. There were bees all over this today, presumably mopping up the honey residues.

Not too far to go. On the right the good hive. On the left my
bag of old frames now being cleaned up by the bees.
The old frames, I decided not to try to re-use in any new hive or colony (assuming we go there) but would leave it out for the bees to clean, then burn them. One stack I put down into the apiary and these were quickly found by the bees who I saw making regular short trips from hive to stash and then cleaning up any honey left on the wood and the fragments of comb. The other stash, I put out onto a scrap-wood pile round by our wheelie bins, a good hundred yards from the hive. But these bees are nothing if not good scouts and they found this too. Grabbing up wood for kindling this afternoon, I had to be careful not to get stung.

Wax-soaked wood makes for interesting kindling.
The final use is of this wood, cleaned by bees, as firewood. The wax and residual honey on this wood can make for some interesting fire-lighting. It burns very well. Reduce, re-use, recycle.

Nice strong buckets
But what of my 'Fasle Economy' title. I was delighted this week to find a source of some decent, strong "Curver' buckets. These big, flexible tubs are the most brilliant, useful items around a small holding. We use them almost daily for mucking out, carrying weeds about and even mixing cement and concrete.

The daffs out front along our lane. 
They were first made by the firm 'Curver' and were used almost ubiquitously by the 'horsey' set. Then, inevitably, the cheap imitations came on sale and here, where the locals love a bargain, the genuine articles were eclipsed and almost forced out of the market. Why pay €12 for the real thing when you can get this pretty pink/yellow one for €5 in the local pound-shop. Yes, even I fell for it.

Plum blossom started today
Why? I will tell you why. I brought one of the €5 ones home and promptly started to muck out the goose house. I loaded the bucket with a goodly pile of wet goose-muck wood shavings and went to lift it to carry it to the compost. Blow me if both handles did not break on that first lift. I had not even used it once and it was already useless. I learned my lesson and have ever since been trying to find the real heavy-duty Curver buckets.

How many is 'too many' animals on the bed?
Nearest to furthest here are Deefer, Poppea,
Kato, Soldier and Chivers (cats) and then
Towser on Liz's pillow.
Well, this week I had that sorted. The local farmers' co-op has both the Curver brand stiff buckets with rope handles AND a tough looking flexible bucket called "Gorilla". I'll let you know how I get on with these.

Slow cooked rolled-rib of pork with roasties, carrots and steamed
green cabbage
I think that's about it. Spring is chugging along nicely, the sun is shining, I have been out to Kiltybranks for my dog walks and the young poults have been successfully moved from their kindergarten (a rabbit run) to 'big school' (the proper out-building chicken coop).

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