Sunday 7 October 2012

Getting all Autumnal

It's all getting very Autumnal round here now with a definite nip in the air and, this morning, a genuine frost with crisp grass and a bit of ice on the rabbits' water bowl. The nights are clear which means that here, in this unpolluted air with no street lighting to interfere you can see a gazillion stars - too many sometimes to pick out the constellations you "know" from Kent. The Milky Way is clearly visible and the moon has been full (although now waning) and it is all very beautiful. Mornings can be quite beautiful too with the mist visible over the turf bog below us in the valley. This morning was extra special as a bright red "Shepherd's Warning" sunrise came up behind a bank of mist, filling the whole 'farm' with a bizarre soft pink mistiness. Luvverly!

Autumn, then, so no-one should be thinking of Springtime and producing babies? You'd think not. However, we have a chicken gone broody on the 30th Sept and ever since then sitting on her clutch of now TEN eggs in the centre nest box. Sussex Ponte chickens are a 'mass produced' Utility hybrid rather than a fine tuned Pure-bred variety; they are 'designed' to lay 300+ eggs a year and be healthy and to not go broody, so we have had a couple of aborted attempts through the Summer but they usually last only a couple of days before madam gets bored and wanders off, abandoning the eggs to go cold. Not this time, so far. She has gone 7 days so far. Incubation period is 21 days, so we might, just might, have some newly hatched chick babies to show Niece Madeleine when she comes over on the 22nd. Don't count your chickens, though....

Also, the rabbits, whom we were sure had not 'taken' to the attentions of our friends Anne and Simon's buck rabbit Peter and had given up on needing the Maternity Unit this year have produced a surprise. Mum spotted the black and white lop-eared girl, Padfoot hauling dry hay into a burrow they've made in the old compost heap which is currently part of their run so we took a look today, thinking that if we find any signs of nesting we'll move them all indoors. Too late! We found a nest alright, but this one the text book ball of fluff pulsating with new life! That is all you get to see first according to the books and any attempt to rummage among the ball of Mum's belly-fur will result in Mum deserting the nest, so we retreated in a hurry, returning only to bring a sheet of curved corrugated to put above the compost heap as a rain-shelter. We will have to just wait and see. No end of disasters can befall rabbit kittens, not least being eaten by adult rabbits or predated by rats (or cat kittens!) but if we can get to 4 weeks they stand a chance of having been weaned so we can rescue them to the Maternity Unit then. No such excitement for Padders's sister Ginny, by the look of it.

 In other Autumn related news the fields we own and those surrounding (over which we have permission from Vendor Anna L to walk) have many many blackberry bushes in their hedges and these have yielded up 2.5 kg of lovely blackberries which Dad has supplemented with a couple of Bramley apples to make 12 and a half jars of delicious (says Dad) jam.

We have also had a couple of still windless days and 'windless' round here means "it's OK to use the chainsaw as you can tell which way the tree will fall". Dad has had a chance to top up the big log store, which now contains about 2.5 cubic metres of logs. That should keep us going for a few cold nights! It is made up of 2 big ugly, diseased Leylandii, some hay-barn beams (the rectangular bits), some big elder and plenty of the dead black spruce 'weedings' from the woods.

In Autumn food Mum and Dad have been exploring some Indian cookery (don't worry - nothing you'd call 'hot' or too spicy) from the new Madhur Jaffrey cookbook but also plenty of winter-warmer recipes. Today, for example, lunch was homemade leek and potato soup with some smokey bacon in it and tonight "pork bones". We'd never heard of this in the UK but here it comes from proper butchers as short lengths of pig-spine split longways. One 'chunk' is about 6-8 inches long so contains about 5 vertebrae but band-sawed into two halves lengthways, with the spinal column 'canal' exposed. You slow-cooker these as you would ox-tail, shin-of-pork or lamb-shank, till the meat falls away and all the cartilage goes gelatinous. In Mum and Dad's case they did it in a Chinese sauce (star anise, soy, ginger, garlic etc) and served it with noodles and steamed chard. The left over bones have plenty of interest for dogs, pups and kittens.

The only other thing exercising us at present is the 2CV finally getting prepared for her NCT (= MOT). Dad finally got hold of a windscreen so now the car is in the garage for its idling to be sorted and for a pre-NCT check up, prior to booking the test. We hope there are no problems with this but we have heard, rather worryingly that the NCT demands all tyres be no more than 6 years old even if they have new tread. This could be an issue.


1 comment:

Anne Wilson said...

Nice warm bunnie nest, well done mum.