Saturday 19 August 2017

The Ploughman Homeward Plods.......

I have read that we 'artisan' bakers are meant to sign our work
with a trademark signature. I'm claiming this 'M' if no-one else
wants it.
With the boys from Help-X gone, the place settles back into a more sedate rate of progress, like Gray's 'Elegaic' ploughman (not sure if that is actually a word?). I love that poem and the homeward plodding ploughman image comes into my head often as I make my way back from any particularly wearying job or day.

Is this cat queue-ing up to get plucked next?
Main task this week has been 'plodding' through those Hubbard birds which we do by killing 2 early in the morning so that Liz can pluck and dress in the afternoon when they are completely bled out and the rigor mortis is leaving them. By now she is very good and skilled at this and the carcasses look very genuine, cleanly plucked and with no tears in the breast-skin. I have already given weights for the first half dozen, which made 2.2 to 2.9 kg. The last half dozen which we finished today stayed within that range. These birds are/were still not even 80 days old yet so we continue to be amazed at the growth rates of this strain.

The end of the rainbow is in the Hubbard run. No wonder we
get such good chickens. 
We now have a freezer well stocked with chicken portions and the raw materials for patés etc. It is a relief to get through this - it is quite hard work as well as the fact that I hate killing these birds. In some years we have done a 2nd batch starting about now and killing out just pre-Christmas but this year we will not need to do that. We currently have 22 small chicks/youngsters running around still undecided whether to grow up male or female.

Typical farm yard scene. I can see at least 12 poults here. We
have 22 now.
The Law of Averages tells us that 11 of these are likely to be roosters and will come to their moments of truth around Christmas. 12 Hubbards and 11 random 'coq's would surely be too much of a good thing. As it was Liz found she was wearing grooves in her hands pulling the bigger feathers and invested in some rubber-palm gardening gloves as protection.

Plum glut solutions (1). Plum vodka
As a nice coincidence (which also gave the chicken plucker a nice change of scene) our Victoria plum tree has come ready and is heavily laden with fruit. So laden in one case that a branch broke off under the weight of its bounty. We stripped over 4 kg fruit off that branch alone which had Liz scouring t'Internet for recipes.

Plum glut solutions (2). Preserved in syrup
and Chinese style Plum Sauce for those crispy
duck moments.
She made a plum vodka (like sloe gin), did a 'preserved in syrup' for dessert use and a Chinese style plum sauce for those crispy duck moments. The vodka should be ready, rather neatly, on 16th Dec. The remaining kgs left on the tree will probably become frozen halves or good aul' jam. We are almost out of jars, though, so we are looking for cheap sources of Kilners or honey jars before we dare start boiling.

Ooops. Sparrow-hawk 'snot'/blood and a feather on the kitchen
In a brief interlude, the well-used new kitchen nearly had a not-so-welcome (or careful) visitor. We were sitting in the Dining Room when a loud thump alerted us to a bird-strike.

Sparrowhawks are jink-between-the-trees ambush predators and this juvenile bird had obviously thought he could zoom in one window, shoot through the 20' kitchen and whistle out the other end into the yard, maybe catch a chaffinch napping. He came a real cropper on the new window and fell, stunned, to the path. We rushed up for leather gauntlets (and camera) ready to rescue him if need be but Liz was with him for only a minute before a curious hen wandered over and he came to, took off vertically and flapped away round the trees of our pig-pen. That was a relief but I would have liked a few pics.

The start of a new clump of Horse Radish.
I was on Twitter recently when I spotted that a friend had posted a pic of some horse-radish which she was digging for kitchen use. That is a plant we do not yet have, so I summoned up the cheek required and asked her if she might post me a root or two. She was happy to oblige and slipped some into the post that same day. It arrived safe and sound (Thank You 'An Post') yesterday and is already planted in a couple of tubs. Thank you Margaret G. She tells me that her plants actually started in Mayo and came to her (in Co. Meath) via a garden in Dublin. She says that she'll be very happy if I share it on in the future, a much travelled horse radish for sure.

Lidl Supermarket "cheapie" Glads
That is about it for this one. I will leave you with a few pics of flowers. The gladioli were from a bag of bulbs on offer in Lidl a few years back. They had long since out-grown their tub so I 'released' them into the edge of our woods where they are thriving.

They are so tall this year that they are getting knocked about a bit by the recent restless wind and rain. Like the rest of us they are probably longing for a snatch of 'proper' Summer but there does not seem to be any hint of that yet. Maybe the bog fires and forest fires of May were our Summer. Ah well. Till next time, then. Good Luck.
Very pale yellow hollyhock
Rudbeckia (Goldsturm)

1 comment:

Anne Wilson said...

Flynn's sell honey jars and Wispys sells kilner jars.