Friday 22 September 2017

Fettling the Trailer and failing to grow Tomatoes

A time to relax, kick the wellies off, grab a coffee
and a good book and be invaded by various cats.
A genuinely short post this time as we are definitely 'between' bursts of excitement. We are recovering from some, bimbling along on others and waiting and preparing for the next batch.

Proper cheese mould with follower "piston"
In the 'bimbling' section would be a tech improvement in the cheese making, in that we have acquired a couple of proper plastic cheese moulds. They do nothing for the flavour (they don't need to - it is gorgeous!) but they give us professional looking cylinders of cheese without the strange indents in the ends which you get if you use (clean) plastic flower pots.

Firmly in the 'preparing' section is the arrival of our new Help-X student, our second bite at this cherry after (readers will recall) Pedro and Manu who came for 2 weeks in August. This one is Augustin, a lad from Paris, who is 18. I collected him from his bus in Castlerea at 4 pm and he's now in, established, had a good look round, met the pigs and sheep and all the rest. More on how this all goes when we've had a chance to get to know him.

The trailer gets shored up with rather dodgy
skirting boards made from pallet laths.
And while I'm on 'meeting the pigs', that is my other 'prep' story. The pigs go off on their final journey on Tuesday so I was worried at the bad timing for our French guest in case he might be a bit squeamish around animals being killed for food.

Always very late. These yellow kniphofia
just coming into flower in our yard for the
No problem, apparently. Although he has no farming experience what so ever, he loves his pork, knows where it comes from and is very practical around the high welfare, outdoor reared, old-breed stuff. He has no worries with helping to trailer-train the victims or coming with us to betray them into the slaughterman's lairage pens.

Good weather for puddle-ducks.
Friends of the Blog will know that we make the job of loading the pigs on The Morning a whole lot easier by feeding them all their meals in the trailer for the 2 days prior, so that on the day they trot up the ramp obediently expecting the normal breakfast and barely notice when you quietly close the door behind them. That's the theory anyway. Wish us luck.

However, at 6 years old the trailer is starting to look the worse for wear. The lower sides are of fairly thin marine ply and have started to rot out at the bottoms, so that daylight was starting to be visible down there. I was worried that one good bulldozer move by a pig snout and the whole would flap open like a big cat-flap leaving the pigs a 2 foot tall gap through which they could skip out onto the tarmac.

A bit of a pig-flavoured pattern forming in the beer purchases
this week? It wasn't deliberate. 
The answer, of course, is to rip all this wood out and replace with new but short term, I think (famous last words?) I can get away with adding skirting boards to those walls made from decent pallet laths. That stopped the daylight, so I think the pigs will not even know to try the bulldoze thing. I am hoping to be able to breathe a sigh of relief as we un-ship the pigs at the correct destination in a few days time.

Pathetic, weedy, diseased tomatoes with no
ripe fruit even by mid September. 
In the 'past tense' bit is just the dismal failure (again!) to grow tomatoes out of doors here. We are declaring it a truth universally believed. This year we did all the right things - started with plug plants, grew them up a south facing wall, fed and watered them. We still have poor, pathetic, diseased looking straggly things with hardly any fruit and no ripe fruit yet despite it being the Autumn Equinox. We have never yet produced a tomato outdoors in time for the salad season. Ah well. Plenty other crops to grow.

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