Monthly Archives: June 2016

Rain,tie dye and a birthday

We saw a yellow hammer on the way down the lane today, and there were 12 goldfinches on the feeders. If only I could find a recipe for them…

It rained hard, we ended up inside most of the day, and in making tie dye bags we ended up decorating the table and ourselves. Number Two son, who had come out to use a dry morning in helping us garden was upset to find there was a distinct lack of dry morning. He did manage to shift quite a bit of work despite this, pruning flower beds from the shelter of the verandah and sowing seeds in the polytunnel.

As we spent some of the afternoon in the kitchen building up a stock of salt-dough shapes we did some father-son bonding talking about dentistry, politicians and the fact that when he comes to write his memoirs doing salt-dough shapes with your dad at his age is going to seem weird.

I also offered my view on personal finances, hard work and the parameters for selecting a decent care home when your parents pass 80. I’m not convinced he was listening …

The group made a birthday card for the farmer using some of the dye from the bags, Jodi also made him a card and even bought him a gift. It’s a Mickey Mouse tie.

As I said, it’s not often that you see a man wearing a tie with the picture of his business advisor on it.

Beavers!

What do you say?

One of the parents said: “They’re very excited about this visit.”

You could tell that from the fact they were milling about looking at everything and chattering. It was clear that this wasn’t going to be a night for reflection and following instructions, and although I had all the stuff ready for toasting marshmallows it was also clear that it wasn’t a night for naked flames!

If they ever come back I’m going to be sure to pack a rugby ball and my whistle plus some maps and compasses. As it was, we did think about running them round the farm but it started to rain. So it was visit the sheep, visit the chicks and keets, look at the young goats in their new field (they aren’t happy at being taken away from their mothers), view the guinea fowl doing impersonations of vultures, strain to see the geese (who had taken up a position at the back of the field) and go back to the centre.

Julia set them going on making folded paper animals (Orifarmi, as LEAF call them) and I set up the butter-making, which is generally enough to sap the energy from the most energetic of small people. It just about worked. We are getting more cunning as time goes on.

In amongst the frenetic effort there were quite a few questions to field too – about the building, farming and animals. Even whilst running about they didn’t miss much, and you need to be on top of your game .

It’s nice seeing all this youthful enthusiasm but I wouldn’t want to have to try and direct it every week. I really don’t know how their leaders do it.

I’m off home now – not sure what awaits us as the kids are cooking the evening meal. I suspect it will feature chicken, vegetables and salad. I’m sure it’s healthy and wholesome, but it’s not food as I know it.

(It turned out to be sausages in baguettes, with red onions and barbecue sauce and chips and a modest salad on the side.)

 

A mystery solved

You may recall that I’ve been blaming jackdaws for knocking bird feeders down and then eating the contents.

Well, it seems there is another possibility. They may have been knocking the feeders down but I now have another avian candidate for the emptying of the feeders.

Look at the photos of these two suspicious characters mopping up spilt food and all will become clear.

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Suspicious characters lurking under the bird feeders

They need to be careful, because unlike jackdaws, they taste nice when roasted and people are always asking about them at Christmas…

Toddlers, scones and grants

Another day, another group!

What, you didn’t think I was going to relax did you?  It was a playgroup today,  Beavers on Tuesday night and the second half of the playgroup on Thursday. It’s not quite the endurance test that last week was, but it’s enough. Much as I’d like to indulge my natural talents as a world class slacker, I have to work when there are wages to be had.

The trouble with playgroups is that the kids zip around like miniature demons looking for mischief to get into. They don’t mean it, but it seems logical to them to lose their parent, fill a friend’s pocket with stones or disappear as you turn your back.  They think adventure, the parents think tragedy and I think reams of paperwork. Fortunately they never seem to come to any harm, but you worry all the same.

We made more cheese scones today, using the “mistake” from the session on Saturday. One of the guide groups had used a tablespoonful of  baking powder to 225g of flour instead of 1 teaspoon. All it needed was 450g of flour to restore the proportions and three of us set to work producing scones, which were then consumed at the end of the day. They were OK, but not very cheesy, which is a bit of a let-down for a recipe labelled “cheese scones”.

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The scone crew

It’s always been a reliable recipe, and I suspect that they main problem was the quality of the cheese and lack of other seasoning. When I’ve made them before I’ve often added either mustard powder or chives to the mix, which both enhance flavour. In the case of the mustard it also renders the scones implausibly yellow. I generally use the cheap ready-grated cheese from Tesco, so can’t complain about the cheese. I’m thinking of making them with either finely cubed strong cheddar or Stilton next time, rather than grated, to see what happens.

The problem is that I’ve baked cheese scones twice in three days and my enthusiasm for testing improved versions is declining to the point where I don’t actually want to see another one for a while.

Talking of Stilton, our local cheese, I wonder what will happen to its protected status. Say what you like about the EU, and let’s face it, a lot has been said recently, it has been good for protecting our speciality food.

Leading on from that, we have had a message about ringing to talk about our grant application now the referendum is over. Can’t wait to see what happens about that…

 

 

Six!

At last. I love my job, but after six visits in six days you can have too much of a good thing.

As it happens, the 1st Calverton Guides have been here more than any other group, so it wasn’t a difficult day. Out to the chicks, on to the workshop (because I’m trying to sell the idea of coming out to build nest boxes) and into a technical session on eggs. It was their misfortune to be used as guinea pigs for my new presentation. They said it was fine, but the glazed expressions suggested I might need to do a bit more work on it. Fortunately Julia has just taken delivery of a box of egg resources, though I didn’t feel confident enough to open it and start using it without practice.

The goats got out twice, which provided some light relief, and England beat Australia 44-40 to mark what is probably a false dawn in English Rugby. It’s good, and it looks like a cracking game from the reports, but it won’t be the first time an English sports team has failed to build on success. That has nothing to do with the day really, but it felt good to write “England beat Australia”. having said that, after Thursday’s vote on leaving the EU I’d better start being nice to the Australians as we now need them for more than just bar work.

The afternoon cookery session was seeded cheese scones using rapeseed oil (or vegetable oil as the Bowdlerised version has it). It’s a recipe from the Home Grown Cereals Authority, based on the fact that we are self-sufficient in oilseed rape and that it is less fatty than butter. I like it because it’s easier than rubbing in butter.

They must have liked it because we are already discussing the next date – all I need to do is find another activity to do!

So, it looks like I managed to end on a high note, though that was mainly due to the chicks once more. Personal high point of the day was when they did the washing up for me – after six days of visits that was a big positive.

Now I’d better get working on next week’s visits and on cleaning the incubator.

 

Black, White and Orange

No, it’s not a post about post-Brexit sorting of foreigners, it’s a post about me trying to find an inexpensive bird food.

I was tempted to say “cheap” but it was just a bit simple, so I thought I would wait and see if a better chance for a pun presented itself.

It could be subtitled: “A Confession Regarding Lentils”

Several articles have told me that birds will eat uncooked lentils. I eat uncooked lentils, because I can’t help it when I’m cooking – I just like the crunch. They are reasonably priced and you can get them from the supermarket, which is more than you can say for nyger seed.

So I spent £15 on a bird feeder with three chambers. I could just have bought three cheap feeders for about £7, but I had to show off…

 

The first picture shows the feeder full, and I feel it looks quite good.

The second shot shows the feeder next day, with two thirds of the sunflower hearts gone, and a third of the black sunflower gone.

So, sunflower hearts are a very popular bird food – I think we knew that. And the black ones aren’t quite so good, but still popular. I think we knew that too. But birds don’t like uncooked lentils. I’m pretty sure that I could have guessed that too. It just seemed wrong, and with my birds, in June, nothing ate the lentils, even when they were the only choice. I left the feeder hanging with just the lentils in. Nobody ate them, they just ate peanuts and nyger.

So, cheap food doesn’t pay, don’t believe all you read in books and you don’t need flashy feeders.

I should have known it was too good to be true.

😉

 

The Fifth Day

It’s Friday so it must be…

…another school.

Fortunately it was just a class of 12, which made things easier. The keets behaved impeccably and the dough was the best I’ve ever seen a group make. That was surprising as many of them were quite small and small people often have trouble putting enough energy into the job. It’s even harder when you have difficulty reaching the table.

The hardest bit of the week is turning out to be finding new things to say each time, though the endless cleaning is, I admit, making me lose the will to live.

😉