Monday, 28 September 2009

Relaxing Weekend

This weekend was mixed as I left work on Friday evening with a migraine and it didn’t leave me until Saturday evening so I spent most of Saturday curled up in bed. However it was such lovely warm weather that I was feeling hot and stuffy indoors so I took my eye mask and lots of pillows and laid outdoors with the cats and chickens for company and it the warmth began to soothe my head.
On Sunday we went to visit my sister in Winchester and to also visit the farmers market. It is the largest in Hampshire and it takes place twice a month and we were eager to sample all of the culinary delights. Brooke was working, but we were able to take her for some rather yummy lunch at Cadogan and James which is a lovely deli that we have eaten at before.

Before we took Brooke and her boyfriend Jamie out for lunch Nathan and I went to the farmers market and it certainly did not disappoint. I was so enthralled in everything that I forgot to snap some photos, hopefully I will remember next time. There were so many stalls laden with delicious bounty such as fruits, vegetables, honey, meats, game, fish, seafood, baked goods, preserves, flowers, garlic, wool, sheepskins, fresh hog roast, buffalo burgers and roasted mushroom sandwiches. It was a veritable feast for our eyes and noses, let alone our tummies! We sampled cheese, jam, ketchup, and cider and all were truly scrumptious. As I am in the process of setting up a tiny cottage industry of my homemade cakes, confectionery, jams and chutneys it was wonderful to see all of these other business thriving in the current economy and to also see what the competition are doing and how to differentiate my products.
Something I was particularly excited to see were all of the beautiful pumpkins. I was so thrilled that I had to buy the biggest one there and take it in to White Stuff where Brooke works so that she could see it!
These are all of the delicious treats that we bought:
Local set honey

Beeswax candles

Organic houmous

New forest blue cheese

Organic heirloom tomatoes

Hot chillies including birds eye and scotch bonnet

Organic onions

Organic beetroots

Organic pumpkin

Isle of Wight garlic for growing – Provence Wight, Chesnok Wight and Elephant

Ornamental gourds

Russet apple cider

We received a very cute little pumpkin in our organic vegetable box this week and you can see just how tiny it is compared to the one from the farmers market! You can see Florence investigating the vegetable garden in the background of the photo.
Tonight’s dinner will be griddled king prawns spiced up with a birds eye chilli, garlic and basil marinade served with tasty heirloom tomato salad and crushed garlic potatoes, gosh I can hardly wait! Sunday was one of those days that you never want to end, after lunch in Winchester we came home and relaxed in the garden with a glass of wine and watched our contented cats and chickens making the most of the September sunshine. I hope next weekend is just as perfect…Happy Monday everyone xo

Monday, 21 September 2009

Chickens Part 4

It has been two days since we brought our girls home and they have settled in so well. We are so proud of them and their bravery and their ability to adjust to each other and to their new surroundings. We are smitten kittens and are relishing the thought that we are the lucky people who get to nurse them back to health and give them a new life in the country. They were such good girls on the journey home; however I was a sobbing mess and cried my way through a pack of tissues.

As you can see Millie and Sylvester were not at all bothered by their presence, just a bit miffed as to why their carriers had been filled with straw and smelt like chickens!

They blessed us with another egg this afternoon wich is five in two days! Rachel over at Mozarts Girl kindly said it is their way of telling us they are happy and settled :)

I would just like to say a huge thank you to all of you supporting our girls on this exciting journey, it is appreciated. I shall regularly update the progress of our feathered babies so watch this space! xoxo

Chickens Part 3

This is only a very short post before work, however I shall post a more comprehensive one tonight. Please welcome Primrose, Florence, Marmalade and Big Red to blogland. These are our beautiful girls who have blossomed already. Their combs are smaller and more pink than white and they are very energetic. They have settled in and have already laid four eggs! Bless our lovely girls.These photos document their first moments of their new free range life.
Thanks for stopping by, will post more later xo

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Chickens Part 2

Thank you all so much for stopping by and taking the time to read my mammoth post about the chickens, it is so kind and thoughtful of you all :) It is good to know that there are so many good hearted chicken lovers out there! This is just a little post to show you all our lovely coop and run as there will be another big chicken post on Saturday. We bought the coop from eBay and Nathan built the run with his own fair hands. The coop just needs another lick of country cream paint and it will be perfect. I have asked Nathan to leave a patch unpainted so you can see the before colour which was fine, but not very us. Nathan has also built a sheltered end to the run so that the girls can be warm and snuggly and their food will be dry and their water clean. As you can see Autumn is in full swing in our garden and I hope our girls won't mind all of the golden leaves decorating their garden. Once they are settled in we will move the coop and run around the garden so that they can explore and find their favourite patches of grass! We are on pins and needles waiting for Saturday and hope we can give these wonderful creatures a new and happy life in the country.

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Chickens Part 1

I have some very some very exciting news…we are going to be the very proud owners of four ex-battery hens! It has been my lifelong dream to live in the country in a beautiful farmhouse, with an orchard and lots of land to live off and to have a smallholding, and the children running around with the chickens, cats and dogs. So far we have the living in the country and the cats that contribute towards the dream, and on Saturday we will also have the chickens.

Nathan is particularly fond of chickens and we have often spoken about rescuing some ex-battery hens, but we never thought about when we would do it. A few weeks ago I showed Nathan some beautiful chickens that were in Country Living which confirmed his love for them and then prompted him to take another look on the British Hen Welfare Trust site to start proceedings. It is a fabulous site with lots of useful information and the process of adoption is incredibly simple, but be prepared for a few tears when you read about their previous lives and their plight for a happier and healthier future. This is also where Jamie Oliver and Jimmy Doherty got some of their lovely hens from. On Saturday hundreds of ex-battery hens are going to be liberated from a ‘farm’ in Surrey and driven to Southampton where we will rendezvous with the adoption co-ordinator and take our girls home to live a life of luxury in the sprawling countryside.

The girls are only about 18 months old and are useless to the commercial farmers as they are past their optimum point of lay even though they will still lay about an egg every other day. This usually means that they go to slaughter, however the wonderful British Hen Welfare Trust have managed to re-home 157,259 chickens so far. Alice our lovely co-ordinator has been able to advise us that her six girls came form the same farm and they are quite small birds and are a hybrid of Rhode Island Reds and Lohmann Browns, which are both good breeds for optimum egg laying. Alice also told us that their colours can range from deep red to bright copper and to rich cream.

The girls live in tiny cages and have never been free to wander wherever their little legs may take them. They have never experienced the weather and they know no fear. At first their legs are very tender and can become quite bruised so you have to be very gentle when handling them. They are often threadbare, and their combs can be quite large as they are used to diffuse heat in the hot barns, but their feathers will grow back and the combs will settle down in time. The lights in the barns are on for 18 hours a day so at first when it becomes dusky you have to put them into their coops otherwise they will just sit down and rest in the chilly evening air. After a few days their natural chicken instincts begin to kick in and they will eat the yummy worms that they will find rooting around the garden and no doubt the vegetable garden too. I wanted to give them organic feed, but you have to keep them on the layers crumb and mash that they have been used to since they were chicks. I don’t want to bore you with too many chicken facts, so if you would like to find out more and perhaps look into liberating some of these beautiful creatures you can do so here.

Tomorrow I shall update with photos of the hen house and run as it is raining tonight and the photos do not show them in all their glory.

Thank you for stopping by and good night bloggers, sleep tight x

Absent Again

Golly gosh this has been a very dry spell…I am so disappointed in my poor blogging of late and sorry to anyone who may like to read my blog and have found it rather lacking. It has been quite stressful at work and my personal time has utterly whizzed by. However I shall not let this repeat again as it is a trifle naughty of me and I really miss writing the blog. I shall have to learn a way of balancing all of these things in life and prioritising those that are important to me. Such as this yummy strawberry jam that I managed to make on the weekend.