Saturday, 21 June 2008

Is Victor Meldrew* in the House?

Either that or I'm morphing into him. My hot shower this morning wasn't - so cue quick chorus of 'I don't believe it'. No switches tripped on the distribution board so it looks like the immersion heater has given up after 3 months. I could try sending it back but I think that by the time I've gone through the hassle it will be cheaper to ask my sister to send me one direct from the UK.

Just what I need with less than 2 weeks to go until my children arrive - so I'm off to connect up the solar shower and hope the sun keeps shining.

I'm begining to wonder 'why me'?

* Victor Meldrew - One Foot in the Grave

PS. anyone else having difficulty pasting into blogger at the moment.

Friday, 20 June 2008

Oh No! Or Words To That Effect.

I'm beginning to think I should retire to bed, put my head under the pillow and stay there. Something has it in for me as far as cutting grass goes.

The mower started fine this morning but after about a minute or so, it began to billow white smoke so I think there is an oil leak or gasket problem there.

I then went off to cut the first lot of hay; it's taken over 4 hours, it always takes me much longer on the tractor than I think it will. But the paddock field is cut so it was back to park the cutter and change to the tedder. The cutter has a transport position so I duly folded it up and locked it into place to get back to the yard. On putting the cutter down, I didn't want to leave the cutter in the up position so undid the locking clamp and returned to the cab to lower the cutter on the hydraulics. Thankfully I was in the cab and there was no-one else around because the hydraulics pushed the cutter from the vertical but did nothing to slow the descent, so it bounced on the drive chain which promptly snapped. ARGH.

So think positive, at least I've finished the first field and as the second one is underwater it would have to wait anyway.

On the negative side, I now have 2 walk-behind mowers, 1 ride-on mower and 1 hay-cutter all hors de combat. Not really my week is it?

Thursday, 19 June 2008

A Change of Plan

And it’s to do with hay making. The plan was to wait until Regis returned this weekend and for him to guide me through the best way to cut the grass, when to turn it, when to turn it again when to windrow it and when to bale it. Hot weather was forecast over the weekend and the beginning of next week.

However with the approach of the summer solstice, someone has switched on summer and we’ve had 2 glorious days already and temperatures predicted to be 30°C or more tomorrow. This lovely weather is now predicted to break over the weekend so it looks like it’s now or never for the hay.

I’ve had a walk through the two hayfields tonight. The alpaca paddock field is still wet in the places it was wet before but the majority is dry. It won’t be particularly good hay from there as it’s mainly flowering grass stalks. The grass is still a bit sparse on the ground but has grown well. I went through the areas where I sprang the hares when I topped it earlier and saw nothing so with luck if there are no hares, there shouldn’t be any leverets to worry about either.

The other field, otherwise known as the hay field, is full of long rich luscious grass, wonderful. The only problem is that at ground level it is inundated with water. There is enough grass that your feet don’t get wet but every step is accompanied by a loud squelch. Maybe I’ll give that field a bit longer in the hope it will dry out.

The car will go in to have its timing checked next week but in the meantime my walk behind lawnmower is playing up. I couldn’t get it started and when I finally did it produced copious amounts of white smoke. I’m hoping it’s just because I flooded it; I’ve abandoned it until the morning and have fingers crossed on that one. In the meantime I might look up the receipt for it but I have a sneaking feeling that it’s a month or so out of warranty, such is life!

Tuesday, 17 June 2008

Another Rainy Day

Well it’s not rained for the whole day but we had 13 mm over yesterday so the ground didn’t really have much of a chance of drying out today and then there has been a little light rain this evening too. It began to look like it was 10 pm not 8 pm, so no late night working tonight.

I did manage to get half the alpine strawberries picked though, nearly a pound/450 g of them. It will be another race against slugs and rain to get the rest picked tomorrow. Today’s batch is on a tray in the freezer as I want to see how well they freeze and more importantly defrost.

It’s also been a quiet day cherry wise too, the cherries in vodka have been shaken and are just beginning to give the vodka a pink hue while the glace cherries are on a day of rest. I may even have them ready for drying tomorrow evening, if not then in a couple of days. They are looking really red and close to what I think glacé cherries should look like. So I’ll get round to posting pictures of the results of the cherry haul when the glacé cherries are done.

Every cloud has a silver lining so the saying goes and the silver lining of the last couple of days is that I’ve been inside and have finally got round to clearing space for my children to stay. They will be here in a couple of weeks and I’m so excited but I’m sure they will appreciate somewhere to lay their heads and put their suitcases. So lots more boxes emptied and homes found for most of the stuff.

Next up will be tackling the loft. It needs all the old insulation removed and then a good sweep and hopefully all the rafters sprayed with anti-woodworm and termite stuff.

On the downside, the vacuum cleaner broke today; well it isn’t actually broken, rather the on switch doesn’t switch. As long as you press the switch it will work so I envisage me hopping round the room trying to vacuum with one foot firmly on top of the cleaner. Since I don’t have carpets I’m wondering if I really need to replace it; it’s about 6 years old now so well into its area of built in obsolescence. The only reasons I might are the cats, I really like to be able to vacuum where they sleep and I like to go over my mattress at least a couple of times a year too.

The ride-on mower has broken as well this week so I’m now wondering what the third thing will be. The car has taken to juddering/pulling back until the turbo kicks in; I think that’s what’s happening it’s at a bit over 2000 revs. I do hope it’s not the car, I was hoping that after 4 new tyres and the timing belt change I wouldn’t have any more major expense on it this year. To be honest I hope it’s nothing else either, so we’ll wait and see.

Tomorrow is dentist day, part of me is happy as I’m hoping that my teeth will be fixed but part of me is worrying whether it’s going to hurt. I think the root is finally dead as it doesn’t ache any more, so with luck all will be OK

Sunday, 15 June 2008

Cherry Update

All the cherries from the sawn off branches have now been picked in what was a race against the slugs and snails. I haven’t weighed them but guess I had 3 or 4 two-gallon bucketfuls; now the race is to process as many as possible before they go off.

The David Lebovitz candied ones, about a pound starting weight, are done and in the fridge. They aren’t what I would call glacé but more like ones you would get in jam. I won’t be using them in cherry sponge but I think they will be really nice with ice-cream.

The 7lbs I’m candying using the long process look and taste far more like glacé cherries – I’m just on day 4 at the moment.

I’ve a batch of the No-Recipe jam on the go too, no idea the weight of cherries used but it was a layer of 2 and a bit inches in the bottom of the jam pan which made about 2 and a half pints of liquid and cooked cherries.

Following the old adage of waste not want not, I zested the lemon before adding the juice so I’ve lemon zest for cakes or maybe a batch of lemon shred marmalade and the squeezed halves are going in the bottom of the dishwasher where they act as deodorisers and rinse aid.

I was going to make some cherry syrup with the remaining cherries but I’m going to have all the syrup left over from the candying process so the remaining cherries are going to become cherry jelly as I can’t be bothered to stone any more – just cook, squidge and strain, a lot faster.

And I’ve 1 lb of cherries sitting in a bottles worth of vodka destined to be cherry liquor in 8 months time.

There are still a few more cherries on a couple of the trees but I’ve strawberries to pick tomorrow so I don’t know if I will be doing anything with them yet. If I do I think it will be pie filling but at the moment I getting close to my limit of cherries, I even see them in my sleep.