Sunday, 31 October 2010

October is Over

As I mentioned in the previous post it’s been a hectic month; there is always so much to try and get done before the weather turns.  In fact there is far more than can be done but then that’s just how life is.  So what else have I been up to this month?

The area under the fruit trees that I seeded earlier in the month is a nice shade of green.  While a lot of the green is the weeds that sprouted almost immediately but there is also a good bit of grass too☺

As I was preparing the area, I realised that I had to pick the quinces before the grass seed went down and I ended up with 33lbs of them.

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This year I decided to make quince jelly again; it took nearly a week, boiling the fruit in batches and then straining the puree through a jelly bag.  In the end I had enough juice to make 2 large batches of jelly.


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One of the really nice things about home-made things is that everyone is different – there is quite a colour difference between the two batches of jelly even though I mixed all the batches of juice together.

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Both batches taste good but even so I think I have more than enough quince jelly to last me for the next couple of years, which left me thinking about what to do with next years crop.  This year’s was exceptionally prolific which is why I’m more than happy to make extra this year in case there is an untimely frost next year.  The tree is still growing and should the weather be kind I should have even more quinces so I will use them to make pectin. 

I made a batch of apple pectin this year but I think my apples would be better for cider or juicing.  The quince has a high level of pectin – you could use my quince jelly as safety matting! – and they would be ideal.

I also took a course in Shibori and Indigo dyeing techniques

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The fabric on the right I produced using various resist objects: Chick peas, screws, coins, twisting and stitching.  However the main reason I did the course was to have a go at Indigo dyeing, so I took along a hank of alpaca wool I’d spun, (although sadly not from my alpacas, this was from a practice fleece I’d been working on) and had a go at resist dyeing that.  I’m really pleased with the results and will, sometime, over the winter knit a stole with it.

I harvested the sweet potatoes I planted earlier in the year.

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I was going to blog about growing the slips back at the beginning of the year but never got round to it so that will be something for next year.  The plants went in a bit to late but I did get a few decent sized tubers, definitely more than I used to get the plants.  With luck I cracked the growing method this year and will start the plants earlier next year and they will have a longer growing season than they got this year.  They taste good though!

Way back in the mists of time, about 2 years ago, I had 3 large poplar trees that were planted around the house felled.  Any one of the 3 could have landed on the house if they were toppled in a storm and the closest one was rotten and leaning towards the house to boot.  I have spent the last 2 years trying to burn the metre plus diameter trunks to very little avail.  Well, Regis took pity on me and turned up with the pusher attachment on his tractor that he uses to clear the plum tree prunings.

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He also scraped up all the old straw and hay that had been lying about too, in fact I almost had to lie down in front of the tractor to stop him removing things – like the heaps of compost.  The result was 3 very large bonfires, two of which have been smouldering for a week now despite a day of rain and I am really pleased as I can now start to cut grass and tidy up around the farm.

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My saffron crocuses have also started flowering so everyday I’m picking the flowers and removing the stigmas and drying them on top of the wood-burner.  I have a lot more than previous years – probably enough for 2 or three meals this time!  I have converted their growing area to a raised bed and I think this has been very beneficial.  Next spring I will divide the clumps and see if that helps them further

And finally for this post, I’ve also been spinning in the evenings.  I have a fleece I was given which I've been using s a practice piece as I said above.  My spinning is getting more even and generally thinner.  Still a long way to go and my skirting and carding of the fleece still needs honing but I can see the improvement.  It’s also quite a therapeutic thing to do of an evening and with the long evenings that have just started, - sob, sob, why do they have to mess around with the clocks, - I’m hoping to get more fleeces spun.

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These are the hanks washed and hung up to dry in the kitchen today.

Happy Samhain/Halloween


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Yet another month has flown by and my feet feel as if they have barely toughed the ground.  Tonight though is Halloween and above is my very unsteady hand-held photograph of my pumpkin lantern in the garden.

It’s the first year I’ve managed to grow a pumpkin – previous attempts have usually succumbed to either the weather or slugs.  While this one is nowhere near record standard I’m really chuffed.  It came in at 42cm high and 115cm round.  I’ve no idea what it weighed but I could only just carry it.

This is it sat on the kitchen table.

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Large pumpkins also mean:-

toasted pumpkin seeds

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and pumpkin soup, which I think I’ll be eating for the next month!

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Once the above vat has cooled I’ll pass it through a mouli to make sure it’s smooth.

I was worried as to whether I would be able to carve and hollow out such a large pumpkin; my previous efforts had been on smaller supermarket bought pumpkins and I had found them very hard to carve safely.  However even though I’d picked this one around three weeks ago when the weather people forecast a possible frost, it was remarkably easy and I was able to use a soup spoon to scrape out most of the flesh.

Happy Halloween everyone.