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Sunday, 14 February 2016

Eggs and seeds

I have mentioned before that we have had a glut of eggs. It's why we have hens so I'm not complaining. We are getting up to ten a day which really mounts up. One outlet for them (my sister) has now dried up as their new neighbour also seems to have a glut and is handing them to my sister. We were sending a couple of dozen next door and no doubt any they don't need the daughter can use, but Venka is delighted that she has now got some hens that are laying. She usually only has meat birds and eggs are a bonus, often eaten by the chickens before she gets to them, but seeing that we have eggs all year seems to have spurred her to getting layers mash for the hens (which we get from our supplier) and it seems to be paying dividends.

We have some more eggs in the incubator and they are looking mostly fertile so we should have more chicks in a couple of weeks, both Light Sussex and backyard.

So now we are fully fed up of eggs all ways we will have to be making stuff from them until the car boot sales start and we can sell them there. Dave is fretting because his ducks aren't laying yet, but I am breathing a sigh of relief. He hasn't an incubator big enough to take a week's worth so I would have to find something to do with them as well!
They may not have started laying yet, but they are mating a lot and making a heck of a din!

So it has been a baking time with the freezer now having cakes, fruit bread, quiches and the like with it emptying fast of veggies. There is also a double batch of St Clements curd in the fridge, we have been eating creme caramel regularly (Dave found some fresh creamy milk in the village) and there are thirty eggs in bags of two in the freezer. I have also made some pink and white pickled eggs. No idea how they will taste and there aren't many as the big batch I cooked using my fail-safe technique for boiling and easily peeling fresh eggs failed miserably. So a few were fed back to the chickens. Still, the ones I did will give me an idea whether I will like them enough to do more. The pink colour was from some beetroot vinegar from the beets I pickled last summer. Thanks to Tracey Macdonald for sending me her recipe.  I'm sure if anyone wants to try them she will not mind me passing it on, please ask.
Good old stand by when you have too many eggs, creme caramel. The caramel could have been darker and the extra egg I sneaked in was not really necessary, but they were yummy all the same

Lovely, fresh, creamy cow milk!

We had these walnut macaroons at Venka's one day (no doubt she was using up the eggs we had given her!) and they were so good I found a recipe on line. Made mine with chunkyish nuts..yum
St Clement's curd, bagged eggs and pink pickled eggs.

Another good way of using the eggs is pasta. Dave loves his lasagne and I like tagliatelle. We are getting a bit of a stock of lasagne sheets in the freezer ready for quick summer meals later.

Lots of pasta

Dave's lasagne with rosemary and garlic bread

And my veggi pasta with sprouted seeds

So at the moment I have just a dozen eggs in waiting and will see if I can keep up this time.

The seedlings are coming along, not too fast as we are still in February but germinating and I have been able to get some annuals, onions, salad and brassicas into the cold frame. It is far too early to put tommies and other tender seedlings out there of course, but hopefully as things germinate upstairs and are moved out it will make space for tomatoes, peppers etc to be potted on into their own pots.
Sweet peas and marigolds can go out once they have all germinated

Tommies under bottle cloches, salad and fennel in cells. Just waiting for herbs to germinate

Peppers seem to take forever

The over wintered chilli plants have come through well and have started to sprout new leaves. They will be getting a heat boost this week as temperatures are set to soar to 23C making the corridor a rather nice greenhouse temperature by day without the steep drop a glasshouse would have overnight. Also up there the geraniums we have on the outside stairs are growing well, making cutting material and that can be done when there is space.
Chillis properly alive. They are only mild and two large plants, plenty for us.

Lots of fresh growth on geraniums

Dave has straightened up the polytunnel frame and strengthened it, putting supports down the middle so that if we should get more snow hopefully it will not collapse this time. We need to get the new cover which came over with my sister's belongings (I hope, we didn't actually see it!) and see if the frame is strong enough to take it. He has also put in steel supports for the raspberries and grapevines after the weight of the fruit snapped the 4x4 timber last year.

Well, the frame is upright and reinforced so we will see....

The new vine frame

I always get a hankering for fresh veg at this time of the year and with the broccoli, kale and cabbage frosted and ruined we were relying on the few sprout plants we had left. But they are now done...we had the last sprouts I have started to sprout seeds in the kitchen, something I used to do a lot of in years past. I love the sweet, nutty and fresh texture sprinkled on to salads, pasta and on a sandwich (fresh crusty bread, butter, marmite and a pile of sprouted beans....yum!) as well as picking at them.
Sprouted lentils to the left, mung beans on the right

Soaking chick peas and lentils ready for the next lot

But with the weather picking up for a while the lettuce and herbs in the garden will soon get going and there are some fresh half grown onions if I need them. We still have the threat of some low minus temperatures at night but hopefully it won't stunt things too much if daytime temperatures are higher and for longer. Already, in just a few days, everywhere is looking greener, bulbs and rhubarb are getting going, shrubs and perennials sprouting and the cornel tree is showing a little yellow on the blossom. Not forgetting the lush weeds of course.

All the animals are more active in the warmer weather and the cats especially spend more time out in the trees or barns night and day which is a relief to Bella as their rough play worries her. She should be grateful that they are now playing with each other and not attacking her! They have us in stitches as they fly in through the cat flap and scoot around the kitchen, playing ice skating on the tiles.
Charlie cooling off right in the middle of the kitchen floor...just where I want to be! He's losing his winter fluff in clumps

Spud enjoying just sitting in the sun and contemplating. He doesn't have winter fluff

And of course the goats are not here much as they go out if it's not raining

Out in the nursery the chicks are growing fast, with the Light Sussex now much bigger then the two hairy legged ones. With the warmer days and their feather growth they can now have the heat lamp off by day and have been given the run of the shed with a mesh door to keep the cats out. They should be fully feathered by the time the next lot need the lamp.
Going through a plain stage

We went over to my sister's last week as their worldly goods were delivered, and helped to unload the van (well, I was supervisor and lunch maker) My they have a lot of stuff, but it looked more as the house was fully furnished when they bought it. We have heard little from them as they try to make sense of the many boxes and flat pack furniture. At least it makes a change from chopping up branches! They did come over in the car the next day though, it must be great to have their own transport once again as they couldn't get out with the camper with the weather being dodgy and the verge very swampy.
And the Range Rover joins Kevin the camper
All tuckered out


  1. You have been busy, still waiting for my toms, peppers and aubergines to sprout but the rest are looking quite healthy, although not as advanced as yours. Yes, feel free to share the pickled egg love, if asked. xx

    1. You know me Tracey, ever impatient! We will be moving stuff into the polytunnel soon....but not the toms or peppers yet, they take too long to grow if we have another disaster.
      And thanks.

  2. I wish I had somewhere to start off seeds, our house is too dark during winter and the temperature fluctuates as we don't keep the wood burner non constantly... I have a small window sill that might serve... but I think, like you, a poly tunnel would work here, we don't have snow to weigh it down but we do get fierce winds. You are reminding me though that I need to get thinking about seeds.

    1. You would need to make sure it was well anchored then! We had a plastic greenhouse our first year here and it was great for bringing on seedlings and drying garlic and onions. But one day we had a mini hurricane and off it went! I was OK about the greenhouse....but mourned my plants.

      We have a new cover on today...and an unusual amount of wind for us! Ah well....

  3. You are doing very well with your seeds....we should have started ours off but haven't as yet. No excuse, just been too wet!

    1. Thanks Vera. It could have been a bit difficult if we hadn't been able to rescue the polytunnel. We have had temperatures up in the 20C but it could so easily turn to snowy coldness again so some sort of protection is really needed. Otherwise I would have been too early!

  4. I'm thinking of making this for Easter gifts and thought you might like it uses eight eggs LOL. I know you're not a drinker but the neighbours and friends might enjoy a tipple. Your St Clements curd looks lovely. I make a nice cooked lemon curd, which we all love but it only has a short term life in the fridge. since you've made several jars I'm guessing yours stores for longer. If you get the time and the inclination you mind letting me know how to achieve this. Best wishes from Jane

    1. Sorry silly me, here is the recipe link

    2. Thanks for the link! If lemon (or lime or whatever) curd is treated like jam it should keep a couple of months as long as it's not opened. I only use small jars and usually give some away. As you say, the eggs are well cooked and the sugar and acid will preserve, plus sterilising the jars and bottling hot. It's an incredibly easy recipe...

      180ml juice
      175g sugar
      3 eggs
      125 unsalted butter.
      Zest to taste, some like lots, some like none

      Warm all the ingredients in a pan over a medium heat until it bubbles, stirring all the time. Pot into sterilised jars while still hot. Date.

      This amount only makes three small jars so not cheap to make, but easy and yummy

  5. Many thanks for the recipe :-)

  6. hi sara where did you go for your light sussex chickens? We brought some eggs over from england but they didn't hatch so we are looking for some

    1. We got them from a chap in Shumen. We didn't go for them, just to pick up ducks, but they let a load out while we were there and they looked so nice.............

      They're quite common here on the selling sites

    2. Yeah we like them. We used to have them in England. Nice big birds for the table. I'm not good with computer can you send me a link for the selling sites, I can't find anything. We're in the Vratsa region. Thanks in advance

    3. Here's the link for the guy we bought from. Lovely couple, he speaks English. Will try to find the selling sites but to be honest we got rid of the links because they were not easy to use and we have had very limited responses. In fact emails were usually ignored! Maybe they didn't make sense in translation.

      We will have some Sussex youngsters for sale if you get no joy. We have four at four weeks old, another hatch due next week. But we don't know the sexes yet, they are not as obvious as the Shumens were.

  7. Goodness you have been busy with all that baking - don't you ever stop?!! You have so much energy! We are suddenly getting more eggs here too but I'm not baking so scrambled eggs and spanish tortilla it will have to be.

    So Splash is properly renamed Spud now, or is that just a nickname? I do like Spud for a cat, it's rather a fun name although it makes me think of a fat couch potato cat!

    1. Haha, yes Spud suits him...though Dave has several not so nice names for the little treasure.

      No energy, that left years ago, but I become a bit of an automaton in the kitchen. With several sit downs! But my age-and-weight related infirmities shrink to insignificance to your's and I should think myself lucky. And I do....most of the time!!

  8. Goodness you have been busy with all that baking - don't you ever stop