Thursday, 6 April 2017

Fame At Last! - Home Farmer Magazine Article

I'm afraid I'm very pleased with myself this week. Having never been in print before (well there was that incident back in the sixties, but we'll draw a veil over that...) I find myself featured in this month's edition of Home Farmer magazine. Amazing! Well, me and my cow Rosie that is. The nice people at Home Farmer have kindly reprinted an extract from my blog back in 2014 when I first got Rosie, when I wrote about the trials and tribulations of learning how (and how not) to milk a cow. 

So I thought it would be a good idea to put up a few pictures of Rosie, who is still with me, and due to calve in about eight weeks time. She's been an absolutely lovely cow to have, and has put up with my often bumbling efforts to care for her with the kind of patience and stoicism that only a Jersey cow can. She has a very calm temperament  and endearing personality, and I always say she would come in and watch TV with us if we let her! 

Anyway it was great to be featured in a national monthly, even if it's a somewhat specialist readership, I feel quite proud that they thought my ramblings would be of interest to readers.  Home Farmer magazine is a great little publicaton  for people interested as the title suggests in smallholding, small farms, gardening, cooking, preserving, wildlife and other related subjects. It's presented in a down to earth no nonsense kind of way, with contributions from experts and amateurs alike (hence my inclusion!)
I was asked to produce some higher quality images for the piece so we went out with my trusty phone camera, and got loads of shots of the wall, the cows feet, my feet, cowpats, and sundry other stuff before we managed to get a couple of decent shots. Cows just won't stand still when you need them to! Here's one  of me in fits of laughter with Rosie's last calf  Daisy photobombing the shot at the back.

Home Farmer magazine can be purchased at good retailers or to see what's in this month's issue click here. That's me on page 42 by the way...

Monday, 27 February 2017

Storm Doris

We have, or rather had, an old disused milking parlour down at the end of the field. 
The roof was already off when we came here, and although I  have harboured thoughts of  restoring it, I was assured by everyone thatlooked at it that it ws beyond hope, and the recent storm Doris has finally  put paid to any such ideas. This is what remained after the storm
The makings of a nice brick path somewhere in the garden I think.
 There was though, the remains of three galvanised milking stanchions, which we have removed and will try to install in the poll barn
There was a bit of tree damage as well - this lovely apple tree has been more or less halved, it had way too much misteltoe on it's branches which I think may have contributed to the damage because of the weight. So some nice logs for the fire, some applewood sawdust for the smoker, and some tidying up to do.

Sunday, 26 February 2017

Bird Flu

Since the announcement of incidents of the latest strain of Avian Influenza in the UK, Apha, the Animal and Plant Health Agency, have been issuing details of recommended ways in which poultry should be protected from contact with wild birds. For large commercial producers this isn't too much of an issue, as the birds tend to live in enormous hangar type buildings anyway, but for small poultry keepers like me, it's more difficult. I can't just conjure up a building to house my chickens, so we have had to be a bit inventive. So we have made an enclosure with some old Heras fencing, the type of thing normally seen on building sites, and covered the top with some polyester netting, again the type normally seen on scaffolding on building sites (because it's cheap and readily available)
Chickens however, are very quick to find any gap in your defences,and although i though we had everything covered, it wasn't long before they found this easy exit through some broken bits of fence
 and they were all out again. So I've patched it up, and hopefully all will be ok again for tomorrow. We will of course have to move this arrangement around the field at regular intervals to make sure the birds continue to have access to fresh grass.
We all fervently hope that this latest strain of bird fly will be short lived and we can go back to our normal free ranging as soon as possible, especially now that the birds are coming into full lay. I've even had a couple of goose eggs in the last few days!

Monday, 6 February 2017

Best Ever Chocolate Brownies Recipe

I've been promising to give this recipe to my friend Dawn for ages, but haven't got round to writing it down, so as we're doing the supper for the WI ladies tomorrow, I thought I might just as well write it down now then it's there for future reference and anyone else who might like it. I've tried lots of different recipes over the years, I used Nigel Slater's recipe for ages, and it's good, but now I prefer to use the whisking eggs and sugar method rather than the creaming method he goes for, Anyway  having tweaked and tested, this is the final edit. Until I change my mind again of course...

This makes a pretty substantial slab of brownie, it fills a 9 inch 23 cm tin, but you can cut the into teeny pieces if you want to stretch it round a crowd. Or you could use an oblong 12 x 9 inch tin and make it thinner, but you will need to cook it for a shorter time. And this is one of those recipes that depends substantially on the quality of the ingredients, so don't stint.

8 oz/ 230 gr dark chocolate
8 oz/230 gr butter
4 eggs
5 oz/180 gr caster sugar
5 oz/180 gr soft light brown sugar
6 oz/150gr,  milk and white chocolate chopped up or chocolate chips
3 oz /90 gr cocoa
3 oz/90 gr self raising flour

Melt the chocolate and butter together and allow to cool a bit.
Beat the eggs and sugars together until pale and light.
Pour the chocolate mix into the egg mix.
Sift the flour and cocoa onto the mixture and fold in.
Lastly fold in the chopped chocolate pieces and turn the mixture into an 9 inch 23cm square tin, lined with parchment.
Bake at gas 4 180 electric 160 fan for 30 - 40 minutes. Timing is the most important part of the process, it should be just soft  in the middle,but not liquid. It will firm up as it cools, If you cook it too long you'll just have a chocolate slab, and a heavy one at that! So keep an eye on it.

I don't put nuts in, but you can add chopped walnuts brazils or pecans if you like.


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