Thursday, 30 September 2010

Hedgerow Cordial


Eager to beat the devil before he spits on the blackberries, I've been along the hedgerows picking blackberries, elderberries, crab apples, hips, haws and sloes to make cordial and I now have three bottles of beautiful deep inky purple liquid, which I hope will taste as good as it looks. It seems to sum up autumn. Sadly, the same dark residue under my fingernails looks less than attractive.

Pruning Christmas Trees


It's been a nice sunny day today for pruning Christmas trees. These trees are about five years old and Bill is pruning them so they keep a good shape.

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Monday, 13 September 2010

Making Bread


For the past few years I have made most of the bread that we eat and though to start with my loaves were a bit hit and miss, which could explain why my children were always keen to eat school lunches instead of taking sandwiches, I persisted and now there are only occasional comments about the weight of a loaf. I was buying my flour from the local miller, even though we grow tonnes of breadmaking quality wheat on the farm, so decided to try milling some of our own wheat. We use a handmill to grind up small amounts of wheat to test it for moisture but it takes such small quantities that it took an hour to grind enough for one loaf.  So that was a non starter. Then I found a beautiful wooden electric grain mill that grinds wheat at the press of a button, so now I make flour from the wheat that is grown on the farm.  I only grind flour as and when I need it, as the oil in the wheatgerm will make it go rancid if it is kept too long and from June I stop using our wheat as I worry that it will warm up too much and start going off. So after a summer of using bought white flour, this weekend I baked the first batch of bread using this year's wheat and it smelt delicious – just like harvest all over again. It tasted pretty good too.

Monday, 6 September 2010

seed cleaning

The mobile seed cleaner arrived on Saturday.  Wheat that was combined last month goes in one end of the machine and has all the debris and light grains taken out, then gets a chemical dressing to protect it, before emerging down a chute into the waiting bag. This wheat will now be sown in the ground to make next year's crop. 

Friday, 3 September 2010

Harvest is over

The wheat was finished ages ago, but we've been waiting for the beans in The Ley and Lakes to dry.  Bill tested them last week and said they were as "soft as soup" but they finally dried out and were combined today.

 I love this time of year when harvest is over and September begins.  This summer seemed to alternate between rain and sun, which made harvest particularly difficult and unpredictable, so it's good to get back to normality now all the crops are cut.  Far from the romantic notion of harvest conjured up by television and The Archers, no-one here has the time to drop into the local pub for lunch or sit in the field with a tea-time spread conjured up from a wicker hamper provided by a doting wife.  It's more a case of wolfing down warm sandwiches and a melted chocolate biscuit in a spare moment and cursing because the Thermos flask has got stuck under the tractor seat again and shattered the inside.

September is about new beginnings whether the new shoes and pencil case of schooldays, new school or college, new netball season (surely we must win our division this year) or new crops in the ground.  I love to open the back door in the mornings and breathe in the damp air with the slight smell of apples and that lovely earthiness when they're ploughing.  The blackberries are ripe for picking, the autumn raspberries are so abundant this year I'm struggling to keep up and life is good.