Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Here...


And straight to work. During our prolonged absence, the pigs had done a grand job clearing the potato patch for us. They have moved back to their home croft now, but we will be taking delivery of our own two in August. The top half of this field is really good growing land, and once the new drainage ditches are dug, and the rushes are dealt with, then the rest should come into production as well. Not really sure of the best way to oust the rushes. Digging them out is just too much - their roots, while not deep, are very tenacious, to put it politely, so not an option. Chemical treatment is the most often proffered advice, but not really what we want to hear, and also, so much of the land around us is already rush covered, they would soon be blowing back with the wind when they set seed. Our neighbour, suggested cutting them back, before they seed and pouring some rock salt into them, so we are going to give this a go first, and combined with good drainage, we are hopeful that we can at least keep them at bay. He is determined to sort out his rush problem too, so that should help.



Our first early potatoes are now in. 25kg of Duke of York, or Eersteling, as my republican leaning husband prefers to call them. We have differing views on potato planting methods. I prefer to dig out a trench, lay the tatties in and then cover them up again. John is very influenced by the no-till school, and prefers to dib them in. In the end we worked out a fairly efficient system which satisfied his no-dig tendencies, and my slap dash lets get this job done style. Using a narrow spade, he dug out a small hole for each potato, while I followed on putting in the pots, and adding a good handful of our potent seaweed and well rotted manure (horse/cow/sheep) mix. John then lightly raked the sods back over the top, and it was done and dusted. Just the Kerr's Pinks, which are a maincrop, to plant over the next couple of days. Not sure how they will work out, but they seem to grow well enough here, if the Crofters' Market stand is anything to go by. No time to chit either!


Maddie Mor agus Maddie Beag are doing well. They have grown quite a lot since we last saw them. They still came running up eagerly when they saw the red trug, so we know they have forgiven us. Some happy news today is that one of our other neighbours is giving us a ewe with a lamb! Oo-er that means 3 sheep to shear now!! Our little group of livestock is expanding rapidly.
The acrobatic sheep in the second picture is my neighbour's. He was herding some of his flock into his trailer, to move them to another field, and I guess she just didn't want to go.


What else? Baking! when we arrived back, I had the pleasure of opening several packages from the well known online book retailer, which I had ordered thinking I would only be away for a couple of weeks. Among them was the River Cottage handbook on Bread, by Daniel Stevens. What a marvellous book. Everything works! I have never made such soft springy loaves, and I feel almost confident enough to try these scones out at the local show.


And our Good Friday picnic on the croft. Hot Cross Buns (from the Bread handbook) and cups of tea all round.
On with the potatoes and then off to the peats - see you there!

28 comments:

  1. you are a breath of fresh air! this post is absolutely delightful ... i am almost there with you. you inspire me to live more naturally. absolutely marvellous! i'm glad you are settling in. it looks very lovely there. i also have to say that your baking looks delicious and those cups of tea are a great color.

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  2. Looks like you're settling in nicely :-)
    The bread looks lovely!

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  3. the new header looks great! awesome groove from it and i like the four pics in a row ... really super!

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  4. lol at the sheep on the wall! And when I initially saw the potato in the hole, I thought the chooks had been "Helping out"!!

    Everything looks wonderful, and yay to more shearing!

    Lovely to see how things are going for you, here's to living the dream.

    xx

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  5. What a lovely post - that food looks delicious

    xxxx

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  6. Lovely photos, how do you manage to fit it all in. You guys must flop into bed at night lol.
    V
    xxx

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  7. My favourite bread book too! Glad to see you're enjoying yourself - hope you had a good feet up session after all that planting! xx

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  8. Looks like you've settled in wonderfully, and expanding the flock too is great x

    Wow those pigs did a great job, can't wait to see yours arriving.

    I'm a fan of the RC bread book too, some lovely recipes and ideas.

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  9. God,
    Could almost kill for a Hot X Bun, my favourites. Couldn't get them in northern Sweden and though they're great at patisseries here they don't make HXBs!
    All looks mouthwatering. And what a life-change. Good luck to all who sail with you on the Isle. Pigs are always useful, clear almost anything given time. My wife, J, is going off on a weekend baking course at the Handmade Bakery in Slaithewaite in a few weeks time - she's really looking forward to it. So am I.....

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  10. Such happy pictures. The outdoor picnic looked great, we love all things River Cottage!

    Hugs San xx

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  11. He was herding some of his flock into his trailer, to move them to another field, and I guess she just didn't want to go.
    Heeeeeeeee Heeeeeeeeeeee

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  12. I havent heard them called Eersteling since I was a boy forty or fifty years ago. I wish you all the best and look forward to seeing how it goes. What a nice gift a ewe and lamb I am seriously jealous (no I am not I dont do Jealousy) but how nice is that? Great post by the way. XXX Don

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  13. Great pics, great food. Love the bread and the HXBs, I'm tempted to try some of those for myself! I've taken to proving my bread in a rectangular (lined) basket so the slices are more nearly the same size - the middle ones from a round loaf are almost impossible to cut with the bread knife!
    All the best.

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  14. I really must buy a book and bake my own bread, so much nicer than the insipid White mush from supermarkets. Love your blog.

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  15. Wow, your hot cross buns look absoloutely delicious!! As do your scones, oh what I wouldn't give to be able to eat a big buttery jammy scone, yum! It looks like your Easter picnic was a jolly tasty affair! Gosh how much digging would I need to do if I ate all those lovelies! Nothing beats freshly dug poatoes smothered in butter either, I am looking forward to ours later in the year. We have planted some pink fir again after their success last year. Have a lovely weekend. Liz x

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  16. I'm so impressed by the results of all your hard work! Clearly you are meant for the crofting life. Good luck with the rush removal, and enjoy your weekend.

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  17. Well...I agree with every comment above. Love the new header photo and I've decided the pic of your foot with the dandelion is just for me (that's my story and I'm sticking to it!).
    You absolutely should do those yummy scones for the local show. You kill me with your bread posts and photos, oh those photos..... I sit here and drool!
    It all looks so beautiful!
    sigh....
    meggs xx oo
    p.s. in the photo of my friends, you are the BEAUTIFUL one of course!!!

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  18. Hello - thank you all for these lovely comments. It is so good to know you are all still keeping me company.
    Meggs - lol. I wondered where that vibe was coming from when i took that photo!
    V - I must mention that we didn't do all these things in 1 day, but, yes, flopping into bed is the way of things,
    Don - sorry you have not been great. I am glad you enjoyed the pictures.
    Iain - nice to 'see' you. Hope you wife enjoys her course - I think I have read about that bakery in CL magazine.
    Liz - I am using the hard work as an excuse for the baking. I didn't do well with pink firs before, but apparently i didn't leave them in long enough.
    Hi Albedo. Funnily, that was the first round loaf I had made - I usually bake in tins, but have now progressed. I have seen those baskets, and I may investigate further.
    PK - Thanks. I would really recommend the RC book.
    Christine - Thank you - I feel as if I am in the right place.
    xxxx

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  19. Thank you for popping over to comment on my blog. I hope you are having a good weekend. XXX Don

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  20. I often check in to see to see if you have posted and so loved this one. Like everyone else I think the bread is awesome..Enough to make one drool..
    Loved the sheep story, too... smile...

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  21. So...this is where you moved? This is your new property? Wow....beautiful!

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  22. With being so busy, you probably don't remember our small convo about photographing one's own feet.
    LOL!!!
    And in keeping with that, you were foremost in my mind when I took a snap of my extremely sunburned feet Saturday night! They are so burned, they look dirty. (but they are okay).
    (when will i learn this lesson for pete's sake!!!)
    LOL!!!

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  23. The farm is looking lovely in all it's spring glory. I didn't till this year either. I dug everything in and turned it over with a little shovel. I want to compare the results and see what happens, plus it's just kinder to the earth to do it this way. Your little sheep are so cute. I love sheep,......really I just do. I know your days will be busy but I wish them to be full and happy.

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  24. Hi Faye - it is always nice to see you. You have such beautiful blogs.
    LC - yes - thank you. I will be catching up again, it seems such a long time
    Valarie - Thank you so much xx
    Meggs - Sunburned feet! You must post that. i do remember our foot photography inspired correspondence,lol, and I think we should start a regular barefoot festival - Barefoot Friday? Barefoot February? xx

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  25. Rushes - a suggestion - my Dad told me when I was a kid that "almost everything doesn't like being mowed, just grass is better than most at coping with it". Would it exhaust the rushes if you took the tops off regularly? (Scythe? Or sickle.) I find a lot of perennials "run out of steam" eventually if I just keep taking the top parts off, like the nettles in amongst my onion patch. I have taken the tops off four times now and they are definitely slowing down. Might be too labour intensive though, perhaps it would exhaust you first. In any case, best wishes and thanks for sharing your world with us!

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  26. Hi Alice. Thank you for that suggestion. It makes sense, keep topping them and don't let them seed, and John is a scythe man, so he will be swinging the blade before too long. We'll see what is left once the ditching machine has gone over the field. Thanks for dropping by. x

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  27. Is the River Cottage bread book really so different? I am still searching for the perfect bread book, and have spent too much money on the pursuit. But if you're convinced then I might give it a go. Anything that could teach me to make scones after a lifetime of producing what can only be described as 'biscuits' wouldn't be bad either. My scones are legendary in my family, and not in a good way.

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