Wednesday, January 23, 2013

That time of year again.

Several things happen at this time of year. 
The first signs of spring.
 Marmalade making.
  Foxes on the move.
The first signs of spring are when the willow buds start to swell, the snowdrops appear and the first primroses bloom, the willows were early this year, a week or so before Christmas, the first primroses appeared three weeks ago and also the snowdrops. Although the last few days have been chilly we have avoided the snow that some parts of Ireland have had.
Preparing the fruit.

 This week saw the arrival of Seville oranges into selected shops, they are hard enough to find nowadays, I suppose not too many people can be bothered to make their own jams or preserves, but the difference between the shop bought and the home made is incredible, besides the fact of knowing what has gone into your pot. When we lived in Spain it was impossible to find Seville oranges and had to use fruit from a friends tree, although the result was nice, it was nothing compared to the real oranges. Marmalade making is time consuming, most recipes require the process to be carried out over two days, this time I decided I would try  Nigel Slaters recipe, this has turned out to be the best I have ever made. › Life & styleNigel Slater recipes
Slicing up the peel.

I  deviated very slightly and used two kg of oranges instead of twelve oranges, two kg being three more oranges, increased the sugar to 1.5kg and added slightly more water, finding muslin would have proved a problem had it not been for some friends, the same ones that gave me the tip off as to where to find the oranges, they had stocked up with muslin nappies whist they still lived in the UK.

The end result.
There are several stages involved with making marmalade, one requires the shredded peel to be cooked until is opaque, this took about forty five minutes, the most important part is of course reaching setting point, this took forty minutes. The result is a beautiful deep gold jam which when I turn the pot upside down stays put, so I guess we have a good set.

Foxes on the move.
 Foxes are opportunists, Saturday we had friends over for a meal, the hens had already been locked up for the night but the ducks are reluctant to go to bed too early so they are left until later, unfortunately this was the one night that the electric fence had not been turned back on and the fox killed and removed a lovely chocolate Muscovy duck. 
We also keep rabbits, they have their houses with what we thought were fox proof  runs, and they also get locked in later than the hens, the same time as the ducks.
 The following evening after the duck kill ,the fox managed to kill our beautiful buck rabbit Peter, although we must have disturbed him as this time the body was left behind. The two does that we now have left have been moved into wire rabbit cages in a barn, and don't seem to mind their freedom being restricted. New runs will be made, this time out of metal bars, and a new buck rabbit has been ordered, again a New Zealand White, he will not  replace Peter, but will be a replacement for him. Maybe he will be as sweet a rabbit as Peter was.
Due to the loss of Peter we now have bought an additional roll of electric poultry fencing, the new rabbit runs will be contained within this new outer barrier.
Tiny little bumble bees.(Quail)

The quail have hatched although we did not have as good a hatch as we had hoped for, less then 50% , it is however a little early in the year so hopefully we will have a better percentage on the next hatch. They are like little bumble bees, and not much bigger, dashing around their brooder, they seem to always be on the run.

This week we realised that we have eaten for seven days entirely from our own production. I am sure we have done so before, but had not paid any attention to the fact, it was only that this weeks meals had been planned for once . Sunday was roast chicken followed by cold chicken on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday chicken and celery pie, Thursday is Veggie crumble, Friday and Saturday will be rabbit stew with  the remains of this meal being turned in to a pie. Not too good for the figure,but hey! Spring is coming and maybe we can work it all off in the garden.  

1 comment:

  1. Poor Peter and poor Chocolate Muscovy! We say, "Hey! Red bushy-tailed murderer! No! Stay away from our doors!"