Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Pesky birds.

We seem to be feeding every Rook and Jackdaw within a twenty miles radios at present, no doubt attracted by the good food that we seem to lay on buffet style for them, they tried to relieve us of all our soft fruits, so all the bushes had to be netted, they helped themselves to the organic hen feed at 18 euros a bag, they then turned to attacking the potato crop as soon as we had cut back the haulms, even digging in the soil to get to the tubers. Clearly something had to be done. Scarecrows, old CD disks even Aeolian harps made from plastic bottles failed to scare of these persistent pests.
Ladder Trap, hope it works.
Simon has now made a ladder trap, these are said to work, the birds go into the trap but because of the ladder at the top they can not get out, the birds can then be captured and released elsewhere or dispatched. We wait to see how effective this will be. Last year we were plagued by Jackdaws who were stealing eggs as soon as they were laid, this year although we have seen some around in the donkeys field we have not had a problem with them, maybe the word went round in the jackdaw kingdom that severe penalties awaited them if they stole eggs.
Redcurrant jelly, the colour of rubies.
The jam making season is now for me almost at the end, the last of the redcurrants are dripping through the jelly bag, the last kg of gooseberries are cooked just waiting for me to add the sugar and boil up into jam, it's too hot at the moment to stand over a hot stove with boiling fruit, at the weekend I will make the last of the raspberry jam, and that will be it until September when the Crab apples will be ready to make into jelly. Both Crab apples and Redcurrant jellies are lovely with roast or cold poultry, pork or lamb.
I have had several emails asking how to make jellies, they are very easy.
Barley cover your fruit with water, boil until soft.
 Allow to drip through a jelly bag or muslin cloth overnight, do not squeeze the bag unless you don't mind a cloudy jelly.
Measure to fluid, for every 600ml of fluid allow 450 g of sugar.
Boil up the fluid, add the sugar stirring all the time to dissolve it.
Gently bring to the boil stirring so it wont catch the bottom of the pan, start testing for a set on an ice-cold saucer after about ten minutes, set is normally achieved after twelve minutes.
Remove from heat and allow to cool for five minutes  give a good stir  and pour in to hot sterilised jars, seal immediately.
Jams are more or less the same, allow the same amount of sugar to fruit, always cook the fruit so it is soft before adding the sugar, once the sugar is added the fruit will not cook but remain hard, not what you want, you want something that is spreadable without hard lumps.
 With the exception of Strawberries all berries are high in pectin, so there is no need to add lemon or to use jam sugar which has added pectin.
 Jam and jelly making is one of the easiest ways to presurve your summer fruits.
The vegetable glut continues, keeping up with the Mange Tout peas and Courgettes has proved impossible but the pigs are enjoying them. Some have been frozen despite our vow not to freeze veg this year. The last of the Broad beans have been picked, they will also be frozen.
Fresh from the garden.
The flower garden is now very colourful, the sweet peas are blooming well and the roses are still looking good giving me a plentiful supply of flowers for the house, we also have a lot of red foliage plants which look great in a flower arrangement.
There is also lots of colour in the hedge rows from the wild flowers,
Blue Sow Thistle.
including the Blue Sow Thistle, this is probably not a wild plant at all but a garden escape, but it's lovely to see it, we will collect some seed head from this plant as it would be
                   a good addition to any cottage garden.
This week we became reacquainted with some old friends. On one of the poultry sites that I belong to someone was advertising for La Bresse birds from a different line that they had, I responded as we had a very good ten week old cockerel, far too good an example of his breed to eat. We duly arrive at their house, way up in the hills of Leitrim and realised that things were familiar to us, waiting out side was Peter, someone which we had not seen for over twenty years, he has a good stock of birds and was very pleased with our boy who we swapped for one of his pullets, we now have three different blood lines and Peter has four. Although they live quite a distance from us hopefully we will see them in the not too distant future.
View of Arigna and Lough Allen.
We had forgotten what beautiful views there are from the hills in Leitrim, although we will never forget the poor soil and mud, not something we would want to suffer again, but the views are great.


  1. Nice post. Just wondering if I am allowed to post these comments again, or whether Mr Gremlin still has the gates barred.

    1. Glad you liked it Matt, but yes, I still have Mr Gremlin, some received comments for some reason are not publishing.

  2. Ladder trap looks impressive, any luck so far? The flower arrangement is gorgeous. Bet you don't end up with any dead flies from it either! Nice you got back in touch with old friends, lovely when that happens.

  3. So far the ladder trap has been ignored, it will have to be moved I think. I have flowers in every window at the moment, mainly sweet peas, opps! maybe I should mention them?
    We also met up with another friend at the open garden last weekend, we will look forward to a visit to her garden next time she has an open day.