Thursday, August 28, 2014

Last hatch of the year.

Earlier on in the year our Muscovy ducks totally failed in their effort to hatch out young, normally Muscovy's are very reliable, both as broodies and as mothers so we were a little worried that the drake, Arnold, that we had bought last year was not doing his job. As the incubator was finished with for hatching hens eggs this year we decided to put in eighteen duck eggs although we would not normally hatch so late in the year,
One day old.
to our delight eleven healthy ducklings hatched although Muscovy eggs have the reputation of being very hard to incubate.
 We followed to the letter the instructions given on a poultry web site, 'Backyard Poultry'. Out of the ones that failed to hatch, two had died just at the point of pipping , the others had failed about a week from the end. So Arnold has proved he is up for the job, 100% fertility, even late in the season.
Once again this has been a busy week, Tuesday we got the second pig back from the butcher, so four hours were spent doing the butchery and bagging up,
Two sides of pork curing for bacon.
then getting the belly of the pig salted and placed in the curing container, we dry cure  bacon, this process takes ten days, then the bacon has to be hung to further cure before smoking it. The last sides that we did we found hard to cut thinly enough for frying as we came to the ends, this time round the friend that keeps us supplied with fish will be slicing it up on the bacon slicer where he works, we will then be able to freeze it in small amounts. Once it is sliced you cant keep it unfrozen but it does mean that none will go hard.
We are also wet curing the pigs cheek to make Bath Chap, a west country delicacy.
Doing our own butchery and curing makes us appreciate the way of life we witnessed when we lived in Galicia.  We lived in a very small aldea with just five family's still living there. All these families not only grew their own pork but did the slaughtering, butchery and curing as a matter of course. All the houses had their own smoker. They also grew the crops on which to feed their pigs. All of them made wine although wine is cheap enough to buy it was a matter of pride with these lovely hard working people. They also made several different types of liquors, our favourite one was coffee, made from the spent coffee grounds. Unfortunately this way of life is dying, so few of the young people remain in the countyside or value the traditions, soon it will all be a distant memory, relegated to the realms of history books.
These true county people must find the new ways very strange, we certainly do. Watching a program last week we were dismayed to find that in the UK, only one in six people cook a meal from scratch on a daily basis, children all around eleven years old who were given a crash course in preparing a meal did not know the different vegetables, they could not even pick out which were onion and which were carrots. Something has gone very wrong both in family life and school education. What is the point of having an academic education if there is no education in life skills?
Anyone who knows us knows that we love cats, they all have their different personalities and habits.
Felix trying the door.
  Felix, now our fourth youngest cat, just a year old is an expert door opener, two nights ago at midnight we found that all the cats including the kittens were out , something which is not allowed after dark. Felix had mastered the heavy glass sliding door in the kitchen, now we have to keep it locked. Today he gave a demonstration of how he does it, lying down using the wall as a brace, he then can slide the door with his front paws.
Caught in the act, at least he looks guilty.
              Too clever for his own good.
Freddy and Misty are no longer the youngest members of the family, yesterday we received
Maddy, an eight week old tortoiseshell.
We have called her Maddy as she is totally mad, but very cute, she has been very well accepted by all the others,
including Suzy, which was very surprising to us, he normally does not like kittens at all.
Bergamot and Heather.
Finally this weeks flowers, mainly purples now, but still lovely.


  1. Another kitten! Well done on the ducklings, too. By the way, that salmon was a dream!

  2. Glad you enjoyed the salmon Matt. The kitten needed a home, we always have space for a kitten needing a home.

  3. The kitten is a cutie. Welcome Maddy. You sound extra busy at the moment but great lifestyle - enjoy.

    1. Yes Ian, she is lovely and we named her well, she is a little madam and mad as well. Life seems more hectic than usual, maybe it's because we are getting old.

  4. Cheeky Felix! Very smart of him though! Well done on the ducklings, it must be a relief to kknow Arnold has no problems! I've only just been able to catch up on the pig drama, wow! Glad to see you got there in the end, looks like you're doing a fantastic job. the bacon and liver meal on the previous post looked delicious. And welcome Maddy, great name. I love tortoiseshell cats, good to see her settling in well xxx

    1. Felix is a very clever cat, but he is a bit of a worry, we found him out twice today we had confined all the cats as we knew we had several cars arriving, twice Simon found him out, he had opened the French window in our bedroom! Hopefully we will still have our own pork next time you come, maybe not this lot, it might be the next seasons.

  5. Anne,
    Maddy is adorable. a great addition to you family. And that Felix, not every cat can open a door. I have two that can which the other cats would watch and wonder how they did it. The bouquet is wonderful. I love Bergamot.. The ducklings are so cute. We are having a couple of days of hot and humid weather then cooler weather again. My best to you

  6. Maddy is a real sweetie. I used to have a Siamese cat that could open doors if they had a push down handle, jump on the handle then use the legs to push against the door frame. Clever things cats!. I also love bergamot, I have been promised the roots of two different colour ones in the next couple of weeks.

  7. Beautiful arrangement. What a pleasure it must be to supply your own flowers. To be able to see them in the garden and the home.

    1. I do like to have a vase of flowers in the house it makes things so much brighter.