Tuesday, 27 December 2016

December round-up

Scything under cat supervision
Surprisingly, the most time-consuming garden job this month has been mowing the lawn. With the mild temperatures, the grass just keeps on growing, and the scythesman had to come out one more time, ably assisted and supervised by Domino. Hopefully, this will make the first cut of spring a whole lot easier.

This time of year is meant to be the start of DIY season, but we've been a bit unwilling to get into that, so far. Luckily, our friend Dorothy has started for us by making the first batch of our new Roman blinds, complete with label: 'Handmade in Kirkmaiden', no less. No doubt we'll get on with more indoor things in the new year. Let's see how far we get...

The first of many venison casseroles
December's unexpected windfall was Jim's first roe deer. It took a couple of days to butcher (after hanging for 3-4 days), but now the freezer is full of delicious, tender venison. Domino and the chickens love the scraps, too. We've already had a few dishes from young 'Buckie' and the Christmas haunch stretched over three days. Jim got an interesting cookbook for Christmas: Delicious Vermin - all about preparing sustainable wild meat such as rabbit and pigeon (and a few suggestions for roe deer, partridge and grey squirrel).

The egg skelter is filling up again

Wonky mooli radishes - ideal for kimchi making
In other protein news, the three young hens hatched early last summer have now all started laying. The chucks gave us four eggs for Christmas! One of the new layers, the pretty black hen, produces a beautiful dark brown egg with a slight purplish sheen (as opposed to the light to very light brown eggs of the others). We might breed exclusively from her next year. So, again, it took almost exactly six months for the first young hen to start laying and almost seven for the late bloomer. A good indication is the state of the comb and wattles. When the pullets start to look like proper hens they won't be long in laying. Another sign seems to be that the cock begins mating with them...

Another thing that has kept us busy in December is kimchi production. All remaining mooli radish has now been converted into health-giving kimchi. In total, we made nine litres of the stuff, but a third of that is already consumed! Now that we know how easy it is to make we'll make it from all kinds of vegetables. Winter cabbage next.

Purple-sprouting broccoli
The first promising signs of next year's produce are beginning to show: rhubarb stalks emerging, garlic sprouts pushing up and broad bean seedlings unfurling leaves. The purple-sprouting broccolis are displaying the first small sprouts, new rocket is shooting up and the indoor peas are getting taller.

Fun-looking oca
We still have five squashes left, but some other fruit and veg ran out this month, notably garlic and frozen berries. Others, like frozen tomatoes and dried apple rings, are getting low. But there are still plenty of kale, chard, leeks, parsnips, swedes, Jerusalem artichokes, celeriacs and, in storage, potatoes. Plus our new crop: oca or New Zealand yam. Pretty in pink, they can be eaten raw or cooked. When they are cooked (just scrub, no need to peel) they lose the pink colouring and look and taste similar to mini potatoes but with a strong zing of lemon. They're definitely staying on the menu.

1 comment:

  1. Well, Domino brings a whole new line to 'One Man Went To Mow'..! Enjoy the venison, young roe is such a fantastic meat. The saddle makes delicious kebabs cooked over a wood fire, especially with homemade pitta bread. The veg look good and it's always a lovely feeling to have the next fresh batch coming along, isn't it? No rhubarb here, I shall miss it but Roger is very happy to be without! Good luck with the DIY, never easy if the great outdoors looks more tempting!


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