Thursday, 31 October 2013

Fabulous fleeces

Hello, back to it today.  Dad's on the mend although still out in Luxembourg, they're not letting him go in a rush!

Tonight I have a report on the Fabulous Fleece company -

Over a lunch of delicious home-made vegetable soup on Monday 21st October 2013, I met Lucy Wright at her home in South Norfolk.  Lucy is the owner of the Fabulous Fleece company, which sells a wide range of gorgeous sheepskins, skins and leather goods.

Gorgeous leather bags, complete with her Fabulous Fleece logo


Several bad falls from horses caused her to rethink her working life.  Starting with four sheepskins, she sold them, bought another eight, sold them and the business has grown organically from there.

Luxurious sheepskins

She uses local people's skills to produce her fire pipes and leather goods, and all the sheepskins are sourced from sheep in East Anglia.  A local artist also designed her Fabulous fleece logo, (see leather bag above).

Fire pipes

The Reindeer hides are all from the Sami tribe in Finland; a wild and meat managed herd where the tribes people live with their animals.

A pile of Reindeer skins

The Blesbok and Springbok are types of antelope from South Africa, these do sell particularly well online and in London, but it is the Reindeer and good old sheepskins that she sells the most of.

Springbok hide - note the tail!

I had a lovely afternoon, in enjoyable company, talking about Lucy's company and horses along with her faithful friend Ruby the Lurcher, who certainly enjoys the fleeces as much as anyone!

Thank you Lucy and Ruby.

If you want any more information or to place an order then please just visit her website for details.  Please mention the blog on contacting her - Thank you.

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Apologies, disruption to service again

Unfortunately I won't be able to post for a few days, and this is also the reason I have not posted for a couple of days too.

I am having to make an emergency trip to Luxembourg tomorrow, my father is ill in hospital over there.  He was on his way back from a coach holiday in Austria, when he collapsed with chest pains, so they immediately whipped him in to hospital.  He suffers from asbestosis in his lungs and it seems this has taken a turn for the worse.  We were hoping to have him home by now, but they have run some more tests and are keeping him in a bit longer.

Everyone says how nice Luxembourg is and I am looking forward to seeing it, I just wish it was under better circumstances.

Normal service (I hope), will be resumed when I get back next week

Monday, 21 October 2013

Norfolk Poultry Club show Sunday 20th October 2013

I spent a fabulous few hours yesterday the the Norfolk Poultry Club show held at the Norfolk Showground.

They usually hold three shows a year - March, August and October and there was a good number entered.

I went to gain some contacts in Poultry.  We are planning to expand the flock here with some different breeds and I wanted to know who to contact when the time comes.  I definitely know we are going to have some Ixworth's as they are a dual purpose breed, so that if stock doesn't make show standard we can fatten them up for the house.  And I was lucky enough to meet Joyce Taylor who breeds and shows Ixworth's and who took best rare breed with her three year old Ixworth hen.

Best in show went to a Wyandotte bantam, a delightful little girl -

Reserve Best in show went to an Old English game - sorry not the best photo, but she wouldn't stand still

Some more pictures from the day -

Touloose goose

Lots of Call ducks on show



Norfolk Grey - another possibility for here

Frizzle hen

Gold Sebright - my favourite, so probably having some of these

All in all I had a great day, just wandering round talking to enthusiastic people about their chickens.  Well done Norfolk Poultry club, a brilliant show.

Stats today - 

Eggs produced = 5

Sales - 
1 x 1Kg Tomatoes £1.00

Expenses - 

Sunday, 20 October 2013


Every year we promise to save as many Bramley apples as we can, either by storing or freezing them, and every year we fail, big style.  Until this year I'm happy to say.

I said to Michael that this weekend I would like to get as many apples off the trees before the high winds come through here next week, according to today's forecast.  So that's what we've been up to -

Look at that blue sky too, shame it didn't last!

After a good sort through and getting as many off the tree as we could, we had three piles - Pig apples, apples to use/freeze now/near future and storage apples.

Our storage system, now five stories high!

The to deal with asap pile.

Suffice to say the pigs have already eaten some of their's, I don't like to give them all at once, in case the acid is too much for the stomach's.

What's left on the tree will come down in the wind and be collected for use immediately or be given to the pigs.  We are feeling mighty chuffed with ourselves today, first year we have really harvested these apples, and as they are not selling from the shop, roll on plenty of apple pies Mr Tweedy!  So now starts the peeling and chopping stage, let's hope I have plenty of plasters on stand by!

Stats today -

Eggs produced = 5

Sales -
1 dozen eggs £1.80
Still no pumpkins sold (?)

Expenses -

Friday, 18 October 2013

Bacon, Leek, Potato and cheese pie

Thought I had better give you the recipe for this as I had raved about it the other night, so here you go.  As usual I haven't stuck rigidly to the recipe (I never do!).

4oz Pastry - I used shortcrust, the recipe says use Flaky, but I don't see that it matters.  You can use frozen for this or homemade

Filling -
1 medium leek - I used two smaller ones and found that four of this size would be better
2 medium potatoes
7oz smoked bacon
1oz butter - the recipe says to use clarified, but I couldn't be bothered so used it straight from the pack
4 fl oz Milk
3 fl oz Single cream - I used double cream as I didn't have any single and it was fine
2 beaten eggs
2 tsps dried mixed herbs - I left out as I didn't have any
2 oz grated Double Gloucester cheese - I just used strong Cheddar instead, but used about 4oz
Salt and Pepper to taste

  • Preheat oven to 190C / 375F / Gas 5
  • Slice leeks into approx 1cm rounds and wash thoroughly
  • Peel and thinly slice the potatoes
  • Trim off the bacon rind and roughly chop
  • Roll out the pastry and line a 20cm flan dish, trimming the edges
  • Fry the bacon under the fat starts to render and it starts to go crispy.  Set aside on kitchen paper
  • Cook the leeks in the same pan and set aside with the bacon once soft
  • Add the butter and fry the potatoes until just coloured - you may have to do several batches
  • Spoon the leeks and bacon into the flan dish
  • I then added a generous layer of grated cheese and sliced a couple of tomatoes over the top
  • Arrange the potato slices over the top, overlapping to cover the other ingredients
  • Beat together the milk, cream, eggs, herbs and season well
  • Pour over the potatoes and top with more grated cheese
  • Bake for 30 - 45 minutes, covering with foil if it starts to brown too much
This is great served with a simple salad or with whatever veg you have available like we did.


Stats today -

Eggs produced = 7

Sales -
1 dozen eggs £1.80
1 x 1Kg Onions £1.00

Expenses -

Free Book Friday 18th Oct

Another free book Friday from the good people at Home Farmer magazine, (and no I don't work for them!).
This week's is a veg book - No Time to Grow by Tim Wootton.

Just sign up for their newsletter and you can get the book for £2.95 - postage and packing charge.

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Another home produced tea

I was going to do a blog post on Orpington chickens tonight, but I think I'll save that for another day, because our tea tonight was so good and nearly all home produced I just had to tell you about it.  I've had a lovely day concocting our tea, I do love spending a good couple of hours in the kitchen so I thought I'd share it with you.

We had -
Bacon, Leek & Potato pie with Romanesco in a cheese and mustard sauce with steamed cabbage.
Followed by -
Apple pie and Ice cream

Just Yum!

Home produced stuff was -
Leeks, potatoes, tomato, eggs, Romanesco cabbage, cabbage, apples; oh and of course all the pastry was homemade.  Haven't got any home produced bacon at the moment, it's still on the hoof!

Here it is -
Bacon, leek & potato pie

My plateful!

The Apple pie

And the best bit it is, there's leftovers for tomorrow nights tea, I do love a cooking session where you can cook for more than one day.

Stats today

Eggs produced = 6

Sales -
2 x Cabbages £1.30
2 x 1Kg bags of tomatoes £2.00

Expenses -

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Smallholding update

Just thought I'd update you with what's been going on recently.

Well it doesn't seemed to have stopped raining here on and off for more than a week now.  What was a lovely area for the pigs now seems to have turned into a mud bath, as you can see -

Now we are on light sandy soil here, and although marshland, I don't think I've ever seen it this wet.  Am feeling quite sorry for our two little pigs, but they have got a new straw bed to keep them warm -

and yes, that is the two of them in the background, not a picture!  It's their window, which I really should see if I can close now to keep out even more of the wet stuff we are due over the next few days.

I have been harvesting onions and shallots, both of which have given us a fabulous harvest this year.

But as I rather left the veg patch to its own devices somewhat during the hot weather - I don't do hot weather, I have a large job on my hands harvesting them -

Ooops!  But I'm getting there.  And I suppose am killing two birds with one stone in a way - weeding and harvesting.  Oh well, at least I'm honest about my gardening techniques - or lack of sometimes!

On the plus side, my carnations in the greenhouse are absolutely fabulous as you can see, the perfume in there is just divine -

But more on the carnations at a later date - watch this space, keeping it under my hat for the time being.

Stats today - 

Eggs produced = 6

Sales -
1 dozen eggs £1.80
2 x 1Kg bags of Bramley apples
1 x large Butternut squash £1.50

Expenses -

Monday, 14 October 2013

Colin's jaunt

Had a busy day on the plot today, the first day it hasn't rained in about five I think.

Yesterday saw Colin the Buff Orpington cockerel take himself off on a little jaunt.  Now all the laying hens wander to their utmost delight wherever they want, including into the fields across from the house.  This involves going the long way round and over the sheep bridge.  They're not phased by it now and often wander across, but Colin here thinking he was a bit clever decided to follow them, then, couldn't get back!

Michael noticed him just before we were due to set off out for the afternoon, wandering around the field, crowing a bit, and with a few red hens around him and laughed saying, 'bet he won't be able to get back later!'  Sure enough once we got home and I was out and about feeding, putting horses to bed etc, he was standing in the same spot, looking very bedraggled as it was pouring with rain by now.

So off I traipsed across the bridge wondering how on earth I was going to get him home - it's a long way for a chicken.

I managed at one point to grab hold of him, but I only managed to grab a handful of feathers.

Off he squawked and thankfully at least ran across the bridge, not back into the field.  I followed him at a discreet distance, hoping he might corner himself.  He did indeed.  He stuck his head in the stockwire fence and realised he couldn't get his whole body through, so I managed to grab him from behind.  His squawking carried on, much to the alarm of Mr Onion (our Texel ram) and Red (our Dexter cow).

I carried him back to his hut and hoped he would be OK the following morning, he didn't look too bad, although rather bedraggled from the rain and consequent mud, but thankfully wasn't bald anywhere.

Checking him this morning, he was fine, phew!  Didn't seem any worse for his rainy jaunt.

I did notice that when I let them out this morning, he didn't wander very far.  Don't think he'll be doing that again very quickly.  Bless him, I do think he's a bit lacking in the brains department!

Stats today -

Eggs produced = 7

Sales & Expenses - Nil - Poor day

Sunday, 13 October 2013

Had the afternoon off!

We had a rare treat today and had most of the day off the smallholding.  We had planned to go to the Snape Maltings Vintage fair at Snape in Suffolk.  We duly trekked down the A12, the grey/black clouds following us all the way, only to find once we got there that due to the heavy rain this morning the event had been cancelled - great!  So we plodded around for an hour or so and decided to haunt our old favourite destination - Southwold.

For any of you that don't know, Southwold is a wonderful seaside town, with a long pier and unique shops, with only one 'traditional' amusement arcade; there is another 'amusement' arcade, but this one is rather different - you have to experience it to know what I mean!

We had wonderful fish and chips at Marks fish and chip restaurant in the town, Michael washed his down with a pint of Adnams - what else, mine was with some Suffolk apple juice.  We strolled around the town, had my usual envious stare in the Amber jewellery shop window and a nose in the Joules shop then went down to the pier for coffee and a sticky cake.

The rain didn't quite manage to stay away, as you'll see from the photo's below.

The North Sea at its best, I think you'll find!

Back on the plot tomorrow, weather permitting!

Today's stats -

Sales -
1 & 1/2 doz eggs £2.70

Expenses -

Saturday, 12 October 2013

Weird plants!

Don't know if you've seen this in today's Times newspaper, so I thought I'd share it with you -

Now it's a shame it's not April 1st, I'd be more inclined to believe this!  They're calling it a TomTato.  According to the newspaper, Thompson and Morgan have been up to some ingenius grafting, grafting a tomato onto a potato, or is it grafting a potato onto a tomato.  Anyway, apparently once your tomatoes have grown and produced fruit, you've consumed said fruit, then you dig up the potatoes and hey presto, you have potatoes to eat too.

Now I can see where this may come in useful - only one plant to buy therefore hopefully saving money, space saving in smaller plots/gardens; and yes I know tomatoes and potatoes come from the same 'Solanum' family, but I can't help thinking that I prefer my crops separately, surely one tub of potatoes and one plant of tomatoes doesn't take up that much room, does it?

I must admit though it is clever, will it take off?  Who knows.

Friday, 11 October 2013

Free book Friday

Now those good people at Home Farmer magazine - a fab mag all round I think; do a Free Book Friday, every Friday - just sign up for their newsletter and hey presto, you are entitled to the free book too, you do have to pay for postage and packing £2.95 for each book.

This week's book is Worms and Wormeries by Mike Woolnough, retail price of £5.99.

Just giving you the heads up on this one!

More foodie festivals

Whilst up in Yorkshire last weekend, I picked up a brochure for the Beverley Food festival.  This brochure had been delivered to all households in the Beverley area and word had it that 20,000 people were expected to attend.

Now Beverley is an old-fashioned town that has a large market place which hosts a market every Saturday, selling everything you could imagine, from boots and shoes, to vegetables; clothes to wool; hoover bags to coffee.  So to hold a food festival is no surprise, the only surprise is that they haven't held one before.  I just wondered where all these 20,000 people were going to park!

Having been to the Norwich food festival recently I didn't bother to go to the Beverley one, preferring instead to wend my way home earlier.  Having been to the Norwich one, it hadn't entered my head that other towns would be doing the same thing I suppose, but then why wouldn't they?  It got me intrigued, so I had a good look through their brochure.  Yes, there are the usual suspects - preserves & pickles, fruit and veg, meat stalls, but it was the number of attendees that struck me - 90 stallholders in total!  Now that's an awful lot of food, but I suppose if it's between 20,000 folks it's not that much!

The advent of the food festival, I think can only be a good thing, if it educates people about eating the right sort of foods, in the right quantities, but it does have to be affordable to all.  The fact that it sells only 'local' produce is admirable; a marquee is also set up with cookery demonstrations from local, highly acclaimed chefs, presumably showing how to cook/serve the produce on sale.

Now I love going to food festivals, love seeing the array of produce on sale, and dreaming of producing some of the stuff myself, usually the vast array of bread, (bread tends to be my downfall!), I'm just hoping it's not another money making/spinning exercise.  If it achieves better standard's of living through the health of the nation then I say - excellent, but I do think prices of some of the produce need to be a little bit more realistic, in order for the less well off to afford.  Do you agree?

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

September stats

A bit late, but better late than never.  I do need a hard rap on the knuckles for not updating this blog as often - apologies (again!).

September was a good month for produce sales, up again on August, word's getting out that we sell good stuff.

Sales -
22 dozen eggs £40.30
1 x 500g bag Carrots £1.00
30 x 1Kg bags Tomatoes £30.00
2 x 500g bags Tomatoes £1.50
4 x 250g bags Green beans £1.70
11 Cucumbers £6.80
2 x 1Kg bags Bramley apples £2.00
11 x 1Kg bags Victoria plums £11.00

Total £95.30

Expenses -
Remainder of Greenhouse purchase £302.55
10 bags of Compost £20.00

Total £322.55

Balance -£227.25

Bit of a way to go still with the paying off of the greenhouse, but takings are on the up so that's the good bit.  Just got to keep finding stuff to sell.

Stats today -
Eggs produced = 6

Sales -
1 x 1kg Tomatoes £1.00
1 x Cucumber £0.50
1 x 1kg Onions £1.00

Expenses -

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Quick trip away

Apologies again folks, am having to run a mercy trip up to Yorkshire for a few days, folks aren't well up there, need to go and see for myself what's going on.  Will be away until Sunday.

Normal service will be resumed next week - promise!

Tuesday, 1 October 2013


Now I love this time of year, weather's a bit cooler - being fair skinned I'm not overly keen on the hot weather - the night's are drawing in and it's harvest time.

I'd forgotten how busy harvest time can be, picking and plucking, chopping, freezing, bottling, pickling, storing all that produce that you've lovingly cared for over the season.  Or in our case, making sure it's fit for sale, if it isn't, we eat it.  A win win situation I think you'll agree.

The Victoria plums have been fab this year, loads and loads dripping from the tree; my fingers are stained from the de-stoning I've been doing.  The dogs have also been picking them up from the under the trees; they've sold well too.  The Bramley apples have been a bit low on yield this year; their size is good, just not many of them.  Have also stopped putting them out for sale as people haven't been buying them - can't understand why.  Are they an old fashioned thing?  Doesn't anybody make apple pie anymore or apple sauce for that matter?  Well, I shall freeze them for winter time and when those two pigs are in the freezer there'll be lots of apple sauce to go with that roasted pork - Yum!

Potatoes have been good this year too, we are harvested second earlies now, a red skinned variety, the name of which I can't remember.  They are a little scabby in places, but I think that's more to do with our sandy soil than anything.  The yield is excellent.

Onions and shallots have been good too, they always seem to do well on our soil; you should see the size of some of the onions, whoppers they are.

And of course the courgette and marrow harvest is as big as ever.  It has rather got away from me I must admit, most of my courgettes are now marrows.  I do manage to stuff about one a year for a meal, that's about all I can stomach, the're not really my thing.

Got another day tomorrow picking and sorting the harvest.  The good thing about having pigs at this time of year means that nothing gets wasted, that always puts a smile on my face.

Stats today -

Eggs produced - 7

Sales -
2 x 1Kg bags of Victoria plums £2.00

Expenses -