gardening, Homesteading, News, Preserving

Elder Flower cordial

It’s been too long since I’ve posted and I do apologize. My only excuse is that we have been spending lots and lots of time outside and my inside free time is dedicated to making preserves and getting ready for the market tomorrow.

Lots of beautiful things coming up in the garden and I’m stating to get excited about summer produce!

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We had a very sad event a few weeks ago with the loss of the quails we were quite devastated as they had just started laying and I love the gorgeous spotted eggs. Originally we thought a fox had got into the cages they were flipped and holes dug but now we think it was more likely a dog. We will be looking into getting a dog next year for protection of the flock. We may get quails again one day but not for a while. The last eggs I have blown out for keepsakes.

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Last week we visited a friend on their stunning property and spent some time touring the garden and right at the end was the biggest Elder tree I have ever seen. We talked about the berries and I asked if she had ever made cordial from the flowers. We mentioned we had tried the cordial at BOOMTOWN festival when we were in the UK sold to us by a troupe of children pulling a cart. It was the most beautiful thing I had tasted and I have been wanting to make it ever since but alas before I got the chance our chickens devoured our free and I had been mourning the chance until now. We were gifted a nice big bag of flowers and I got to work.

This is my recipe for elderflower cordial I have made it up from my experience experimenting making lots of cordial syrups recently and this is the best method I have found that works for me.

ElderFlower Cordial Syrup

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  1. Wash your elderflowers to remove bugs and then pop in your bowl ( I use a 5 Litre food grade bucket but I like to make HUGE amounts) pour boiling water over the flowers and leave overnight.
  2. Using a muslin cloth over a colander strain the liquid to remove the flowers plus any bugs you might have missed washing.
  3. Measure the Liquid and place in a saucepan for very cup of liquid add a cup of sugar.
  4. Over medium heat stir to dissolve sugar and bring to boil
  5. Once boiling add 1 teaspoon Tantaric acid and boil for another 2 minutes.
  6. Bottle in sterilized bottles and can with preferred method or store in the fridge.

Easy!!

You can follow these instructions for basically any herb syrup so get out in the garden and get experimenting!!!

Homesteading, News

Spring is in the air!

I’m excited! Although it’s been raining heavily and the house is leaking in multiple places there is something in the air. It is the promise of spring!

Before the rains started we had a gorgeous sunny and WARM day. I’m really not someone who enjoys the heat but it’s been brutally cold this winter and I can’t wait to start doing more in the garden and for the flowers to come into bloom. We can see the buds of the blossoms starting to show on the fruit trees and Dart our Silky X one of the first chicks we hatched has become a mother to 3 beautiful little chicks!

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One of the chicks was actually hatched by Orpie our Black Brahma but she only hatched two and as she is so large managed to squish one so we rescued the other little baby and gave her to Dart who happily adopted her. The first time Orpie hatched when we moved here two years ago she had 18 babies and didn’t lose a single one. Orpie was the best mother we had had but last year she manged to lose 4 to hungry magpies and then her daughter stole the other 3 from her and she was confused for weeks!. We are hoping to give her another chance later in the year if she goes broody again.

As well as the watching nature unfold we have set the incubator with Araucana and Gold laced Wyandottes 20 of which are developing and due in 2 weeks! We also have 6 duck eggs set but only 3 have developed so we are keeping our fingers crossed and will be setting another incubator soon. I am desperately hoping the quail will start laying soon they all seem very content running around and hardly ever fight which I was told to expect so I definitely think they are happy enough so hopefully once the weather warms up I will find a nice spotty egg to incubate and we will have some teeny tiny chicks!

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We have decided this spring/summer to do the Market thing properly and do at least two a month this should balance out well with my other work doing Dreadlocks. I’ve been busy making up batches of preserves to sell so far we have Zucchini pickle,  Yellow Plum & Vanilla bean Jam(Taste like apricots), Spicy Rhubarb BBQ sauce, Worcestershire Sauce, Cherry Plum Jam, Apple Paste, Mandarin Marmalade and I am tossing up if I should do a Cherry Plum cordial or Plum sweet and sour chilli sauce and Sweet chilli Sauce. We will also have a few baked goods as well and possibly offer our cordials by the cup when the weather is warmer. All the main ingredients in the preserves are sourced locally and I can’t wait for late spring when we can go foraging and picking around the area and local Orchards.

So although the rains have hit hard ( I’m not complaining just in case we don’t get any more!) it already feels warmer 🙂

Homesteading, News, Poultry

Auction Fever!!

There’s a new local poultry auction on in Rydal that a friend has been saying we should check out. The friend in question is a expert breeder and travels far and wide for a good bird and we were inclined to believe her. We told ourselves we would just go to the auction to catch up with J check out the birds and NOT buy anything unless is fit in with our current breeding programs.

So on Sunday morning we got up early rugged up and packed the kids into the car for the drive. when we arrived we reinforced to ourselves this was NOT a buying trip just a looking trip. After some catch ups we did our first loop of the birds. I was really impressed with not only the quality but the variety of birds. Lots of different breeds of Geese, Ducks, Cockatiels, Budgies (Parakeets for you Americans) , Finches, Quail, Guinea Fowl there were a lot to choose from and with over 100 lots we knew we wouldn’t stay to the end this time. So before I go any further I’ll give you a bit of back round.

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Currently we have reduced our breeding program to Gold Laced Wyandottes and Araucana. When we first started in Poultry a few years ago we got very excited and wanted all the breeds at once as many newbies do. We ignored the advice of experts to start with one breed and instead got Plymouth Rock, Brahma, Wyandottes, Blue splash Orpingtons and Araucana. I’m not sure what we were thinking as lots of breeds mean lots of pens so slowly but surely we have reduced and now will concentrate on two breeds. We still have a few hens of the other breeds for the house flock as broodies and layers and may cross them for meat chicks.

Below one of our Gold laced Wyandotte and Araucanas (orpington up back)

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So back to the auction. There were a few lots we liked the look of three of Araucana and one Gold laced Wyandotte pullet. I didn’t want to pay much for either of the lots as we don’t NEED them but I thought if they go cheap then we will get them. First up at the auction were the small birds. Budgies and finches went up first and sold for $2 each!!! D and I looked at each other should we get one! But no where would we put it? Surely the cats would eat it. We held back shocked at how cheap they went. The first few lots of Quails went up and also went for $2 each. hmm we’ve always wanted quail. The auctioneer went to the 4th box and before we knew what we were doing we had bid and won 4 quails for $12! Luckily we had a spare cage for them at home but we really knew nothing about quail.

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The lots for the birds I liked came and went selling for much more than I wanted to spend but we thought we would stay a little and see what other things went for. Once again I found myself bidding when a lot of Silky chicks went up for $2 a bird. I was outbid but at $9 D nudged me and said I could go a little higher if I wanted. I didn’t expect to get them but SOLD I got the 4 for $40 the lot. We looked at our birds and thought now was a good time to leave before we bought anything else (D was eyeing off the guinea fowl)

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Now our story doesn’t end there. The Silkies which I suspect are 2 boys 2 girls settled in nicely in the isolation tractor and the quail in there little house. We had no idea how to tell them apart so we did some research on how to sex quail. Once D had done this we discovered 3 roos and one hen. OF COURSE! We also read we would need a extra 2 hens per roo to keep them happy which resulted in another adventure getting 6 more quail hens to balance it all out. So now we have a upcoming silky and quail breeding program.

Let the fun begin!!

Below Cher a silky X Isa one of the first chickens we hatched ourselves

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