Monday, 24 October 2016

The Daily Bread

Making our own bread was one of the first skills I learned many many moons ago, when the kids were still in nappies it was terry nappies then, 

  over the years I perfected my bread, I did for several years try bread makers when they first came out, back then they produced house bricks, I ended up using the machines for kneading the dough as the bake was terrible, as the machines improved I tried them again with very mixed results once again relegating them to dough kneading and proving, when the last one stop working about 6 years ago it was never replaced, I have trouble kneading by hand I would get a lot of pain and stiffness in my fingers and wrists, 
I went to use the dough hook on my kenwood, this is now my preferred way of doing bread. 
Recently I have switched yeasts 
 From the green tin
To the yellow tin and the results have been fantastic a much lighter loaf. I also use a good quality strong bread flour, I have tried the cheaper brands but personally I do think you get what you pay for, 
My basic bread recipe
500g strong bread flour
1tsp salt
300ml warm water
1tbsp of yeast 
1tsp of sugar
Activate the yeast with the sugar in the water, leave until frothy,
meanwhile pop the flour and salt into the mixer and mix well together with the dough hook.
once the yeast is frothy, stir it and while the mixer is going on a slow speed slowly add the liquid, once it it all added increase the speed, knead for about 5 mins, until it is smooth and stretchy if it is to wet add a small amount of flour if it looks very dry and heavy not binding add a small amount of water, different brands of flour need different amounts of water but the variation is only a small amount, while the dough is kneading, grease and flour a bread tin, once the dough is kneaded shape it pop it in the tin, I then put my tin with dough inside a big plastic bag, inflate the bag put a clip on the end and leave to rise in a warm place,
 mine goes on the shelf above the Rayburn,

time varies just keep checking, I don't bother with knocking back and setting to rise again, when ready remove from the bag and pop into a hot oven, my oven can vary in heat anything from 160- 200c I just adjust the time according to the temperature, 35 - 45 mins. 

The other day I made these dinner rolls
 I came across a recipe on the Internet, tried it and
yes they are lovely soft tasty bread rolls easy to do 
I now have several bags in the freezer and its a recipe I will do again and again.

I also like to do flat breads 
 and a nice crusty Tiger loaf
Crumpets are next I am trying out various recipes to see what works for me.


Saturday, 22 October 2016

Bulbs And Sets

I do like this time of year, getting in the bulbs that will produce for next year, they are so easy to plant that is a bonus.
I had some flowering bulbs for the little border at the front 

 Just some to add a splash of colour, there is already some Tulips and Crocuses in there, along with Dianthus, Primulas and Wallflowers that were grown some seed, oh and a few roses bushes.
Now all tidy again I also added a bag of the mushroom compost to the bed.

 I have also been adding mushroom compost to the poly tunnel, this border had the tomatoes in it this year, now its been cleared dug over alpaca poo added, its ready to go again,

I got some red onion sets 
and white onion sets into the border,
 they should be ready to lift ready for peppers and cucumbers to go in next year.
The poly tunnels have to earn there keep and be planted up with a succession of crops, no point in leaving them empty over winter.
The garlic that was planted the other week outside
Is starting to put out its shoots, 
The weather here is still glorious dry sunshiny days although there is a cold breeze today, the nights are now colder and the log burner is lit most evenings.
Saturday November 20th 1982
Went to Carmarthen, Lawrence checked main flock of sheep, John and I checked the Blue Faced Leicesters, had lunch in the market, bought groceries, Douglas bought a mincing machine , John bought me an icing set, came home had tea.
Got Lucky, Sunny and Celandine in very late in evening, Lucky had a lot of discharge, had CB radios working, went out to Lucky, started calving, Heifer from her.


Friday, 21 October 2016

Reclaiming Hedgerows

The hedgerows here all need reclaiming, many years of neglect means they have become tree lines instead of hedgerows, its a long job and it will be a couple of years before they are proper thick hedges again, offering shelter to wildlife and protection from the wind, wind blows through trees but is filtered and lessened through hedges.

 As you can see they have been shaped by the wind over the years and hang into the garden, some are very unstable
We have take on a young local man to help with this work, we did the hedge line down the front garden last Autumn and the hedge at the bottom of the garden the Autumn before, as we are taking on more land there is a lot of hedge work to do.
 A lot of brush wood to be got rid off, the Alpacas and goats are doing there bit eating off the leaves
 We do get a good amount of logs as well
 The hedge is starting to take shape, all the rubbish has to be cleared out and I have some willow I have been growing on from cuttings I am going to use to plug gaps.
 This big Ash at the end of the line has to be taken down, its on a very unstable raised area of the hedge, if it was to come down it would take out power cables and also my cabin.
There is evidence on the other side were some has come down in the past, not a risk I am willing to take.

 There is so much more light in the garden now and we get the early evening sun, the spindly bits that are still standing are going to be layered into the hedge line.
Today I want to get up the top fields and get more trees planted, I love trees and dont really like taking them down but sometimes needs must. I just have to keep planting trees to replace them and more.

Friday November 19th 1982
Rained all day, John and Lawrence finished fence up the side of the shed and the drive. John carried on with washing machine, tried to trace stop cock, unearthed pipes outside the house. Connected everything except the cold water.
Rubbed down small metal cabinet, then used some paint stripper on it.

Thursday, 20 October 2016

Man In The Kitchen

Yesterday Martin took over the cooking,
 he wanted to have a go at doing some bread
 The recipe is in my head and I was at hand to relate what had to be done, will have to write it down so he can do the bread more often.
 One perfect loaf later.
He also offered to cook dinner, who am I to refuse that offer
When sorting out the barn he came across the Dutch Ovens we have, they are cast iron cooking pots, before the move we use to cook outside when ever the opportunity arose and used the Dutch Ovens to cook all kinds of things. If you go back through my blog to a few years ago you will see how we cooked with them. here is a link to some of the cooking we did with the  Dutch Oven
 Martin got a fire going and threw together some meat and vegetables in the Dutch Oven and it was set up on the tripod over the fire.
 As the sun set dinner was cooked outside, something we used to enjoy and its lovely to be doing these things again on our smallholding.
Sol was there with us although he didn't really understand what we were doing out there in the dark.
I spent most of the day working on some new sewing lines 
but I did get the first sheepskin combed out, 

another few days and it will be properly dry and ready to use, perhaps on one of our cook outs.

Thursday November 18th 1982
Went to Carmarthen, took Blue Boy's head to be analyzed.
Bought fitting to plumb in washing machine £16.
Looked at kitchen and bathroom equipment, picked up feed from Carmarthen Farmers, 4xwhite 2xred.
Lucky's doesn't seem any worse.
John fitted washing machine to hot water pipes, wrong connections for cold water.

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Storage Space

As our time here marches on, we have gathered more equipment, we hang on to bits of wood, insulation all kinds of things that one day may come in handy, all this stuff takes up space in the big barn, space we need for storing animal feeds and hay.
Martin being home for a few days this week, got to work utilising the storage space we have.

Using some scaffold boards and tubes he has built a storage space above the dry store unit in the barn.
Not a space I will be accessing as for me its too high up and access is with a ladder, heights ladders and me don't go together.
It is a nice big store area which he is now filling with all the things that are not used all the time but needed for the future.
Another bit of news 
The Doves
They are netted over and confined to quarters unfortunately, not they have done anything wrong, its for there protection.
 Since securing the chicken area from buzzard attacks, the buzzards have turned there attention to next doors chickens, they were locked in after a few losses,  they have now started on the doves, we have lost two in the past week to there Ariel attacks, when the attacks started I did a bit of research and the solution was to enclose the doves for several weeks and the buzzards will move off to another area were there is a food source, there is insufficient wild food to support the buzzards here, we are not the only ones suffering attacks it it becoming a problem in the area, too many buzzards too little food. 
Magpies are also a pest every time the doves laid eggs the magpies would take them, so no chance of building up numbers, we have lost all the females now. 

Wednesday 17th November  1982
Overslept up at 9-30am, Lucky still not calved, David and Margaret went home, did some washing, cleaned through.
John measured up pipes for washing machine, packed away more things upstairs, made 3 loaves with new yeast and 6 rolls.
John had bath, rained all day wind got up in the evening.
Did some patching on John's jeans, put a pocket inside green quilted jacket. Found Lucky with punctured bag.