Cabbage and Onion Harvest

2013 CabbagesWith the great weather continuing, we tried a new technique to dry the onions out, stringing them outdoors and hanging them on some of the many builder’s spikes we use here. The round and savoy cabbages are also looking partcularly decent – the scaffolding mesh and groundsheet method of growing is definitely the future! 2013 Onion Harvest

Homemade Redcurrant Cordial & Rhubarb Juice

2013 Redcurrant CordialThis is another easy one – along the same lines as our homemade rhubarb juice. The picture says it all really – squeeze every last drop of juice from your redcurrants – or you can blend them and leave them to drain through a seive – find a way that works for you with what you have to hand. Then add a small amount of vanilla essence, to take the bitter edge off, and sweeten to taste. We use sweeteners, but sugar is better if you don’t need to use sweeteners, and a spoon of honey wouldn’t go amiss. Boil the juice down, to remove the excess water, and you have created a cordial that you can add water to when needed! Chill it, and use within a couple of days.

Rhubarb juice is exactly the same method, except you use the waste water left over from cooking your rhubarb! Leave the water in the pan you cooked your rhubarb in, strain it if there are bits floating in it. Add the vanilla essence and honey and sweeteners/sugar, bring to the simmer, just to mix the ingredients, and leave to cool before popping in the fridge. This is one of my favourites, especially as it uses something you would otherwise throw down the sink!

For a particularly refreshing version of either, add a dash of lemon juice to either

Sunflowers

2013 Jungle Fowl 2013 Sunflowers 2013 Sunflower and BeeA new introduction to the patch this year, the sunflower bed is one of my favourites. The bees and insects love it, but as we let our bantams free-range the allotment quarter in the summer, once the seedlings are all established, they pretend they’re teeny jungle-fowl, like their ancestors, all Rambo style.

Of course, once they season’s over we’ll harvest the seed and either use it for ourselves, or it’s free bird food!

Harvest Time

2013 Rest Awhile It’s that time of year when you really struggle to stay on top of the amount of food coming in. After a quick relax with a cold drink after picking it all, it’s back to the kitchen with the booty – today it was broad beans, and red and white curr2013 Redcurrantsants, with a cup of tea between tasks.2013 Broadbeans and White Currants

View over The Patch

2014 Patch ViewOne of my favourite views, I post it mainly as a record of The Patch’s development as seen from a fixed vantage point.

Lost Grace :(

I’m sad to say that we lost Grace yesterday evening. She had been off antibiotics for 2 days, and had passed one small (about 5mm diameter) poop. She was drinking quite a bit, but would only nibble at food, and was reluctant to tuck into anything. Interestingly she would only tuck into the critical care formula, the liquid food we syringed into her mouth, and she was eating an awful lot of dirt.

We tried everything food-wise – cabbage, beetroot leaves, apples, orange, dandelion leaves, nasturtiums, rocket, grass, clover, poultry spice pellets, layers pellets – you name it, we tried it, and all were met with the same ‘ooh, I’ll have a nibble’ but then rejected.

We have left her with the Minster’s Vets in Sutton Bonington who are going to carry out a gross post mortem, just in case it’s something that can affect a flock. I should know later today, fingers crossed it’s nothing contagious.

As it is, I suspect we’ll be keeping our little female gosling, she may even be Grace’s.

Lazy Man’s Mayonnaise

Okay – easy mayonnaise for the culinary crippled:

Ingredients for the Basic Mayonnaise

  • 475ml sunflower oil or rapeseed oil – don’t get all fancy and use olive oil – it’ll taste disgusting (take it from one who knows)
  • 2 fresh eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon of Colman’s Mustard Powder or 1 teaspoon of Colman’s English Mustard from a jar
  • 1 tablespoon of white wine vinegar or cider vinegar

Drop all of the ingredients except the oil into a blender and turn on to full whack.

Gradually trickle the oil into the blender as the ingredients are mixed. This ensures the oil is aerated as it enters the forming mayonnaise. Trickle too quickly and it will end up a gloopy mess (bleugh). Too slow and it will end up cooking the eggs 🙂 I’ve only made those mistakes once each – a nice steady trickle will ensure you never will!

Depending on the capacity of your blender, towards the end of adding the oil you may need to stop the blender, stir the mix to free the blades, then restart the blender and continue to add the oil. I need to do that about 4 times in our Kenwood to make sure the oil mixes well.

Experiment!

The easiest thing to add is garlic. Just add a couple of cloves at the initial blending stage, before adding the oil, and you get great garlic mayonnaise!

Herbs and spices are also easy to add, or onions for a less-garlicky flavour. I guess you could also add some beetroot for a red mayonnaise, though I’ve never tried it 🙂 One for Hallowe’en maybe…

Rhubarb Cake

We had a great gathering over the weekend, with old friends and their families descending on us for a camping weekend. One of the puddings that went down well was the Rhubarb Cake Suz and Jay made, and as people have asked for the recipe – here it is!

Rhubarb cake:
8 oz Self-raising flour
pinch salt
4 oz margargine
12 oz chopped rhubarb (if you use the pink stuff it looks prettier)
4 oz sugar – I used this for the party, but usually put in much less – and usually just fruit sugar
2 large eggs

Grease + line a 1 lb loaf tin
Chop the rhubarb into slices approx. 10 – 15 mm wide.
Pre-heat oven to 180C, Gas Mark 4 or 5
Add the salt to the flour, rub in the fat till bread crumbs. Mix in the sugar, chopped raw rhubarb and then the beaten eggs. The mixture is fairly dry + heavy. Into the loaf tin, level out.
Bake in oven for approx. 45 to 50 mins – press top with finger to see if it’s done.
Remove, leave cake in tin for 15 or more mins to firm up before turning out onto a wire cooling rack. Eat warm as a pudding or cool as a cake.

Yum. No pictures I’m afraid – I didn’t have time to take any before it was gone!

Another Grace Update

Yet another update on Grace’s situation.

She has continued to walk around, though wobbly with it. There have still been no signs of much eating – the odd nibble here and there, but we’re still syringing Critical Care formula down her every morning and evening.

We also noticed that her poops were starting to turn green – we thought that was a good thing as perhaps she’d started to take in grass or clover, but we were wrong. Yesterday she also seemed a bit more listless than before, and a bit more wobbly. We called the vets as we had run out of our 7-day Baytril treatment and the critical care formula. Popping to them they gave us another three days worth of Baytril, saying they liked to continue with an antibiotic until the problem had cleared up. We also bought some probiotic powder to help replenish the gut flora. She had her first dose of this yesterday. We also gave her the second dose of Panacur by syringe.

Today we followed the by-now normal morning routine – except the Metronidazole had run out. So 0.9ml of Baytril syringed into her mouth, followed by a syringe of liquid consisting of 3 heaped teaspoons of critical care formula, a very small amount (a pinch) of probiotic powder and water to form a syringable paste. We then mixed her soup – 400ml water, 3 heaped dessert spoons of Oxbow Critical Care for Herbivores, a handful of wheat grain, two teaspoons of probiotic and 3 heaped teaspoons of critical care formula.

Then I had a little panic. It had been almost two weeks of illness, 11 days of treatment, and she still wasn’t eating and drinking as normal, but she was walking around. It didn’t seem right. A thought ocurred – maybe she had Hardware Disease? All the symptoms seemed to be right for it. So I called our vets again, mentioned it, and they suggested I needed a poultry specialist. Is there one near us? Sure – head over to:

http://www.minstervets.co.uk/poultry

23 minutes away, but a free advice service!

I spoke to a lovely chap, Mike Clark, whose advice is below (I wish I had recorded the conversation):

Stop all antibiotic treatment. Typically, in an average sized fowl it you should expect to see an improvement after 3 days. Turkeys, the largest they treat, it’s a 5-day window. 10 days means that anything in our Grace that could have caused her harm is long gone. The Metronidazole is great at attacking gut infections, and is very strong. Baytril is a bit of a sledgehammer and attacks pretty much everything. So anything bad will have gone, as will anything good! So feeding her probiotics at the same time as Baytril is inneffective. The green poop we were seeing was actually stomach bile, not passed food, meaning nothing had been eaten. The clearer diahrrea is a better sign. Leave 24 hours after the last does of Baytril before administering probiotics, as then they will be effective. Only one dose of probiotic is enough – they multiply like crazy in the gut. Continue syringing the critical care formula.

The effect of the above will allow the gut to re-establish its flora and to allow her to recover from the heavy doses of antibiotics she’s been on. She should, in theory, feel better from the lack of antibiotics, and should start to eat again properly, with her stomach feeling more normal.

We need to allow about three days to see the difference. If she has made no improvement by Monday then we need to call the vet. If the symptoms still persist it may be that the initial Heat Stress has caused damage to either the liver or kidney. This will mean a blood test to look at her biochemical levels – a vet, if they have their own equipment, can recalibrate it for geese, or they can send the blood samples to an external outfit such as IDEXX who will have a normal goose reading on their records to compare the blood sample with.

So fingers crossed for the next three days – they seem to be the most crucial! He did say that if she has managed to pull through for 10 days then in his mind she stands a good chance of recovery – typically an illness would have taken her before now.

Regarding the wormer – he did say that there were two possibilities with regards worms. She either had a minimal or no level of worms, in which case the medication would have been yet another medication for her to cope with. Or she had a high level of worms and they were yet to be killed off. He preferred Flubenvet to Panacur – I  can’t remember the reasoning, but did agree that Panacur was the easiest to administer to a goose, being a liquid. However, I will attempt to cover some wheat grain in a bit of olive oil so that Flubenvet will stick to it, and give it to the two remaining geese that way. You can usually rely on them eating wheat grain! He said you might notice any larger worms in the faeces, but we have seen nothing so suspect she’s okay in that respect. Our stocking density is very low – three geese on a quarter acre of grass, so worms wasn’t our major suspect, but you can never be too careful I guess.