18. October 2013 · Comments Off on Pumpkin harvest · Categories: Farm, Food, Gardening

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Last week we came home from a two week vacation in Turkey. Before even bringing in the luggage, we were harvesting or pumpkins. Now they’re sitting in a sunny windowsill. And the pumpkin soup is flowing!

A bit of warm weather and a bit of rain has really kicked things off in the vege patch.

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Bush beans

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Pumpkin

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Almost ripe strawberries

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Broad beans

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Lettuces, so far not eaten up by slugs

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Beetroot and Red Chard

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Florence fennel

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After teasing my mother-in-law about how many different seeds she had ordered, I went ahead and ordered 9 packets for myself.  I still have a huge stash of seeds from previous years, but I had no broad beans or thyme, and I wanted to try a few different pumpkins this year since we have lots of good flat sunny growing space for them.

In the pile above are:

  • Sunflowers “Giant Yellow”
  • Poppies, “Siberian”
  • Marigolds (Tagetes) “Tashkent”
  • Creeping Thyme Thymus serpyllum
  • Yellow Crookneck Squash
  • Broad beans “Witkiem” and “Super Aquadulce”
  • Pumpkins “Buttercup” and “Red Kabocha”

I have also bought some clover seeds, as I want to experiment with growing clover as a ground cover among the pumpkins.  I can’t wait for spring!

23. January 2013 · Comments Off on Luxury · Categories: Farm, Home · Tags:

Just look at that.  Clean, drinkable water, right out of a tap in our very own home.

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About a week and a half ago I realised just how much we take this for granted.  Our water comes from a deep bore behind the house, and an electrical fault had caused the pump in the bore to die a slow and horrible death.  It started with poor water pressure on a Sunday.  By Monday night we were squeezing the last trickle out of the tank, sprinkling it on the girls and optimistically calling it a shower (they were not impressed).  By Tuesday morning we were living off bottles of water fetched from the neighbours’ house.

Finally on the Thursday a new pump was acquired and installed.  I’m slightly impressed with how well we managed on bottled water, but oh boy that first shower when it was running again was one of the best showers of my life.

18. January 2013 · Comments Off on Rabbit harvest · Categories: Farm, Food · Tags: , , , ,

I haven’t mentioned this on the blog before, but it’s time to ‘fess up about our first venture into the keeping of meat animals.

Last spring we bought a breeding pair of rabbits.  They are of an old Swedish breed, bred for being kept outdoors in the Swedish climate, and they used to be kept both for meat and pelts.

In the summer, we got our first litter: three sweet, fuzzy little baby bunnies.  I won’t post pictures of their sweet fuzziness, because this is what became of them.

Three good family meals. We ate one for Christmas dinner.

And a batch of liver pate. This was seriously delicious. Rabbits have bizarrely large livers, in comparison to the size of the animal. Hooray for that!

I hope no-one finds this disturbing.  Yes, they are cute little bunnies.  Insanely cute.  But I think chickens are cute too, and no-body thinks twice about eating those.  Or lambs.  Rabbits are very well suited to small-scale self-sufficiency type farming.  In the summer they are in outdoor runs and feed themselves on grass – so they’re really cheap to keep.  If you’re only keeping your breeding pair through the winter, then they just need hay, water, and some pellets, so they’re still cheap to keep.  If we can rearrange their living quarters a bit we can bring down the daily maintenance time a lot – that’s something I have plans for this year.  In terms of converting feed & water to meat, a rabbit is 6 times more efficient than a cow.  They’re also much easier to handle – we took care of them from birth to the dinner table, handling all the slaughter etc ourselves.  It’s a great feeling of accomplishment.

I’d much rather eat a cute fuzzy little bunny that had a fun time hopping about in the grass all summer, than a factory-raised chicken that lived for 6 short weeks in a crowded barn eating unnatural food and was finally so abnormally large that standing up caused its legs to break.  Since there is only one brand of chicken here that I will buy, and it’s freaking expensive, the rabbits are our white meat source until we can get breeding some chooks.

It doesn’t look like much … but next year this patch will be thriving with vegetable life.  THRIVING, I tell you!

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Our neighbour and friend ploughed it up for us.  To the right you can see the corner of our other paddock, which he has also ploughed and where he will be growing grains for the next two years.  We kept the rest of this paddock as is, in case we decide to acquire some lambs in the spring and need somewhere to fatten them up.

29. October 2012 · 1 comment · Categories: Farm, Food · Tags: ,

I think that if you live in an old farmhouse, you’re allowed to prepend the word “Farmhouse” to anything you make.  That’s my rule anyway.

Last week we took delivery of a quarter of a bull from our favourite beef supplier, Rösarp Highland Cattle.  To use up some of the mincing meat, we decided to have a sausage making session on Saturday, with some friends & neighbours.  We came out with 3kg of pork sausages and 7kg of beef sausages, and sent a few more kilos of the beef ones home with friends who wanted to take a share in the bull.  Our neighbours stuffed a whopping 15kg of sausages, which we thought was ambitious for first-time sausagemakers, but they were very well prepared which made it a doddle.  Note to self: next time, do the mincing the day before!

Pork and thyme sausages

Considering we also acquired two lambs the previous weekend, the chest freezer is now groaningly full of meat.  I froze some of the sausages raw and some pre-boiled, so they are proper “fast food”.  Linus also rolled many many meatballs and patted many patties, and froze them on trays, so we also have free-flow frozen meatballs and burger patties as well.

It took me a while to remember how to make links, and in doing so I think I thoroughly confused at least one of our guests  🙂  But sometime in the evening I remembered the trick, and then I really hit my stride and was churning out beautiful links that did not go into a crazy spin and unravel themselves as soon as you let go of them.  So satisfying!

Lovely links

 

22. October 2012 · 1 comment · Categories: Farm, Food, Home · Tags:

I have a confession to make.  Do you see this delicious looking casserole in my crockpot?

Looks good doesn’t it?  It tasted good too.  Can you guess my confession?

Yes.  This casserole is the final resting place of our three White Leghorn hens.  A friend helped us to kill and prepare them last week, and then joined us on Friday night for a chicken dinner.

The decision to cull our hens was a long time coming.  But the reasons were piling up:

  • The Leghorns are not really hardy enough for our climate.  Sure they will get by, and you can hang a lightbulb in the coop over winter if you want them to keep laying.  But we have always intended to replace them with a flock of another breed, probably one of the “old Swedish” breeds that were bred to cope with the cold.
  • Their house was leaking.  I attempted to fix the roof in the summer, which improved it slightly in that it was no longer rotting apart, but it remained leaky.  There was a constant damp patch in the laying box.  I could not let them live through the winter in those conditions – at best they’d be miserable, at worst they’d be sick or dead.
  • I don’t really like the fact that Leghorns are bred purely to be a laying bird, to lay an egg every single day for 2 years and then be totally worn out.  It seems icky.
  • Building on the last point, our hens would have turned 2 early next spring so their laying would most likely have slowed considerably.

We have plans for a new, bigger house in part of our wood shed, but we need to remove some of the firewood first (wintertime should help with that).  Then in the spring we will start looking for a new flock.  Here are the top contenders in terms of breeds.  Aren’t they pretty?

Skånsk Blommehöns

Bohuslän – Dals Svarthöna

 

 

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When dear husband said that he & his hunting mate were going to look for a lookout spot, I didn’t exactly expect it to be on the garage roof …

14. September 2012 · Comments Off on Catching up: What we did this summer · Categories: Farm, Food, Gardening, Home · Tags: , , , , , ,

It was a busy summer, with a lot of visitors passing through, hence the lack of posts on my blog.  Here are a few images from the last couple of months.

We picked berries:

And gathered apples:

I bought a dehydrater, and we dried many many apple slices.  We also got a new crusher & press, and we have a big bucket of cider bubbling in the cellar.

We picked plums as well.  This lot became a batch of lovely jam.

The kids had lots of fun with their visiting cousin, and then with their Opa and their Gran.  Anneli’s English has really blossomed from having so many visitors who can’t speak Swedish!  She’s now started getting English language support in her preschool, once a week with an Australian teacher and two other bilingual kids.  As far as she’s concerned, the most exciting thing about this is that she got her own exercise book.

And it was great to see my big bro again.  I sure miss him.