daffodils

Diary of a Frugal Month

Hope that sunny days and daffodils bursting into flower herald start of warm spring weather. Start springtime regime of Using Food from the Freezer in order to have good break between frozen fruit and vegetables and fresh from the garden. Find several unlabelled bags that could be apple juice or chicken stock and great quantities of rabbit casseroles. Decide to start with soft fruit and pull out bag of unappealing raspberry rubble squashed at bottom of freezer. Make Raspberry Loaf Cake and discover raspberry pieces work just as well as whole raspberries.

Raspberry Cake

Regret that raspberry cake needs only two eggs as small mountain of eggs has appeared in pantry because every hen and duck is laying an egg a day. Encourage grandson to collect eggs from nest box on premise that he will then have to take them home. Had forgotten that toddlers hurl eggs rather than carefully placing them in egg box. Eat scrambled eggs for lunch.

Rabbit Furs

In fit of frugality, regard rabbit skins destined for throwing away after meat has been cut up as terrible waste of resources. Consult numerous websites for ways to preserve skins and consider options. Have no battery acid to hand and no wish to scrape brains from rabbit so follow instructions using salt and alum (conveniently left over from natural dyeing experiments last year). Realise half way through that alum supplies are insufficient. Hastily place order for more via internet. Days pass. Emails exchange. Regret managing to pick supplier whose health issues make trips to Post Office difficult and infrequent. Add more salt and hope lack of alum doesn’t affect end product. Alum finally arrives and process continues. Skins dried and stretched as instructed so now have small collection of rabbit skins, though no idea what to use them for. Diminutive size of collection banishes thoughts of making rug to drape artistically over sofa in front of roaring fire.

Clear books from one shelf on bookcase in effort to Remove Unnecessary Clutter in lieu of proper Spring Cleaning and find several children’s books. Flick through book of nursery rhymes. Eyes alight on

Bye, baby bunting,
Daddy’s gone a-hunting,
Gone to get a rabbit skin
To wrap the baby bunting in.

A possibility. Or perhaps just a fur trimmed hat.

Little Forest Field in March

On the Farm in March

spring growth

Around the farm, there are signs of new growth. We have nothing in flower yet but the banks of the ditches are filling with bright green primrose leaves and the tiny fern like leaves of cow parsley.

honey bees and honeycomb

When Storm Doris blew through at the end of last month, the limb of an ash tree crashed to the ground. When Bill went to clear the debris and cut up the branch, he noticed a few bees buzzing around. Further investigation revealed a honeycomb in the hollow of the branch and an awful lot of bees. The chainsaw was quickly put back in the shed and the branch was been left in situ as we waited to see what happened to the bees. After a few days of wind and rain there were several dead bees scattered about but the main mass was sheltering under the honeycomb. We were told that if the queen bee is still there, the workers will huddle around her to keep her warm and if they’re left too exposed and cold they will gradually die off. There are still several bees in the branch today (you can just about make them out in the darkness on the right*), so for the time being we’ll leave them and the branch alone.

Hay barn at slamseys

Slamseys Hay Barn

Every time the fields start to dry out there is talk of starting the spring land work but then it rains and makes them wet again so there has been a great deal of building work and maintenance. Most recently some of the twentieth century repairs to the old Essex barn have been stripped out, which has completely changed the look of the barn.

The sun is shining today, so with luck the primroses will soon be flowering and the tractors will be able to get onto the fields.

 

 

*This was the best shot I could get without disturbing the bees

Idle Speculation

 

There’s not too much to do on the farm in February.

sheep grazing Sussex

So we all ran away for the weekend to a beautiful corner of rural Sussex where there were hills and sheep, dark nights and silence, which made a pleasant change from the flat urbanised landscape of Essex. We even had a dusting of snow.

When we came home we said “Wasn’t it lovely? It was so quiet and peaceful without the incessant traffic noise of home.”

We talked about whether we’d like to live there. We said we would.

The London Eye

And then we went up to town. We went to the theatre and there were so many places to eat we had a job to decide which one to pick. We walked along the Thames and stood on the bridges watching the water rush by under our feet.

When we came home we said “Wasn’t it fun? There’s so much to do.”

We talked about whether we’d like to live there. We said it would be lovely to have a pied-à-terre.

snowdrops

But when we thought about it, the hills in Sussex were quite steep and the roads very narrow. And London was very noisy and crowded. Anyway, how could we afford a pied-à-terre?  Then we looked around us at the two cock pheasants strutting along the wall outside the kitchen window, the carpet of snowdrops under the apple trees and the fields beyond and we said “Aren’t we lucky to live here? Why do we want to go anywhere else?”

That’s the trouble with February. It’s such a non-event and leads to far too much idle speculation. Roll on spring.