Sunday, 13 September 2009

The weather's been so beautiful this weekend we've been making the most of our outdoor time. Dakota and I went to pick more blackberries - I left the labrador at home this time. Dakota happily rides in the box on the back of the quad bike so we set off up the lanes to collect the harvest the American way - on a vehicle, with a travel mug of coffee while listening to my ipod.

I came home and found a gift from my DH (darling husband) waiting for me - a huge jam pot. I christened it by making hedgerow jelly. It went fine until I tried to spoon hot jelly into a jar while holding it. As expected, I poured the molten fruit over my hand. I threw the nearly full jar down, spraying everything with sticky jelly (Pip still has some on the side of her head) and ran to the sink to rinse it under the cold tap. When Mike came home he said "Should I take you to A&E [the emergency room]?" The irony of a man recovering from 80% burns bringing his wife who burned her thumb a little bit to the hospital made us both laugh. I declined, and put some ice on it. I still love my pan, but I'll use a little more common sense next time I use it.

Mike reminded me that some of these jellies and chutneys are supposed to accompany meat - such as our little lambs. I confess that having bottle fed them and making time everyday to give them a quick scratch behind the ear has made me reticent about making space for them in the freezer.

Sheep in a flock tend to be dullards with no distinguishable personalities, hence the term 'herd mentality'. But kept as individuals and closely allied with their human keepers, they seem to develop more, not intelligence per se but behaviors at least, which they use to influence us to do things they like feed them, scratch them, interact with them. It certainly demonstrates basic associative learning when they recognise trucks, people, dogs, and ascribe those things meaning: Mike arriving with food, a pat or rub, visual stimulation and new smells.

Harvesting wild animals is so much easier. You distance yourself though the scope and pull the trigger. You didn't know the animal, or directly care for the animal. And you're aiding the overall health of the herd or population by selective culling. If I bottle fed a fawn, I'm sure I wouldn't select that one later for the cull. I kill things to eat; I never like killing anything. I just accept that it's part of the trade-off of being a carnivore.

We had further bad news. Boris my old truck did not pass the MOT [inspection] and I have to let him go. He's been the best truck I've ever had and he's done me proud for quite a few years. It will be like saying goodbye to a dear friend. On the up side, he's going to live on a farm! Truly. Farmer Higgins down the road wants to buy him to do farm work. (He still runs he's just not road legal). Boris will enjoy his retirement there, so it's not so sad after all.

So today we took Tony, our new truck, for a ride through the Somerset countryside. We stopped at the cider makers and bought a half gallon of home brewed cider - delicious but lethal in large doses, at least to your motivation and ability to remain conscious. We may have a glass each later when all the chores are done. Speaking of which, I have some hungry horses to feed and a young pup due a training session before I put dinner on. And some more Portland sheep fleece to spin - I've been spinning a 100g sample of as many different sheep fleeces as I can find, in order to help me decide on a breed of sheep to keep as a small flock. Shetlands and Gotlands are at the top of the list so far - very soft and naturally colored.

I hope you've had an enjoyable weekend too, and your pantries are looking full!


Kerry said...

Holee craps! Those sheep have gotten huge!
I think it's interesting how easy it is to ascribe feelings (as we know them, not just electrical impulses) to sheep, trucks, and even iPods. When my last car, Spleen, was getting old and I was out looking at a new one, I got back in my car and immediately was overcome with flashbacks of all the good times Spleen and I had had together. I started to cry and vowed that I would not put him down until it was absolutely necessary. He lasted 3 more years, and it still wasn't easy to give him up. I still miss him, and on the rare occasions when I see one like him on the street, I get misty.

So, are you going to visit Boris on the farm and continue your "what's in the back of Boris" feature?

Jennifer Montero said...

I won't visit Boris because I don't want to confuse him bonding with his new owner by visiting all the time, though the farm is only at the end of the village.

Although we have Tony, I'm on a serious hunt for Boris II. They're hard to find, Daihatsu stopped making them in 2000 I think, so low mileage ones are like gold dust. They're only £3K, less than half the price of a used Land Rover.

I shall rename the What's in the back of Boris to What's in the back of Tony. Tony has been overlooked, and it's time to make him feel part of the family. But wouldn't it be great if I could get a slow lorus for the last installment...

I remember Spleen - he was just the right green color that you were sure matched his surroundings like camoflage, and postulated that that's why you had so many accidents in him? Wasn't he finished off in L.A. by a truckload of Mexicans crashing into him? He died like he lived...

Poppy Cottage said...

Yep to the pay it forward, I'll explain when I see you. Yep also to the apples. Home after 3pm tomorrow, any good? And teach me to read the blog too fast a I should be getting school uniform ready, I though you said.........
I hope you've had an enjoyable weekend too, and your panties are looking full!

I thought 'what a cheek!!'

See you soon.

Me x

Pomona said...

Ellie at Fleece with Altitude blog knows loads about sheep varieties/fleeces (she is also a smallholder). She has written an illustrated book about it all - it is a PDF which you can download - with lots of info and pics of sheep and fleeces and detail about the characteristics of each. I am sure that you would find that very helpful and interesting.

Hope your hand gets better - have you got a wide-mouthed jam funnel? That does make the pouring a bit easier!

Pomona x

Jennifer Montero said...

Thanks Pomona - Will check out fleece with attitude. I did buy a book from the British Wool Board but actually spinning different ones myself has taught me alot. It has left me with alot of single skeins!

Hand is better - blistered though. That hand was burned pretty badly last year so it's gonna take some time to heal up, but it will, thanks. I SO want a jam funnel and keep meaning to buy one, this experience has taught me a lesson about being a skinflint!

Oh - the contact for the day old meat poultry are S & T poultry. website is :
We've got the farm ranger (brown) and the Poulet Goulois. I haven't tried either yet but I'll let you know about flavour / taste later. Both have been a snap to rear, no health problems. Quiet and easy to manage.