Until this rain came in. I was getting stuck into my tractor mowing. I still have a few fields to cut and the grass is getting too long to be of good feed value. The weather stopped my work, as did my run-in with a tree branch -
I was watching the mower out of the other window and didn't see the cut branch sticking out. I've ordered another window and will pick up the mowing again when the new window and dry weather arrive.
Just before the rain came, I managed to pick some elderflower heads to make elderflower cordial, a sweet floral drink that is great as a soft drink in sparkling water, or as an addition to gin or prosecco.
Common elderflower (Sambucus nigra) grows worldwide and is easy to identify. You want to pick the flowering heads when they're creamy white. The photo below shows flower heads not yet open (green), at their peak (behind), and gone over (right). If you use the overripe flowers, your cordial will have a musty, compost-like taste.
I use the River Cottage recipe as a guideline. I do pick them early and on a warm day. I drop all the heads in a bag and give it a half hour for the bugs to leave the flower heads.
When the cordial is made, I freeze it in batches in plastic leftover containers.
It's not glamorous or Instagram worthy to look at, but it's simple and effective.
When they're frozen, I slide all the batches between wax paper and into a plastic ziplock bag to save freezer space. I can just pull out a few servings at a time through the year.
I also sent my first Dorset x Friesian lamb to Ice Camp -
The carcase looks pretty good. Leaner than a pedigree Dorset.
When I ringed this lamb's testicles I missed one, so he grew a lot quicker than the others. I wanted to put him in the freezer before any hormones made him taste gamey. I butchered him myself so I could have the bones and scraps for the dogs.
I can't tell you yet how he tastes. The same afternoon that I set about breaking down the carcase, Mike was given a whole sea bass from our friend Scotty, and a selection of game meats to try from a new butcher. We've been spoiled for choice!
I had another lamb born last week - a big ram lamb.
Friendly ewe will lamb next, by the weekend I expect. And I still bottle feed lamb number 7 in the field once a day to keep her topped up as mother hasn't got much milk.
As I'm rained out of the garden and fields, I got on and delivered my fleeces to the Irish wool buyers early this morning.
I still had the big delivery van from delivering pheasant chicks yesterday so I made good use of it. Each of those bags is called a "sheet" so I have two wool sheets to sell. The buyers will grade the fleece then send payment, so I have to wait and see how we did this year.
On a positive note, I've just finished last year's tax return and for the first time I have a tax bill to pay! Normally I make so little on the farm after deductions and capital investments that the government pays me a small refund. This year I owe them - only £28 but still a small milestone for the farm business.