7 days ago
Here you are – the first produce from our new toy. Joshua and I sampled it for breakfast after a night in the freezer. Taste: perfect. Texture: perfect. Colour: perfect. Welcome to Welsh hovel home-made chocolate ice cream. Next up will be strawberry ice cream and then we will start to experiment with other fruits from our own orchard and vegetable patch later in the summer when we get back from Greece. Of course, the ultimate goal is to make it really home-made using goats milk and cream when we get goats. But that is a 2023, slipping into retirement, project. So far..so good
68 days ago
It has been two or three weeks since I showed you the before shots on the massive works underway behind the barns which form the farmyard behind the Welsh Hovel. As you can see below, we have made real progress.
100 days ago
The ground is uneven in the new orchard I am creating at the Welsh Hovel. You may remember that two years ago this was a field with grass, ferns and nettles growing six foot tall. If you stood where the photo below was taken, you could not see the gate, fence and chicken shed which stood at the end of this field less than 80 yards away. So we will never have a smooth lawn for croquet, even if the accursed badgers were persuaded to bugger off.
138 days ago
In the background you can see Paul, my er… colleague in gardening enterprises here at the Welsh Hovel heading off with the Lady of the Manor to inspect the herb garden. In the foreground is the latest addition to the new orchard, the Nottingham Merdlar, a tree that produces “dog’s arse fruit” as I noted here.
143 days ago
Today’s arrival is a new addition to the new orchard, that is to say a Nottingham Medlar or Dog’s Arse, or Open Arse fruit tree. These were apparently popular with both the Greeks and Romans and again in Victorian times and what follows may disgust you and explain why they are now rather rare.
152 days ago
Just a couple of snaps from the top inner field where I created the strawberry patch but also planted a second orchard – the first being apple only and down by the river. The trees are a mixture of apples, crab apples, pears, plums and two small fig trees. I have ordered another tree – a rare species but one native to Britain. More on that later when it arrives in the next week or two.
172 days ago
The day is looming when I must consider my New Year’s Resolutions. It is no great shock in that my top few are all to do with being a little bit, no a lot more, healthy. Spending those last couple of weeks with Dad and his death, covid, the second big lockdown here in Wales, the new baby and now Christmas have not been good for my health. The large Christmas jumper given to me by my mother in law is a little tight. I am all too aware of what needs doing. I am 53 in two weeks time and I have a one month old baby so I need to up my game in the healthy living department. It is all very well me considering plans for wind down and retirement but you have to live long enough to get to spend more time with your children and goats.
239 days ago
On Tuesday, Joshua and I again went picking apples from the orchard by the river and we have already enjoyed an apple crumble. Next up will be another pressing of aple juice for my first stab at it was a bit of a triumph.
258 days ago
I had not expected to be making any crab apple jelly this year. I planted two trees in the new orchard I have created in the top field closest to the house. Their main purpose was in assisting cross polination of the six edible apple trees, all of different varieties which I also planted, along with six plum trees, six pear trees and two fig trees as well as the eight cherry trees that now border the track down to the hovel at the edge of the vegetable patch. I did not expect them to bear fruit this year but, to my surprise, they did. Not the 1 kg of fruit the recipe demanded but about an eighth of that.
299 days ago
I have used most fruit known to man in my cooking over the years but never, until now, damsons. I just viewed them as small, not very pleasant to eat, and altogether rather pointless. We have a tree in the area formerly known as the jungle but which is slowly becoming a large vegetable garden and which runs alongside the lane down to the hovel so I had pondered what to do with its fruit. I stumbled across a recipe for jam which refers to windfall damsons but, in this case, my fruit arrived thanks to lightning.
375 days ago
When we arrived at the Welsh Hovel, what you see below, the area at the edge of the nearest upper field was a sea of ferns and nettles, almost six foot high in places. You could not see the small shed at one end of my strawberry patch, which I am now knocking down, and the larger chicken hut at the other end, whose days are also numbered, was barely visible. In fact I did not know of the existence of the smaller shed which is, I fear, largely made of asbestos so not that easy to eradicate. The area between the two sheds had once also been a building and you can see the base of its wall still exists.
394 days ago
As it happens, strawberry cultivation used to be big business here in the last village in Wales. And myself, Joshua and the Mrs have been working hard to create a patch here at the Welsh Hovel.
428 days ago
I seem to have messed up on the social distancing of my planned orchard so will be out with my tape measure repegging it this afternoon. But the first of 20 plum, pear, eating apple and crabapple trees has now been planted. The whole batch is pictured below. Because they arrived a bit late in the season, some are already flowering.
500 days ago
This is a rarity, getting the Mrs to assist in the garden, but the lure of a strawberry patch got her on board and also Joshua who was given a new gardening kit for Christmas by “aunty” K.