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Knightshayes
Today I met up again with the lovely Rosie and her boys.
I know Rosie from the blogosphere, and her blog Eco-Gites of Lenault It’s nice to interact with someone going through the same sorts of experiences, re smallholding etc, albeit in a different country.

We met at Knightshayes, lunched and partook of cake, before touring the house, which is really interesting, and all the guide people were friendly and helpful

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We walked the grounds
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I really liked the fox and hounds topiary hedge
fox and hounds hedge

and am always jealous of the large walled kitchen garden. And perhaps the team of gardeners. They sure do grow a lot of rhubarb there..
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Obviously, that was all very tiring, so we were obliged to eat cake yet again – well it is Rosie’s cake holiday – it would be rude not to.

broody takes no prisoners
Seriously, take a look at that face. You wouldn’t want to get between her and her chicks would you?
Technically not her chicks, well I suppose they are now. These hatched in the incubator over the weekend, and last night we slipped them under this broody hen, removed the fake egg she was nursing and now she is a proud, fierce mother of eight.
She is excellent for these fosterings, as soon as we slip the first one under she is clucking and shuffling her feathers to make room.. and yes pecking the hell out of the hand that delivers the next chick into the warmth of her feathers.

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The chicks seem pretty happy with the arrangement too.

tawny owl

tawny owl
As well as working hard and eating too much over Easter we also had the tawny owl event.  This starts with Mr CIG waking me up to tell me he has let the hens out, put out food and water, the sheep are ok and by the way we have a tawny owl in the shed now. And with that he climbed back into bed.

A little while later I came to enough to question whether I had dreamt the bit about the owl.  You see, I am a bit of a  ‘night owl’ myself.. I’m not at my best in the mornings, but this did filter through. Yes, when he let the birds out, he found the poor little owl caught in the netting covering the run – we have to protect our flock and their eggs from jackdaws, crows and buzzards, all of which we have plenty, but owls work in our favour, hunting at night and killing vermin.  Once he had disentangled it, he set the owl down but it just sat there.  He was able to pick it up, so popped it in  a hutch in the dark and quiet, with some water.

We contacted the local owl rescue – they even have an owl emergency line, and we were told we had done everything right that the owl was unlikely to take flight in the day time and to try again at dusk.

So we left him alone, resisted the temptation to show him to family and friends and waited it out.  My son kept coming by to ask if it was dusk yet, as owls are one of his favourite things.
relaunch2
And when it was just getting dimpsy, we took the owl out – and he was far more alert now, all big eyes and trying his wings.  We balanced him on a post and waited and he took a moment to get his bearings, then eventually he took flight and took to the tall trees.  For once I was glad of those trees that shade our garden.
We often hear owls here, and we have seen them in the distance, but it was special, if unfortunate for the owl, for us to see one up close. I’m pretty sure he was unharmed and as we released him where he was found only a short while later, fairly sure he will do well.

This morning Mr Cig woke me to say he had done the early morning animal check, let the birds out, and everyone was ok. As he climbed back into bed, he added ‘and no extra owls’.

easter

chocolate cupcakes

This long weekend. we opted to stay  home-based. We have walked and cycled

croissants
built a new block wall (part of the ongoing kitchen project,

scotch eggs
we have gardened, moved chickens, repointed some wall, and helped our son with his garden project.

Obviously, all  this work needs to be fuelled…. with chocolate cupcakes, roast turkey, Easter biscuits, almond croissants and Scotch eggs.  Needs must.

cycling Plymouth

river Plym

We’ve been exploring cycle routes in the area, and explored some in Plymouth. We have in the past cycled up onto the moors from Plymouth, but for the first time cycled the route the other way, towards the coast.
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As well as the busy road side of the river, there are calmer tracks through the Saltram estate

Following the same route (27) towards the coast, the path takes some minor roads, before becoming vehicle free again
St Christopher Plaque Breakwater Road Plymouth
We got some lovely views of the coast, Mount Batten point, Drakes Island and the Hoe, as well as various dockyards and large boats moored alongside.
Mount Batten point
We cycled to the Barbican and we picked up some fish and chips, bunged them in the paniers and cycled back to a great view point for lunch in view of the Mayflower steps
Plymouth sound
We could have carried on much further along the Hoe, and ferries take bikes to other points across the sound. So now we have lots of good cycling to explore.

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crown prince

crown prince

We do like squash in this family, and my favourite is crown prince, because it is sweet, creamy and tasty, easy to grow, but also because it stores so well.

We harvested our squashes at the beginning of October and stored them carefully in a cool dry out-building, on pallets for good ventilation. They all stored well, and we checked them regularly as it is just too disappointing to have your hard earned crop go ‘blop’ and make a mess of the shed! They do become tastier and sweeter if stored, and we have been slowly working our way through the crop.

The crown prince have kept well until now nearly six months later, which is pretty good going. Now the weather is getting warmer they are beginning to deteriorate, and so it is time to chop up the last half dozen. And this is the final good thing about this squash, is it freezes well. Handy that is hung on until there was space in the freezers!
We blanch and freeze it in chunks, and from there can be made into soup. added to curries and tagines or roasted.

I’m always trying new varieties, we like the pumpkins for their halloween qualities, and the sweet lightening are delicious roasted whole, but I shall always grow crown prince.

Bath day

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Our son’s enthusiasm for all things Roman is undiminished.
minerva,  Bath
We had a lovely day looking at the Roman baths yet again,
Bath
and walking around in the sunshine,
Pultney bridge Bath

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