Sunday, July 01, 2012

A trip with family, a sheep bag and Tour De Fleece 2012

I have finally got my spinning wheel out of storage and up and running again after many years spurred on by the idea of doing the Tour de  Fleece on Ravelry as a challenge to get me back into the swing of things. However as it turns out I couldn't start on day one as we were in Devon celebrating my aunt and uncle's joint birthday by travelling to the beach and back on a steam train ! Given this aunt was one of the main people to teach me about fleece, sheep, spinning, weaving and all the associated crafts and knowledge as a kid I think it was a good reason to miss it.
 Treestump taking photos

I loved this view of Minehead, all those flowers above the tide line and the old buildings, in the other direction it was much more touristy.  There were getting close to 60 of us in total on the trip and all those with kids and a good few others spent the two hours on the beach before the train took us back again. It was about the only two hour slot in the day it didn't rain and in fact was quite sunny!

 Padding on the beach.

Shortly after this Treestump got so enthusiastic about chasing the waves in and out he went out to far, lost his footing and went right under the water, he was fine and went back in later once we had removed his top to try and dry it a bit, being wise in the ways of small boys I had spare clothes with me too. I didn't get a photo of him soaking wet but my aunt did so I might get a copy later because he did look a sight !

We had a buffet meal on the train on the way there and a cream tea on the way back all made by the more local family members, it looked fantastic but I took my own food so as not to make life difficult and so I didn't have to get twitchy as with 60 people there is bound to be cross contamination.

 One of the things I did do was make my aunt and uncle a present, it is a satchel style bag with an appliqué, embroidered and needle felted scene on it. They used to keep rare breed sheep including Jacobs so it seems fitting to include sheep into the scene and the darker fleece I used is actually jacob fleece. The sheep in the foreground is meant to be a Jacob which all have horns. I hope they like it, she certainly appreciated the fabric it was made from and I'm glad I picked a good one from my stash as it has gone to someone with the knowledge and love of fibre to know the difference. It's all wool or wool mixes apart from the embroidery thread.

A close up of the sheep

a close up of the tree

The 2012 Urban Farm Handbook Challenge June: Botanicals

Firstly on a semi related subject we have got our first chickens ! Well technically first chickens for everyone but me as I sued to have them as a kids.  Five of them, three bantams and two hybrids.

The bantams are a Plymouth rock, a while bearded silkie and a black pekin. The hybrids are a ranger and a black star. The pekin and the black star have very similar colouring but are very different in size! They are settling into their new home well. The pekin being the smallest has made it very clear she is in charge and the silkie is doing her best to live up to the steriotype for her breed and has been nicknamed daft bint by Tom. Provisional names of these two are little miss bossy and little miss daft bint but the boys haven't decided what they think they should all be called yet and seem to think little miss style names is silly ! Noodles chose the pekin and Treestump the silkie but only after been vetoed on having a "cockadodoldo", a guinea pig or a guinea fowl !

So moving on to the challenge this month which all about making herbal oils, teas and tinctures which is easy as I was already making some before I even read the month's challenge.

A friend gave us some herb plants for the allotment so and when I planted them out they all got a good "haircut" so they didn't have to much leaf cover until the roots had a chance to establish. This left me with bunches of extra chives, mint, lemon balm, sage and tarragon, so what do you do with those? I already had a lot of sage drying so I decide to make vinegars and oils. Some of the chives went straight into a sort of pesto for a salad but the rest went into oil as did the lemon balm. The sage and tarragon I am infusing in cider vinegar. The mint has been drying and I am going to harvest a whole bunch more of the Moroccan mint for tea or infusions throughout the winter just as soon as there is a patch of time when it hasn't rain for long enough for the mint to be dry!!. I now have about 4 or 5 different mints which is lovely as they all have different flavours. I also have three different oregano, two of them new from my mum but the other I need to harvest to dry for pasta sauces and so on. One of the new ones is really spicy so I'm looking forward to it later once it is established.

There is a whole article on how infuse herbs and similar here and it is worth reading if you haven't done such things before because while it is really easy there are a few things to keep in mind such as making sure your herbs are dry if infusing in oil.

About the same time as I was making infusions I came across the concept of shurbs, which are a sugar and vinegar based concentrate similar to a cordial which you dilute with water to make a flavoured drink. I've been meaning to use up the last of the berries in the freezer as the blackberry bushes are covered in flowers so the berries will not be far behind. There are several different ways to make these but I like this one which uses a syrup made by cold maceration of the fruit rather than cooking the syrup so I duly put the defrosted blackberries in the fridge covered in sugar and waited a day or so then strained it out to get a syrup like this.

To the syrup I added some sage vinegar and put back in the fridge to meld. I haven't tried it yet as I've been away but will shortly. The remaining fruit is good as a pudding or cereal topping.

I also made some plantain oil to add to my first aid kit, I might make up some cream from it to and I will make some comfrey oil as well for similar uses, I like that for when my hands flare up which is normally my own fault or doing to much gardening or washing without gloves.

One of the other challenges for the month was making hydrosols which I do want to try some day but currently with our dreadful weather I am somewhat lacking in things like rose petals though I do have a new young rose which has a fantastic fragrance so hopefully later on I will be able to harvest enough petals to try with if you want to have a go then have a look at the method here.

Blog Content

All of the photographs on this blog have been taken by Esther, that's me, unless they are being used to link to giveaways etc in which case they belong to the person who I am linking to. All text is my own words.
None of the content of this blog may be used without my permission.