Thursday, 31 December 2009

An almost white christmas

The week leading up to christmas looked so promising, with lovely snow all around.

Pre christmas snow on Twitpic

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Snowy field on Twitpic

Clun started to look decidedly christmassey, despite the lack of decorations (somehow it all just crept up on us this year!), although Tom was not too impressed... Tom and Roz in the snow on Twitpic
except for the large volume of food it meant he was supplied with.

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Smashing time!

Out with the new and in with the old.

What a monster! We had a great time whacking it out...


Gone ...

Now we've just got to find a nice little old cast iron one to put in its place! Any suggestions ....

Sunday, 25 October 2009

Autumn at Clun

The recent winds and rain have virtually stripped the trees, and given us gentle encouragement to batten down the hatches and turn our thoughts to working on the inside of the house again. This winter we hope to get the two downstairs rooms reworked, refloored and decorated... its quite ambitious, but that's the plan.

Of course there are still the outside jobs that need doing as and when the weather permits. Today we made a start on the chicken / duck enclosure. Getting the posts in is going to be quite a challenge but the thought of fresh eggs is spurring us on - we just need a couple of weekends and the right kit to get the job done. Thing is, we haven't quite worked out exactly what we need! Past experience says you never have the thing you need, no matter what you've got to hand.

Last week the sheep that found their way into our field finally got picked up, not before one of them managed to get itself well and truly stuck in the fence though. It's true they are remarkably stupid , and continually looking for new ways to die! Thankfully we spotted it and got it out of its rather ridiculous predicament, unfortunately the fence didn't fare so well.

Sunday, 11 October 2009

Chocolate and Courgette Brownies

So we've had the last glut of courgettes, just the odd one is still arriving. The last lot gave us the chance to tweak the choc and courgette cake recipe (originally from Riverford). Try it you'll be really pleasantly surprised!

120g butter / marg
125ml sunflower oil
100g caster sugar
200g soft brown sugar
3 eggs
125ml milk
350g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
4 tbsp cocoa powder
50g chopped walnuts (optional)
450g peeled and finely grated courgettes
1tsp vanilla essence

Preheat oven to 190 c / 350 f

Line a 8" x 12" tin with greaseproof (if you haven't got a tray this size use a smaller one and use any left over mixture in muffin cases).

Beat the butter, oil and sugars together until light.

Slowly add the eggs and then the milk until thoroughly mixed.

Sift the dry ingredients together and fold into the mixture.

Add the walnuts, vanilla essence and grated courgettes.

Spoon into the tin, and / or muffin cases and bake for 40 mins approx. until a skewer comes out clean. Muffins will take about 25 mins.

Delicious eaten warm, but you can freeze them too!

Changing Times

Autumns here ... and properly I mean. Not the nice sunny late September, the weird up and down, one minute its raining and the next its blazing, type autumn that makes keeping Tom dry, warm but not too warm sooooo difficult!

Anyway, the raspberries continue in force. Every dry day is a picking day, and the freezer is now brimming with this year's harvest. Which is just as well as we just have a few odds and ends coming in now, even the tomatoes are nearly all gone (but not quite!).

With the chicken house all painted, we are designing the run that will hopefully keep the new recruits nice and safe as well as giving them a great area to play around in. Can't wait until we are able to actually go and get some!

The darker evenings are turning our thoughts towards the inside of the house once more. Having totally abandoned work inside since about May, we're itching to get the sledgehammer and paintbrushes out again. What will be first? Whatever it is it's sure to mean some pretty drastic changes of use for rooms upstairs and down, whether they become permanent we'll just have to wait and see!

Friday, 2 October 2009

the last bits and pieces...

So that's nearly it for the lovely summer fare now. Just a few tomatoes left, 1 aubergine and a few peppers... oh and a lot of chillies!

The beastly spider mites that took over the beans have found their way onto several other plants. Found this useful site so going to try them with the soapy water trick and if that fails nuke them with alcohol!

We are hoping to get an asparagus bed established this Autumn ready for planting next spring but are debating whether its OK to put it in the tunnel or whether we need to find a permanent spot for it outside. The former is quite straightforward to achieve the latter much more tricky as the list of jobs gets longer and longer. If anyone has experience of asparagus in a tunnel do let us know how you got on.

Being the first year doing this, we don't have much else to keep us going on into winter, so any suggestions for things we can plant now appreciated.

Friday, 25 September 2009

Another year older

... but definitely no wiser! I don't suppose I can eek this birthday out much longer although looking forward to dinner tomorrow with friends and taking delivery of a few outstanding pressies! Always happy to try though.

Lots of lovely presents including a chicken (to come!), blueberry bushes and beautiful trug for the show veg next year - handcrafted by Rhys. Thankyou everyone for thinking of me, and getting such thoughtful things or allowing me to get things that will be really useful (but also lovely!!!)

Pics to follow here...

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Late summer on the farm

Blackberries and raspberries absolutely everywhere. The sunshine of the last week really got the field going and we now have a bumper crop of raspberries to pick. While the courgettes seem to be having a second growth spurt, do they ever stop?

The Gelbe Kirschen "Yellow Cherries" chillis are turning a lovely yellow colour lulling you into a wonderfully false sense of security, which is nicely shattered if you touch them on your tongue to see how hot they are! The answer: blisteringly hot... The other varieties, Pretty in Purple and Iranian Red Round chillies are taking longer to ripen, and I think we might need to cobble together some sort of special greenhouse for them in the tunnel, if they are to reach their full scorching potential. They are just so pretty!

The colder nights have meant some of the tunnel crops are suffering with a mildew on their leaves, it doesn't seem to be affecting the vegetables themselves, so we just have to keep as much air going through as possible.
The beans, I think were attacked by spider mite, thankfully it happened late in the season and we had already picked more than we can possibly use. Something to keep an eye on for next year, and get ready with some sort of predator.
We're already looking forward to starting next year's crop. With a long wish list of additional heritage and heirloom varieties to try we've never been so excited to see January before.

Monday, 14 September 2009

What a wonderful weekend ...

So we thought we'd have a weekend off ... of course we didn't, but we did have a lovely weekend anyway doing camping the Clun farm way and the only way that camping or indeed glamping should be a field with bunting!

At last we had a couple of nights of beautiful night skies, perfect for catching ISS as it travelled about 350km overhead

Check out the night sky pics here...

Saturday we had a very successful, if long, blackberry pick.

While Sunday was taken up with "a little light gardening", or hedge slaying, and wall building

All in all a lovely, rewarding and slightly less hassled weekend. Thanks sunshine!

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Now that's a lot of tomatoes ....

We headed into the jungle tunnel last night to pick some tomatoes.
This is what we ended up with! Better late than never, and there's many more to come ...

Thursday, 3 September 2009

A little pot of sunshine ...

Despite the awful weather the tomatoes are coming thick and fast now. Galina, the yellow cherry toms look (and taste!) so lovely we decided to try and pot some of that sunshine taste to see us through the darker days ...

Halve the tomatoes (try any varieties you like as far as I can tell), lay them cut side up on a baking tray,
Sprinkle with your favourite fresh herbs (we use golden oregano and finissimo basil),
Season with salt and black pepper and drizzle them with olive oil.
You can also give them a tiny (and I mean tiny) sprinkling of caster sugar to give them some extra sweetness if you like...

Place them in a really low heated oven circa 100 degrees c for several hours (3-4) until they are soft and chewy. The warming shelf in an aga would be perfect.

Place in a jar, top up the jar with olive oil and cover. Store in the fridge. They will last a couple of weeks but only if you forget about them! You'll have eaten them long before that...

Saturday, 29 August 2009

Clun Farm produce wins prizes!

Yeah, our first ever horticultural show and we scooped prizes in all the classes entered today at Clunderwen Show.

Best Jam - brilliant! I know it has quite a loyal following among family and friends but its nice that it got an outside stamp of approval too ....

All in all we got 3 firsts (jam, parsley and welsh cakes), 1 second and 3 thirds! Not bad for a pair of novices. Just a shame the collection of veg just got third, even the lovely aubergine couldn't swing it - judge said if it had potatoes and onions in it would have won... oh well we know for next time.

Yvonne's eggs did well too, scooping first in the white egg category, they probably helped towards her quiche prize too! ... Thanks for encouraging me to enter, can't wait for next year now!

Friday, 28 August 2009

Caterpillar culprits

There are a lot of these little guys in the tunnel. If you can identify any please let us know!

This one was in the strawberries ...

think this is a cabbage white ... enjoying the nasturtiums

This dude has been spotted munching the lettuces and in with the beans and strawberries ...

Monday, 24 August 2009

Nice view! ...

Its a beautiful day today ... looks like its gonna change later so thought we'd better head out sooner rather than later.

Saving your own seeds ....

Just received our 2009 newsletter from Real Seeds and in it they are trialling new video seed saving instructions. They've started with collecting seed from brassicas:

Will post some more as, and when, they publish them. You can get their newsletter yourself (full of interesting stuff about new vegetables and news updates) here

Sunday, 23 August 2009

The inaugural Clun Farm Festival of Glamping

Weather started off promising and stayed dry most of the day, which was handy as parents and other relatives came out for lunch and an update viewing on the house - comments like "you've done a lot since I was last here" (Aunty Jen) much appreciated!
Evening do was just as civilised (well almost!) only trouble is I forgot to take any photos - so if you have any then please do e-mail them to me so I can post!
Prize for best dressed tent goes to Nia and Gaz for effort - although the balloons didn't make it to the tent!
Best wellies goes to Anna - as she was the only one that pointed them out to me!

Thanks everyone for coming it was lovely to see you all and catch up... same again next year? Bit more effort required on the "glamping" element though!

Friday, 21 August 2009

Real men wheel pink!

The funky pink barrow really suits you Nik!! Thanks guys for the help, it made the world of difference prepping the place for its first real public appearance...

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Delicious Lemon and Courgette Muffins

If you've still got lots of courgettes, and need something different to do with them then try these. They are seriously yum!

2 cups plain flour
1/2 cup of sugar
1tbsp baking powder
pinch salt
grated peel of 1 lemon
1/2 cup sultanas
2 free range eggs, beaten
1/2 cup milk
juice of the lemon
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 packed cup up finely grated courgette (about 1 medium / large courgette) - If you have someone who is averse to green things you may need to peel your courgettes first as they come out with little green flecks in them ...

Preheat oven to 400 f

Combine dry ingredients and sultanas
in another bowl mix the milk, eggs, oil, lemon juice and zest

Gently combine the liquid mix with the dry ingredients, then fold in the courgette.

Spoon the batter into a greased 12 cup muffin tin, and bake for 20 - 25 mins until just golden and springy to touch.

For a real treat drizzle with lemon icing. Really good eaten warm!

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Clun Farm Raspberries

There are raspberries and then there are massive, gorgeous and yummy Clun Farm Raspberries. M&S eat your heart out, this is real fruit!!!

Apologies for the lack of anything useful, just so absorbed by the wonders of picking your own food! Promise more scrummy recipes soon ...

Monday, 3 August 2009

One man went to mow...

and mow a meadow he did! Much more quickly this time with the help of a quad, topper and picnic in the field. This is very hard and serious work ...

The topper did such a great job of chopping the grass down we don't need to pick it up after, saving us from the most gruelling of all the tasks on the farm - hoorah!

In fact it was so much fun we did Tom's bit too

Big thanks to Phil and Yvonne for the loan of the machines which made this meadow mowing so much more effective, much less tiring and a lot more fun our previous efforts!

Thursday, 30 July 2009

Mint the remarkable

A couple of weeks ago I gave the apple mint a bit of a trim - hacking bits off left right and centre in the hope of making it look somewhat tamer. Unsure quite what to do with the bits we stuck them in a glass of water, thinking in a couple of days we'd feel a bit less guilty about throwing them out when they were all wilted.

No, 2 weeks later and the stems have rooted and all look supremely healthy, still in their glass of water! I've taken some smaller cuttings now to do the same thing.

If only all plants we so forgiving!

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

You're right ...

We did in fact pick so much stuff in the last 2 weeks it weighed as much as a shetland pony...


Monday, 27 July 2009

Finished at last ...

Finally the border at the front has been finished off... for now at least!

Resplendent with all the pesky weeds gone and a lovely top dressing of bark, we found all sorts of lovely things growing there, and put in a few extras as we went too. Hope you agree it looks a bit better now...
When we moved in:

Friday, 24 July 2009

A snozcumber? ...

So excited ... We have our very first spiky cuc!

Hopefully plenty more on their way soon.

Beans, peas and courgettes still coming in significant droves, and the freezer is filling at a speed of knots. Tomatoes still not ripening, but hopefully we'll get some sunshine soon to kick things off...

Saturday, 18 July 2009

The world's longest runner bean... FACT!

I thought we had some great looking long 'uns. So I thought I'd find out what the record is for bean growing. Check these out! ...

* The runner bean world record (Source: Guinness World Records) is held by an American, Harry Hurley, who grew a bean that was a whopping 1m30 cm (4ft 3in) in 1997.
* The UK record for the longest runner bean was set in the same year at 86.5cm (34.6in)
* UK champion gardeners regularly grow beans around 63.5 cm (25 in)

I think we have some way to go yet ... the longest of ours are about 30cm ;) !

Saturday, 11 July 2009

Fruiting fabulous!

With the veg in the tunnel almost ready to take over the world and the currants and raspberries in the field really coming into their own, we are in a frantic bid to pick as many beans, mangetout, courgettes and currants as is earthly possible!

Last year we had good success freezing the runner beans, currants and raspberries so this year we are frantically blanching and freezing. Already the freezer is brimming, and as ever we are keeping our eyes open for interesting things to do with your surplus courgettes.

I made a chocolate courgette cake the other day - and it was really good. In just a few tweaks time I'll bring you an improved
recipe. Honestly it is really good, and not like its made out of courgettes at all - you'd never know... Can't wait for the tomatoes to start ripening now, they smell sooooo good....

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

Delicious strawberry ice cream

If you're not normally a fan of strawberry ice cream, you have to give this the benefit of the doubt! Its dreamy and sooooo simple, go on give it a go ...

600g fresh, prepared strawberries
200 - 300g caster sugar to taste - if your strawbs are lovely and sweet you may not even need that much!
600ml double cream

Puree the strawberries, and the sugar and gently whip in the cream until fully combined.
Put in a freezer-proof container, and place in the freezer for 30 mins to 1 hour. Give the mixture a good stir, and return to the freezer. Repeat this as the mixture gradually starts to freeze, probably 3-4 times.

The more you mix it the smoother the end result will be. When almost set you can stop the mixing and leave it to freeze fully. Next, eat it ..... just not all at once!

Friday, 26 June 2009

Good enough to eat...

What a lovely haul...

yes those really are round courgettes and lemon yellow mangetout!

Monday, 22 June 2009

Poor baby ...

sad news the other baby jackdaw died. We think the parents stopped coming down to feed him although they were always around and calling to him. Its such a shame - he was almost there... nature is so harsh.

Thursday, 18 June 2009


Monday I had a fantstic day (even though it was "work") and went out to Skomer. Its not often we will use this space for tales of the W word but this is definitely worth it!

After the short boat trip from Martin's Haven we landed on Skomer - the jewel in pembrokeshire's island crown - and home to simply loads and loads of puffins (as well as lots of other interesting birds, and seals and porpoise in its surrounding waters).

Despite appearances they are remarkably fast little birds, so trying to take photos of them landing - the funniest bit - is a bit tricky!! Despite that they have no interest in humans, they are simply not bothered, and go about their business delivering sand eels to their chicks completely oblivious to you - unless you are in their way, in which case they just look at you until you move! Cute, very very cute...

The weather held for us despite the forecasts of thundery showers - only once did it let rip and most of us were busy having lunch by that point.

If you live in or visit pembrokeshire you simply have to visit the island. And if you live in South and West Wales you simply have to join the wildlife trust (join here) to make sure the wildlife on our patch is protected for the future. Go on ... it really will make a difference! And while you're at it why not get membership as a present for someone else - you can find out their local trust here

Sunday, 14 June 2009

Field trouble

2 days of slogging away at the grass in the field and Rhys has done a great job of cutting it down so you can at least make out rows of fruit bushes now! Thing is we now have to shift all the cut grass, and there's lots... Any suggestions?!

We did find a very cute thing in one of the red currants... not this year's we think if you know who lives in a house like this let us know.

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

It's official ... the best strawberries ever!

According to mum last week, our strawberries are the best she has ever tasted. We thought it might just be mum being nice, but today the motion was seconded by Grace...

Thanks you guys!

Monday, 8 June 2009

Ladybird Ladybird ...

Yeah our first (observed anyway!) ladybird has emerged... and this afternoon is changing to a nice red colour and developing her spots

I just hope she has some company soon, these aphids are ridiculous!