I popped into our village library the other day to pick up some ordered books and to catch up with the news on the recent, fund raising Harvest Festival/Apple Pressing day. I couldn’t make the event, but we had donated produce to help make money to keep our library open. Over £750 was raised at this event – onwards and upwards.
My librarian mentioned that not many borrowers took books from her curated display so I volunteered and was very pleased to pick up ‘The Modern Preserver’. I was immediately smitten by the spiced plum sauce recipe.
Unfortunately, whilst I had plums and damsons a week ago; when I checked the orchard, all had gone!
Time to get our skates on with gathering in the harvest.
The squashes have done us proud once again and yes, mid brother, some of those spaghetti squashes have your name on them. The walnuts, once again, have been raided by the grey squirrels…..
….we might manage a few for Christmas
but no matter, we have plenty of other ingredients to keep us happy – here the ingredients to accompany pheasant poached in cider…
Reading this week: Weeds: How Vagabond Plants Gatecrashed Civilisation by Richard Mabey
In another life I read a book by Chris Stewart entitled ‘Driving Over Lemons’. I enjoyed it a lot, but I always winced a bit at the title. Perfectly good title – it was just the image of all those squashed lemons. The waste!
Recently I have been re-living the emotion. Though with walnuts. Back in September I had harvested some. I then left them sitting around for a bit, they got rained on, and as an afterthought I tried drying the nuts, still in their shell, in the oven. When I cracked open a few (quite a few) …. the nuts were black. Not good. So I piled the remainder up in the hedgerow for the local wildlife – one very fat grey squirrel.
But of course over the weeks the wind brought more down – an awful lot more. And every time I drove up our lane to the house I heard the crunch. Nuts crushed under wheel. And then the squirrel, not content with the gift of a pile of rancid walnuts in the hedgerow, started gathering the newly fallen nuts and burying them in the veg plot. And then the fat squirrel turned up with his friend and they both started burying nuts … in the veg plot.
Enough is Enough!
So time to try again – the larger nuts I shall experiment with air drying in wire racks over the boiler, the smaller nuts I will hull and air dry. Walnuts freeze well, so I will freeze the hulled nuts to use in baking and, fingers crossed, hope that I will be cracking a few of those in their shell at christmas with the OH.
Otherwise I will be digging up nuts with the squirrel….
Last night the sky was clear of cloud and full of stars. An immense universe spread out in front of me. I tried to take a photograph of the constellations above me but failed. However it made me think about mortality and my father who died young and what we leave behind. My father died before any of my nieces and nephews were born so they have no memory of him. I have a few photos, some scraps of his handwriting and memories.
So what will I and my husband leave behind? We have planted shelter belts and orchards at the small holding but these tend to be, or can be, short-lived. However on the holding we have a number of substantial trees – the massive oak in the field, a fine focal point at any time of year, and 2 walnuts, Juglans regia.
Earlier this year I stumbled across a young walnut growing in the veg. plot. I potted it up and we shall plant it out in the field. In spite of the name the English Walnut isn’t a native tree, it originates from Central Asia.
But as the juvenile sprouted from a nut that had been overlooked by the squirrel, (a rare occurrence), we shall keep it. The English walnut has one of the biggest canopies of all so it needs space. Perhaps we shall plant it where another large oak once stood (gone before the start of our tenure here). With luck it will grow into a tree the size of our remaining oak.
A good thing to leave behind.
Reading this week: Notes from Walnut Tree Farm by Roger Deakin