Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Second-cut Silage, Strawberry Jam

Last evening at the end of a very busy day I went to help the Farmer move a small bunch of cows into clean grazing after the field had been mown for silage. The ladies-in-waiting as they are known, being cows due to calve fairly soon, made their stately progress down the lane in the lovely evening light, stopping on their way to drink from the stream that runs down the side of the lane. Cows drinking is a lovely sight...they slurp quite delicately (if that isn't a contradiction in terms), from the surface of the water in a most genteel manner.

The menfolk had spent the day bringing in the second cut of silage. A contractor came in with his self-propelled precision-chop harvester to deal with a field of whole-crop barley, crimson clover & vetch which ensiled makes excellent fodder for the cows over winter. Two fields of grass were also cut. The silage clamp is now very full and we can rest assured that there is enough feed to see us throught the winter. There will still be some big bales made later on as extra safe-guard.

While the men & machines were busy harvesting winter feed I was doing my bit to replenish the larder by making strawberry jam. I had bought a tray of stawberries ( unfortunately they are one of the fruits we don't grow ourselves) and set to hull them which took about an hour and then set to boiling them up. Strawberries are very low in pectin which means they need something added to make the jam set. I had added some setting agent but the set would not come after hours of boiling so then I remembered I had some gooseberries in the freezer which are very high in pectin. A good handfull of goosegogs thrown into the roiling swirling pan of strawberries worked wonders. I had a setting jam very quickly and was able to fill the jars. I ended up with 15 jars of good jam which should see us through.
I might just make some goosebery jam now and maybe try to use up the backlog of other fruit of various kinds in the freezer before this years crop come in.

The Farmer has just brought in trug of produce from the poly-tunnel so I shall sit in outside in the shade of the garden swing and shell peas for lunch and think of what to do with a rather overgrown is not yet a marrow but is too big to be zucchini, hmmm.

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