Jams!

I am the proud maker of 186  jars of jam (and more to come)! Each jar contains about 130 g of product. I used small glass jars because I like to eat a different jam every day, and, the most important reason, I already had little jars ( bought 10 years ago).  They have been used many times but have been kept in their original boxes between use, so they have traveled well. I lubricate the rubber seals with Vaseline in the off season which keeps the rubbers soft and pliable forever. Having spent a great deal of time in laboratories in my undergraduate days, sterilising everything is something I spend a lot of time on.  Also, I label and date every jar properly. 

I still want to make banana (I shall buy from the little local greengrocer) and tomato jam (my tomatoes are not growing well so the local greengrocer will have to supplement),  then I think I may have a good supply of jam to eat and give away to last until the next berry season.

2014-01-30 10.50.46 2014-01-30 12.48.18-1

In the first picture I am cleaning bottles.  Second picture shows the jams inside the bottles  being pasteurised .  Pictures 3 and 4 shows everything labled and packed. The jams pictured on toast are cherry (unsaleable seconds given to me by a farmer/market vendor), blueberry (picked on a local farm), apricot bought from the farmer on the Sunday market (most of which were eaten and given to the grand kids), plums from our tree, apples from our tree. I bought about $10 worth of sugar, and traded some eggs for lemons. All up costs for the lot was less than $30, or 16 cents per jar and I know what is in them – no preservatives, no thickeners, no setting agents, no coloring, no flavoring, no nothing – only fruit and sugar and it tastes FANTASTIC!

2014-01-30 12.29.21 2014-01-30 12.28.412014-01-30 10.55.39

I spent many happy evenings pottering in my kitchen – all in all a great project.

Backyard Killer

The neighbour’s dog killed one of my roosters a few weeks ago. The fence was duely patched up on their side but the dog continued to find new ways of entering my yard. It is a huge animal and can force its way through any hedge.  It also jumps over fencing that would deter a smaller dog. Last night it broke in to one of my quail cages and now 6 quails are missing, presumably killed. The neighbour was as upset as we were about the dead rooster but I have not seen her about the quails yet.

We live in a street with good neighbours, everyone a gardener and a few with chickens roaming about. There are plenty of dogs but up until now none of them have been a nuisance.  I would hate to disturb this happy state of affairs but I have to address the cruel deaths of my birds.

What a rotten start to the day.

QUAILS IGNORE WEATHERMAN

Lightning

There was a lot of conversation. especially on Facebook, as to the possible effect on hatchability of poultry eggs when heavy thunder is experienced during incubation. During the second half of December Dunedin experienced very heavy weather with lots of thunder, especially in North East Valley. During this time I had a batch of 120 Quail eggs in the incubator, which hatched  on 4 January and the results are that  I had 57% live birds at 17 days old of all eggs placed. This compared with the running average for the year of 59% is a negligible difference and disproves the theory that heavy  weather effects hatchability. It may be small numbers to be statistically significant and the weather may not have been bad enough (I would hate to experience  more severe storms), but at least I have some results. Will continue to monitor this  in future.

Hedgehogs or no

2014-01-29 09.39.55

Last night I found a little hedgehog in the veg patch. Not knowing what to do, I looked it over and it seemed quite well but young. I put it in a box with bedding,water and a bit of bacon, and hit the internet. Searching ‘hedgehogs in Dunedin’ threw up two startlingly  different points of view, a horrifying conundrum for an animal lover (meaning everything alive) like me and my household.

There is the conservationist view that hedgehogs are introduced disease carriers and that they deplete already endangered species, think ground roosting birds, and that they should be treated as vermin and killed. I understand the conservation theories behind this totally and would agree wholeheartedly that endangered indigenous species should be protected had I not found this cute little fellow who is now sleeping beside the back door myself. Also, the idea that a bounty was paid in the past for hedgehog snouts makes me shudder.

The opposing point of view is that  hedgehogs mainly eat invertebrates, making it the friend of the veg patch.  Apparently the diseases they carry are mainly mange and ringworm which are treatable conditions.  There is plenty of advice about how to keep the hedgehog in the garden well and happy and how blessed  one is to  have these small critters  in the garden.

I will never be able to harm the little fellow, so the question  is to give it to someone or set it free to live in my pesticide free back garden with the chickens. I also know that chickens and hedgehogs are not compatible, but will try and manage it appropriately.

My grandchildren are on their way to see the hedgehog, so I think I can guess the outcome of this one!