Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Misty moisty weather.

Do you remember the old rhyme we used to sing when we were children:

One misty, moisty morning,
when cloudy was the weather -
there I met an old man
cloth-ed all in leather.
Cloth-ed all in leather
with a hat under his chin.
how de you do and how de you do
and how de you do again.

Well I would not have been surprised to see that old man this morning for it was just such an occasion. Contrary to our expectations, there has been no traffic at all on our lane - the diversion signs occurred further up the main road. So we have been exceedingly quiet. I have been quite relieved for the sake of the farm cats as they are not used to heavy traffic - but I am expecting a pair of new boots by mail order and, of course, I really don't see how the delivery man can get through. So - you win some, you lose some.

But it did mean that this morning, in order to get into town, I had to go the long way round. Every farmer on our lane is muck-leading and every dairy farm still has the cows out. These two things together mean knee-deep mud. At nine o'clock this morning it was so dark and misty that I needed the car lights on. Our neighbour at the bottom of the lane has pedigree limousine cattle and they were gathered round a feeder in the mist - such a lovely sight and I didn't have the camera with me.

There were literally hundreds of pheasant about on the lane. The shooting season is just about to start but the birds have not yet learned to keep hidden (believe me they soon learn once the guns begin to go off in their direction.) Progress through them is slow because they have a habit of running in front of the car rather than getting on to the side. At one point about fifty pheasants flew over the car from one field to another.

I have embarked upon making a batch of sloe jelly. Even the recipe says that it is not always a success. Would you believe - sloes are very low in pectin. Obviously sourness does not necessarily mean pectin. So I have put equal quantities of sloes and cooking apples into the preserving pan (cores, skins and all) and cooked them to a mush. Tonight they will strain through muslin and tomorrow I shall boil them up with sugar and lemon juice. The yield is quite low too but I thought I would give it a try.

The sloes are hanging from the branches of our biggest blackthorn tree - the farmer can never remember it being so heavily laden. We went down the field together after lunch - with Tess - and picked enough (two pounds) in just a few minutes. Tess could not resist going into the wild marshy field belonging to our neighbour. She took quite a bit of getting back and came back the long way round, studiously keeping out of reach of the farmer and sitting quietly by me! I am afraid the pull of rabbits is very strong.


Rubye Jack said...

Sounds absolutely beautiful!
I just learned what sloe is the other day when someone was talking about making sloe gin. We seem to have only blackberries down this way.

Dartford Warbler said...

I do remember that song!

I hope the apples and the lemon juice help your sloe jelly to set. I tried mixing crab apples and elderberries for jelly this year and it worked well. A good set and a lovely , tangy flavour.

Gwil W said...

Apples did well this year. Peaches too. Apricots not so.
Pears indifferent. Cheers!

Midlife Jobhunter said...

I am not familiar with sloes. What type of flavor?

You sound very productive. Wish I could say the same for me.

mrsnesbitt said...

Mmmmmmmmmmmm is that sloe gin I can smell?

angryparsnip said...

I had to look up Sloe, didn't know what it was.
I have heard about Sloe Gin but as I am not allowed to drink with all the meds I am on... I just thought it was a way gin was made ? The Gin I know about is made from Juniper Berries. Long ago one of my favorite drinks was Gin and Tonic... le sigh

Besides a great bog about the farm and where you live, I always learn something interesting too.

cheers, parsnip

Heather said...

The sloes in our area so big this year - almost like small damsons, and the trees are smothered in them. I can't remember seeing such quantities before. I have made sloe gin and sloe and apple jelly - I didn't get a firm set but it's very good.
I don't envy you all that mud - another price to pay for living in the country!

Titus said...

Sounds lovely this morning Weaver. I started the day in Dundee and it was sheeting it down! Silvery Tay was rather brown too.

We recited the old man rhyme too, but he never had a hat in Essex. Probably didn't need one so far South...

And the sloes this year are huge. I'm hoping mother-in-law will be at the gin again. Good luck with the jelly.

John "By Stargoose And Hanglands" said...

I always find myself singing that song on damp days too. Loads of sloes on the hedgerows down here as well, but I don't suppose I'll pick any.

rkbsnana said...

Such different terminology than I am familiar with. Sloe, blackthorn tree. How interesting.

Hildred and Charles said...

Troublesome for driving Pat, but I do envy you such a wonderful bounty of pheasants. When we were on the farm I used to see many of these lovely birds that lived along the creek but in the last few years I consider myself very lucky, and am overwhelmed with joy, if I just see one. Perhaps we are just not living in the right place, - I will have to ask our daughter who still lives in Cawston, close to the river and the wetlands.

Pondside said...

We don't see pheasant here, but do see lots of grouse.
I do remember that rhyme, and blogged about it several years ago!

The Weaver of Grass said...

Thank you for your replies. You will see from my blog today that the jelly turned out well.

H said...

I saw a tree full of sloes on our Ilam walk last week, which surprised me because my sloe gin has been brewing for about 5 weeks now! I wished we were nearer the end of our walk, but I didn't really want to carry a bag full of sloes for 6 miles more!