The Cottage Smallholder


stumbling self sufficiency in a small space


Welcome Agatha: The Chicken Lady sends an expert broody hen to replace recalcitrant Hope

Posted in Christmas | 6 comments

Welcome Agatha: The Chicken Lady sends an expert broody hen to replace recalcitrant Hope

I tried isolating Hope in the dark nesting box on her own – willing her to return to her broody state. But she put her tiny claw firmly down and demanded to be released. We left her overnight but the next morning Radio Hope was blasting across the garden with her own individual strain of “Release Me”. If he’d known, Engelbert Humperdinck would be proud of her. So we were left with just two routes to follow. Borrow an incubator or a broody hen. The latter is the best option as the hen, nine times out of ten, will look after her brood....

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Remember, remember the fifth of November. Gun powder, treason and plot.

Posted in Christmas | 11 comments

Remember, remember the fifth of November. Gun powder, treason and plot.

“Guess what I won in the raffle?” Lil waved a book about to make her point. It was a slim hardback. She clutched it to her chest. “It’s called How to Run an Allotment.” She paused to survey the audience. “Well I’ve been running an allotment for 63 years. Started with my grandpa aged 7.” “So you’ll be able to give a good review of the book then, Lil!” The Allotment Association Social Club raffles are legendary. On Saturday night there were 27 prizes. I hooked a box of Maltesers and Danny got an extendable coat...

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A good Christmas and an inspirational cookery book

Posted in Christmas, Reviews | 7 comments

A good Christmas and an inspirational cookery book

  We had a very good, enjoyable and peaceful Christmas. Seraphina hosted two lunches, one on Christmas Day and the second one was yesterday. My poor mum was ill over Christmas so we celebrated Boxing Day a day late so that she could join in the fun. My sister is a very good cook and extremely independent. It was bliss to leave all the cooking in her expert hands. Danny and I are not really turkey fans but Seraphina’s Bronze feathered free range turkey was delicious. Moist and full of flavour. A real eye opener – turkey can be succulent...

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Happy Christmas everyone

Posted in Christmas | 9 comments

Happy Christmas everyone

  I’ve just had a panicky call from The Chicken Lady. “I can’t find my Brussels sprouts. I’d rather have them than turkey. Have you got any spare?” Luckily I’d bought some extra ones – we do have a few in the kitchen garden but the plants weren’t very productive this year. Christmas traditions are so strong. Christmas isn’t Christmas for Danny if there’s not a ham to guzzle. Christmas stockings are a must for me.  Talking on the phone to my mum this morning she wanted a list of everything that Danny had put in mine. “A...

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Handmade fantasty felt bird lavender bags

Posted in Christmas, crafts | 18 comments

Handmade fantasty felt bird lavender bags

  The small investment in the old sewing machine is paying off on the fun stakes. Absorbed by the possibilities that seem limitless from a newbie point of view. Yet alarmed that the precious needle might snap. Longing for small sharp scissors to cut a fine line (found them at Tescos and spare needles, just in case!). Practicing my curves, learning how to thread a bobbin and listening to the radio. Discovering that I had a whole load of inherited cotton thread on wooden reels. Bliss. I reckon that it’s at least 40 years since I last used a...

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The potpourri project: first outing with my smellies to the Withersfield Christmas Bazaar

Posted in Christmas, crafts | 4 comments

The potpourri project: first outing with my smellies to the Withersfield Christmas Bazaar

This summer I became interested in scent. I’d invested in The Scented Room: Cherchez’s Book of Dried Flowers, Fragrance and Potpourri. I wanted to use scent both to enhance mood and also battle with the pests that were chomping through our clothes. The latter was a big priority. I grew up in the era of moth balls. Ancient maiden aunts would arrive for family functions wearing clothes that reeked of these ghastly balls. It was evident that they clearly worked well on the moth population but also on every other thing that was alive in...

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Sneak preview of my Christmas book wish list!

Posted in Christmas, Reviews | 17 comments

Sneak preview of my Christmas book wish list!

  I’ve spent quite a few delicious hours making a Christmas book wish list and I thought that you might like a sneak preview. Although I’m sent a good stream of books to review there are always others that tempt me throughout the year. Of course if I can find the books on discount sites it’s a real plus as it means more books for less money. The Book People website is a good start when looking for discounted books. They have some excellent collections that are hugely discounted – such as the eight nominated books for the Booker prize....

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Easy and delicious spicy pickled onions recipe

Posted in Christmas, Jam Jelly and Preserves, Preserving, Vegetarian | 22 comments

Easy and delicious spicy pickled onions recipe

  Unless you already make pickled onions, let me share a secret. Pickled onions are ridiculously easy to make! They are great Christmas or anytime presents, especially if you use a decent quality vinegar. Poor old Danny’s acid tum can’t take malt vinegar so I always make a couple of jars for him every year using white wine vinegar or cider vinegar. I didn’t realise that I hadn’t posted my recipe until someone emailed me asking for one. This chutney is based on Oded Schwartz’s method from his superb book Preserving. I’ve added...

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