For the past few days Strickley has been almost full - children, grandchildren, dog, cousins from France and Day Visitors. But now they've all gone and it's time to knuckle down and do some work (ie pay the monthly bills), sort out the meals for next week (late shift so I need to have supper planned as well as dinners).
Henry has just picked the last of the apples so I need to sort out the freezer and see if I can fit in any more bags of ready prepared slices. It's funny how the freezer is always full but there's nothing for supper. If we're snowed in this winter we'll be OK for several weeks. Lots of casseroles and milk puddings.
Back to the grindstone now - but I can see that small light at the end of the tunnel.
Henry's mother always called them "bottling pears" - but as I have never bottled anything, I tried freezing them a few years ago, and they come out perfect to serve with ice cream etc. They don't keep unless preserved in some way. One year we picked tons and put away in a cool place in boxes and baskets. A few weeks later, they looked OK from the outside, but had gone rotten from the core outwards. Perhaps we'll try Perry one year if we can knock up some sort of crush. Years ago I made cider by putting chopped apples in a pillowcase and putting through an old mangle (Acme of course). All went well, until there was just too much in one end of the pillowcase and it burst. We still made the cider - a bit rough but very drinkable.
The pear tree has been growing at Strickley probably at least as long as Robinsons have been here(1875). This photograph was taken in 1914, and it looks well established then. It continues to thrive - but maybe that's because of what's underground rather near it. You don't want to know.
This morning Henry, with Robert as a willing helper (maybe because it involved picking Food), brought in the first buckets of apples from our oldest tree. I'm not sure what sort of apples they are - they look a bit like Bramleys, but are not as sour.
In half an hour a big box of these was turned into bags of these, and stored in the freezer for easy almost instant puddings.
We've had our magic machine for a long time (since the last time self sufficiency was in fashion) and it might sit at the back of a cupbooard like some gadgets, but it's worth getting out for jobs like this.
With now two young helpers turning the handle, it was a doddle. Ignore the slightly negative reviews on the website. Our apples are definitely not the supermarket perfect specimens, but all whizzed through the machine. Even the bulls get something out of it - a heap of cores and long snake like strips of peel.
Being a Parish Councillor isn't all meetings, minutes and planning applications. Sometimes it involves Real Work (remember who gritted the lanes last winter). New Hutton parish owns a field on the very edge of the parish boundary, up near the Wind Farm near junction 36. It's been let out to a local farmer but is not in as good heart as it should be. The Council decided to improve it and our very own Mole Catcher was busy earlier in the year. Walls have been repaired and last week a small team of councillors tackled the drainage.
Many thanks to Tony, Tony, Henry, Arthur (clerk, waller and photographer), Oliver (young parishioner) and James (Mini Digger driver).
. Last week we drew a line under silaging and washed off the the equipment and locked it away till next year.
Today we're tidying up the smaller stuff. September was, as seems usual, a month when there was no time to pause and take stock between shows, silaging and selling stock. For a couple of weeks I have been studiously ignoring a stack of plastic boxes in the corner of the pantry. They had come back in from the meals I packed up during silaging, when I just emptied out the leftovers (not too many, as most people know if you don't eat it all, you get less next time) and promised myself to wash and dry them "sometime". But now they are overflowing off the draining board. Henry and James have finally got to the bottom of all the stuff that came back from shows - from less than pristine white shirts to halters. And having had a round up of jumpers cast off in various tractors and buildings over the summer, the washer's keeping busy.
But what's this about looking forward? Seventy nine days to go.