Our little oak is still only 14! And Harvey was still technically speaking a cockerel!

Black Punkers & Young Parents
November 2023

What a weather we’ve had in October, eh? Wind, rain, frost (we had -3 °C mid October) and a little bit of sunshine. The river Devon burst its banks, but thankfully it wasn’t as bad as some years ago when the water levels were much higher after snow melting and raining heavily at the same time. The wind didn’t affect us much either, or so I thought... until our neighbour alerted us to several fallen trees which weren’t quite visible from our path. Sadly a large beech tree snapped taking two other trees with it. Good job that I’ve planted new beech trees in our little woodland-to-be but also in the gap left behind there is now an opportunity for the beech’s offspring to establish itself and grow a new tree.

Talking of trees; 10 years ago we planted a sessile oak which must have been around 3 – 4 years old judging by the size it was then and guess what? It actually produced acorns this year! This seems very early because when I researched from what age oak trees start producing acorns, most claimed from 20 – 30 years. Our little oak is still only 14! It must really like our garden to start producing acorns so young.

Mind you, our Harvey became a father very young too: before he was officially a mature rooster (a 1 year old male chicken)! Harvey hatched late August 2022 and eggs laid by his girls hatched this July.

We’ve named these two the ‘Black Punkers’ because they have a punky tuft on their heads. I don’t know if they like the Sex Pistols too, but their mum is named Bib Vicious so maybe they do! I hope they didn’t inherit her viciousness, though.

The next few weeks are very exciting for us when the new chickens will hopefully start laying eggs. Harvey is from a breed which produces blue shelled eggs and apparently this is a dominant gene, meaning that Harvey’s offspring are likely to also lay eggs which have blue in their egg shell. Chickens usually start laying from 18 weeks onwards and their first eggs are very small, but these will fit perfect on top of a veggie burger!

We didn’t do very well this year on the cabbage front and normally I am able to make a large crock of sauerkraut but not this time; we only have a little 5 litre bucket on the go. The red cabbages did alright and one Sunday we spend all day in the kitchen preserving all the leftover vegetables from the greenhouse and garden to store for winter. One thing we made was tomato sauce and it is really simple to make; just tomatoes, onions, garlic, some olive oil and rosemary roasting for 20 minutes in the oven and puree it all. When you fill clean jars with the hot sauce it should create a vacuum and you can keep the tomato sauce for a few months. It’s nice as a pasta sauce or for pizza topped with your favourite ingredients.

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