I decided to get some fertile eggs for the white duck, and was a able to obtain six mixed Indian Runner Duck eggs from Mark Henham on Ebay, which I slipped into her nest this morning. and I must say she was remarkably unappreciative of my efforts on her behalf, giving me a good pecking and hissing like Sid, as I slipped the six eggs under her and removed the dummy ones I had left her with for the time being. I still have my doubts about her ability as a broody, but I decided to put all the eggs under her and hope for the best. It might work, but it might not, we'll see.
The broody hen, on the other hand, is doing extremely well with the fourteen table chicks. and I have let them out over the last few days, to explore further afield she's very good and strolls authoritatively around the garden with them, clucking all the while, so that they know where she is, and they chirp and chirrup so she knows where they are, and if someone gets into difficulties, stuck behind an obstacle of some kind, the volume soon ratchets up, so that she knows whats happening and where and can take appropriate action. It's amazing really that she manages not to lose any of them, considering that there are fourteen of them and she, being a chicken, can't count. It's quite difficult for me to count them actually, as they' re always on the run, but they're definately all still there, They don't look quite so cute anymore, as they've grown a lot and lost their downy fluffiness, and are starting to get feathers like proper chickens. Just as well really, as I must keep clearly in mind that they are Table Birds. even though I do want them to feel the warmth of the sun on their backs and to have as good and as natural a life as possible enjoying a plentiful diet of worms insects and hopefully weeds.
to this in three weeks.....
I do so love artichokes, - my son once picked one in a field for me when he was on a cycling holiday in France as a young teenager and brought it all the way back on his bike, ah what a perfect gift that was, and tonight I enjoyed the first one of the season from the garden with dinner. I was quite prepared to share it with David, but he regards artichokes as just an excuse for eating loads of butter, and as he's supposed to be on a diet and can anyway take them or leave them, that suits me just fine as I can have them all to myself.
I prepared this one by slicing off the tops of the leaves, and scraping out the hairy choke in the middle, and then boiling it until tender, about ten minutes in this case as it was quite a big one but very fresh from the garden. When cooked, I drained away the water, and set the artichoke into a dish. I then melted a large knob of butter in the pan, added a good dollop of the garlic scape pesto I recommended to you last week, ~(see recipe) , a good squeeze of lemon juice and poured this over the artichoke. We had this with the last of our venison steaks that our Game Man Sid brought us in the winter, and some of my home made foccaccia style flat bread, spiked with rosemary and more of the garlic scape pesto. I will admit to a certain tendency around this time of year to garlic scape pesto creeping into every dish, it's such s versatile thing to have in the fridge and so delicious, it's hard not to add it to everything, pasta, bread, salad dressing ( just add olive oil and a squeeze of lemon), spring veggies, the list is endlless. It's also lovely on courgettes and we had the first of the seaon tonight, always such a treat. The variety I have grown this year is Nano Verde di Milano, an Italian variety which should give a regular supply of baby courgettes through the season, although no doubt I will forget to pick at some point will find myself with a supply of large marrows for chutney making. Once courgette plants get into their stride they can be so generous in their bounty that they appear on the dinner plate with overwhelming regularity and summertime suppers are referred to by my daughter's boyfriend Ian as "Courgette Surprise" - the surprise being of course when there's no courgette in it.