Powerless – The Year the Lights Went Out

Monday, June 30 – Meat and bread
Such an annoying day. It started fine and sunny, so Jane and I did the washing outside, put it all through the mangle and hung it on the line. Then at lunchtime, just when we needed a rest, huge black clouds covered the sky and within minutes there was a downpour. We managed to bring in most of the clothes before they were thoroughly soaked, but now they have to finish drying indoors. And it has carried on raining, with light showers and thundery bursts all afternoon.
As it is cooler, I haven’t minded stoking the fire and the oven to cook. The bread oven is working out well, as long as I have really dry kindling to heat it, so Stephen is making a point of constantly bringing in more than we used to have just for the main fire.
I made the bread first, attempting a tin loaf, which has come out well with a good cracked crust. Then, as the oven was still hot, I’m roasting some of the lamb that Neil brought across this morning. He slaughtered one of the older ram lambs, before it became a nuisance, he said. I didn’t ask for more details, as I don’t want it to be one we gave a name to. I just want to think about it being a nice juicy hunk of fresh meat, which I’m cooking with rosemary and wild garlic. We’ll have it with mint sauce and some new potatoes. We’ve been getting longlife milk in the rations recently, so I think I’ll also make a custard tart, using our eggs, a little sugar and nutmeg. I’ll bake the pastry case blind, with a weight of baking beans, then add the filling. It’s not Martin’s favourite, but I like it and so do the girls. I’ve still got whole nutmeg in the pantry, to grate over the top.
Neil said he had to give up sorting the sheep, because of the heavy rain. But he says the next day or so should be good. I asked how he knew and he just tapped his nose and said, shepherd’s instinct. I think he’s full of old wives’ tales, or old shepherd’s tales, but he does seem to understand natural signs. And without the aid of weather forecasts on TV, radio, online or in newspapers, we are reliant on people with a feel for the countryside to guide us.

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