In a rather exciting (for Ollie anyway) and unexpected turn, we have acquired some unsexed silkie chicks at a local poultry auction. They were unwanted by anyone else there; you can always rely on an 8 year old to tug silently and pleadingly at dad's heartstrings, thus causing him to place the one and only, and therefore the winning bid. Lets just hope they don't all turn out to be boys. Silkies are notoriously hard to sex so hopefully he's in with a chance of getting a girl or two. We've got one very happy little boy!
If you are planning on making your own blackberry jam, be sure to not pick fruit that is growing next to busy roads and once picked soak your blackberries over night in water. It is also important to use a specialised jam sugar, which you can easily pick up at your local supermarket. As blackberries are a relatively soft fruit, they're naturally low in pectin; this means that jam produced from blackberries alone will not produce a firm set. It is possible to buy pectin (again from your supermarket) and add this to your fruit, but to be honest I find this a real pain in the proverbial. Instead I simply add apples to the pot, as they are naturally high in pectin. As a rule of thumb the softer the fruit the lower pectin content.
Happy Autumn, and happy blackberry picking