Friday, 17 February 2017

Catch Up

I know I haven't blogged for months but as I get older time seems to speed up and life has been rather more chaotic than usual. With close family members suffering from illness I have been upping my carbon footprint to visit them in the UK. Tim was also made redundant over Christmas so he is currently in the UK job hunting with silent desperation. The environmental news seems to be all doom and gloom and weather extremes are becoming the new normal for everyone.

There is good news however. I am in the latter stages of writing a book and kind family and friends are currently proof reading it prior to it's being sent to potential literary agents so everything is crossed that someone will like it enough to take it on. Spring is definitely in the air here, with raucous bird song and two days of sun which has found me neglecting my dirty kitchen floor and sowing seeds in the polytunnel instead. I also have cabbage, broccoli and onion seedlings to plant out as soon as I have some beds cleared of over wintering weeds. They were bought from the market because I never got my act together enough to sow my own.
I have however dusted off the propagator and I expect to sow tomatoes and peppers this weekend to be followed by squashes of all kinds later when space allows. The periwinkle has been flowering all winter long. It is a bit thuggish but I am going to leave it where it is as it saves me weeding and I shall put my more delicate herbs and flowers elsewhere where they stand a better chance. It has a loganberry emerging from it so it is productive as well as pretty.
The camellias have also been blooming since December and I have my first dandelion blooming as well. I am keeping some patches of them for tea. I have stopped my anti-inflammatory drugs as they make my heart condition worse and am currently exploring alternative herbs and spices to replace them.
The sweet kittens are now vaccinated and neutered and are ready to start their working lives as mousers (and ratters) we hope. We have eight juvenile meat chickens in the orchard which have settled down well but the white ones in particular are huge and lethargic. They are not used to free range and mostly walk from their shelter to the feeder and back with the odd nibble at the grass. I hope as the weather improves they will forage a bit further afield.
As ever the egg glut has started so some will be frozen for the winter. Hurrah for a new growing year.

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Unseasonable Weather

It has been dry for a few weeks now and the days are wonderfully warm and as you can see the sunrise was stunning.
As the taxi driver said to me yesterday "this is not normal". I am watering my pot plants with a hose, there are still butterflies and bumble bees working the flowers which continue to bloom and farmers are worried as a dry summer has led on to a dry winter so far. Apart from a few days of rain in November there has been nothing to recharge the aquifers. Yet again it is going to be the warmest year on record globally and sitting in the sun on my patio I can believe it. Lovely to work in but just "not normal".

Tuesday, 15 November 2016

More Hens

You can never have too many hens. We went to a local market on Sunday and brought a pair of young Silkie bantams to improve our home hatching rates. Since we lost Ginger, the Buff Orpington, one of our first hens, her daughters have been trying and mostly failing to hatch chicks. They seem to be absent minded (or Dim as Tim calls them) and they get confused over which nest box is theirs and climb on top of a single new laid egg instead of their half brooded batch. The boxes are clean and vermin free and copiously dusted with diatomaceous earth so I think it truly is a mistake on their part. Also hens lay new eggs in the nest of existing half brooded batches meaning that I have to mark eggs so I can tell new from old and check them every day.
The new girls are currently in a large dog crate for a few days before being let out with the existing flock. I want to be sure that they are happy and eating and drinking well before they mix.

Yesterday we also killed and prepared our two young cockerels from the last batch of chicks. They had started crowing and shagging so they had to go before the existing cockerel killed or maimed them. The kittens are doing well mixing with the existing dogs but the Senior Cat is not very happy, he is not keen on the upstarts with no manners and is definitely not offering them his Werthers Originals. The weather is still good, getting colder but bright and the fire in the woodburner is now lit most evenings. There is nothing like a real fire.