Monthly Archives: September 2010

Cat litter

Well, the kittens have now turned into little cats almost and touch wood are doing ok at litter training.

We don’t normally have litter trays in the house as the cats all pretty much come and go as they please, even when the kittens were first born Biscuit wasn’t shut in with them until they had started exploring but weren’t big enough to be left out on their own and even then it was only when we weren’t home.

I haven’t liked buying cat litter; most cat litter is made from clay and although I am not sure how or why I remember it being explained to me how unsustainable and bad this was, something to do with the mining for the clay or maybe where it comes from? If anyone knows more than I’d be really interested as my google searches haven’t turned anything up.**

My google searches did turn up information about wood based cat litter which is made from ‘wastage’ from soft wood industries. It is basically little pellets of saw dust.

We have been experimenting with it and so far have tried two different brands – Morrison’s own brand and The Co-op’s own brand – and both have been pretty much the same just a little different in colour (however the Morrison’s one does come in plastic packaging whereas the Co-ops one comes in a paper one).  

There is one big downside to this kind of cat litter though; when the pellets get wet they swell and turn back to wood dust which seems to stick to the cats feet and so they walk it everywhere meaning that it is only really practical to use in the short-term.

It’s little things like this that mean a lot of people chose not to use the most eco-friendly option and it drives me mad but is something I’m not really sure how it can be dealt with.

**UPDATE – MyZeroWaste has posted about this subject this morning and it explains why clay cat litter is bad MyZeroWaste


Autumn beauties; some of the mushrooms we haven't been eating - 18th September 2010

 Well, I really hate to say this but Autumn seems to be well on its way. I am sure it is much earlier than last year, I hadn’t been on holiday yet last year and I remember that being mostly warm and sunny so it must be earlier this year. 

Any way, with the cooler, damper weather comes the mushrooms and this year is shaping up to an excellent year for them. The green across the road is full of Puff Balls, up the lane the Ink Caps are out in force and we are collecting Parasols wherever we go and those are just the ones we can spot from a mile off. 

Yesterday was a particularly good day and we filled a blue mushroom creat with Ink Caps, Parasols and Puff Balls without going anywhere other than on the normal rounds (e.g. checking the sheep, feeding the ponies, etc.) so hopefully in the next few weeks a mushrooming trip can be fitted in. 

Autumn picking; Ink Caps, Parasol and Puff Balls - 18th September 2010

Rhys made yesterdays pickings into a lovely wild mushroom soup which we had for dinner.

Never ending craft projects

I think I am about to unpick the glove that I have started knitting. I am not following a pattern and I am not completely happy with how it is turning out but also now I have no idea how many rows of what stitch I have done so don’t hold out much hope for being able to make a second glove that looks the same, or even almost the same, by the end.

I am annoyed with myself. To date I have still not really finished a single craft project I have started. The ‘bag’ I am making out of the first wool I spun and knitted is still sitting in a bag with its button, popper and lining waiting for me to do something with. The bags of mohair that a friend gave me and I had clean and carded is still sitting in its bag. I have no less than four sawing machines of various kinds and states of repair sat doing nothing, two brother knitting machines, of which I have no idea of how to use, and my Victorian sock knitting machine are also sat doing nothing and I am sure there must be other forgotten things too.


I am just not sure how or when this will happen, as there is always just so many other things to do. Or maybe that is an excuse… But right now I am sat next to a tray of bare-rooted strawberries I was sent last weekend that I have put on the computer table so as I don’t forget again that I am meant to pot them up, there is a ton of washing that needs doing before it can all be fitted into the wardrobe out-of-the-way, the bedding needs changing and washing on both my bed and the kittens bed and that is all just within ten feet of me.

I don’t ever remember life being this busy when I was younger… Even unpicking my glove isn’t very high on my list of “to-do’s”, let alone starting all over again.

Allotment – July and August

Allotment - 24th July 2010

I can’t really remember what has been happening at the allotment over the past couple of months; it has been dry, it has been wet and things have grown. I have sown the winter cabbages and kale ready for planting out when the summer plants are finished and harvested potatoes, onions (my first!) courgettes and some beans, but am disappointed with how these have done, especially the runner beans which have behaved like dwarf beans. These were a new variety which when I went back to check that they weren’t in fact dwarf they have been delisted.   

Wasps eating the potato plants - 22nd August 2010

Over the summer holidays I’ve had an extra pair of hands in the form of a local girl who needs some time away from her family, it’s been good having a time during the week that is set aside for the allotment whatever else is happening or how tired I am from work and the weather always seems good for us. We have weeded, sown seeds, made new beds including starting off a mushroom bed and looked at things lots.   

There seem to be lots of wasps eating the potato plants. When I first saw them I thought maybe there was a nest in the tyres that I’m growing them in but I haven’t come across one and they seem to move around from plant to plant and when I have watched them they are eating the plants from the tip of the end leaves and back. I’ve never seem or heard of anything like it before but I’m not too worried as they don’t seem to be doing too much damage and soon all the potatoes will be eaten any way. There are frogs living in amongst the tyres, and very welcome they are too.   

My pride and joy, Boston squash - 30th August 2010

The no dig beds that I have been using seem to be working very well, and have resulted in my ‘pride and joy’ of the whole plots – my Boston squashes. These are meant to make “a decent sized hubbard (but not too huge)” not so mine, which are massive already and still growing whist somehow managing to set more fruit which get to a ‘decent size’ within a week or two. I think my family are getting feed-up of me talking about them, and I now only get a tired “yes Poppy” when I ask if they have seem how big they are getting. But they are getting BIG.   

Dinner from the allotment; Mimi potatoes in a beetroot and wild leaves salad with boiled potatoes and a bean and courgette relish - 3rd of September 2010

I have also managed to eat my first Mimi potatoes, which is about time really given that they are a) an early and b) I have grown them two years running now. We had them in a salad and they were nice, Rhys described them as “sweet and smooth” but I’m not sure that they are worth the effort or space.  

The purple sprouting is also doing well and has started to ‘head-up’. There hasn’t really been that many Cabbage Whites around this year, and although the plants have had caterpillar I have been round and picked them off only a few times and, touch wood, this has done the trick. As happened last year the chickens won’t eat them, silly birds.  

Last weekend we hired another tipper truck and have done a big clear up of the goat pen. The manure is now sitting on the plot waiting to be spread out on the empty ground waiting to be turned into beds, which isn’t very much now. Hopefully next year I will have the whole of the ground up and running, although this does mean I’ll have nowhere to put manure deliveries, but I don’t think I’ve done that badly with what I’ve got up and running this year. 

Over the winter I am planning on growing kale, cabbage, onions and garlic. With any empty beds I shall just cover them with manure again ready for next year. I also need to work out some sort of crop rotation as this year I’ve just stuck things in as the beds became ready and the plants need to go out. 

The beds at the moment are looking like this: 

Top bed: potatoes in tyres and one squash plant that I put in to fill a gap where some potatoes didn’t appear. 

Second bed (working down the first row of beds): a wig-wam of beans, sweetcorn, courgettes, a self-sown tomato plant and some butternut squash, which aren’t doing much 

Third bed: Purple sprouting 

Fourth bed: Boston squash, sweetcorn, there was also a self-sown potato in this bed which I harvested last week 

Fifth bed: Butternut squash and cauliflowers 

Sixth (half bed) Strawberries, these I will bring home later in the year so as not to attract wild boar to my plots next year 

Seventh bed (bottom bed of second row): beans, and after this weekend cabbage and kale 

Eighth bed: A mixture of Brassica including sprouts and caulis, extra plants that didn’t fit in other beds, a small row of leeks and some peas probably for salads