On Sunday night the rain and the cold met and formed the first snow fall of the year. It wasn’t anything to write home about and as quickly as the large white flakes had settled they disappeared leaving just an icing effect to untouched grounds…
The day light had already faded before the flakes began to fall so I only have a few photos of the garden taken under the flood light;
Snowy icing over wallflowers – 26th January 2014
Night time snow fall – 26th January 2014
By the morning the snow was more like a thick frost and the roads and paths had cleared under the weight of morning traffic and walkers. It’s now back to the wet greyness that has mostly been this year
Posted in weather
Tagged snow, weather
I’m not really sure where to start this year off…
The year began with such a bang of drama and craziness that all idea of time to reflect and plan got pasted by. None of the drama was my own but for those I care deeply about, and it was badly timed with some overtime shifts which left me feeling completely useless and unable to help.
Still standing back now and counting my blessings reminds me that I have come some way in gaining a work life balance as this time last year if I had been at work I would have been there for at least a week which seems like a life time compared to the day away I was…
The swollen river Wye last week – 17th January 2014
The swollen river Wye with the first signs of spring: catkins – 17th January 2014
The weather this year has started off rather wet. With a second year of flooding over the festival period. Again this was not really something that had any major effect on me personally but it’s something I feel it’s important to record.
There were not really any frosts until after the New Year and even now most mornings are wet and cold instead of cold and frostie. The ‘snow’ word has been mentioned but I am still to spot any on the forecasts for the area; a contrast to this time last year when we had a few feet of snow. This year the ground is just water-lodged.
23rd January 2014
I have lots of plans again for this year and will hopefully be able to put them in some order, before sharing them over the year here.
Lambing will be from the end of February… kidding will be in early May… seed sowing with start soon enough.
The bees have been some what neglected this summer and have more or less looked after themselves.
Our home made bee hive with feeder outside; November 2013
We carried on feeding them late into the year because of the prolonged cold start.
The hive decided to swarm mid-July: on a very rare day when both me and my sister were unavailable to help collect the swarm from the tree they settled in before leaving never to be seen again. The hive was a little quiet for a few days but soon became active with no noticeable effect on numbers.
With the change in the season it has been time to think about supplying them with a little extra to keep them going through the cold winter months.
- 1 kilo sugar
- 1 litre water
- 1 spoonful cider vinegar
Add all the ingredients to a large pan and heat until the sugar has dissolved. Leave to cool and place in dishes for your bees, adding small stones or gravel will help stop bees from drowning when they collect it up.
Back in the summer I was lucky enough to be taken to see a Sun Hive that was being built on landed belonging to a Camphill Community near by. The hives are similar to top bar hives but are built from reed baskets. The photos are not the best as I had my camera stolen soon after the visit but have managed to find a few to share
Sun hive: July 2013
Sun hive: July 2013
Sun hive: July 2013
The seasons have slide their way smoothly from one to the next here; the mornings have a chill to them and I had began leaving for work in the dawn light before the clock change. The harvest moon bought with it heavy rain and winds to bring down the first swirls of bright yellow, orange and red coloured leaves and since Samhain some of the dark evenings have held the promise of bright frosty mornings but as yet first light has only revealed rain soaked grounds or views hidden beneath a layer of mist.
Changing forest; October 2013
The sheep have busied themselves searching out acorns before the wild boar begin to creep closer to the village edge in search of easier foraging and trips out with the goats have been spent underneath the sweet chestnut tree searching out the larger nuts before the goats snaffles them up. Sweet chestnuts are my old nanny’s favourite autumn treat.
At the end of September I spent some time reorganising my front garden to make it more of a usable space instead of an ‘unfinished projects’ staging area. I cleared the spreading mass of alpine strawberries, cut back bushes and removed a compost bin from the only area of soil and found space for two raised beds. These were filled with home made compost, leaf mould and well rotted manure from the patio’s potato buckets and now boast a mixture of cauliflowers, purple sprouting and leeks. On the table in the kitchen there are paper bags of onion sets to fill in the gaps.
After more alpine strawberry clearing I have managed to turn the rest of the ground I have between the steps and the patio into two separate-but-connected areas; one has been planted with kale (which I hope will recover from the caterpillar attack) mixed with wallflowers and I shall add garlic to the area. The other patch is defined by being between a winter flowering heather and the new raised beds; this area I have added spring bulbs to borage and self-seeded feverfew amongst a few paving stones I have added for access. In the spring I plan to sow poppies, sweetpeas and sunflowers and hope some of them survive the slugs.
During the summer we have downsized on the number of goats we have and thankfully have managed to find lovely homes for the three ‘rescue pet’ goats we had. We now have our six breeding females and a meat wether. It’s so nice to be able to spend time out on the greens with them without having to arrange for two people to be there. The reduced feed cost has also meant that we have been able to think more carefully about the feed we use and have changed to a goat mix that has no GMO ingredients; something we are trying more and more to be aware of in all areas of our purchases.
Bella and Broiny grazing the green back when we had some sun: August 2013
Earlier in the year we had scab in our flock of sheep, the better summer we have had has helped them recover but it has meant that none of the fleeces have been suitable for sending off to be tamed and so we are keeping everyone on for this winter. (Fingers crossed it will be mild and they won’t need too much extra feed.)
My new chooks; roosting for the night: October 2013
During some time off work in September I also got myself some chickens for the garden at my house. I had been toying with the idea of getting myself some hens for a while, there is nothing like collecting your own eggs from your own garden. Me and mother had gone to collect some hens for her and in amongst the barn of fowl to be rehomed were three small black chicks. I wanted them as soon as I saw them and so they also came back with us.
They have already grown a lot since I first got them and are much more use to people, where they came from was an amazing place where the chickens were safe to just run free (seemingly no fox problem there) and in the spring a lot of the hens had gone off to nest and returned with their chicks in tow a few weeks later. The fourth hen I have I don’t think has anything to do with the chicks but they were quick to follow her lead and she is very pretty.
Posted in chickens, Day-to-day, garden, goats, New house, poultry, weather
Tagged chickens, garden, goats, harvest moon, Samhain, sheep, sheep scab, Winter
Am: Am early start this morning as my house-mates car is in the garage for it’s MOT and I have said I will take him into work and collect him again later. After dropping him off I take a hot drink back to bed and knit for about am hour. I am making a baby hat for my new niece which is going to look amazing when it is done but seems to be building up so very slowly. After I get up again I go and start the days chores of feeding and checking on everyone and between me and mother we get most things done in a reasonable time. I spend an hour or so cleaning out one of the goat sheds which is not currently being used. The weather is glorious, it has to be the hottest day of the year so far and it is bright sunshine. The bees are making the most of it and are out flying busily.
Lunch time: At about mid-day I go back to my house to have some lunch and spend the afternoon in my garden.
Afternoon: It’s still really warm out and it is lovely working outside. I sort out bits and piece and start planting out potatoes in old flower buckets. This year I haven’t bought seed potatoes but have some bags that were sprouting and reduced in the supermarket (Shetland Blacks and Exquisa) and I’ve added a few others from the veg shop to these (Benji and Maris Piper) and have been sent some free Rocket and Piccolo Star. I only manage to plant half of the Shetland Black’s and maybe a third of the Exquisa but it is a good start. Then I carry on into the back garden and plant out the garlic I have had growing on in pots, the blackbirds here seem to love garlic and onion sets to I have taken to planting them in pots with a cover over and then planting them out when they have got going enough for the birds not to be interested.
Late afternoon/evening: After collecting my house-mate from work I go back to finish off the goats for the day. My sister is there when I get back with her baby, it’s the first time she has walked home since the baby was born and we spend some time in the kitchen before having to go off and look for some sheep that have been reported out in the next village. It’s almost 100% certain they’re not any of ours as ours are all in as there has been an outbreak of Scab mite and the free roaming animals have all had to be brought in for treatment. Ours have all been treated and we are just waiting for everyone else to before ours can get back out on some grass. There’s no sign of the sheep so after half an hour or so of driving around we go back and I finish the goats for the day and go home.
At home the Green Party candidate for the council elections drops some leaflets off as I’ve said I’ll post some through letterboxes locally. It’s still really warm outside so I carry on pottering in the garden and then sit out whilst the sun goes down and watch the bats as they start flying in the dusk
Many years ago, when I was being made redundant from my first job which was in a community radio station, a colleague suggested that I should made an audio diary of my day-to-day life. I’ve always liked the idea but as the project folded and I became busy with other work and just general life took over I’ve never gotten around to it but it has remained an idea I’ve liked. I thought I would revive the idea here with a monthly post of what has happened during the day…
Morning: Woke up early as normal but made myself go back to sleep for a while. Yesterday I started a new job (HURRAY!) back working with young people, the shifts are long but not that much longer than I have been doing and fewer each week. When I wake up again I stay in bed for a while watching the end of an episode of A Touch of Frost I started watching the night before and ‘surfing’ (facebook/email and wherever those take me). Outside there is still some snow left but it is only really around the edge of the fields and where trees throw shade over the ground. It looks nice enough but still cold. I get up and go over to mothers spotting a ewe and her lambs we have been trying to get back from the edge of our run (the area of common our sheep roam over), the patch of grass she is on is long enough for her to stay for a while so I carry on back and collect mother to make bring her back easier. We bring her back and check the others. At the bottom of the pen is what looks like a dead sheep but lucky it is a ewe who has cast herself (when a sheep rolls onto their side, normally with their legs up hill and can’t get back up) When I reach her I found a MASSIVE lamb cuddled up behind her. I stand the ewe up, she is very wobbly on her back end not really surprisingly given the size of the lamb. I check the lamb over; he is fine but has only been half cleaned and the ewe (a first time mum) goes straight off to join the others without a backward look. We bring them both back to the house and put them in a pen, he gets a bottle and she gets a bucket of feed and some hay. We carry on with the other bottles, Enchantments and we have three lambs too. Then phone our feed merchant to check what time they are closing today it being Easter weekend. There is time to have a hot drink and hay and water the goats before we have to leave to collect the weeks feed.
Lunch time: We collect feed and a van full of hay and go back home for home made chips and butter bean curry.
Afternoon: It’s still cold and not at all conducive for working outside even though there are plenty of jobs to be done and stopping to eat lunch has made me realise how tired I am, so me and mother agree not to try with any of the extras today. We take hay and water to the ponies. At the moment my brother is fitting a kitchen and we have no outside tap, even if we did I would have thought it would have been frozen, so watering everyone involves filling our collection of 5 gallon water containers with an old plastic milk bottle from the kitchen tap. On the way home we stop by at a neighbours to drop off some feed and have a chat. Everyone is feed up of this weather; the frozen water buckets, the lack of grass, the driving wind that goes right through everything and all the extra jobs it makes. Back home I finish the goats, more bottles and I collect some eggs to take home. We open the bees and place some more fondant in with them, it isn’t really warm enough to open the hive but there was an alert go out the other day about feeding because of the cold weather and when we open the hive to add more they are out so good job we did. The sun comes out and the wind dies down and they start to fly for about ten minutes whilst it lasts. I feed the donkeys and call in on my sister on the way home to drop some bits off and cuddle the baby then home.
Late afternoon/evening: Back at home I get a second wind and can’t sit still for long so occupy myself with cleaning and starting an over due sort out whilst watching more A Touch of Frost. I have too much stuff; too many bags of things saved for craft project I’ve never even started, too many piles of paper work that needs filing and too many bags of ‘recycling’ so as I don’t have to put too much into the landfill bin. I think maybe next month I might try to de-clutter one thing each day; take one item I know I will never use again to the charity shop, put the bag of batteries out for collection, offer the pile of used jiffy bags on freecycle and tick off one of those sort of little jobs to stop hoarding so much of it. I find lots more packets of seeds and fill a bag of egg boxes and borrowed clothes to return to my sister. I stop at some point for some fried egg butties for dinner. It’s light until just gone seven pm and all of the snow seems to have gone from the fields, not so at mothers which still has a layer of white anywhere that is not in the open. I go to bed just after nine pm
Snow covered Oak at the edge of the woods – 18th January 2013
We have had snow for the last three days here; along with most of the rest of the South West and Wales I think. There was snow forecast for last weekend which never came to anything, thankfully as that would have left everything to mother and MYS with me away working until Wednesday this week.
Thursday was spent preparing, and saying goodbye to Dougle (Bella’s goat kid from last year) who went to his new home just before the heavy snow set in. We ordered some extra round bales of hay so as they could be left with the sheep and not wheelborrow small bales to and from and there was extra for the goats at home. The extra hay and a 4×4 has made this spell of deep snow not easy as such but much less stressful than it has been in other years and even left room for some playing.
Back garden snow – 18th January 2013
Friday morning we woke to about 2 foot of snow, I managed to get from mine back to mothers using a mixture of my van and mothers 4×4. Everyone had hot drinks, the large bales of hay were opened for everyone to help themselves to and me and my brother gritted the main road through the village so I was able to get all the way back the next day. Then I went home and met with some friends and their children in the park to play sledges and unsuccessfully build snowman, the snow was far to fluffy to stick together very well.
The march up to their big round bale of hay – 18th January 2013
Since then it has been days of filling containers with hot drinks for everyone (goats, ponies and checking on everything. The sheep are not convinced that we don’t have something better to offer them as hay and stock cubes are not what they like to eat, they like sugar beat and lots of it too but it would seem we are going into a shortage as it was a bad year last year and they haven’t been able to get much out the ground this winter.
Snow days – 18th January 2013
There is more snow forecast for next week but so far that is being moved back each day so we shall see and I shall be keeping my fingers crossed for a thaw as I am back at work tomorrow
I haven’t manage to spend as much time on the allotment or garden as I’d have wanted this month but things have been happening slowly.
There are beetroot, peas and half the potatoes (International Kidney) in at the allotment, and lots of tidying, measuring up and marking out that needs doing.
Allotment; taken from the 'plot' end - 28th March 2011
In my garden I have lavender and strawberries, more strawberries in a strawberry planter, a herb window box with chives, mint and parsley and black currant and raspberries in pots. I need about a day to tackle the back garden and get rid of the brambles and ivy that are covering most of it but I have found a massive rhubarb plant – it’s such a shame I haven’t found a way of cooking rhubarb that I like!
Lots of time has been spent on seed sowing, mostly as it is a ‘gardening’ job I can do indoors after work when it is dark so I have lots of salad, kale, cabbage, sweet-peas, leeks, cauliflowers, purple sprouting and sunflowers (just) popping their heads above the compost and am waiting for dwarf peas, cucumbers, tomatoes, chillies, dwarf beans, parsnips, hollyhocks, basil, mint (several kinds) coriander, parsley and spinach to show signs of life.
Today it rained for the first time in a few weeks; the warm weather has been very welcome but a bit of rain with hopefully set everything off growing again and put some shape in this year.
The weather this weekend was beautiful; sunny and warm.
I was at a conference on Saturday but on Sunday I managed to get lots done even though I was on the ‘4am shift’. We finished sorting and burning the pile of hawthorn that was cut down at the end of last year as it was shading to much of the vegetable patch – all before 11.30am.
Then in the afternoon I finally got to spend some time at the allotment, mostly tidying and moving manure but also sowed the first beetroot. MYS has moved into a house with a much bigger garden and an old vegetable patch so I am taking on her plot on the understanding that if her house doesn’t work out she can have it back so I have so rethinking to do. I did start turning over a bed to sow so carrots but then couldn’t decide if I should use it for carrots or garlic…
At home I have sown salad, cabbage, leeks, parsnips, sweetpeas and cauliflowers although the chicks have learned how to get out of their brooder and may have eaten the sweetpeas and caulies, Grr… I still have plenty more seeds that need using up.
I am still trying to work out when to start things like beans and tomatoes lots of people of forums seem to have already started or be starting theres off but I have very limited indoor space and there are still a fair few cold or frosty nights happening. I have exactly the right amount of bobby bean (otherwise known as French beans) seed and so don’t want to risk any of them. I have some dwarf bean seeds though so I may start those off and see what happens
This week has been one of those weeks. It started off flying; I was starting to get in to the swing of things keeping on top(-ish) of house work, the day job and animals.
Then on Wednesday night my car broke, well and truly broke too not just broke and needs fixing up a little but needs a whole new engine broke. It makes everything so much more difficult without a car especially now that I’ve moved out. I’ve already missed two training course because of it and I’ve not even started on a full week of work yet.
My grandmother has also come to stay, which I have been looking forward to and am glad that she has, but she’s a fusser and a dither to boot and after loosing my temper yesterday over cars or the lack of one (not with her) I’ve found myself slipping back into being a sulky child over truly stupid things. “Yes, that is where I want to keep the eggs… No, I don’t want to take the Lavender outside, it’s fine where it is… Yes I’m drinking that, I happen to like it…” I don’t mean to behaviour like this but I am.
It hasn’t helped that it’s been raining all day today, I had plans when I went to bed last night that I would get up and explore the footpaths leading to the allotments a little. I knew it was forecast to rain but the last few times it has been just showers but this morning when I woke up and looked out the window it was tipping down and hasn’t really stopped all day.
Posted in allotment, weather