Category Archives: weather

Signs of spring

The winds of the last few morning seem to have change to a gentle but ice breeze this morning, leaving frosty leafs behind.

In spite of all the harsh frosts there are more and more signs of spring appearing. This is my herb box which I planted last autumn with ‘reduce bin’ herb plants I had collected through the summer;

Herb box showing the first signs of life - 8th February 2011

Herb box showing the first signs of life - 8th February 2011

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Onwards, slowly

This week has been grey… Grey and busy; busy at work, busy at home, busy moving. There is just an endless list and I am not feeling very organised, or completely well.

I have a new home for the Jelly Beanies, well hopefully I have. They were meant to go on Saturday, and a few times since but for busy-life reasons they are still here. At home everyone’s sheds are in need of cleaning out, plus a shed we use as a sort of ‘over-spill’ housing which naughty doesn’t get cleaned out as it is normally used in a rush but we want to bring the cows home so it has to be done before they move in.

All the cleaning out does mean that the allotment is getting a generous manuring, and I almost have a plan for them now. Part of my plan includes not sowing or planting anything excluding garlic until March 1st, when I told Rhys this he asked how I was going to survived. Until then I am getting organised, I need to finished manuring and covering those beds that are still left, add some boarders to those on plot one, buy some pens that don’t come off of the plant labels (done last night) and finally, and really finally after all the other bits are done, buy the very few packets of seeds I need for this year and seed potatoes. I think I am also going to treat myself and the new house to some large terracotta pots for growing salad and tomatoes on the patio

Garlic – a project for 2011

I think I have maybe gone overboard with my garlic buying this year. After reading up on what varieties I decided that ‘Iberian Wight’ sounds like it is most likely to do best at the allotment, but after taking the time to read up on the subject could I find anywhere that sold them  locally, in short no. So I widen my search to online but still failed to find somewhere that didn’t charge an arm and a leg for a few bulbs and then postage on top. Not for the first few weeks of looking any way, then I came across a website that not only had them in stock but at, what I consider, a very fair price. Success!

This was shortly after the seed saving talk that I went to and so my head was full of never buying seeds again, and why not apply the same to garlic bulbs? So I added five bulbs to my shopping basket and headed for the ‘check out’, with only a slight detour via the mushroom growing kits. These five bulbs were to join the nine cloves of locally grown Elephant Garlic that I already had. All adding up to a reasonable amount of garlic to grow next year.

Then came an email just one day after I placing my order that tipped the balance from a ‘reasonable amount of garlic’ to ‘where am I going to grown all this, but it’ll be fine really. And we do like garlic…” a free £10 voucher for Thompson and Morgan and so I bought two* bulbs of ‘Wight Cristo’, which is described as “English production of pure white bulbs with an elegant bouquet, ideal for a wide range of dishes. Long keeping bulbs” and two* bulbs of ‘Early Purple Wight’, which seems to be the garlic that is sold in supermarkets so much be alright-ish. 

(*This was just the amount that they were sold in, if they had sold individual bulbs I would have just bought one of each)

One of my firm growing plans for 2011 are to grow things following the biodynamic calendar, but I also love tradition folklore and have grown-up knowing that you “plant garlic on the shortest date, to harvest on the longest day”.

And it is this that has set me up with a project for 2011 as this years shortest day fell on a biodynamic flower planting day, not a root planting day. I have already planted one bulb of ‘Iberian Wight’ on the 21st of December, e.g. the shortest day, I will plant one bulb tomorrow (29th December), which is a biodynamic root day, and then one bulb on the day after (30th December), which is another flower day but not the shortest day.

I have bought a pack of flower pots so as they will all be started off in the same sized pots and using the same bag of compost, as the ground outside was frozen with about two inches of snow on top on the 21st, which only leaves when to plant them out on the allotment to decide.

The rest of the garlic I will plant on a root day, most likely tomorrow.

snow

We seem to have escaped the worst of the bad weather so far, we’ve had some snow, some ice and coldness but nothing to write home about until mid-day today when on cue about three inches came down in not much longer than half an hour.

Stressful? Not one little bit. All the rounds were done well before the snow arrived, we’ve a big pile of fodder beat, bins full of grain and the second part of a big hay delivery arrived yesterday and we have a 4×4! It is not the greenest of cars but we so need it; today I even enjoyed being out in the snow kicking my way through the falling snow knowing that getting out wasn’t going to be a problem. 

Things are very exciting right now, but I don’t want to share until the Is are dotted and the Ts are crossed incase it jinxs it

Snow – the start of another cold winter?

We have also had snow but gladly it has not felt like such hard work this time.

This mornings bright start - 5th December 2010

This mornings bright start - 5th December 2010

We now have one 4×4 vehicle and our feed and hay deliveries have still made it through to us.

Making the most of the corn whilsh the other hens waited by their pop hold to be re-opened after cleaning out their house - 5th December 2010

Making the most of the corn whilst the other hens waited by their pop hole to be re-opened after cleaning out their house - 5th December 2010

The animals have not been impressed and on the coldest days I have kept the chickens in.

Friday night we had our thickest fall of snow, about 2 inches in a few hours but it was wetter than the other snow we had have had and so was only really a problem when driving through it and when it froze the next evening.

Today has been the warmest and a lot of the snow has gone but any snow that is left has turned into glassy looking ice under foot and on less used roads.

Once upon a time, many moons ago…

I was learning to knit again. It was on this day in 2008 that I posted my first proper blog post.This is my second blog, the first one was very much a warm up to this one. And having spent some time reading back through my posts I thought I had posted most of it on this one any way, and all not that long ago either! I began blogging in November 2007 with this: 

A place to begin…Last night I finally got the push I needed to start off, I was on a forum and someone said that they would love to follow something like this, there are already loads of popular TV series, books and magazines about self sufficient so that must mean that other people are interested to. So this is my two pence worth to add to. My idea is very simple: produce as much food for myself as is possible with what I’ve got, that said I already know that it isn’t as simple a task as it sounds. I also would like to learn how to live as cheaply as possible and make some money from the things I enjoy doing.

 What I already have/where I’m at: I already keep goats, two of whom are in milk but I’m not milking them at the moment for no really reason other than the fact that I haven’t sorted myself out into doing this. I have quail; I got some for my last years Christmas present (in April, but I said I wanted to wait to get what I really wanted rather than having something else) from these there is one male left and I brought four more the other day, two females and two males and I brought 24 eggs, 12 of two types, for hatching from ebay last night, they should arrive on Tuesday next week.

 I’m a vegetarian, but others in my family eat meat, and I’ve got most of a vegetable garden up and running now but ‘the family’ have just been told that we can use part of a field we keep donkeys on as a vegetable garden as well which is quite a big space. I’m going up there tomorrow to start clearing the ground and covering some of it with manure ready for the summer.

 “The Family”: that is me (eldest daughter) my parents, my two younger sisters, a younger brother and my boyfriend. ‘The Family’ also includes a whole host of dogs, cats, ponies, donkeys, cows, sheep, chickens, ducks, rabbits and a guinea pig. I don’t think I’ve left anything out but I might have.

 So there are a lot of us, some useful others not so useful. I plan to be adding more very soon and to start adding some photo’s when I’ve got to grips with how to do things on here.

I changed blogs as I wanted to have more control of the way that it looked, and in particular a banner that I could add my own photos to.  A train track in the middle of nowhere is nice… But it wasn’t really what I was looking for. 

So what has changed since my first ever blog post? Well, I have almost finished my first own-spun and knitted project… more details coming soon. 

I have grown my own potatoes for the first time, and leeks, and carrots, and some other thing too; I have made butter and cheese from our own cows milk and cream. I have started keeping chickens, and am having another break from keeping quail, mother has the remaining trio that I had. 

‘The Family’ has grown, my baby sister will be eighteen this summer, we all have boy/girlfriends and although we are all still one big family it feels like we are also splitting off into our own little families as well. 

I am a published magazine writer… Twice. 

I have a much better job and am in much better health then I was back then. I have survived no less than two redundancies. I have become much more of an ‘outdoors’ person, even in the pouring rain I am still happy enough (cue a week long down-pour, sorry) and have much more of an idea of who I am and what I want to do. 

All this sounds very fluffy and… Picture prefect, but the thing is the milestones for ‘this kind of life’ are more woolly or yearly events than anything else. Lambing is followed by shearing, sowing time is followed by the growing season, followed by harvest time… Each year starts with hopes and dreams of building on what has been started the year before, which is followed by successes and failures, wet muddy times followed by the smell of grass cutting and fat happy animals sun bathing. It is a circle that keeps going and has no really ending. 

So here I am again, writing a blog post, in the middle of lambing. It has been raining outside and it is probably not all that different to the very first time I put fingers to keyboard for the first post of this blog and that is just fine by me…

Sun, sun, sun

I’ve had this last week off work, which has been useful as me and mother have been able to split the night and morning lambing shifts between us. It has been nice weather all week but I had my first assignment to do which I handed in yesterday, it doesn’t feel like I have spent much time outdoors at all really. But the sun has made lambing nicer, no walking around in the pouring rain or sitting in the drizzle whilst deciding if a ewe needs help or not, or even just walking around in mud all the time.

The goat kids have had a busy week too; mothers two have been disbudded (which stops them growing horns) and all of the babies have started to come away from their mothers at night so as we can milk in the morning. After a bottle the babies go back in with their mums for the day. 

I have chosen names for mine; the darkest one (with least white on her head) is Belladonna, Bella for short, named after her father Knightshade and the other is Briony. Mother still hasn’t chosen names for hers so they are still being referred to as ‘straight’ and ‘curly’ as one of them has a slightly wavy coat. We weigh them again yesterday and they have all double in weight, mothers two are 5.2 and 5.3kg, Bella is 3.3kg and Briony is 3.8kg

The weather today has been really warm… almost hot even… and the garden is starting to grow as well now. The Lemon Balm is sending up new shoots and the self-sown garlic bed has lots of sprouts coming through and the Raab 60 that I sowed at the end of last week is up and doing well. Today I have sown some Musselburgh Leeks and some True and Tender Parsnips. The leeks have been sown in module seed trays and the parsnips have been sown into toilet roll inner tubes, one or tube, so as they can be sown out without disturbing the roots.

Lambs, potatos and studies

I have not meant to not post for a week, but it has been very busy here.   

The snow that fell last Thursday stayed around until the middle of this week, with more falling on Tuesday but not sticking.   

On Friday morning the snow was almost as deep as it got in the last lot of snow. And it was with, umm, say 5″ of snow on the ground that lambing started.   

Our sheep graze on the common land near to our house and we lamb outside and then bring ewes and lambs in as they are born. It is very interesting actually, lambing outside means that lambs are almost always born in daylight and mother has kept a note of where each ewe chooses to lamb for the last few years. Some of our original flock come from a sheep farmer whose land edges part of the common and ewes that were born on this farm seem to lamb as close to his land as they can get, normally under his hedge.   

We also now have some second generation ewes that we have breed, these ewes seem to go back to where they were born to lamb themselves. The older ewes also seem to have an order that they lamb in, possibly because of when their seasons are but it doesn’t change much from year to year.   

Our first ewe to lamb this year was Charlotte, whose a first timer. She is a Cotswold cross ewe, so is quite big, and noisy too. Not surprisingly really, as she had ring-womb and so was unable to deliver. After a while trying to deliver the lamb ourselves it was a nerve racking drive to the vets along icy roads.   

Charlottle with her lamb - 19th February 2010

 

It was bad news when we arrived, the lambs tongue was blue and dry and the lamb was mostly likely dead already. Our vet spent some time and delivered the little black ram lamb, who still had a heart beat! He was very weak and the nurse took him and put him on oxygen and bullied him back to life.   

The lamb was small, and showing signs of being premature. The vet checked for any other lambs and found a funny colour ‘water bag’ but no sign of another lamb. It is mostly likely extra strain and stress from the snow that has cause her to pick up some sort of infection and miscarry a lamb and go into labour early.   

The nurse bought the lamb back and we gave it to Charlottle who seemed pleased enough with it so long as she didn’t have to get up and was happy enough to carry on cleaning him.   

We bought them home and put them in a house together so as they could bond and we could make sure the lamb got extra top-up feeds as Charlotte didn’t have much milk. All seemed fine until Sunday night when mother went to give him his last feed and check of the night and found him dead. He had been doing so well and acting just like any other lamb until then too.   

On Tuesday morning we had our next lot of lambs, Cobweb and the Cotswold both lambed on their own. Cobweb, who normally has triplets and spends the whole summer losing lambs, had twins girls and the Cotswold also has a female lamb. All nice sized and doing well, although Cobweb is not at all happy about being brought in and isn’t sure how many lambs she has. Today they came out whilst I cleaned their house out for the first time, it was nice seeing the first of our lambs out on the green.  

The Cotswold out with her lamb - 27th February 2010

 

The Cobweb with her lambs - 27th February 2010

 

Yesterday also saw our the first of this years goat kids born.  

Lenka with her first kid a few minutes after it was born - 27th February 2010

 

My mothers British Tog, Lenka, had twin girls. These are Lenkas first kids and she is doing well with them.  

My mum got Lenka two years ago, she has very good breeding but before she came to us she had just been kept as a pet really. She was very over weight and was already possibly to old to become pregnant. It was a little disappointing when she didn’t kid last year but not really suprising given how over weight she was, and it just makes this years kids extra nice. 

 

Lenka cleaning up her second kid less than a minute after it was born. 

During the week my seed potato order arrived, also a package from the Potato Council containing loads of information about potato growing, recipes and two varieties of seed potato to try. There is also a massive wall chart to record the weather during the growing season and the final harvest weight. The info says to start earlys chitting on March 2nd, which happily is the right moon day for starting root vegetables off so I will start all my earlys chitting on that day. 

This weekend we have made big progress on the new goat house, and this evening we finished putting the first section of roof on. Yay! 

The other thing that has been keeping me busy this week is ‘course work’. I am a month through a three month intro course with the Open University. I am finding it hard going at the moment, partly because I am not studying what I really want to (but doing this course means I will do better at what I want to do, weather science) and because of all the other day-t0-day things that are going on.

It happened again

Snow - 18th February 2010

Well, we are one of the worst hit areas of todays snow and the world outside is now white once again.

The sheep are already feed up and waiting at the gate for us to get on and do something about it. The geese (still no gander) are shut away again with chickens of all things, what do we think they are? And the goats are stood in the house looking out with “if you think I’m going out in that you can forget it” looks on their faces.

The pigs, however, where having mad races and were happy enough when I took them some extra bedding just before it got dark.

My seed orders have arrived though, just waiting on the seed potatoes now.

From white to wet

Coats and hats drying by the stove - 16th January 2010

Yesterday we had our thaw and it turned from white world to very wet world. There was rain, often heavy rain timed just right for when we happened to be out and furthest away from shelter. Other than the rain it has been very foggy, a damp heavy fog.

A day to stay inside…

Today it is sunny and clear. The world has change to an odd green colour, with white patches dotted here and there. And so warm,  enough not to need a coat.

A day to be outside…

Everything is wet but has survived the snow. Apart from maybe the roads which are in need of great repair works.

It is time to finish with Christmas and New Year, the snow and ice and start 2010 with a deep breath of sun warmed air.