Round beds

Brecon Beacons National Park Visitor Centre Garden; August 2013

Brecon Beacons National Park Visitor Centre Garden; August 2013

This bed is in the garden of the Visitor Centre in the Brecon Beacons and it struck me as an incredibly valuable growing space.

I could easily reach to the middle from the edge so guess it to be about 2.4 meters across. This bed was planted with herbs but could have easily fitted a wig-wam of beans, a squash plant, salad crops and some brassicas and with thought to the varieties used still remained a decorative focus for the garden.

A perfect one person, low maintainance vegetable garden.

The bed was in the middle of a average-ish sized garden (as far as I can tell, I certainly wouldn’t be happy with anything smaller but might be a little spoilt when it comes to garden size) with borders around the edge and lawn to enjoy the outdoors on.

Brecon Beacons National Park Visitor Centre Garden; August 2013

Brecon Beacons National Park Visitor Centre Garden; August 2013

 The round shape of the bed seemed to help the whole garden feel bigger than it was as it fitted so nicely into it with no harsher edges.

Bread on sticks, lunch on the Beacons and dinner on the beach – a few days away

The beginning of this month has been lovely – in spite of the heavy rain.

I have been on holiday and started this week, and a new month, with an evening spent with friends in the park cooking bread on sticks over our bucket BBQ’s and making ‘grass dolls’ as we didn’t have any corn, wheat or barley. This was to mark Lammas; another step closer to the end of the year. We chatted and cooked supper out and then played hide and seek in the dark – a treat in the longer days of the summer.

The view from the Brecon Beacons: August 2013

The view from the Brecon Beacons: August 2013

Then the next day I travelled up to Borth, stopping on the way to have lunch in the Brecon Beacons before carrying on to arrive in time for a paddle in the sea and a chance to lazy around watching the waves lap at the sand before back to a nearby camp site to cook dinner of pasta and cheese on a fire of drift wood.

Borth beach; August 2013

Borth beach; August 2013

Kite surfer; Borth beach August 2013

Kite surfer; Borth beach August 2013

Campsite BBQ; August 2013

Campsite BBQ; August 2013

A rainbow over the campsite after a sudden down pour; August 2013

A rainbow over the campsite after a sudden down pour; August 2013

The next day was spent at The Centre for Alternative Technology with time to call in on old neighbours before reaching home.

Giant sunflower on teh edge of one of the many organic vegetable beds; CAT August 2013

Giant sunflower on the edge of one of the many organic vegetable beds; CAT August 2013

Cord wood centre piece; CAT August 2012

Cord wood centre piece; CAT August 2012

Centre for Alternative Technology; August 2013

Centre for Alternative Technology; August 2013

Fabric

Over the past few months I have managed to be completely immersed in the real world – to the point my hands hovered over the keyboard whilst I remembered my password – but it has been a pleasant immersion with lots of exciting things going on that I hope to share soon.

I thought I’d stop by and share the fabric I tried batik out on for the first time whilst the rain pours down outside:

Batik fabric - July 2013

Batik fabric – July 2013

Batik fabric - July 2013

Batik fabric – July 2013

Batik fabric - July 2013

Batik fabric – July 2013

Batik fabric - July 2013

Batik fabric – July 2013

Rhubarb cordial

Rhubarb ~ May 2013

Rhubarb ~ May 2013

I have been playing around with the rhubarb patch in the garden and think I may have finally found away it is palatable; Cordial.

I’ve tried two different recipes, the first one from Colour It Green this one has a very strong rhubarb flavour which I oddly really like.

And the second recipe I based the second batch on was from Life on Pig Row. I did change this one a fair bit but it has more water in it to start with and it does make for a weaker flavour so I think I shall be playing around with the first one a little more. When I first read the second recipe I was sure that I read it had ginger in so a whole hand of ginger went into stew with the rhubarb and I couldn’t find the grater for the orange peel so no orange went in.

Easy Peasy Newborn Rainbow Umbilical Cord Hat

Newborn Rainbow Umbilical Cord Hat - April 2013

Newborn Rainbow Umbilical Cord Hat – April 2013

I finished the hat I was making for my niece just as she had her first big growth spurt and was only able to wear it for a few days.

I really like the way it has turned out and although it took forever for me to make (that has more to do with my own knitting skills) I’d really like to make another for this winter.

I used this pattern Free Easy Peasy Leftover Sock Newborn Hat which is a nice and easy to follow one.

Tuesday, 23rd April 2013

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

Spring signs; Rhubarb

Spring seems to be such a long time coming this year but there are finally more and more signs including the long-awaited shoots of rhubarb

First rhubarb shoots - 5th April 2013

First rhubarb shoots – 5th April 2013

I don’t personally like rhubarb but it is a sure sign that the soil is warming up and that the few seeds I have dared to sow might have a chance of making the garden some time soon.

Last autumn I put an old tyre around the clump of rhubarb and filled it with old straw to help encourage early shoots this year but it is already far later than last year

Saturday, March 30th 2012

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

Bundles of spring joy

In the early hours of the first day of Spring my sister gave birth to an unbelievably beautiful baby girl; Acacia Daisy Jade.

My beautiful niece Acacia Daisy Jade; born 20th March 2013

My beautiful niece Acacia Daisy Jade; born 20th March 2013

Needless to say she is by far the most exciting baby of the year. I had been meaning to blog about her expected arrival since we held a surprise baby ‘welcoming’ at the beginning of the month for my sister and her partner but she couldn’t wait to meet the world

Lambing 2013

We started lambing a week ago today. It was not a happy start; Sophie had a very large ram lamb who was positioned badly with one leg back, he took a lot of pulling to deliver and didn’t make it.

Lambing continued on Saturday after a few days rest with a much happier result; Ivy delivered twins on her own just before 8am. I was there when the second one arrived and within a minute or so it was up and looking for its first feed.

Ivy with her lambs - February 2013

Ivy with her lambs – February 2013

She had one of each: the ewe lamb was born first

Ivy's ewe lamb - February 2013

Ivy’s ewe lamb – February 2013

Followed by a ram lamb who I arrived just in time to see landing

Ivy's ram lamb - February 2013

Ivy’s ram lamb – February 2013

Since Thursday we have had much nicer weather so they have arrived with good timing (watch the weather change now) and lambing continued this morning with Clarry having two ram lambs, one large and one slightly smaller. I haven’t yet seem them as started back at work first thing this morning.