Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Cherries, watering, and the well......

Well. things are as they are, and we are quite happy about this. However, sometimes this smallholding life can be quite tiring, making us wonder if it is all worth the effort. Of course it is! In our better moments we know this, but sometimes things have a habit of piling up, making one feel as if one is under a mountain of 'things to do'. That's when it is best to stop. Just for a little while.

We have a week off from our builder this week, which is a good thing because I have to shift everything out of the back kitchen so that can be sorted out. The lounge is now done, and looking good and ready for painting, the music room/ snug is just needing the paintwork finished, the kitchen is finished, apart from shelves still needing to be done, but is looking a total mess as it gets stuffed full of the contents of the back kitchen. Three months time, though, and all should be sorted out again. Meanwhile ..........

.....we suddenly noticed that the cherries were ripe. Good thing that the weather has been damp and breezy which seems to have discouraged the birds from doing a raid on them, leaving us time to pick them.

Nearly 6 kgs of cherries......that is what I now need to de-pip and can. 

Out on the veg plots......

Veg Plot 1:

The greenery you can see on the left is all weeds! But the faint lines of green on the right are seedlings coming up. Unfortunately those seedlings are tangled up with vigorous growing weeds, and it is taking an age to rescue them. A lot of seeds have not come up at all. Last night I got despondent about the state of the veg plot. Having started so late in the season we could not expect much effort from the seeds we planted, but the kale, cabbages, chard, some beetroot, a couple of tomatoes, a few coriander, other brassicas, and all the courgettes are up. But what we are doing well with are the beans. We had the idea of planting them along the fence line (on the right) so that they can climb the wire for support. All have come up. 

To make me feel a little cheered up about the veg plot, we bought a few plants. They looked a little sad in the shop, so I was quite happy to rescue them. 

We are watering the rows by hand, with watering cans. I am building quite sturdy arm muscles now. Carrying two full watering cans from the water butts to each individual row was a hard on me at first, but now I swing along, ....... well not quite, but I am getting there! 

So why water by hand? Because the weeds don't need any help to grow, and by using the hosepipe they are assisted to grow even more rampantly that they already are. Watering by hand gives us a feeling of having some control about what is watered and what isn't. 

So where is the water coming from? Our well out in the front garden. Lester has rigged up hosepipes, pumps, more hosepipes, another pump, and goodness knows what else, and fills this container, which is out back by doors to the middle barn .........

......the well dries up when the container is half full, so Lester does a morning and evening pump to give us the water we need. However, the well is starting to give us more at each pumping so we think that regular use is waking up the underground streams which feed the well.

From here the water is then pumped to Veg Plot 1, where we fill the water butts up. 

It's a start. Last year we watered from the pond in the woods, but we had a lot of rain last year so the pond remained full for most of the season. Most years, though, it dries up mid summer. We could use water from the river, but our big pump has died, so we can't. So, hopefully, the well will keep us going. 

Collecting rain water is on our list of 'to do's' but is way down that list at the moment!

Veg Plot 2:

...... and obviously nothing growing here, not even weeds! This is the work of the pigs, who have tilled the ground for us, but also given it a hard surface. If I have time I might plant some winter squash in this plot. Last year we had a huge harvest of squash, which fed the pigs for weeks, so it would be well worth the effort to get some harvest off this plot. Just need a bit of rain to soften the surface.

Veg Plot 3:

The three young pigs have just been put in this plot, and are just about to start digging it up. We are under pressure, though, to get them into the freezer because they are getting bigger by the day. Being Tamworths they are slow growers, but they seem to be doing a growth spurt lately, and are getting bigger by the day.

Need to have an Internet search about what to do about flea beetles, which seem to be happily populating themselves on the kale and brassicas. Would appreciate any helpful hints about what you do. Thanks.

Off to get some more cherries pipped, and then off out to the veg plot to get those plants I bought into the ground, otherwise they will sit around for days waiting for me to remember to do the job, which is a habit of mine........ I shall not say too much about the onions and leeks I bought and which sat in the bucket of water waiting to be planted out for so long that they all rotted. I felt bad about the waste of plant life and the waste of money, and vowed to be more self disciplined in the future. 



northsider dave said...

Try spraying the flea-beetles with soapy water Vera.

Elizabeth Eiffel said...

I'm quite envious of your life - in theory. I'm not sure if I would have your energy and drive to get over the relentless hurdles that always pop up when one is running a small holding. It's exciting to hear about your cherries because it means that our cherry tress in France will be laden with fruit when we arrive next week. There is nothing so tedious as piping the cherries, but the rewards are definitely worth the effort! Warm regards, Elizabeth.

Vera said...

Northsider Dave, thanks....will have a go!

Elizabeth, sometimes those 'relentless hurdles' can wear us down, so then we stop and have a think about the life we used to have, whereby us and the M25 used to be familiar friends, office life left us feeling drained, and our lifestyle was making us unhealthy and overweight. This looking back at how it used to be for us always gives us the energy to keep on coping with smallholding life.

Hope your trip to France is a good one, and if you are anywhere near region 65 (SW France) then do stop by.

rosaria williams said...

So good to see you full of energy and plans. The farm keeps you both young and chipper. Watering by hand must be the secret weapon!

Vera said...

Rosaria, I think you are right! I have noticed that my arms have become stronger, and my back more supple, but my legs are not making any comment!

Mizumatte said...

cherries,already ours has not even nearly ready to be eaten, but well we live long way up the north, enjoy the cherries and strong arms and lets keep legs quiet.take care Jaana

Vera said...

Jaana, .... Thanks daughter lives in Spain, and her cherries were ready to eat three weeks ago!

Kirsty Udall said...

Looks like your work is paying off, all that watering by hand looks exhausting.
Cherries look fantastic, what do you do to preserve them?

Vera said...

Kirsty, watering by hand is tiring, but preserves water and firms up my arm muscles! As for the cherries, I de-pipped them, cut them in half, then dried them in the dehydrator. (See next blog!)

Kerry Lamsdale said...

They birds took all our cherries and only left a handful for us. Need to find a way of protecting the tree next year x

Vera said...

Kerry, same happened to us a couple of years ago, so last year I 'wrapped' the cherry trees in cotton taken from old cotton reels. All I did was wove the end of the cotton to a branch, then threw the cotton reel over the tree, picked the reel off the ground, did a couple of turns round the nearest branch, then threw the cotton reel over the tree again. After a while the tree had a sort of spiders nest effect over it, which stopped the birds from getting at most of the cherries. Did not have time to do that this year, but one of the trees had kept its cacoon of cotton thread, and that was the one that gave us this harvest. The cotton cacoon on the other trees had blown off, so we had a lot fewer cherries from these fact, hardly any. The trees are not huge though, but I do remember putting some streamers of tin foil on a big cherry tree we used to have, and that did deter the birds as well although not as much as the cotton thread. We have also used old CD's which we have hung from the trees, which catch the light so act as bird scarers as well.
Hope one of these ideas might be of help to you next time you have a harvest of cherries!