Wednesday 22 August 2018

The hedge,,,,,,,,,

Sitting over my bowl of porridge, thinking I ought to let the family and you know that I am still here and carrying on in my normal way, although my hands are a bit stiff due to the cutting of the overgrown hedge out front. They also have been stabbed in several places by thorns. They are also feeling the strain of regular practices on the accordion. We have been invited to play for a Sunday afternoon lunch, whose hosts will have  guests from Ireland staying with them so they thought it would be a good idea to have an Irish based singalong. So that is what I have been doing during this spell of continuing hot weather.....practicing and sorting out our music, which is a job which had long needed doing. 

As for the front hedge, this again  has been an ongoing project, which has been frequently started but then left as I was diverted away to other projects, or we hit a patch of monsoon type weather which kept me indoors. But the hedge has got too big and scruffy, so I am on a mission to carry on getting it cut down. It will be a slow job, because it is a very big hedge now, and I only allow myself thirty minutes, (or one full wheelbarrow load of clippings) per day because I have several other projects on the go which I have to share myself with. 

The Hedge

........ and I have nearly made a break through from one side to the other.

And then I went round the other side of the Chicken Pen and clipped the blackberry shoots which had regrown since last I cut them back, which was in June. And that was me done for the day in regards to outside work because by then the sun was out in its full force,  and I needed to retreat indoors.

 But the chickens were happy because I lobbed some of last year's butternuts over the fence at them, although at first they thought they were being bombed by unknown forces so went into a bit of a panic. I shouldn't have put them into a fright, but it was too much of a bother to have to wrestle with the tangle of weeds and nettles to get to their gate so over the fence the butternuts went. 

Missed cooling off by paddling in the river this year, but after I saw the size of fish which swim in the river when several were washed up on our land in the recent floods, I feel a fear about putting my toes at risk of being eaten. And I can be silly and eccentric about this because I am of a respectable age to be so. I suppose I could wear old shoes, but this thought has only just occurred to me, ........ meanwhile, ..... if we have another hot summer next year, global warming and all that, I am of a mind to buy a plunge pool so I can cool off. Not sure where I would put it though as all available space where it could be placed would put me in full view of anyone passing. So perhaps, shoes in the river might be a better solution for cooling down next year!

 Off to attack my washing up, which seems to grow at the same rate as does those damn blackberries out on the smallholding!

Bye for now,


Sunday 5 August 2018

The blackbird, the fox, the snake.......


A while ago I mentioned that we were not going to plant a full crop of vegetables in Veg Gardens One, Two, and Three this year, the reason being that I was still recovering from the hospital experience of September 2017, Lester was working full time so did not have the time to prep the soil for planting, and the weather was abysmal with did not allow for much outside work to be done for quite a few weeks.

At first I enjoyed the slowness of my life, with no seeds to sow and look after, I had time to catch up with myself. After ten years of building the smallholding, and renovating our house, then being ill, I needed the space in which to dawdle through my days, which I did.

But me being me, I started getting itchy footed about getting out into the garden. Meanwhile the weather had calmed down, but was now producing very high temperatures which made working outside after ten in the morning impossible to do. 
This cancelled out work in the veg gardens, but I did keep the weeds cut so the gardens stayed tidy,
and I did find a small weed free space in which to plant a few courgette seeds. Although late in the season, I did think they might produce a few courgettes before the cooler weather hit them. 
Alack and alas, they did not survive. It was not the weather which saw them unto death, but Lester with his tractor.
I took this as a sign from Heaven that I really was not supposed to expend my energies in the veg gardens this year. 
Looking on the good side, having a rest from the work of veg growing and harvesting is  renewing my energies for the 2019 season. I am already missing seeing the larder full of homegrown produce. It would seem that I am addicted to DIY food.

But then there was the raised beds in the courtyard, and these I tended. Although they needed refilling with compost, I was able to get lettuce, beetroot, beans, onions and tomatoes planted. 
I felt quite proud of myself, feeling that my small effort would encourage me to not entirely give up on growing our own veg. 
And then the blackbird came. 
And I started having to replant the plants already planted because it would scratch around, and dig holes here and there. Some plants could be replanted, but then be dug up again, then replanted again, and then dug up again. The blackbird was persistent. 
I tried numerous methods to deter it, but did not resort to using a plastic eagle because I did not want to scare off all the birds, especially those using the tall barn as a nursery to raise their young, their chattering giving a happy air to the place. 

In the end I used cardboard, covering the soil where I could, but leaving the onions to their fate. 
I tried to think good thoughts about the blackbird. 
I am still trying to do so.......

We shall think up an anti blackbird strategy for next year.........

Looking on the good side, at least we have birds here now. When we came here there were not many, the feral cats and the commercial farming, with its use of chemical sprays, having decimated the bird population. Now the air is full of their chirrups and chatter.


We had a good number of chickens in the flock, now we don't after the fox came to play with them, choosing to chase and kill the younger chickens who were just coming into maturity, the ones we had hand raised. At least we still have the mature hens left, so I think the fox must have been disturbed before it could carry on with doing its mischief. 

We have two cockerels left. Both have stopped crowing. We think they must have been silenced by the trauma of being attacked by a being which was far larger than themselves. 

We are thinking up a strategy to prevent this from happening again. 
The chickens are in a fenced paddock, but we need to build a smaller enclosure within it. 

The flock is back to normal now. It has taken six days for them to recover. Bless them, but it was not nice to see them so shocked, or for Lester to have to pick up the dead bodies and carry them down in the woods. 

Looking on the good side, at least we still have chickens. 


And so it came to be a very hot afternoon, with sleep falling heavily upon me as I sat at my computer trying to work, such that I felt myself tipping forward on to the computer keyboard. Time to have a lie down on the settee. Just drifting off, when a thought bounced into my head that perhaps I ought to check the mail box to see if a package had been delivered. I was expecting a small parcel from America, which contained the cultures to make cheese and yoghurt with, and it would not do those live cultures any good at all to be left to roast in the sun when they should be kept inside the coldness of a freezer. 
Up I got, still half asleep, and wow, but that sun was sooooo hot as I walked through the front door, and, 'What was that which just tumbled down on me, .........oh a snake' I thought as I watched it wriggling away from my feet, and 'I must get in from this heat'  my thoughts continued as I hurried across the courtyard with,  ' .....was that a snake which just fell on my head.......' mixing in with the need to get back inside the coolness of the house, and the blissfulness of sleep. 

I think it was a good thing that I was sleep drugged when the snake and I momentarily engaged with each other, because the actual reality of such a thing happening would have ordinarily had me going into a wonderfully rampant state of panic if I all my mental faculties had been at their usual optimum level. What I mean is, that the combination of heat and my sleep filled state of being saved me from having a major scare sit itself in my brain as a memory to be revisited when occasion permits of those sneaky memories which pop up to the surface of one's consciousness when one least expects, reawakening the initial force of fright. 

Looking on the good side, which I must do if I am not to get  a phobia about snakes, especially falling down on me, it was only about twenty inches long, and quite thin, very energetic but then it was probably frightened, ......... but what the hell it was doing on top of the door remains an unanswered question!  ..... And I was only half awake, which was also good, and neither of us was harmed. 

Working hard to get the positive uppermost in my mind, I shall now close the subject!

Bye for now,