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Friday, 25 April 2014

Planted up now

In between rain showers we have managed to get everything planted now. There are still some gaps where seeds have been direct sown which will need re-doing, but winter leeks and sprout plants are doing OK and kale is growing at last. The caulies were growing really strongly but for some reason a few have keeled over so will need to sow more, as well as parsnip, swede and psb. The beans are shooting up now that they have germinated, the sooner the better to get them away from pests. We are trying to keep up with the weeding when it is dry enough to get on the land, but you can see the damned things growing. What is good for our veg plants is good for weeds! What was bare land yesterday is covered in weed seedlings today, and spinach and chard which were seed leaves sprouted true leaves over night.

There has been a lot more rain in the north of the country it seems, and when we called in at the river on the way back from shopping two days ago we couldn't get near our usual parking spot, and it had been a lot worse as there was evidence that the water had been a good way higher. It must have been a sight to see.
Our usual parking spot!

This was a pond, it is now part of the river

Dave standing where he usually backs into to turn round.
This green woodpecker stayed ages for his photoshoot, but the light was too bad, typical!

We had called at the river as someone had reported that the bee-eaters were back, but Dave has to wade accross the river to see where they nest and there was no way he could risk it. But we definitely heard a golden oriole in the garden this morning competing with our nightingale. There are more birds in the hills too which keeps Dave busy trying to get them on camera.
Our nightingale

How such a lovely song comes out of such a drab little bird............

Crested lark, a common bird

A juvenile flava yellow wagtail

Yellow wagtail feldegg

Ortolan bunting

I had a visit from Baba Danka yesterday when Dave went out. She had an armful of chrysanthemum plants and Californian poppy plants, with an acompanying flower to show me what they were (I have already sown some) as she was worried that there are not enough flowers in the border. There are a lot of small seed grown plants growing, plenty with the dahlias to fill the border, but it was a lovely thought and they have been planted in the wall border.

Dave strimmed the other neighbour's grass verge outside their house, and as he was clearing up our Russian friend came accross and told him that the village gardener normally does the strimming. Ah well, they seem happy enough and another bottle of paint stripper rakia was proffered and accepted. They come in a variety of recycled bottles!

I am going to see if chutney will sell at car boot sales as I have been told it will. To this end I have started to make some with some of the veg we have in the freezer from last year and have some chilli tomato and pepper chutney made today, will do onion tomorrow and sweet tomato and apple. If it doesn't sell at least it will mean I don't have to make any for us when things are busy in summer. I am also thinking about fudge, but when I tried it today I got bored, took my eye off it and burnt it! Managed to rescue enough to know it's good though, but needs less vanilla and I really must let it cool properly before cutting!

Wild garlic bread, nice with cheese and spicy chutney

Dave had painted a couple more pictures, this time springer spaniels, Welsh and English. This is so that he can take some to car boot sales, where too many people are interested in my picture he did of our lab Bonnie. A stork and horse are two I would like to see, the stork as they are important here, and horse so that we can leave my other pic, of Murphy our old horse, at home too.
One finished today Others on the website
Dave braved the rain to do a small job in the chick nursery today, but was distracted by the sound of kittens crying. After investigation he found three two week old kittens in the loft space above the chicks. Oh dear. We really don't need hungry nursing cats around the chicks (though she would have to be very hungry to take on Cagney!) and we don't want resident cats either, they poo too much and the dogs..............well, I will leave that to your imagination! They are seriously cute though, with very loud voices. No sign of mum at the moment, but she may be young with only being three kittens.

The chicks are all doing well. The oldest are now perching on the partitions at night, looking very grown up. Unfortunately it looks as if one of the shumen chicks may be a boy, it's comb looks slightly larger than the other's. That is unfortunate as they had a home to go to if they had both been hens. The next oldest are nearly happy with the flock during the day now and both groups have got a bolt hole into their pens. Cagney still sleeps in there, as close to the door as she can get as it is warm in there at night, with babies tcked under her wing. The chicks are keeping up well, though one has a bent toe. It is hilarious to watch her chasing the small crane fly type things though, she leaps about without a care for her little tiny chicks. maybe there is a clue to the bent toe.....
The younger chicks, looking scraggy

Roosting chicks

And as they are getting their noses pushed out, the beautiful breeding shumens

There are another twenty odd eggs in the incubator and that will be all for now. We are losing too many and it could be down to the incubator, it certainly isn't down to Sevi's fertility. None of the araucanas were fertile which was a bit awkward as the chap once again asked about them. He is insisting on replacement from another flock or refund but we think, as he is so genuine, we would just like to leave things as they are.

The new commercials are not laying yet though one time bully has started to spend a bit of time in the nest box. She is still rather thin but seems healthy enough. They have all settled well, though one insists on trying to settle down for the night on the gate. She is getting used to being handled as she has to be taken off each night. She doesn't bother during the day.

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