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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

http://dcbartworks.webs.com/
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.

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

What a difference a drop of rain makes

We are really getting on with planting now, with only cucumbers, melons, peppers, aubergines, okra and squash to plant out. The rain has worked wonders on what is already in, though the soil is a nightmare to work when soft, it sticks to everything. The tomatoes went in yesterday and have been covered for a couple of days. My neighbours may laugh at my small plants, but watching Angel behind us planting his out today they look rather lanky where mine are short and stocky (not sure who I am trying to convince!) I have put rather a lot in, but you never know what the season will bring, and while in the UK it was a hobby, growing them here means a good stock of canned, dried and sauced tomatoes which means there will always be a meal available.
Tomatoes under cover

We have been making a big effort to get those pesky weeds under control, they love the rain too. Unfortunately most is being done by hand as the claggy soil is no good for a hoe, and things like onions need hand weeding anyway. But we can at least see where the carrots and beetroot are coming up.
More late planted onions, garlic, beetroot and carrots. No idea if any parsnipe have germinated, but won't weed in case...
The over wintered onions and garlic, which looked a bit sick before the rain. Now looking good

The potatoes have been a bit of a disappointment. A few more than half have come up and been earthed up twice. The strawberries and rhubarb are flourishing with the extra moisture, and lettuce needs to be given away now as they are in peak condition and will soon go to seed. The beans have broken through today, two types of runner, a climbing French and Bulgarian yellow. Spinach and chard is growing and peas and broad beans flowering.
Hopefully some potatoes will be ok

Rhubarb growing well now

Strawberries, plenty of flowers

Peas and broad beans. The sweetcorn has been planted beyond these

Beans coming through
Frilly and butterhead at their peak....

Iceberg hearting up well

All the fruit trees have set masses of fruit and it looks as if it will be a good year again. Even the grape vines look as if they will bear fruit this year if the emerging flowers are anything to go by. The roses are budding too. All very exciting.
Grape vine

Tidy garden

Embryo peach

Rose bud
Cherry toms in trough.....

and flowers, all along the wall, doing OK


Of course there is another side to damp weather. There are a lot more insects emerging. As well as flies and biting things, wasps are trying to find places for new homes and ants are abundant, all over everything. Snails have eaten my peppers in the greenhouse again despite all the salt I have thrown about. Dave's dahlias have gone in ringed with a mixture of diatomaceous earth and crushed eggshells, the same will be going round the beans now they have emerged. Today I have seen the first active, large grasshopper and numerous black crickets, no doubt wanting a munch on my precious plants.
Dahlia

Ants on the peony
This sprayed something at Bonnie

This sprayed something at Bella



In the chicken city Cagney is proving a good attentive mother and has now managed a good half hour in the bath without having to see to the kids. The others are keeping their distance, only a couple of ex-batts have been foolish enough to challenge her. She has gone for Dave a fair bit, which is funny as he is only trying to help.
video

The latest batch of hens enjoying the sun, they have now learned to scratch and bathe

Next batch of youngsters

Of course there is always one getting lost. It is right by it's pop hole but can't see it!

The maran chicks and first two shumen chicks are now pretty much integrated into the flock. There is plenty of space and nooks and crannies where they can get out of the way, and a bolt hole into their indoor pen for when they have had enough. The next batch are already going out for a while with it being so warm. With all these youngsters running about they are being largely ignored as there is no novelty. Ideally they would have their own run I suppose, so they could just have chick food, but they are fed before and after going out and they can get in for food. We want them to go to new homes as soon as possible so if they are used to adult hens, all the better.

Dave's goslings have hatched, so cute, and their owners are now worrying about how to catch them as Dad, Gordon, is very protective, even having a go at the donkey. Good luck in that B&S, rather you than me!