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Tuesday, 31 March 2015

A few days of warm, makes such a difference

But just as we start to think spring is well and truly here, it rains and gets really cold again. The trouble is everything puts a spurt of growth on, then they get a shock. At the moment it's not a problem, but if we get a frost it could cause havoc. Unfortunately the weather forecast seems to change daily so we don't know what to expect.

From the time I wrote the last blog the blossom in the garden The large and very beautiful pink peach blossom, daintier but no less beautiful apricot, and smaller still but very plentiful plum. All the perennials have put on a serious amount of growth, the daffs are at last out, as are the tulips which a week ago had no buds showing at all.
Stunning peach blossom


And plum
The rhubarb is growing.....

....and flowering, flowers now removed!

Red peony

And the tall pink scented one. Pleased that these survived the wet winter
Hydrangea budding

Tulips and daffs all came out

Progress as well in the veggie patch. The combination of damp and warm seems to have brought the first direct sown peas and broad beans on. The sweetcorn patch has been sown and the few I sowed in toilet roll tubes are out. Dave brought three courgette plants home from the market and they re living under cut-off water bottles. He also brought a couple of gooseberry plants which are now happily settled between the raspberries and blackcurrants. The raspberries are sending new canes up all over the place and need to be removed from the garlic bed. They are sporting flower buds already too.
Lettuce big enough to start taking leaves

Buds on the raspberries already

Coming up in the garlic
Peas and broad beans

 Courgettes, in a tyre to help with watering

The sweetcorn started indoors

We had a trip out to see a friend who lives in a mountain village with great views last week A stunning place but once again I was talking so much I forgot to take any photos. We had a lovely lunch and stayed as late as we dared before getting back to the animals. I just wish we lived closer.
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The 'road'leading to my friend's house

Looking down the valley from the house

On Sunday we had the first car boot sale of the year. This time the weather forecast was right and it was cool and occasionally damp with a bitter wind sweeping across the valley. It was nice to catch up with old friends but we left fairly early, though we did manage to sell 30 duck eggs and a good few jars of chutney. Most sellers, customers and browsers were Bulgarian and they left even before we did. A few ex-pats were dribbling in as we went, but most seemed to head for the bacon butties in the camp site cafe! Hopefully the next one in two weeks will be better, and certainly a little more sheltered.

It's all go for the art exhibition this week, Dave will be taking the pictures over tomorrow and we know at least three people who are coming, a long way for them and we are very grateful that they will be making the effort. Dave has been asked to write a short speech and deliver it as he has done presentations all over the world so it is not a major problem to him. So proud of him.

Splash has been lame this week. His latest game is to jump out from nowhere and grab your feet, but unfortunately he does this while you are moving and a couple of times he has been trodden on. Not heavily, but then he is still only little. He is no less active but has trouble jumping up on the kitchen unit....hopefully it will break the habit of doing that....and he lies down a lot. But today he has been on the go since early, without his customary five hour kip, chasing flies and other bugs. And playing in the peas, much to Dave's disgust.
You're not supposed to be in there\!|

Bug hunter

At rest

In Poultry Paddocks the ducks are still running in hope towards the gate when let out in the mornings, hoping to get to the veggie patch and all those lovely, buggy morsels living there. The grass in the back paddock has come through strongly but will not withstand any bird action for a while yet. The gate to the compost area and bees is open and they have done a good job of clearing the weeds from that area. The wood shed is also through there and this seems to be the preferred area for the chooks to lay at the moment.

The ducks are still giving four eggs a day and now the chooks are all laying we have a bit of a mountain. We have managed to sell quite a few, and are still giving some to the neighbours. I have made quite a lot of cakes and curds and used some in bread and Yorkies. But we are feeling a bit pressured to find edible ways we can enjoy. Chips made things better yesterday and today we had a curry. Good job they are packed with vitamins and minerals. I very much doubt we will be having any tomorrow!
Rhubarb and vanilla curd....delicious

Dave has been growing wheat hydroponically as an experiment to see if the chooks and ducks would like it, greens are important for egg layers, helps them absorb calcium needed for the shells. The ducks were a bit reluctant at first, but the chooks politely tucked in, Sevi claiming to have found all this loveliness for his girls. When broody Cagney came flying out she soon showed them how to get stuck in! Eventually the ducks realised it was edible and they were soon all enjoying the feast. I was worried there might be a bit of over-indulgence, but in fact they had a feed and wandered off, coming back at regular intervals for another snack.
the wheat starts sprouting within a couple of days

Gets water washed through it about three times a day

And grows very fast

The root mat after about six days

Excitement as Dave puts the cut mat out

Hens straight in there, Sevi telling them he found it for them

Bewildered ducks

But they soon got the message

We had a long power cut yesterday. Not generally a problem but of course we have the incubator with twenty eggs in it. This ended up in the bed to keep warm so it's fingers crossed that we might still get a few chicks. We are not over hopeful, candling after a week seems to show only three, maybe four, fertile eggs. If we do get three they can stay upstairs rather than try to change all the outside accommodation around. We have already put the two white ducks with the others to free up their shed in case we need it for Cagney and her ducklings.
Power cut lunch, a salad with the first proper pick of salad leaves and herbs, with our own picled onion and beets, our own chutney and tzatziki in lieu of mayo


  1. lunch looks good, bit like a Ploughman's lunch minus the meat! Good to catch up with what is going on at your place.

    1. I knew I should have bought ham at Lidl the other day!

  2. Growing wheat like that is interesting, will they eat the whole lot, roots and all? Wheat is relatively cheap here and my chicken runs are bare apart from nettles, although weeds will grow later and there are perennial wildflowers that come up in summer, and rogue raspberry canes. They eat the raspberry leaves that they can reach, as well as the fruit! Chuckling over Sevi pretending to have found the wheat - I know cockerels do that for their girls. :-)

    The spring garden looks good, doesn't it make a difference to the spirits? My OH sowed some lettuce a few days back in a cold frame direct on the ground and with the extra warmth, some has germinated already! Getting frustrated here at not being able to do anything. Also it's not very warm! But it's April now - hooray. :-)

    1. Well, so far they have eaten all the green off and are having a nibble at the roots and what is left of the seed, but the roots dry off quite quickly. Strangely there is wheat coming up in the pen where the feed bowls are and they seem to be leaving it alone...for now. We have datura coming up in the resting pen which we need to pull out, but most weeds get hammered by the chickens, just the nettles grow nice and green.

      I'm sure all cockerels are the same, but we have never had one before and he is often amusing, but he is very rampant at the moment and pestering Cagney when she comes off her eggs to eat, so she is spending more time running and complaining than eating. I will try to separate him off next time she comes out.

      I understand your frustration at not being able to get into the garden. Maybe you could grow some seedlings in plug trays for your OH to plant out later...we are all having silly weather at the moment and we are definitely behind where we were last year. I have a plastic garden table inside so I can play with my seedlings indoors while the weather is bad.

  3. I just noticed that your little Splash has spots in his coat, I wonder if he has a little Ocicat in him.

    1. No, lovely though his coat is, he is from a long and regal line of feral cats. We are assuming the ugly ginger and white tom in an empty house, who also has a flash on his back, is his father.