Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Half term catch up

Did you see that?
We had sun!
For two Bank Holidays in a row now we have had sun!
And everyone wonders why the Brits do nothing but talk about the weather! That's because it's crazy man!! It is so changeable it gives you whiplash and therefore it needs discussing for future reference in case anyone manages to figure out a pattern to it. There would be a Nobel prize for that one I'm sure!

So after our second bank holiday with sun, today it is raining again. I have to say, I'm relieved, as I thought for a moment that I'd been transplanted somewhere Mediterranean and we'd then have nothing to talk about, weatherwise!

However, this has meant that we've thoroughly enjoyed the bank holiday weekend, visiting friends in their new home, enjoying sitting out on the patio and getting through the endless chores outside, that don't seem so endless when the sun is beating down on your back.

Mr Beehive has finally finished the chicken fort knox.
We now, with approval from the neighbours, have chicken wire up to the gods to prevent those wily Vulpes vulpes from getting in to snack on my chooks.
My poor husband is returning to work today looking as if he's been training as a Samurai!

I have managed to cut the lawns and the orchard - a mammoth task in itself, and feed the cuttings to the chickens (they adore picking through the freshly mown stuff), build another bean support (I must check today that it has witheld the rain last night as I have chosen to do a single style checker board rather than a wigwam or X frame), plant some more beans, harvest our first crop of rhubarb, salvage a pear tree that was in a pot a remnant of our travelling days and re plant it in the garden and mend the cold frame, remodelling it as another raised bed instead and planting kale in it.

I'm desperately hoping that this years harvest will far outweigh the measly offerings we had last year.
Should things go well we should be seeing:

Garlic ready for harvesting in around 3 weeks time
Runner and French beans
Salad leaves
Purple Sprouting Broccoli
Strawberries (these are amazingly resilient buggers, but I'm pretty sure the yield will be low)
Black and Redcurrants
Melon (we can but hope!)
Nectarines (well, maybe not this year)
Grapes (mmm?)

Mr Beehive has his autumn already lined up with his wine on the go, his cider in his twinkling sights!
I hope I'll be canning and preserving, so that by the time we get to September/October, what with our piglet from the litter being ready for collection from the butcher and we hope we will be able to get a lamb from our plumber (yup! I know, all the crew from the house renovations revealed the most wonderful sidelines. Our Plumber, Chris, owns a farm with his dad. Lucky I spotted the lamb feed in the skip that day and got chatting and our foreman gave us two chickens that he was looking to rehome!) we'll be set to minimise our visits to the supermarkets.

With the solar panels having had two, yes, that's right folks TWO days of bank holiday sunshine...we could actually be looking at being fairly self sufficient rolling from 2013 into 2014, fingers crossed.

Today, however, normality has been restored. It is raining, I can't take photos for you of the garden or foxknox! The dentist beckons the three mini Beehives along with trumpet and piano practices, an hour of revision for me and then...we may even have to light the woodburner this afternoon.

Normality has resumed, obviously!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Gratitude * Sunday

What I've felt grateful for this week:

  • The depth of beautiful colours that are now continually blooming and changing through the garden.
  • The occasional sunny day that lifts my spirits tremendously.
  • A fabulous sweet pea climbing support that I found in an antique basement on Friday and compliments my garden incredibly.
  • Our loyal customers for the eggs who continue to support us and pushed us past our second loss of two more hens this week and the nanosecond stab of doubt in my mind as to whether we should keep going. Also, included in this, is my darling husband who has spent most of his weekend up a ladder trying to install some kind of Fox krypton factor and slicing himself on wire ends!
  • Boots, walks, fields and fabby boot racks!
  • A top bargain potting table put together this afternoon by same fantastic husband, after he had completed an eight mile walk! It's not going to be a potting table as it sets off the deck too well with a few flowers on it!
  • My Green Man who kept me company this morning whilst I sat outside on the deck with my scrappy quilt and hot steaming mug of coffee. I am grateful for the fact that, the morning after the night when I can't sleep, it is a Sunday morning where the dawn is bringing a warming sunshine even at 5.45am when I'm sitting huddled up with Kelle's book and I can spend an hour in my own company listening to the vocal choir in the trees.
  • Mother and child makes me grateful for my own three, despite the bickering. The eldest who this week won a silver award for the national junior maths challenge, the middle one who finished his SAT's and took them in his stride and the little one who went to the Cotswold Wildlife Park today and brought back gifts for her siblings rather than spending all her money on herself. They are beautiful children and I'm so lucky to have been gifted them as their mama. Despite their growing years, they're still happy to allow me to cuddle with them and smell their hair.
  • Rhubarb! I love rhubarb and ours seems to be doing really well this year. Woo Hoo!

What have YOU been grateful for this week?

Friday, May 03, 2013

Death on a Friday

Such is the life of living in the country with animals but last night we lost our first chicken to a fox. Sadly it was one of the beautiful blue Aracaunas that we hatched from an egg.
She and her sister roost up the tree, we have tried and tried to get them in the house at night, but they just don't like it, therefore, we feel that we should let nature take its course. Unfortunately Mother nature reminded us last night that she has control of everything and the silly bird obviously came down early in the dawn on the wrong side of the fence to a waiting foxy.

I suppose I should be grateful that we have had chickens for nearly three years now and not lost one yet to a fox, however, the little bugger (foxy that is) also decided to leave us all the feathers on the front door step and had obviously sat and eaten her under the magnolia tree ontop of a pile of my daffodils, so we now have a nice fox shaped flat reminder on the front flower bed - gah!

It is hard to lose an animal whether it's a chicken or another pet, it's also hard to explain to a small girl who has named them all, that one of them has met a sticky end.
LMB was quite upset over breakfast, so we tried to explain to her that it was all a huge cycle of life and that 'Millie' would now be back as food for her friends to eat so the cycle would continue.
Interestingly all LMB was interested in was whether or not Foxy would choke on Millie's leg ring. I have a feeling that sadistically, she kinda hoped he would!

RIP Millie :-(

'Custer's last stand' or at least her last roosting post up in that tree on the INSIDE of the fence.

Damn I'll miss those blue eggs!