It is beautiful and sunny today but the North East wind is biting, over the weekend we have had an enormous amount of rain which is desperately needed but does mean the paddocks are squelching underfoot!
During the week when the weather was a little better I spent one day weeding and digging over the Strawberry bed, I dug up half of the plants last year as these were 3 years old and they should be replaced at least every 3 years so that disease does not build up in the runners that are potted up for the next years crop. I have ordered new plants to replace them and as soon as they arrive they will go in and I will give them a feed of Sulphate of Potash to encourage flowering and fruiting. I tend to cover them with environmesh to begin with, then when they are flowering change it to netting, so that the bees can still get in but the birds can’t get at the fruit. Last years weather caused a bit of a problem, we had a lovely warm spell followed by a wet cold spell, they had flowered by then are were beginning to set fruit, but the fruit began to drop off before ripening which was disappointing, we still had a good crop, but I am hoping the weather will be kinder to us this year.
It has been very quiet on the Fox front this week, I feel he is lulling us into a false sense of security! There are plenty of rabbits around at the minute so maybe they are keeping the Foxes fed, they are certainly keeping our cats fed, Felix has been spotted twice this week with a baby bunny in his mouth. The rabbits are getting braver and coming nearer to the vegetable garden, I will need to get some rabbit fencing in place before too long, last year they chewed through the fruit cage netting, which not only let them in, but the birds as well, I will need to go round and ‘stitch’ up any holes that I find so that the only ones eating the fruit crop is us :p
The weekend was a very busy one and we have had one of the liveries leave as well, that is a long story but after having to have many ‘words’ with her the last straw was when she turned up at 12.30 on Friday night to do her horse, needless to say we found out how good the guard dog was and there was no way she was going to be able to get past the gate at that time of night!
My daughters boyfriend and my Hubby spent Sunday felling the two remaining conifers at the front of the drive, the first came down a treat but the last one got stuck in another tree as it was coming down, which made the whole job a little bit longer. We were all pulling on the rope as it came down trying to get it to miss but to no avail. It is an amazing sound when the tree has been cut and your hear that crack as it begins to fall then the thud as it hits the ground. It was a good days work though and there is now a huge pile of trimmings to slowly work through, the biggest will be cut for next years wood and rest will eventually be burnt. Left standing are two Eucalyptus and three Silver Birch, they look very odd at the moment as they have been cut back and look like triffids stood in the middle of nowhere, but eventually the canopy should come back and it will be a much more attractive looking area (that’s the plan anyway).
I have an order of chickens due in next week, I had put in my original order of 40 birds but I have had that many enquiries and pre bookings that I have had to up the order to 60. Keeping chickens has become a very popular hobby and a great one at that, they are easy to look after, entertaining, and give you lovely fresh eggs in return, no wonder the chicken industry is struggling to keep up with demand 🙂 My laying flock have gone into overdrive at the moment which is great, at one time I was struggling to keep customers supplied and then one day last week I had seven dozen sat on the side, needless to say we had eggs for tea! I am still waiting for the Geese to start laying, mine always seem to be late, after a chat with a friend last week I found out that hers had been laying all month, my two just seem to be more interested in terrorising the chickens than laying an egg. While I was feeding them last night with the corn that I throw into the paddock, an almighty rumpus occurred, I looked round to find that one of the geese had a chicken in its mouth running around the paddock with it, the chicken was making a din and the other goose was chasing round after them making a din, and all because the chicken got too close to the corn that the goose was eating! They failed to realise that all the time they were doing that, fifteen other chickens were greedily gobbling up the remaining corn :p
I have set up and planted the heated propagator, tomatoes, aubergine, peppers and melon all need an early start as they have a long growing season and if you want to produce any fruit at all they need a good warm start. I am determined to get more that one or two Peppers this year, I don’t use a heated greenhouse because of the obvious costs both to my pocket and the environment, but I will use the propagator for a short while to get them going. After that they will need a good regime of potting on and gradual acclimatizing to the harshness of the British Weather! I have ordered all my seeds and am eagerly awaiting their arrival any day, I have been careful about the choice this year, trying to choose plants that will do well in an exposed area, for example I have gone for dwarf broad beans this year as the bed they are going into gets quite a bit of wind, so hopefully at that size they wont get blown over and break, in theory they should already be in and growing but experience tells me that it is not possible on our site and it is better to wait for the ground to warm up a bit more, the results will be faster and better rather than watching them disappointingly struggle.
This Saturday is the smallholder auction in Thame, so we will be popping over there for the day to see what we can find, we have had the ‘we are not having any lambs or piglets this year’ conversation but you never know sometimes it can be irresistible! What I will be on the look out for is Quail, I would like a few and be able to sell quail eggs, we used to have some when we lived at our old place and they lay really well although I am not sure if there will be customers for the eggs it will be fun finding out 🙂 I will let you know what we came back with next week!