Spring is officially here, although it seems more like Summer at the moment 🙂 The weather is beautiful, its uplifting after the long cold Winter and our motivation has gone into overdrive.
We have had a very busy week and an even busier weekend, lots of tidying up to do and general maintenance such as altering gates that have dropped over time. It is amazing how much rubbish you can accumulate, all left in a little pile for dealing with another day and before you know it the small pile is a mountain of broken bits and pieces. The wildlife activity has increased hugely, last Thursday evening at dusk we saw four fallow deer out in the field across the lane, and a huge buzzard which took off just in front of the van as we were driving home, seconds after that we spotted a fox in the hedge about to run out, I will have to keep an eye on the chickens again, we have had a couple of weeks respite but time to go back on guard. I have also spotted a couple of Long Tailed Tits, they are clearly nesting nearby although I have not worked out where just yet. The Blue Tits are busy nesting in the walls of the building, I think there are about three pairs in various locations, and a Wren which appears to be nesting in the old muck heap! Just in case you were wondering ‘Kevin the Crow’ is still sitting patiently next to the mirrors, oh dear 😛
The lovely sunshine means people get out and about a bit more and so we have had a few visitors popping in for a cup of tea which is always nice, my in-laws came in the week and we walked around the farm chatting about the year to come, while we were up the back, I pointed out one of the ducks that had decided to have a dip in a bucket of water, as we got closer and she didn’t move I realised she was a stuck duck! I tipped the bucket over and off she went, only to find her the very next day in exactly the same situation, she clearly feels the need for a bath so I will need to find her something bigger to sit in. The chickens we were waiting for finally arrived, but only because Hubby went on a four-hour round trip to pick them up, we got fed up with waiting and had so many customers that had pre-booked them we thought it was worth the trip. The weekend was then spent ringing round and letting people know they had arrived and after that we had a steady stream of would be chicken keepers coming to pick up their new pets. We sold over twenty between Saturday lunchtime and Sunday evening! Keeping chickens has become very popular and it is getting more difficult to source them but I have put in my order for the next few months which should see us through to Autumn, so if you fancy keeping chickens, you know where to come 🙂
The horses are enjoying the Sunshine too, off come all the Winter rugs then we have a short period of time before the flies start to bother them and the fly masks go on. Jack had a bath at the weekend and is looking very shiny, or he was untill he went back out and rolled in the dust! The two indoor dogs have also had their long coats clipped right off, the older of the two, Max, particularly enjoys this for some reason, he bounces about like a puppy for a couple of days glad to be rid of all that fur.
The busiest time has been spent out on the garden, we have been building two new raised beds, these are for flowers though, especially flowers that will attract the bees and butterflies and of course they will be pretty to look at which is why they are next to the seating area. Weeding is again at the top of the list, no matter how much you do there are always more! I spent one morning tidying up the raspberry canes, I have a mix of summer and autumn ones and they needed to be tied in and any runners pulled up so that they don’t grow everywhere, if you fancy a go at growing some of your own, I would get Autumn canes, they are very easy to look after and will produce some fruit this year, then they just get cut back to the ground at the end of the season. The Summer canes are a little more work as they fruit on second year wood so you have cut back the canes that have fruited and leave the new growth in place for the following year to fruit. For years I only grew the Autumn ones but I would say that the summer type are much better in taste and so worth the extra work if you are up for it.
I spent this morning in the greenhouse, it is by far my favorite place to be at this time of year 🙂 I have been busy sowing a range of seeds, some vegetable and some flowers, all nicely labeled and watered, little black seed trays full of promise, that’s the theory anyway, one of the failures I had last year were the mini pop sweetcorn, they completely failed to germinate, but I have given them another go this year and hope they do better. The courgette seeds I planted last week have burst through the surface and are looking strong, there are leek seedlings just emerging from the dark beneath, but the broad beans have yet to make an appearance, I did have a feel to make sure the mice had not pinched them, they are still there just a little reluctant to grow at the minute. Growing plants from seed is very easy and much cheaper that buying the plant, you get to the stage when you don’t want to buy any plant because you know you can buy a packet of seeds and grow many more for the same price. A general rule is to plant the seed one and half times deeper than the size of it, this is because the seed is packed with just enough energy to reach the surface before the sunlight begins to help it on its way. If you plant it too deep it wont make it to the surface, too shallow and it will be leggy and not rooted well enough to hold it in place, of course the main thing to remember is to water it because not much will grow in a dry pot! One crop I am going to grow more of this year is sprouting seed, you can grow them like cress and they don’t need anything fancy, in fact they don’t even need compost, a piece of wet kitchen roll will do the job. I discovered one of the tastiest by accident a few years ago, I had sown some Celery seeds with the aim of pricking them out and growing them on into nice plants, but I didn’t have time and so they were growing like cress does, I cut them with scissors and added them to a salad and they were delicious and much easier than growing and blanching the full Celery plant.
I have had a look at the Tortoises this week, considering how warm it has been, I would have expected to see some activity from them by now, on inspection I am not sure they have made it through the Winter, they look very leathered and dry, I will leave them where they are for now as it would be dangerous to bring them out of hibernation if they are not ready, I will be crossing my fingers that they are just having an extra little nap, and keep you informed over the next couple of weeks.