The Sun has got it’s hat on!

Hip, hip, hip hooray, finally Summer has arrived 🙂 not sure how long it will last so make the most of it. We have had to wait such a long time for this very welcome ball of fire to peep out from behind the rainclouds, but we haven’t forgotten what to do, we went on our daughters, boyfriends, boat on Sunday and nearly the whole of Oxfordshire was by the river I swear! It was a wonderful way to while away a few hours, a welcome break from working on the farm.

We have been busy though even if we had a few hours off, during the early part of the week when the weather was on the turn I decided that I needed to do something other than making jam with the raspberries so I set about looking for recipes. Firstly I made raspberry jellies then went on to make raspberry ripple ice cream, both were delicious and I am always surprised when I make something new and it turns out how it is supposed to, both of them were made from scratch and it is very satisfying to know that I don’t have to buy the processed versions. I also made raspberry vinegar which can be used in salad dressings, I have ordered some pretty little bottles for these and will probably use them for presents during that great mid Winter festival that I am not going to mention while the Sun is out 😉

All it needed was a tiny bit of Sun for the veg to get going and they have not let me down, although progress is slow, I have been picking, peas, runner beans, even a cauliflower. The new potatoes have all been dug up and are drying out in the dark of the back stable, they wont store so we will be using them up but they go green if left in the light so for now they are hidden away. I am still pulling fresh carrots and beetroot, the Blueberries are beginning to ripen although I have had to cover them with mesh to stop the birds pinching them before I get to them. There are a couple of Thrushes and a Blackbird that have found a way into the fruit cage and are there most mornings pinching anything low enough for them to reach from the ground, I don’t mind the raspberries as there are plenty but they are not having the Blueberries :p

Hubby has been busy as always, this time it was laying a pipe and concreting it over, remember the water we had coming in the back last week, well now we have a small gully that leads any overflow into a pipe and away from the buildings. We had to concrete over it as it is next to the hardstanding where the horses get washed down in Winter and it would get broken otherwise, the first thing that happened after we had finished was the dog walking straight through it! Actually more than one dog and so we now have permanent reminders of them, bless them, not what we said at the time I can assure you 🙂 We were also lucky enough to be given a lorry load of pavers that someone was taking up and so have been putting them to good use by edging the lawn with them, it looks so much better than the half round rails that were laid higgledy piggledy along there.

The polytunnel produce is doing well, the tomatoes are beginning to form fruits and the cucumber are growing well as are the peppers and aubergines. I did some weeding in there during the week and discovered that grasshoppers have set up home in there, at first I thought just one had got trapped, but then discovered quite a few more so I am guessing they like having a new des res to inhabit. While I was weeding a disturbed a spider in the soil, she spent a couple of minutes frantically looking for something, then she found her egg sac, collected it up onto her back and set off away from my dangerous fork! She wasn’t the only one I disturbed, another whose eggs had already hatched had her back covered in teeny tiny little spiderlings, amazing!

When I said last week that I couldn’t think of one positive thing to say I had completely forgotten the Nuts! Both the Walnut tree and the Hazelnut bushes are loaded with good size nuts, I was under the impression you needed a good hot summer for nuts but it seems that nature has defied our theories, I just hope there is something inside each kernel when they are harvested in September. This year I am definitely going to sell the hazelnuts from the little shed, they will be ‘green’ which is how many greengrocers sell them so if you want any to store for later in the year give me a shout or look out for them in the little shed.

The number of chicken eggs that we are collecting on a daily basis is going up and so are the sales, unfortunately the ducks have all but stopped laying at the minute, they all need a time during the year when they have to recuperate, they will be fed a poultry spice along with their grain to help their bodies get back to full health. The Quail are also laying well, I am getting eight eggs a day from eight hens so no complaints there, they will only lay for a season usually from March to September, but they lay well during that time so we should have a few more dozen to come yet.

One of the dogs has been in disgrace this week, the Collie, Milly, she spends most of her time outside, usually staring into the poultry pens waiting to round-up any escapees, this week however she was a little too forceful with one of the little chicks that had wandered outside the wire, all I can say is that it was a quick, painless death for the chick and a slow, painful afternoon for the dog as we scowled at her every time she looked up at us, she doesnt like being in the bad books so lets hope she learnt her lesson and doesnt do it again!

Enjoy the Sun everyone, I hope it continues, at least through the Summer Holidays 🙂

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