The weather has been fairly kind to us this week and the ground is drying up quite nicely for the time being. It is helped by the millions of leaves that have now fallen all over the farm, we don’t pick them up, firstly it would be too long of a job and secondly if you leave them long enough the worms will take them all down and do the job for you. They are also making a good dry layer to walk on at the moment, it will be a different story once it rains as they will become slippery in places but we will deal with that if and when we need to.
Two weeks ago I decided to let the remaining giant rabbit out to roam free around the farm, you will remember that the dog killed the other one and she was all alone in her cage. To be honest I didn’t think she would last long but she is still pottering around having the time of her life, much nicer to see her being able to practice some normal behaviour, she has five acres to run around in and she is making the most of it! If you remember I hatched out a batch of Quail in the summer and although I sold some there were still a few left, I also released these as they were surplus to requirements. I could have fattened them up for the freezer but to be honest the amount of work involved for such little meat didn’t seem worth the effort so off they scuttled, they didn’t do so well and lasted only a few days before I found remnants of them here and there. I like to think they had a few days of total freedom before becoming dinner for the cats etc.
The cider has been fermenting away all week and the next step is to rack it off into a storage vessel, I have a barrel for this purpose and it will be exciting to get the first taste of my home-brew, I just hope it tastes good! I can’t wait to go on and try some wine next, it gets to be a bit of a bug and to be honest it’s so easy , especially with a kit, I can’t belive I havent tried doing it before. It will be lovely to offer visitors a glass of cider and maybe even mulled cider at Christmas.
On Friday I had a day out in London, we went to watch Scrooge at the London Palladium, it was a fabulous show and really got us in the Christmas mood. We decided to make a good day of it and caught the local London connection arriving around lunchtime, the minute you step off the bus the contrast of worlds hits you, the noise, the people, the smells all in epic proportions! It is nice to visit a different world now and again but I deduced that I like the quiet of the countryside, I also couldn’t help thinking that the people who live there must have permanent levels of stress of one kind or another, there is no escape from the noise, it is a constant bombardment of the senses. Having said that I did love it just for the day, the Christmas lights alone were worth seeing, huge drapes of lights everywhere you looked, the local town lights will be a bit of a disappointment in comparison. I felt like a country bumpkin when the store assistant in a large department store laughed at me for taking photos of the sweet display, it was like being in Willy Wonkas factory and my eldest daughter couldn’t resist seeing if the larger than life chocolate house was in fact made of real chocolate and broke a bit off the roof to see, she wasnt the first one to have done it judging by the amount of broken tiles 🙂 It was a very long and tiring day but full of fun and discovery and we were very glad to be home amoungst the greenery, quiet and with just the Moon to light up the sky.
Hubby went down to visit the sheep at the weekend, they have the exclusive attention of the ram and so the possibility of lambing in the Spring looks like a good one. The chap who had kindly had them with his flock for the last couple of weeks is talking of giving them up next year, you will recall that he is seventy and it is all getting a bit too much for him, he has a flock of about twenty ewes and Hubby talked about buying them from him when the time comes. This would take us into new realms of full scale lamb production which would be quite daunting but very exciting at the same time, I will let you know if that is on the cards, we will need plenty of customers for home reared top quality lamb.
I spent Saturday morning picking and processing Brussel Sprouts, the weather in the Summer was not the best for them and then an attack of caterpillars meant that they had either ‘blown’ or had been nibbled. Having said that I still managed to picked a good haul of nice tight uneaten sprouts, not that I am keen on them but for some reason a lot of men would not consider it Christmas dinner without them, I personally think that the after effects appeals to the little boy that is still inside each of them :s personally I prefer mine raw in a salad. The manuring of the veg beds is now finished and Hubby has worked tirelesly to get that done over the past couple of weeks, it will be left now for the Winter to do its work and break it down so that the worms can turn it over, it is the easiest way of doing it, although I have been taught to double dig the old fashioned way I am all in favour of making light work of it with the same results in the end.
I have a list of garden jobs that need to be done, cutting back and storing pots of Dahlias so that I don’t lose them over winter and the large Bramley Apple tree needs a Winter prune to keep it under control and maintain a good shape. It is at the end of the drive and so it can’t be left to just grow as eventually we wont be able to drive past it without scratching the van. My sister and I gave it a good prune about three years ago to bring it back under control and it has kept a good overall shape, it is quite a difficult job as you need someone on the ground to be able to see and direct the pruner so that it does not end up lopsided. The fruit cage needs a bit of attention to tidy it up for the its winter rest and the netting has a fair few holes in it resulting in the birds being able to get in, so that needs some wire tacked all around the bottom third to prevent them stealing fruit next year. Apart from that the veg garden is pretty much redundant now until spring, there are leeks and parsnips to be used up over the next few weeks and there are the sprout stalks to be lifted, these will go to the chickens to pick over before going on the compost heap. Then it is all about planning for next year, getting the crop rotation right and deciding what to plant, the order will go in just after the new year and it will be time to begin all over again, the circle of life is never more evident than in the vegetable garden 🙂