A very different May/June

After a lovely start to this year, May and June have had awful weather. Mostly dry, but with huge thunderstorms. It’s been so wet that most of our soft fruit crops have been lost to moulds, and those that have survived are pretty tasteless. So this year we have barely any greengages, strawberries, or cherries. On the plus side,mulberries have done well and we have little blackcurrants on our bushes we grew from twigs in 2014. Not many, but it’s a start! Also we have had a great crop of peas and beans and the spinach didn’t bolt as quickly as it did last year. We’ve managed to freeze loads, and there’s still more peas and beans to harvest.

Joe and our new helper Ben, have started on the second part of the walkway. This is going slower than the first part mainly due to working out the technical aspects of the job but it is coming along. The food prep room has been gutted and I have started putting the first coat of clay and sand plaster on the walls. The outside of the bathroom / food prep room has been painted with a mix of lime and liquid clay, which has made quite a pleasant colour, and will be very hard wearing. Ideally we wanted a terracotta colour  to absorb the sunlight in winter but when working with natural materials there isn’t anything that would give us the colour we wanted  so we had to compromise on a light brown. We have connected another water container to the guttering of our second barn, which holds 1,000 litres and this was conveniently filled by a thunderstorm the next day. 🙂

I’ve finished the hole for the duck pond and we’ve got the pond liner in. The pond has been filled by guttering that I have run along the animal shed roofs. An overflow pipe will be added later to the pond which will run into a second pond which has yet to be dug. The ducks absolutely love it, and have had to be chased away from the water’s edge at bed time. They just spend all day swimming! The ducklings are growing at an alarming rate and quickly grew out of the chicken pen we had them in so they are now in the old chicken shed of a night and have free range of the orchard through the day. It’s good to see that the chickens and ducks are getting on and even feeding together out of the same trough with no fighting.

We were not planning on getting any pigs this year but due to our own stupidity we ended up losing quite a lot of meat recently, we have learned a hard lesson and won’t be making the same mistake again. To cut a long story short we basically forgot about some meat we had put in brine, then forgot we had put it in to soak and by that stage it had gone off. Fortunately we had all ready reinforced the pig run and sty and made good any damage caused by last years pigs, all we needed to do was build a better gate to the entrance to the run. We had already cemented a wooden post in place so all it needed was a gate built and we set Ben on the task of building that. So we have got another 2 pigs, these are the sons of Danny, one of our pigs from last year. So now we are full, with 3 bee hives, two pigs, fifteen ducks, eleven chickens, two dogs and occasionally a cat. Fog’s hormones have kicked in,and we don’t see so much of him. We might have to get a new one!

Summer has finally arrived today with temperatures in the high 30s and the forecast shows wall to wall sunshine 🙂

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