May and June have been a bit cooler than the the previous two years which has been great for us. We’ve had days where we are down to shorts and tee-shirts but also days when trousers and a fleece are needed, but it has rarely been too hot that we have had to retreat inside because it’s been too hot to be working in the garden. This might be the reason that for the first time we have managed to grow some decent cabbages, or it could just be 3rd time lucky. Also this year we have been able to identify 3 trees we have in our gardens, they have never produced any fruit previously and we have only kept them to provide shade but this year they all have fruit on them and it turns out they are apricots, so fingers crossed we might have apricots later in the year which will make up for us not having any figs. The fig bush has survived the winter but it only has new growth, all the original stems have died off so no figs for us this year.
The cooler, damp weather seems to have brought out the snails. We haven’t had a problem with them in previous years but this year we seem to have hundreds of them. Fortunately, the ducks are very good at turning snails into eggs, so they’ve been getting a bit of a feast of hand-harvested snails every day.
The strawberries, red currants and cherries have now all been harvested. We wouldn’t have had as many cherries as we have if it wasn’t for Angela, our volunteer, spending a morning climbing the tree to get them. We had too many strawberries again this year so are having a go at making strawberry wine as well as the usual strawberry jam, my favourite. The cherries have been made into jam, some jarred in syrup and some have been used for cherry vodka, We have had our first harvest of peas, which has been perfect timing as we were down to our last portion of peas and our last two bottles of pea-pod wine. A branch fell off one of our apple trees, so we now have some jars of pectin ready for next time we make jam.
We have some new arrivals, a couple of geese (Sid and Nancy) and 3 kittens (Sooty, Sweep and Sue) The ducks and chickens weren’t too happy when the geese arrived but everything has settled down, the geese did a lot of hissing at the ducks when they first arrived and the ducks went into panic mode (as they do at anything different) where as now they just just give each other a bit of space and calm has been restored. The geese have their own coop to sleep in so if ever they decide to lay eggs at least Sid won’t be chasing our other poultry out of the coop. The kittens have settled in really quickly and Sol has decided Sooty is now his new best friend, Sol has really missed Fog since he disappeared so he seems happier now he has a new cat friend to play with. Sheba on the other had just looks at them racing around with a look of disgust on her face and wonders off out of their way for some peace and quiet.
Elsewhere, work progresses on the new workshop. As of today, we have nearly all the major beams and supports in place, a process which involved some epic rigging, and a fair amount of swearing, to haul the huge timbers into place. By next week we should be ready to start moving the machinery in and begin putting the ceiling joists in place.
In other news, two-and-a-half years after we started, I’ve finally finished the bathroom ceiling, by patching up the cob around the chimney. Just got to paint it now and that’s the bathroom basically finished.