June all ready

Can’t believe it’s June all ready, where has the year gone. Well we are pleased to say the winter experiment with the peas, beans and lettuces has gone really well and we will definitely be doing it again this winter. We have just harvested the last of our winter beans and peas and normally our main crop peas would be just about ready to be harvested, that is if I’d got them in sooner so unfortunately no more fresh peas for us this year, but we have plenty of beans in the freezer. The first of our fruit is also ready, so far we have strawberries, sweet cherries, sour cherries and raspberries. So we have now stocked up our reserves of pickled cherries, dried cherries and are having a go at cherry wine and made glacé cherries for the first time. We still have enough strawberry jam from last year so our spares from this year have been made into strawberry wine, we were hoping to dehydrate some but we have had thunderstorms virtually everyday for the last two weeks so we weren’t able to yet, but there’s still time. Considering we didn’t have the best start to the year we are really pleased on how the veg garden is doing, we might not have the peas we wanted but all our other vegetables are looking good. We are also really pleased on how the flower / herb garden is doing. We now have Lovage, Winter Savory, Thyme, sage, borage,( kindly given to us this year ) rosemary, parsley, coriander, fenugreek, basil, horseradish and of course mint which grows everywhere.

This year we started by using the straw from the wheat we grew last year as a mulch but we didn’t have enough to do all the beds, so for the rest of the beds we are using the chop and drop method. The weeds have been growing at an amazing rate so all we are doing is either cropping them off at ground level or pulling them up and leaving them on the beds to act as a mulch, then letting them rot back into the soil. We are only pulling the weeds that are getting a bit out of hand and leaving the rest. I have struggled a bit with this method because everything looks untidy but it saves a lot of work and the veggies don’t seem to mind having the odd weed or two for company.

The orchard has always been a bit of a disappointment mainly because we never got any grasses growing in there before we let the poultry loose, so only the hardiest of weeds have managed to grow there. This year we have fenced off an area, dug out all the saplings and have sown some grass seed. The grass is coming on really well, probably due to the amount of rain we’ve had which has saved us a job of watering it, we were going to leave it till next year before letting the ducks and chickens on it but it has done so well we have unfenced it all ready and so far it’s still doing well. So hopefully we’ll have a nice grassy orchard in a few years depending on if the grass can outgrow the chickens and ducks eating it.

We have also cleared the freezer of fruit so have stocked up on raspberry jam and blackcurrant jam. We found out our neighbour loves jam but doesn’t like making it and she makes rather good chutneys so we are now swapping our jams for her chutneys. We’ve also had a major mincing and sausage making session so we have finally managed to get down to one freezer, not sure how long that will last as we are hoping to get another couple of pigs this year.

We were hoping to have some little ducklings running around by now but for some reason she abandoned the nest about 5 days before they were due to hatch so that was rather disappointing, on the positive side we have another duck that has recently started to sit so hopefully the outcome will be better this time. Regular readers of our blog will know that we have some swallows that nest under our porch roof every year and usually raise two broods of chicks. This year as usual they returned, repaired the nest and started to lay their eggs, but fate wasn’t on their side and a Jay found the nest and as soon as we left the porch it would swoop in and take the eggs. Even though we love sitting on the porch we can’t guard it all the time so we have relented and let the swallows back in the bathroom. They nested in there the first two years we were here and the nest is still there. So we opened the doors and the windows and in no time they were back in the bathroom and she is now sitting on some more eggs.

Work at the woodland is slowly coming along, all the firewood has now been brought up to the house and we have started to prepare some of the tree trunks ready to make a shelter. On the construction side of things we have started to put a dividing wall up in the main barn. this is so we can use the main area for wood storage and the other side will be used as an animal feed area, for storing all the grains and the milling machine. Before we finish the wall we need to put a doorway in but at least we have some where to stack the wood when I finally get round to chopping some more when it dries out from all the rain.

While I was away Joe had his acting début in an advert for a Bulgarian beer

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