Thursday 31 March 2016

Move It from Here To Here

Another day out in the fresh air
 I got some peas sowed in a strip of guttering, I have it sitting in the poly tunnel, once they are growing, I will take out a narrow trench and slide the strip of peas into place,
less root disturbance, I have started them off in pots and trays before but its time consuming and they tend to stall when planting out because the roots get damaged.
 I have been sorting out two of the pallet collars that are outside the poly tunnel door,
The one on the left is being layered with manure then will be topped with soil, 
courgettes are destined for this bed, the one on the right needs a bit more topping up and will be for parsnips, I am holding off sowing the parsnips until the middle of April to cut down the risk of canker. 
I have got another 8 pallet collars coming, I have plans for all of them, that will make 16 in total, again we exchanged eggs for them.
I got the rest of the Blueberry bushes planted out in the fruit cage, It feels great to get them out of pots, I have grown them in pots for years, anything growing in pots requires extra work with feeding and watering, Louise was asking what fruit I am growing in the fruit cage
To date I have 
Raspberries, Strawberries, Tayberry, Red Currants, Black Currants, Gooseberry, Blueberries, Cranberries and apples, I want to introduce a couple of peach trees and a cherry in a few weeks.
I have other fruit around homestead, plums, pears, more apples, grapes, Kiwi, Figs and Guava's.

In readiness for the next poly tunnel going up I have been doing some soil shifting
 The raised beds I am losing I am taking a spade width of soil from around the edge, so when we dismantle the beds the soil wont all fall out
 The soil that is coming out is good stuff and not going to waste, 
I am adding it to the beds I am keeping, 
heavy tedious work but it has to be done.

While I was at it 
 The cinder path I put down last year had to be moved as well
 I lay the membrane between the beds that are staying
 shovelled out the cinders
moved them to a new path across the way, I have also lay membrane between the other beds
in readiness for more cinders.

The two OAP's laid eggs again today
They chose the Alpaca barn to make a nest, lucky I spotted them,
the Alpacas would have just smashed them at feed time under there feet when running in at feed time.
The two old girls have really made themselves free ranging around the garden.

While walking Sol this afternoon I managed to get a photo
Of one of the Red Kites soaring on the thermals,
We have a lot of Kites around here, stunning birds I love watching them.

Martin comes home again tonight it will be a short week end as he has to go back Sunday night,
I have been asked how self sufficient we are tomorrow I am doing a post to try and outline what we have achieved so far.

Wednesday 30 March 2016

Having A Little Helper

Oh what a beautiful morning Oh what a beautiful day
That's what I was singing today,
A stunning sunrise made a day of blue skies and sunshine, a proper spring day
I set about cleaning out all the animal houses
I had a little helper who insisted on checking the straw was suitable for his bed.
All the animals enjoy the sunshine, 
The Alpacas stretch out and roll around on the grass 
The lambs laze around
The goats all lay outside
The chickens scratch around and dust themselves in the sand bath
Sol loves to sleep in the sun.
While everyone was dozing and lapping up the sun I was busy in the veggie garden
The soil is still too wet to work
 It has become compacted with the all the rain
 I broke up all the surface of this bed with my hand tiller, its basically a long pole with grub hooks on the end, its now has a chance to drain and I hope next week to be planting this bed up.
 The garlic bed was all compacted too,
After the same treatment
Now some air can get to the roots and the soil can drain 
there was some gaps in the garlic and shallots 
 I had a few garlics sprouting  I planted them to fill the gaps, I don't expect them to come to much as its a bit late to plant them
I had some shallots sprouting as well so they went to fill the gaps among the shallots.
In the poly tunnel I pulled a lot of the big old leaves off the spinach,
There is plenty of new young growth
The goats enjoyed them, along with a few radishes.
Its suppose to be a real cold night tonight,
everything has been covered over in the poly tunnel that needed a bit of protection.
A bit of an update on the BT situation they have done some tweaking at the exchange and so far so good, I haven't lost Internet all day. 
I had a load of parcels to get posted out today, 
All stuff that has been sold on eBay, I have been shifting out some of the shop stock, I have two job lots that sold waiting to be collected.
I also sold some greenhouse equipment on one of the local face book pages. 
All the money will get put back into buying plants and trees.


Monday 28 March 2016

Chickens, Fruit Cages And More

 Two little Easter chicks have hatched out, one nice and fluffy the other is that scrawny mess on the right, it will fluff up soon enough, the third fertile egg was dead in shell, there was a crack in the shell running lengthwise probably a weak shell and at some point it has cracked and the chick died.
Mrs Broody is still sitting tight on her clutch of 10 eggs we hope to have more chicks from her.
The two OAP's Enid and Doris are still happy doing pest control in the garden 
Here are the eggs they laid either side of a normal hen egg, very pointy and a lot smaller, 
for there size they are mostly yolk.
Not bad for a pair of 8 year old chooks.

The week-end has been spent working on the fruit cage 
 Marking out the base
 putting together the frame
 The frame all constructed ready for netting
 Roof netting on
Two sides all netted, the other two sides will get done next week end, a lot bigger than I thought it would be.
Once complete Flash the tortoise will come out of hibernation and move into the fruit cage this will be his temporary home until we construct a proper area for him.
Over the week-end I got the greenhouse empty
It will be going to a new home at the week end.
Everything has been moved into the Poly Tunnel
 All the citrus trees are sitting on the path
And the staging has been set up as a temporary work area 
Once the new poly tunnel is up it will all be moved there in time for the rest of this tunnel to be planted up.
This small poly tunnel frame ( I have three of them)
has been put to use, I have netted both sides 
One side will have beans growing up from the raised bed on that side
And peas from the other side, I like to grow tall peas.
The four raised beds in the background is were the new poly tunnel is going.

I cooked a hogget ( hogget is 18 month old lamb) shoulder yesterday 
 It was studded with garlic thyme and rosemary out of the garden
Slow roasted in the oven it was falling off the bone, I much prefer hogget to lamb.

 Today I used up a jar of the canned chicken I did 3 years ago
 The meat is already cooked and was very moist
It went into a curry for dinner, a nice quick easy meal.

BT came out today we were gobsmacked, bank holiday and the engineer came all the way from Swansea, a temporary fix has been done to the broadband, it keeps dropping off.
I will be glad when can can drop BT off. Perhaps it will be sorted by BT soon who knows they are a law unto themselves. 
Storm Katie didn't seem to hit us so we had no damage, I woke up just after midnight and could hear the rain and a bit of wind,
There was a bit of snow out there this morning.
I turned into a lovely day weather wise.

Hope everyone had a good holiday week end.

Saturday 26 March 2016

Quick Internet Update And Stuff...

We have a working phone line but no internet, this is a new fault,
BT don't know were the fault is.
Really don't know how long this is going to take and after the previous problem I have no faith in them to do a speedy repair.
I have been and bought a Mobile WI FI box although we are on the edge of getting a good signal,
Its slow and better than nothing.
I wont try uploading photo's as it would take an age.
I am looking into a more permanent solution 
There is a company called Blue wave communications I have been in touch with to see if they can provide us with a service, again we are on the edge of the signal area 
We are considering having a mast put up in one of the fields and then kick BT into touch.
Other news
We spent yesterday putting up the frame for the fruit cage, its not finished and today's weather is not good, perhaps tomorrow we will get the netting on.
One of the hen has gone broody and I have her in the brood house sitting on 10 eggs.
I have a few eggs in the incubator and they are due to hatch Monday although I think only two are viable. They are from young chickens, I intended to set another lot as soon as the incubator was free and now the broody hen can do the job for me.
The two OAP chickens who are enjoying retirement in the garden yesterday both of them laid an egg, We will get a few eggs from them but not a lot at 8 years old I am surprised they are still laying anything.
It looks like I have picked up this cold bug, been feeling pretty rough the past couple of days, hope it does not hang around too long, will just have to work through it.

That's all from me at the moment.

Wednesday 23 March 2016

Baking For The Goats

I am behind schedule with starting to milk the goats, with lambs to look after and other things it sort of got neglected,
Well now I have the lambs onto two bottles a day and there feeds fall in line with everyone else, I am turning my attention back to the goats, better late than never.
 I have been looking into some treats for the mama goats something to tempt them with, I didn't really want to start buying in yet more feed stuff.
They are more used to us now but still not keen on being handled 
this has to change.
I mixed up 10 cups of there muesli grain feed, with 4 cups of grated carrots and 3 cups of raisins

 Then added 2 jars of molasses and three cups of wholemeal flour, a little water mixed it all together it did smell lovely

 spread it out onto trays and popped into a hot oven for about 20 mins, 6 trays later
 I have a nice big tub of goat treats
 I was after a cross between granola and flapjack, 
I am happy with the chunkiness of it.
I will try it later on with mama goats and see what they think.
I have also been looking at some ideas on making goat hobbles, these are used on the back legs of the goats to stop them kicking.
Its going to be a very trying couple of weeks I think in the goat shack.
While I was baking for the goats the delivery man arrived 
 Poly Tunnel number 2 has arrived and the fruit cage
guess whats going on here over Easter
 I have been asked a few times to recommend a book on foraging,
my personal preference is this one, this is the latest edition, my other was given to my grandson, 
small enough to take out with you, it refers to the UK.
the new edition includes foraging each month as well
nice clear pictures, good description, suggestions of what locations to look in, and suggested ways of cooking or using the spoils you find, it is a guide to 100 edible plants, berries, mushrooms seaweeds and shellfish.
That's it for now 


Tuesday 22 March 2016

Nothing But Trees...

Yesterday was a day spent with trees, big ones, small ones and ones in between.
I started by unwrapping the greenhouse from its bubble wrap, everything needs the increased light levels
Shunting pots around I knocked the orange tree and look what came off
 Our first welsh grown orange, an exciting moment
 We shared it after lunch and it was lovely the skin was a little thick but the flesh was delicious.
There is lots more citrus fruits on the way

 Baby oranges
 The greenhouse is now unwrapped
 And nice and tidy, we ordered the new poly tunnel and fruit cage at the week end, I am really looking forward to getting the citrus trees planted into the ground and seeing how well they do.
While I was sorting out the greenhouse Martin was moving the pig ark into its new place
Now in situ ready for some new occupants 
I then moved onto to the willow hedging
 Willow cuttings were planted through the membrane, 
I was preparing the area last week, it has all been layered with Alpaca poo and then covered with membrane to be planted through 
Last years cuttings that did really well, its going to be nice to see a willow hedge along this fence line a nice wind break for livestock.
I got a good view of the Alpacas while I was on my hands and knees planting
 I checked out some of the baby trees while I was in the new woodland area
 This is one of the Giant Redwoods I grew from seed, it seems to be coming on great since it was planted out, still a lot of growing to do
 The Maple Syrup trees are just starting to break bud a good sign they are doing alright
I had some smaller willow cuttings left over, I have put groups into pots, these I will plant into gaps in hedging as we start to work on the hedges around the new fields.
I have some more young trees sitting here as well that I have grown waiting to plant out.
Next it was some of the trees and shrubs at the top of the garden
 This Lilac tree must have gone over some years ago
I cut back all the branches that were growing across the lawn
 Leaving the upright branches,
There was a Butterfly Bush behind it in the same condition, that had the same treatment.
All the branches were dragged down the field
Sol did his bit to help

 In between all this activity in the afternoon we had some Alpaca husbandry to do when they came in for there feed
Nail cutting time, Martin held them I did the cutting,
The white fleece alpacas nail grow quicker than the dark ones and the wet weather makes them grow quicker as well,
everyone was done apart from Daisy, she was having none of it we were at risk of being injured with her rearing up and objecting,
We need to get her properly halter trained and use to being handled, even though they come when called they don't like to be handled much, her nails didn't look too bad to be honest and she will get done when they are sheared.
The day ended with a lovely bonfire 
 And fish and chips
Oh and here is my smallest tree
Can you see it there, I have three of these so far coming up
Rainbow Eucalyptus trees 
here is a picture of what they will grow up to be
  I hope :-)