Thursday, 22 March 2012

22nd March - Positive Brooding

The first chicken of the year has gone broody, a small lavender peakin bantam which is now sitting on a dozen of her own eggs. Having are hens which will go broody is as important to us as having chickens which will lay numerous eggs or produce good meat. Artificial incubation and brooding is an expensive business with the current price of electricity and besides the hens do the job so much better. I am currently trying to line breed my own type of tri- purpose chicken which will be good for all the qualities mentioned above, but more about that another time.

Dad and I went up to eco-build at the Excel centre in London Docklands yesterday. The venue was vast, far surpassing my imaginings and packed with renewable technologies for around the world. Despite everything I saw I would still settle for a few acres of chestnut coppiced and a solid fuel Rayburn to satisfy my energy needs in the future.

The four puppies are doing well, but not all the stock on the homestead is healthy. ChubChub and I had filthy colds, and make a distinctly snotty and sickly pair today whilst Em is out at work.

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

20th March - Puppies

After a second night of broken sleep (M and I have been getting up at two hourly intervals to check on the expectant Treacle) we were woken at four this morning by the sound of a high-pitched mewling through the baby monitor. Not our son this time but treacle's firstborn captured by the receiver now positioned in the dog run. As it turned out there was no need to scramble out of bed and run into the darkness, for when we arrived treacle had the situation well in hand, the puppy was licked clean and already nestling under her feathered flank searching for her teats.

Trying to put the puppy in a box when treacle looked as if he was ready to have her second was pointless, as each time she promptly removed the shiny black puppy, so we left her to it, keeping a keen ear out for progress from the house. The sound of noisy licking heralded the second arrival and again everything was fine and so it has continued to this point. Treacle now has three black and one chocolate coloured puppies, all dogs (which is a shame from the perspective of keeping one for ourselves) and is looking rather too relaxed, so we fear that may be the sum of the. Still if they remain healthy we will have a lot to be grateful for. 

Monday, 19 March 2012

19 March - Cutting In -To Get Ahead!

Last Autumn's tomato cutting in green house

 My experiment of taking tomato cuttings last autumn and over wintering them appears to have been a success. A couple of weeks ago I took side shoots off the small plants and pushed them into compost. These new cuttings are beginning to root now whilst the overwintered parent plants are in the greenhouse bed putting on strong growth. In contrast my tomato seedlings are still feeble little things and it will be weeks until they are large enough to be planted out.
Tomato seedlings

Every warm day in this season stirs one to action, filling the soul with a restlessness which can only be subdued by a hard day's work in the garden. A few days ago I put queen excluders and supers on the bees discovering that eight out of my ten hives have survived the winter, which is not too bad at all. The surviving colonies are strong, producing brood and gathering pollen and nectar which extends the promise of a productive year ahead. My early sowing of salad crops in black tyres where last year courgettes grew, are up and away. The rotted down manure provides a perfect growing medium and the black rubber, combined with a piece of glass on top makes an ideal warm cloche. In the orchard at Green Lane the almond tree is in bloom and here the yearling peach is a spray of pink florets.
 Radish seedlings


Friday, 16 March 2012

16th March - I'm Back

I'm back! So tired am I reading e-mails from distraught fans of my blog that I’ve swung back into the literary saddle, with the intention of not falling off this time! Life seems very hectic at the moment, but I'm working on the principle that some blog is better than no blog so please to give bad grammar, short entries etc etc.

I can't possibly hope to fill in the gap since my last entry, but here are the essentials to bring you up to speed. Treacle, our cocker spaniel bitch is due to give birth on Sunday and the rabbit the following week. Spring has sprung - the verges are full of primroses, the plum orchard swathed in clouds of white blossom and my parent’s sheep have almost finished lambing. The first male death watch beetles have also started their rhythmic tapping from the oak frame of our cottage to attract mates -a sure sign of the changing season and a reminder that one day the house will probably fall down.

Yesterday was the perfect spring day and taking ChubChub (now crawling and scooting around in his walker like a mini delinquent) Em and I took a stroll to the plum orchard, admiring the blossom and the view which was hazy from the warmth of the day.