Saturday, 21 February 2009

This week...

This week will be busy so let's hope the weather keeps warm as I really don't like getting cold fingers. Jobs to do:

Turn the potato patch again - Ralph spent nearly two hours putting a covering of manure on it as it's a new patch with no oomph in the soil at all.

Weed the flower beds - there's a fair few of them. They need a really good clean out of invading unwanteds too. Some grasses that seed far too quickly for example. They also need a heap of manure this year.

Prune the figs - every book gives a different piece of advice but we're going with February

More eggs, chickens this time, into the incubator. A fox took one of the cockerels and a hen earlier this week and we need some replacement back ups. We are also getting low on meat birds.

Buy and sow the broad beans - the packet I'd stored in the kitchen drawer had been bored into by some sort of weevil, reducing the packet mostly to sawdust!

The potatoes are chitting but it won't be long before we start putting them in.

And finally, the bees are out in force. It's too early to open the hives up yet but during the warmth of a sunny afternoon we watch the workers bringing back enormous amounts of pollen - probably from willow and perhaps hazel? I don't know.

Cleaning up

Once a year I clean the windows in the house - usually in the spring but if we have a celebration coming up (last year it was a cousin's 65th birthday) I time it accordingly. If you only do them once a year they might as well be seen.

Last year, thanks to my son's ant farms being sited just in front of the kitchen window, I never managed to clean the kitchen window. On pain of death would I move those ant farms and the windows stayed grubby. Today we were looking at the difference two years' dirt makes compared with only one year's. This reminded me that the greenhouse glass had never been cleaned and it's been up for nearly seven years! So this afternoon Ralph (the same son) and I went up with buckets, sponges and one of those rubber window cleaning thingys and set to. A few bulbs coming up outside the front of the greenhouse suffered the inevitable boot treatment but I'm sure they'll forgive us.

The result is amazing. I had no idea how dark the inside of the greenhouse had become! I am now determined to replace the glass that was lost during a tornado that swept through our garden about five years ago. The plastic we put in (temporarily!) has long since lost its transparency. Unfortunately, whenever I mention new glass to Max he mutters about not having enough clips to hold the glass in and the cost of the glass will be more than the price of a new greenhouse (well, ok then....!).

I also spent some time taking out all the old plastic flower pots that have been shredded by time and goodness knows what insects. Also, all my seed packets have been shredded - my fault for leaving them in there but what on earth is in the paper and foil casing that provides such irresistable nourishment for these insects?

So the greenhouse is looking almost pristine and I have a great feeling of a job well done! I've already put some mesclun seeds in there and in a few weeks time I'll put some early carrots in there to try and get an early crop.

Outside in the veggie patch I've weeded all the beds and planted all the remaining onion sets. For anyone who's interested we've put in: Red Comred, white ones that I've lost the name of, and two types of shallots: Longor and Mikor. All the garlic, onions and shallots that I put in last autumn are coming up nicely.

This weeks jobs include weeding the flower beds and turning the potato plot again - this time with manure on it. Photos later in the week as there's nothing to see yet!

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

New Life, New Noise!

A couple of people have asked me how the gosling is getting on. He is very sweet and has become very attached to our 15 yr old son - or perhaps it's the other way around! I took him out of the incubator after 24 hours; our house is always on the colder side of no heat at all and I thought the incubator would at least keep him warm. I then transferred him to a box and put him next to the Everhot where again, he was snug as a bug.

However, he has grown in both strength and stature at an alarming rate. I realised the box was too small when I caught him trying to jump out of it. In addition, the noise...oh the NOISE! Cheep, Cheep, Cheep, Cheep. All day, all day. And I do spend a lot of time in the kitchen! So yesterday we bought in the pen we made for baby chickens and put him in there in the playroom - next to the kitchen so I can still hear the noise but it is one step removed from the oven! He wasn't pleased at all but seems to be resigned to his new home. In the meantime, the second egg has started to hatch and perhaps tomorrow or Friday there will be two of them in there together - I just hope the bigger one doesn't bully his baby brother!

One thing that is worrying us - and if anyone has experience we'd be grateful for advice - is when to put them outside and introduce them to water. I feel that for the next month it will be too cold but I'm well aware that if they had a goose mum they'd be wandering around already and probably following her onto the moat. So, any ideas? Max thinks we should start with the bath but I've told him if I catch him in the bath with a real live goose I'll post a picture on here!